Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What unlikely car set a new GTO lap record during practice at the 1983 24-hours of Daytona?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you are right.
Sports statistics allow us to enjoy the game outside of its actual play, and give us the opportunity to compare performers who have never actually competed directly against one another.
In racing it’s not only wins that count, but lap times as well. When it came to the GTO class at the 1983 24-hours of Daytona race, the fastest lap under practice—which is typically faster than race times owing to the lack of traffic—was set by a surprising contender.
From Studebaker Clubs (Dick Datson’s Race Journal):
I’m at the track fairly early today as I could bear them practicing very early from my home. The Avanti is on the track when I arrive, but pulls in after a couple of laps. Nothing is done that I can see so I assume that they are ready to attempt to qualify. They haven’t spent much time on the track practicing compared to some others I’ve seen and I wonder if they know what the hell they are doing- The car seems to run and handle well, but there’s no way of determining how the Avanti stacks up against the competition at this point.
Eventually the Avanti is fired up and Joe Ruttman takes it back on to the track. It makes three quick laps and pulls back into the pits. The announcer comes in on the public address system:
“AVANTI NO. 28 HAS JUST SHATTERED THE
EXISTING GTO CLASS RECORD”
I’m shocked. Everyone is shocked. There’s bedlam in the pits. This was not supposed to happen. Suddenly the racing world is taking the Avanti seriously.
The Studebaker Avanti was introduced to the world on April 26, 1962. This Daytona class lap record was set on February 2, 1983 almost 21 years later. In between that time Studebaker would go under, two South Bend Indiana Studebaker dealers named Nate Altman and Leo Newman would buy the Avanti tooling and re-introduce the car as a single model marque, and it would move to Chevy power,
Record setting was in the Avanti’s DNA. In addition to the class-winning Daytona lap the car has also notched 29 Bonneville Salt Flat records on its belt. Seems that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Image: Studebaker Clubs