Tony Settember's Ecurie Scirocco's Corvette that he ran at Le Mans in 1962 with John Turner
The car lasted 150 laps until it retired with gearbox trouble.
Tony was a great guy and I always looked forward to seeing him and Patti at the Legends of Riverside .
Photo: Willem Oosthoek Collection
I met TONY SETTEMBER at the first RIVERSIDE RACEWAY LEGENDS REUNION in 2008. The following year, on 2-25-09 interview he told me the following.
''I raced the 1955 300SL Gullwing at Pebble Beach and beat the 56 Corvette of Dr. Dick Thompson in April 1956. I owned a Mercedes dealership in Ontario, CA and bought my first Corvette, a 1957 silver fuel injection car from MK Smith Chevrolet, Ontario, CA for general driving pleasure. MK wanted me to repair the fuel injection systems that the dealership employees were having problems with. The car was one of the first 4 speed cars, the first fuel injection 283/283hp car M.K. received. It was a real fun car with plenty of power, and terrible brakes. I raced Santa Barbara in October 1957 (#227 race number) then the first Riverside race on Labor Day Sept 1-3, 1957.
In 1958, I was sponsored by JACK YOUNG and raced his, 1958 SILVER #38 with great success. CHIEFTEN BODY SHOP was Jack Young’s business and BILL THOMAS built a wonderful engine. I received backdoor support from Chevrolet’s VINCE PICKENS, to Bondurant and me. I raced that car in 58 and 59 and 60 when it was painted yellow again with good results and then went to Europe.
In England, I got hooked up with a 22 year old millionaire Hugh Powell from Connecticut and a special racer called the WRE, (World Racing Enterprise). The open wheel car was 80% complete when Powell hired me to go to England and find out if all his money was truly in the car. I flew over and found a beautiful racer without a driveline, so I asked friend Briggs Cunningham where we might purchase an engine for this beautiful car. He suggested Maserati and ‘LUCKY’ Casner who formed the CAMORADI RACE TEAM. I followed advice, and we created a beautiful race car with a front-engine powered Maserati 2L open wheel special. We tested at Modena and then went to Naples Grand Prix and I won in the rain. My racing career became big news in Europe with this win. The car was a dream to drive, but the new Maserati Birdcage was being pushed to the front of the pack and we received no additional help from the Maserati, so we sold the car in late 1961. I was approached by Ferrari and invited to the factory, but family pressures prevented what ''might have been'' a great driving experience with the Ferrari team.
Hugh Powell still wanted to race, so I suggested buying a Corvette from my old friend M.K. Smith in Southern California. I ordered a white / red no radio fuel injection hardtop only car with 4 speed, positraction and heavy duty RPO 687 brake and suspension. By now we had become Scuderia Scirocco of USA/GB from Modena Italy Race Team.
The car was shipped to us and we prepared the car for racing and added a 37 gallon gas tank that Maserati built for us from drawings supplied by Zora and Vince Piggens. We also added a SUN Electronic tack, running number lights, fog lamps and mud flaps. We tested at a hill climb race test in Verona, which we won easily.
Jack Turner and I entered the 1962 LeMans race on June 23, 1962. It was the only 1962 Corvette in the LeMans race, and the first Corvette to compete since the Briggs Cunningham effort in 1960. This car was also the first year for the large 327 cubic inch or 5.3 liter engine. It was very powerful. The car ran without a hitch for well over 11 hours, when Jack downshifted after the Mulsanne Straight and inadvertently, pulled up the reverse lock out lever, and the transmission lost two gears. I took over the controls with only first and fourth gear and held my own, but after 14.5 hours and 150 laps the engine went away after a piston blew due to lean fuel mixture from a fuel injection drive cable slipping. Officially we finished 30th overall and 12th in GT, as a DNF.
The car was shipped back to Southern California and I never saw it again.
In 1980, long time Corvette sleuth Mike Pillsbury (now deceased) found Roland Gorman in Ohio who owned the car and needed a hardtop and decklid, as the originals were stolen off the car. Roland sold it to good friend Dale Pearman from Atwood, Tennessee. In 1983 when all the vin numbers were discovered in FIA LeMans files, Dale realized he had a car worth restoring. He and nephew Ken Hansen from Media, TN finished the restoration. Dale passed of kidney disease in the spring of 2005. The car is restored to perfection and received the NCRS Heritage Award at 2006 NCRS National Convention Park City, Utah. LARRY BOWMAN purchased the car at the Gooding Auction in Palm Beach, FL in spring of 2007. Sold again in 2011 to Steve Leistein in Long Island, NY where it is today. The car appeared at ROAD AMERICA at the CORVETTE WORLD TRIBUTE event in August 2011.
Meanwhile, Tony Settember came back to California in 1963 and drove the new Stingray 63 Corvette for Shelly Washburn Chevrolet and again in 64. The for Webster Racing. I drove a Lotus 23, then a Lola T-70 in the 1965-66 time period. In 67 and 68 I raced the 67 Camaro Trans Am car for Washburn Chevrolet of Santa Barbara, California. There was a Ferrari ride in there also, I just don't remember the dates''
Tony will be missed. A very gentle man, who was a real pioneer in Road Racing around the world.
Edited by Vettefinderjim, 07 May 2014 - 14:38.