The 26th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will feature a CHEVY THUNDER class to honor the history-making cars and engines and has provided the average American motorist the luxury of having power on demand and even created a muscular image to Chevrolet’s iconic “bowtie” emblem.
The Chevy Thunder, as the slogan states, is “the heartbeat of America.” Chevy’s small blocks, big blocks, and dedicated pure racing engines set records and were seen dominating all types of American motorsport essentially for greater than half a century.
They have claimed numerous victories, from eleven Indy 500 victories, 24 wins at the Daytona 500, Le Mans, Sebring, IMSA GTP, NHRA Pro Stock, GTO & GTX, Trans-Am, Can-Am, Sprint Cars, IROC, Baja & Desert racers, and F5000. They also claimed victories at Swamp Buggies, club racers, Dune Buggies, Hot-Rods, kit cars, and even offshore powerboats.
Since it was introduced in 1955, the Chevrolet Small Block has provided mobility to generations of American families along with attracting race car builders and hot rodders.
“ Anyone who’s ever attended a drag race, a NASCAR race, a Trans-Am or a Can-Am has heard and sometimes felt, Chevy Thunder. It’s the clear and unmistakable voice of American motorsports.”BILL WARNER
Chevy small block power even made an appearance within the front row of the 1981 Indy 500, it outran the legendary Offys on the dirt tracks of America, dominated the NASCAR high banks, short tracks, and road courses. In fact, in 1957, the fuel-injected Chevy small-block was so dominant in NASCAR racing that they banned it.
The small-block Chevy Thunder also dominated the international scene as it claimed victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, the BOAC 6 Hours at Brands Hatch, the 1000 Km of the Nurburgring, dominated Can-Am by winning 33 consecutive races at one point, claimed the inaugural 1971 IMSA GTO championship and the 1984 IMSA GTP title.
No other manufacturer has completely commanded the NHRA Pro Stock competition with 24 national titles won.
The reach of the Chevy V-8 even went beyond the automotive realms, extending into the music scene. In 1962, the Beach Boys wrote a song paying tribute to Chevy’s big-block Turbo-Thrust V-8’s power and social impact. They titled the song “409,” and songwriter Gary Usher’s lyrics had “… 4-speed, dual-quad, positraction four-oh-nine!”
Ever since 1917, when the first V-8 arrived in the form of the “Series D” V8 engine of 1917-1919, the Chevy V-8 power has reached almost every aspect of American life. It has powered cars, trucks, towing trailers, and delivering groceries. It has gone up against Scarab, McLaren, Chaparral, Eagle, Lola, Corvette, and Camaro to claim championship wins. Even a few Chevy V-8 engines replaced the much more expensive and renowned Italian V-12s in American sports car racing.
A CHEVY THUNDER seminar will be held on Friday May 21, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining the panel of Chevy-powered insiders. Other Panelists include:
- Herb Fishel
- George Follmer
- David Hobbs
- Brian Redman
- Dr. Eric Warren
[Source: Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Feature photo courtesy of Canepa Motorsport]