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Jim Jeffords and Road America


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#1 Vettefinderjim

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 01:17

The 1959 Corvette ''PURPLE PEOPLE EATER #3'' was found at CHIP MILLER'S ''CORVETTE AT CARLISLE event in 1978. Chip and his painter friend, Ken Eckhert bought it. Neither person wanted the car, so they went 50-50 and bought it for $400 or $200 each. Ken took the car back to his paint shop in Philadelphia where it sat until late 1987. He used it as a paint mixing table. I teased Chip for all those years to either get it out and lets see and find its history......or sell me the car.

Chip and wife Judy attended the Monterey Historic 1987 Races when Chevrolet was 75 years old and he got all excited about vintage racing and looking into the car and see what it was after the race weekend. Two weeks later he called me and said we found a #33 on the door under many layers of paint and I said, well that is BUD GATES old race number. I BET IT IS THE JIM JEFFORDS ''NICKEY CHEVROLET'' CAR. As they say, the rest is history.

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AS FOUND IN 1978.

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JIM JEFFORDS at the JULY 1959 SCCA REGIONAL RIVERSIDE race where he lost to BOB BONDURANT in an accident filled event of broken fiberglass. Even so, JEFFORDS went on the win his Second SCCA B/P National Championship in this 1959 Corvette. He also won the same title in the 1958 NICKEY ''PPE2'' car

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CHIP MILLER in 2001 in front of his restored 1959 NICKEY ''PURPLE PEOPLE EATER III'' Corvette. JIM JEFFORDS was inducted into the CORVETTE MUSEUM HALL OF FAME in 2001. We had a party for him in California and Chip attended along with RONNIE KAPLAN, Nicky Chief Mechanic, and Nickey General Manager ''LINDY'' LINDENHEIMER. TOM STEPHANI, one son of the STEPHANI BROTHERS who owned the NICKEY Chevrolet Dealership was also present. Tom gave Chip the original Dealer and factory paperwork that he had in his saved Nickey files. How neat it is the people love people. We lost Chip to a rare cancer blood disease AMYLOIDOSIS in March 2004.

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JIM JEFFORDS taking a Parade Lap at the CORVETTE WORLD TRIBUTE at ROAD AMERICA August 16, 2010 in the 59 PPE III. Chips son, Lance was by his side

Edited by Vettefinderjim, 15 January 2013 - 01:18.


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#2 Vettefinderjim

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 01:34

JIM JEFFORDS started racing a Jaguar 120 in 1954 at Akron Ohio. Jim had success in that car and in 1955 moved up to a JAG 140 model and raced it thru the season

At the November 5-6, 1955 Road America SCCA Regional, JIM finally met Ed Cole, Chevrolet GM and asked “How can I get on the new CORVETTE team, Mr. Cole? Ed said, '' Go see Dick Doane, the Chevrolet dealer from Dundee, Ill and he then said if you can prove yourself I will do my best and get you into a production Corvette. to race at Memorial Weekend Road America race the folllowing May. However, a Corvette was never ready. Doane raced his new yet to be entered 56 Sebring Corvette at local hill climbs in the late fall 55 months, and Jim thought the nut behind the wheel should be changed, but how was he to prove to the world that his driving talent earned him the right to drive the Corvette.

In an article in Vintage Motorsport in the late 1990s, Jeffords told how he acquired his first Corvette. He got if from Chevrolet, but not until the spring of 1956, when he picked it up after the car had been raced at a Marlboro, Maryland event by another driver that he can not remember. He paid $2500 for the car after the race, then drove the car back to Milwaukee, straight pipes and all. That is the Corvette that Jeffords drove at the Milwaukee Regional May 20, 1956, finishing fourth overall, second in CM. He then drove the car in the 1956 RA June Sprints feature for modified sports cars, but was a DNF.

So Jim hopped back in his old Jag 140 and went out against Dr. Dick Thompson, Fred Windridge, Bark Henry and Ed Davis. These were the Corvette drivers of the day.

Jeffords drove the wheels off that little Jag and was leading the race with one lap to go, when on a downshift, the engine popped a freeze plug and the car limped to a DNF.

The fans and Ed Cole mobbed and praised Jim when he returned to the pits for his great driving ability. Jim raced his new modified Corvette in the feature on Sunday, and was a DNF.

That beginning led to Jim racing a Corvette for many years.
Doane Chevrolet helped Jim with his original 1956 Corvette C/P racer he competed in the following races with the car. There has been many questions about his first car. It may have been the # 3 Blue 1956 Sebring entry Dick Doane car, but at times Jim has been confused and says it was in 57. We discovered however, he racedd NASSAU on Dec 1-8, 1956 in a ''new'' 1957 fuel injection 4 speed car.
NOTE: Thank you RA Historian for the correction here.

May 1956 SCCA Regional Milwaukee, 4th

June 1956 SCCA National, Road America ''JUNE SPRINTS''

August 1956 Harewood Acres in Canada

October 1956 Smart Field

Finally, he got to drive a new FACTORY 1957 Fuel Injection, 4 speed car for the Chevrolet team at the FIA NASSAU SPEED WEEK, all sponsored by Ed Cole Posted Image

Jim raced # 36, Dr. Dick Thompson raced # 15, Fred Windridge raced # 72, all painted in traditional white with blue coves, and blue racing stripes USA colors. Warren Flickinger drove the Artic Blue car for sponsor Doane Chevrolet. Nassau, Bahamas Governor’s Race, Class B,C, D on 12/7/56

108 Maroon Kurtis Cadillac L. Brero
117 Corvette Red, SR-2 ''Bill Mitchell'' R. Crawford
98 Ferrari- Carroll Shelby
15 white corvette- Dr. Dick Thompson
36 white corvette- Jim Jeffords
43 Blue corvette- W. Flickinger
72 white corvette- Fred Windridge
25 White Jag- John Fitch
13 Ferrari 800 Monza-Blue A. Portage

Marshall motors trailer in background

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This NASSAU RACE CREATED THE '' REAL McCOY'' add that excited Corvette buyers world wide. Had Ed Cole and people like ZORA DUNTOV, JOHN FITCH and JIM JEFFORDS never entered the cars into competition, the CORVETTE would have never been made.

December 7, 1956 NASSAU, Governor’s Trophy 9th. The 5 lap Preliminary Nassau was raced and Jim qualified. The final Nassau Trophy race on Dec 9, 1956 Jim finished 24th OA.

---------------------------------------------------------
SEBRING, MARCH 23-24, 1957
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On March 23-24, 1957 Jim raced SEBRING Corvette # 3 Production car with Kilborn and Duncan. Lindsey Hopkins , Coke-Cola GM was listed as the entrant as by now Chevrolet was adhearing to the AMA factory ban on auto racing. The factory # 4 Production car was driven by Dr. Dick Thompson and GASTON ANDREY. The P3 car was a ''practice'' car for all Corvette drivers and would be used in the race, if the # 3 or #4 failed prior to the race start.
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Jim and team finished 16th OA, 2nd in class. Two days after the SEBRING RACE, Jim bought the car for $2500......and ‘‘DROVE IT HOME TO MILWAUKEE !! On May 4, 1957 Jim entered the car in little SCCA club race, still in the familiar white / blue colors. He blew the engine, which prevented him in racing the May 19 SCCA REGIONAL at Cumberland, Maryland against Dr. Dick Thompson, CARROLL SHELBY and Steve Howe, all driving Corvettes.
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Edited by Vettefinderjim, 18 January 2013 - 23:08.


#3 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:47

Will Jim Jeffords and PPE III be at Sonoma or Monterey this year?

Vince H.

#4 Vettefinderjim

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 15:14

Will Jim Jeffords and PPE III be at Sonoma or Monterey this year?

Vince H.

I talked to Jim yesterday. I hope to visit him within the next two weeks. He is fighting medical issues, so I can't answer the question at this time. Lance Miller has been asked to bring the Cunningham # 3 Le Mans car to Monterey, so maybe there is a chance for PPEIII to be squezed into the transpoter. I think the outcome of these next two weeks of auction circus in Arizona and Florida will help people better plan their summer travels.

Jim and I have discussed both events, and the ''brain'' says I am going. Now if we just get the ''body'' to agree.

Edited by Vettefinderjim, 16 January 2013 - 15:16.


#5 RA Historian

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 18:28

At the November 5-6, 1955 Road America SCCA Regional, JIM finally met Ed Cole, Chevrolet GM and asked “How can I get on the new CORVETTE team, Mr. Cole? Ed said, '' Go see Dick Doane, the Chevrolet dealer from Dundee, Ill and he then he promised a production Corvette to race at Memorial Weekend Road America race the folllowing May.
______________________________________________________________________
Jeffords drove the wheels off that little Jag that cold Novemember weekend and was leading the race with one lap to go, when on a downshift, the engine popped a freeze plug and the car limped to a 2nd finish.

Just a couple clarifications. First, there was no race at Road America in November, 1955. After the inaugural races on Sept. 10-11, 1955, the next event was the 1956 June Sprints.

There were no races at Road America "at Memorial Weekend Road America race the folllowing May." See above.

The race referenced where Jeffords drove the Jaguar XK-140 against the Corvettes was in the June Sprints, 1956. He was in the lead when the car broke, but he did not limp to a second place finish. He was a DNF.

In an article in Vintage Motorsport in the late 1990s, Jeffords told how he acquired his first Corvette. He got if from Chevrolet, but not until the spring of 1956, when he picked it up after it had raced at an east coast event. He then drove the car back to Milwaukee, straight pipes and all. That is the Corvette that Jeffords drove at the Milwaukee Regional May 20, 1956, finishing fourth overall, second in CM. He then drove the car in the June Sprints feature for modified sports cars, but was a DNF.

Edited by RA Historian, 18 January 2013 - 18:32.


#6 Vettefinderjim

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 22:45

Just a couple clarifications. First, there was no race at Road America in November, 1955. After the inaugural races on Sept. 10-11, 1955, the next event was the 1956 June Sprints.

There were no races at Road America "at Memorial Weekend Road America race the folllowing May." See above.

The race referenced where Jeffords drove the Jaguar XK-140 against the Corvettes was in the June Sprints, 1956. He was in the lead when the car broke, but he did not limp to a second place finish. He was a DNF.

In an article in Vintage Motorsport in the late 1990s, Jeffords told how he acquired his first Corvette. He got if from Chevrolet, but not until the spring of 1956, when he picked it up after it had raced at an east coast event. He then drove the car back to Milwaukee, straight pipes and all. That is the Corvette that Jeffords drove at the Milwaukee Regional May 20, 1956, finishing fourth overall, second in CM. He then drove the car in the June Sprints feature for modified sports cars, but was a DNF.


THANK YOU. THE DATA WAS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH JIM IN 1990. APPARENTLY HIS MEMORY WAS NOT THAT SHARP. I TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND WILL MAKE CORRECTIONS. Jerry Entin thinks I should rewrite the entire entry and put it on the regular NOSTALGIA site. I have many more photos up thru 1960

Edited by Vettefinderjim, 18 January 2013 - 22:52.


#7 HistoryBuff

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 23:31

What did the red SR2 sell for after it was hidden away for years? Isn't that the Bill Tower car? I have read for years Bill Tower owned it but never what barn find price he bought it for?
Also maybe I missed it but wasn't one of the SR2s painted purple and became the Purple People Eater? By these pictures it looks like two different cars, one based on a stock ,not long nose Corvette.

#8 RA Historian

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 13:34

There were more than one SR-2.

The purple one you mention started life in 1956, as I recall, when Jerome Earl, Harley Earl's son, wanted to go racing. A standard Corvette was modified into the first SR-2, with no headrest and a low fin on the trunk. I believe that Dick Thompson toyed with it at the '56 June Sprints. By '57 it had morphed into what we now identify as SR-2 mode, with the headrest and high fin. Jerry Earl drove it in this guise during '57. At the Sept 1957 SCCA Regional at Milwaukee Earl finished fifth overall and second in class CM. Shortly thereafter the car was sold to Jim Jeffords. It should be noted that the color of the car already was purple when Earl drove it. Jeffords liked the color, as he felt that it was more visible in the mirrors of cars he was chasing, so that when Jeffords signed on to drive BP Corvettes for Nickey Chevrolet in 1958 he had the BP Corvettes painted purple as well.

Jeffords drove the SR-2 rather sparingly in 1958 as he concentrated on the BP Corvette. He was a DNF at Sebring, won an SCCA Regional overall at Milwaukee in May, was a DNF at the Milwaukee National in August, and was a very late DNF in the Sept Road America 500 when the rear axle broke while running in fourth. He may have driven it once or twice more but I am unclear on that.

When Nickey acquired a Scarab for 1959, the SR-2 was quite redundant in Jeffords garage, and it was sold to Bud Gates.

During this same time period Eb Rose was racing a red SR-2 in the Southwest.

#9 Vettefinderjim

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 04:44

I went to SONOMA MOTORSPORT FESTIVAL MAY 16-19, 2013. Jim Jeffords was not there. He was in the hospital for 10 days and was due home last week.

Here is a great clip of the event.
http://www.specialca...cours-top-speed

#10 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 22:37

Jim Jeffords has sadly died - http://www.sheboygan...?nclick_check=1



#11 275 GTB-4

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 23:17

AS FOUND IN 1978.

KiwanisGPatRiverside0759-080_zpsf17d755f


Great story...and is there a story on why the K in MK was reversed? :)



#12 RA Historian

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 15:19

Jeffords drove for Nickey Chevrolet of Chicago in 1958-59. Nickey had the 'K' backwards in all their signage and advertising. That was because when a sign was being erected over the dealership, somehow or other the K was reversed. That mistake got so much notice and press that the Stephani Brothers, owners of Nickey, quickly realized that inadvertently they were on to something. From that time forward, Nickey had the reversed K on everything that they did. Their advertising slogan on radio and TV included the line about shopping 'at the sign of the backward K'.



#13 RA Historian

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 15:28

Jim Jeffords had a relatively brief racing career, but with big accomplishment. He was first noticed on the national stage when he drove his old Jaguar XK-140 at the 1956 Road America June Sprints and came very close to beating the top Corvettes of the day. That made GM sit up and take notice, and he was part of the unofficial Corvette effort from then on. His greatest fame came when he drove the famous Nickey Chevrolet Corvette to the 1958 and 1959 SCCA B Production National Championships. He was virtually unbeatable in the production ranks both years and essentially walked the title.

 

He had a number of noteworthy wins besides all the SCCA National and regional wins in the BP Corvette.

 

1958 Milwaukee SCCA Regional, 1st overall, Corvette SR-2

1958 Nassau Tourist Trophy race, 1st overall, Nickey BP Corvette

1959 Meadowdale USAC Road Racing Division 505 Km professional race, 1st overall and in each of the three heats, Nickey Scarab

1959 Meadowdale USAC Road Racing Division 444 Km professional race, 1st overall and in each of the three heats, Nickey Scarab

1959 Denver Buckley Field SCCA National, 1st overall, Nickey Scarab

1960 Grand Prix of Havana, 1st overall, Camoradi Corvette

1960 Road America USAC Road Racing Division 200 mile race. 1st overall, J. Frank Harrison Maserati T-61

 

Jim retired abruptly at the end of the 1960 season when he became seriously ill. It took him a very long time to recover. He returned to racing in 1968, but not as a driver. American Motors had just introduced its Javelin 'pony car' and decided to go racing in the booming SCCA Trans Am series. They engaged Jim to build a team for them, which he did. Jeffords ran the Javelin Trans Am team in 1968 with drivers Peter Revson and George Follmer, with his mechanic from the Nickey days, Ron Kaplan, as the chief wrench. While they did not win any races, they had six second place finishes, which was a fine accomplishment for a brand new car and team, especially against the factory backed Mustang and Camaro teams.

 

Jeffords ran an advertising agency for many years before branching out in the car dealership business. For many years he ran an RV dealership, Livability Inc., in Brookfield, Wis. He the gained a Volkswagen franchise and sold VWs for many years. He retired from that business when the land on which his dealerships were located became so valuable that he sold his location to K Mart for a very tidy sum. He spent most of his retirement years in Palm Springs, Cal. He was a member of the Board of Directors and a Vice President of Road America from 1958 until his passing.

 

Tom


Edited by RA Historian, 27 March 2014 - 15:35.


#14 wllmkeogh

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 13:57

According to my recent research as well as e-mail dialogue with Lance Miller the picture of the purple Corvette in pieces IS NOT THE 1959 Nickey PPE#3 Corvette and also other facts are wrong as stated

The picture of the 1959 Corvette that Chip Miller found and verified with Tom Stephani ( i.e. son of former Nickey owner) who had old Nickey documents on the car can be found at the following internet location:

corvetterepair.com

 

http://corvetterepai...rvette-history/

 

 

Per Lance Miller: 6/12/2014

The reason I'm aware of this is because of the barrels in the background have our current sponsorship wraps and people were sending me text images stating it's the Purple People Eater - jokingly of course. So needless to say, the image you sent has the incorrect information on it and Jim Gessner posted it incorrectly on the forum. With this said, the car was found at Carlisle but it was found in 1974 and it was a complete car with the correct roll bar & etc

The car was found during Fall Carlisle (our very first event) in 1974 where he and Ken Heckert along with their wives thought the race car in the car corral would be a fun car to autocross. The car was in ROUGH shape and just a beat up race car with the proper roll bar & etc

The car was restored by Ken Heckert (my father's partner prior to buying his portion out) not Kevin Mackay like you mentioned in your email (Kevin did do some under carriage work at a much later date). I'm unaware of the number 33 being found on the door 

 

 

Per My research on internet: Bill Keogh:

Bud Gates nevier had had a #33

 

He had #83 and #28 

 

Bob Spooner  used #33 BUT NOT WITH THE 1959 Nickey car . He used it with the 1958 PPE#1 Nickey Corvette that he bought from Nickey Chevrolet at the end of the 1958 season .

 

James Jeffords used #1 in the 1959 season as a result of being the 1958 BP Season Champion.

 

Bob Spooner  used #33 BUT NOT WITH THE 1959 Nickey car . He used it with the 1958 Nickey Corvette he bought from Nickey 

20.6.1959

SCCA National Road America [BP+CP+DP+EP]

33

Chevrolet Corvette

Bob Spooner

Robt. Spooner

2nd

 

#33 Bob Spooner 1958 Corvette

 

In the same race was James Jeffords with the Nickey 1959 Corvette with race car #1 

 

SCCA National Road America [BP+CP+DP+EP]

20.6.1959

car #1

Jim Jeffords

 

Sponsor: John Stephani

 

 

per: http://www.racingspo...pooner-USA.html

 

I verified with Tom Stephani (son of former owner of Nickey Chevrolet) that he gave Chip Miller all the old Nickey Chevrolet documents on the car to support that fact it was the 1959 PPE#3 Nickey Corvette

 

Bill Keogh

NCRS member 1610

Fort erie Ontario

E mail:wllmkeogh@yahoo.com

Tel: 905-8712341