|Yenko Stinger YS003
a Corvair story
|Curtis Wood 2018
SVRA National Championships
Circuit of the Americas
1966 Yenko Stinger YS003 was prepared to race again by Curtis Wood, Jeff Moore (autoarch.com), and John Gresham during the
summer of 2018. YS003 is now a proud member of the Automotive Archeologist Racing Team. Last raced at Sears Point in 1978,
YS003 competed in the 2018 SVRA Heacock Classic at Virginia International Raceway and then again at the 2018 SVRA National
Championships at Circuit of the Americas.
Next up in 2019 will be the Corinthian Vintage Racing Association March 22-24 race weekend in Hallet, OK. and the SVRA June
20-23 Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio which will feature the Chevrolet Corvair.
Every effort was made to prepare the car exactly as it was delivered, ready to race, by Yenko Chevrolet, to it's first owner in 1966.
Our efforts to keep the car correct and authentic were rewarded with an SVRA Historic Gold Medallion.
Presented here are our most recent activities and future plans for YS003.
Further down begins the lengthy saga that has been the "life" of this Stage 3 Yenko Stinger 1966 to date.
"a Corvair story"
Thank you for visiting, Curtis Wood
|Gus Shaffer 1966
|YS003 is born a 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa. One of a 100 car COPO fleet order by Yenko Chevrolet. All 100 cars are
white/black with HD suspension, quick steering, 4 speed, 140hp 4 carb powered.
Don Yenko has announced his intention to build, sell, and race the Yenko Stinger. Donna Mae Mimms and others at Yenko
Chevrolet have begun marketing the Stingers before they even arrive. 100 cars have to be built for, and certified by, the
SportsCar Club of America for homologation as D Production class racers, a big task for a family owned car dealership.
At minimum all cars are expected to have a Yenko serial tag (YS001-YS100), unique rear decklid with integral spoiler and
cooling doors, custom landau panels, painted blue stripes, and listed Stage 1 modifications. YS003 is one of only a couple of
cars sold without the blue stripes and accents so associated with Yenko Stingers.
|Sir Stirling Moss comments
|In January of 1966 the Sports Car Club of America has inspected the required 100 cars and begins classification of the Yenko
Stinger in class D Production. Marketing increases. Racing begins. YS003, it's fate unknown, waits on the dealership lot.
|In May of 1966 Gus Shaffer orders a new Stinger and chooses Stage 3 from the list above. YS003 is prepared to Stage 3 Spec.
Yenko Chevrolet additionally fits the car with power brakes, a very rare option. 7" front wheel and big bore carburetor options
would be purchased by Gus from Yenko at a later date. The inflated horsepower ratings advertised were common and
expected in 1966.
|Yenko Stinger YS003
original invoice signed by
Don Yenko and Gus Shaffer
|Gus Shafer YS003 first race
|In May of 1969 Gus Shaffer retires from racing and sells his Yenko Stinger to Richard Finch. YS003 moves from the East Coast
to a new home out West in Arizona. Below is correspondence between Gus and Richard coordinating the sale.
|Richard Finch was very well known in the Corvair community and YS003 is actively raced while in his care . Some of his
exploits are documented in a book he wrote (more on this later on in the story) and from the following article published by and
used here with permission of the Central New Mexico CORSA Chapter.
|YS003 is raced by Gus Shaffer in local SCCA National events.
YS005, a similarly prepared Stage 3 Yenko Stinger wins the SCCA D Production National Championship upsetting the factory
supported Triumph TR4 team.
|After being inactive from 1973-1975 while in the care of Dennis LeForge who purchased the Stinger from Richard Finch YS003
is sold to one of it's busiest and most active owners, Seth Emerson. Seth purchased with the intention of road racing (and
did). YS003 carried Seth through drivers school and many California area SCCA road races.
|YS003 on track with Seth Emerson at the wheel in the seventies
|In 1975 YS003 was the first to wear some fancy new wheels. The Corvair small 13" wheel, large brake drum, and wide 5 bolt
pattern made finding suitable race wheels difficult. This is why Yenko Stingers ran with adapters for 4 bolt wheels as seen on
YS003 above and were often seen on steel wheels years after other cars had gone to cast magnesium wheels. While
traveling in England Seth Emerson visited a brand new company pioneering multi-piece wheels with thin spun rim halves. He
placed a large order of Compomotive wheels and had them shipped to the States for his and other Stinger racers. YS003 is
pictured racing on these wheels in 2018 at the top of the page. It and another unknown Stinger are pictured modeling them in
about 1975 below.
|In 1976 the book HOW TO KEEP YOUR CORVAIR ALIVE was written and published by YS003s prior owner and racer Richard
Finch. YS003 is featured in the cover art and throughout the text as Corvair maintenance and modifications are described.
|YS003 has an on track brush with celebrity when working as an extra during filming in 1976. The 1977 release of the Disney
movie HERBIE GOES TO MONTECARLO includes glimpses of YS003 on track with Herbie. The Stinger was driven for filming
by California racer Max Balchowski builder of the Ole Yeller specials. The huge front spoiler was hastily fabricated the night
before the second day of filming. Disney wanted to disguise the Stinger so that it would not be recognized as American. This
because the race supposedly took place in France (it was filmed at Laguna Seca). YS003 is pictured with the Love Bug in a
screenshot from Herbie Goes to MonteCarlo below.
|YS003 did most of it's racing after 1978 in parking lots against the clock. Seth autocrossed the Stinger actively and
experimented with different power plants even running triple throat webers and a modified 2 speed PowerGlide automatic
transmission at one point. YS003 turned a fastest time of day at the Corvair Society of America National Convention in 1978,
was 1978 CORSA Slalom Champion, and the 1986 Northern California Sports Car Council I Prodified Championship. YS003
incurred it's most significant injury when an overly lightened right rear control arm broke allowing the wheel and tire to impact
the rear quarter panel. Seth eventually sold the Stinger to John Lenhardt and it sat unused for a few years.
|In 1990 my friend Jeff Moore (the brains behind the Automotive Archeologist Racing team) and I were both looking to buy
Yenko Stingers. I bought YS003 and had it shipped to Missouri from California intending to repair, prepare, and race it. The
very next week Jeff found and purchased YS199 (today this is Chris Langely's gorgeous blue Stinger also racing on our team).
Jeff loved YS003s history. I had the racing bug bad and YS199 was race ready. We traded.
YS003 was eventually sold to another friend, local Porsche racer Rick Carr who worked on the car in his spare time for several
years. Eventually Rick decided he wanted a Ferrari and traded the Stinger back to Jeff straight up for a pretty nice 1974 365
GT4 2+2. Everybody agreed one of them was crazy but consensus could never be reached on which one.
In 2002 YS003 was purchased by Jim Kamahachi and traveled back to Maryland.
|Nobody has ever been more excited about YS003 than Jim Kamahachi. His desire was for a street legal Stinger that could be
entered in vintage touring events. Jim collected every available GM NOS part he could find for a few years and then sent
YS003 and all that NOS to the Corvair Ranch for a full restoration. In 2008 with the Stinger restoration about 85% complete
other business opportunities prompted Jim to offer the Stinger for sale on ebay and I repurchased it.
As I intended we quickly finished the restoration and offered YS003 for sale. Fortunately I was reminded how fond I was of
the Stinger and no buyer valued it more than I did at that time.
|In 2010, the 50th anniversary of the Corvair, we found ourselves with a freshly restored Yenko Stinger and the Corvair
Society of America International Convention in Iowa, just a 7 hour tow away. We decided to enter the Concours d'Elegance.
YS003 was scored "Gold" at 95.38 pts and promoted to Senior Division.
|YS003 was driven almost 15,000 miles on the street between 2008 and 2016 including a memorable 12 hour trip from
Missouri to Georgia to attend the 2011 Yenko Stinger Reunion at Road Atlanta. While torquing the head as a part of routine
maintenance in 2016 a stud began pulling out of the case. Distracted by other race and street car projects YS003 sat broken,
stored on a lift in the back of my shop, until the summer of 2018.
|Early in 2018 I had purchased a race prepared engine from teammate Chris Langely when he upgraded, and I had begun
fabricating a safety roll structure with the idea of eventually doing some track day type events with YS003. We were all
planning to go to the annual Yenko Stinger Race Reunion at Virginia International Raceway in September to support Chris
and Russ with their Stinger racers. Having guest driven Stinger YS095 at the Road Atlanta Reunion in 2012 and again at
Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2014 I expressed my frustration that I had not worked harder on YS003 to Jeff Moore and
Two weeks before we were scheduled to leave for the event Jeff called and said "if you want to race in Virginia, bring it over
to my shop, John and I will do it". It helped that the engine was built, and that the gearbox and differential in the car were
fresh however the list was long. A front oil cooler, fuel cell, exhaust, fire system, rewiring, plumbing, race brake prep,
shifter mods, and many other task were completed during that two week thrash.
While we sorted through some new build issues at the track, YS003 made every session at VIR. It was a great first weekend
out. For the first time since 1978, after a 40 year break, YS003 was on track racing as Don Yenko and Gus Shaffer intended.
|YS003 VIR 2018
|Seth Emerson reunited with YS003 at VIR 2018
|The Automotive Archeologist
|Front: Jeff Moore, Chris Langely, Curtis Wood, John Gresham.
Rear: Kevin Fahy who strayed into our pit, was quickly adopted, and was a
great help. Not pictured Russ Rosenburg YS320 and my brother Erik an Alfa
After a successful weekend at VIR we decided to enter the SVRA Championship Event at Circuit of the Americas in Austin,
TX. It was a fun, successful weekend. My son Shelby attended. The car ran back to back races on Sunday as Chris raced it
in his Group 8 race, immediately after my Group 3 race. (YS199 dropped a valve seat on Saturday)
Rick Parent (SVRA) took time from his busy schedule at VIR to review our efforts to prepare YS003 exactly as it would have
been in 1966, and provide some preliminary Gold Medallion advice. At COTA we mounted tires on the steel Yenko rims that
were the only thing available in 1966. Before leaving for COTA Jeff installed the exact 60s era tachometer and fuel pumps
listed in the Yenko Chevrolet option catalog. Additionally he fabricated warning lights from 57 Corvette taillights to replace
the LED type I had installed. John stripped the modern bright anodizing from the plumbing fittings. I refitted the original rear
control arm forgings. A variety of other things including removal of all non period decals was done in preparation.
At the SVRA COTA event YS003 was accepted as an SVRA Historic Gold Medallion Car.
Information on the SVRA Gold Medallion Program can be found by clicking here A list of Gold Medallion cars including
YS003 can be found here
|YS003 COTA 2018
|YS003 2018 on Steelies