Famed Corvette racer John Greenwood has died at the age of 71. The son of a General Motors executive, Greenwood grew up around cars and first rose to prominence in the early 1970 when he won consecutive SCCA A Production National Championships in a Corvette. For 1972 Greenwood secured backing from BFGoodrich to take on Le Mans to demonstrate the prowess of BFG’s street radial tires. That campaign lasted two seasons, and while it did not achieve victory, surely spread the word about BFG’s street radials.
By the beginning of 1974 he’d produced the first of the wide-bodied Greenwood Corvettes that would bring him fame, cars that opened up new aerodynamic frontiers with their sculpted bodywork and prodigious power outputs. Those engines came from his engine company, Auto Research Engineering, which he had formed prior to his racing endeavors.
Although he did win a handful of IMSA Camel GT races, his professional championship came in the SCCA Tran-Am in 1975, when he won three of the season’s seven rounds. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the sport, however, was his role in saving Sebring when the track hit trouble in the mid-1970s. The track had lost its FIA listing in 1973, and then had its race cancelled by the oil crisis in 1974, so that Bill France Sr. and John Bishop asked Greenwood to promote the Sebring 12 Hours in ’75 and ’76, and he did such a good job that record crowds turned out in both years and the increased support kept the track alive.
He is survived by his brother Burt, to whom, along with his many other friends and fans, Vintage Racecar extends its sincerest condolences.
Postscript: Services for Corvette Legend John Greenwood will be handled by Loomis Funeral Homes of Apopka, Florida. The family has created a Life Tribute page on the funeral home web site where you can share your thoughts and memories of the racing legend. You can also order flowers through the site. If interested or just in need of more info on the service go to:
RIP John. Say hi to Peter “Stupid Corvette” Gregg if by some freak chance he happens to be up there.
After Alec Ulmann decided not to put on the 1973 Sebring race, because of the demands by the FIA for track improvements, it seemed like the race was finally destined for oblivion. To the rescue came a number of Sebring locals and others who got IMSA to sanction the event but they needed money for some minor track improvements and for prize money. That money came from the great Corvette racing legend John Greenwood. He was commonly referred to back then as “The Sebring Angel” and he came up with more money in ’75 and ’76 to keep the race alive. Without him, and others, there would be no Sebring 12 Hours today. RIP “Angel” John.
I also grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and John and in 1968 both purchased bronze 427 Corvettes and cruised Woodward avenue. Then we went on to drivers school at Waterford Hill Sportsman club. Shortly there after I went in the USAF and when I returned from overseas in ’74 I again purchased a new Corvette and went to see John to get his new widebody kit! I still have some of the original promo pictures of the car in the snow at the shop. He was always willing to help and answer questions. RIP