How long have you owned your race car? Can you claim it’s been more than a decade? Tom Bayer has most people beat — he’s owned his 1962 Corvette for 50 years, and it’s been a great trip for both of them. This 700 horsepower ‘Vette still plenty of time on the street to go with its 9-second passes at the track.
Bayer purchased his Corvette when he was just 19 years old; over the next five decades, the car would go through many transformations and a lot of life-changing events. Eventually, the car had to be parked for a while, but Bayer always had a plan to bring it back out to race again.
“I bought the car when it was eight years old…I think it had lived a rough life and someone just made it pretty to sell. I wanted something fun I could play with on the street, so it was perfect for me. The car came with a 396 cubic-inch engine and a four-speed transmission…I only paid $1,700 for it. I raced the car for a few years, but started to raise a family so I didn’t have time or money for it. The car was parked, the race engine was sold, and it sat for 38 years until I retired. This is the third season we’ve been racing the car since it was rebuilt,” Bayer says.
The Corvette was built at Bayer’s home, from the chassis work to the paint. An Art Morrison chassis was added to modernize the car and improve how it drove. Under the hood is a 555 cubic-inch Dart-based engine with 10:1 compression. The engine was built with a reasonable compression ratio so the Corvette could still easily be driven on the street. Bayer added a Hughes Performance transmission and torque converter to go with the Strange Engineering 9-inch rear end.
“This is very much a street car even though it’s pretty loud with the side pipes on it. I drive the car on the freeway and it’s comfortable to ride in thanks to the Art Morrison chassis. The car still has the original black and yellow plate on it that was there when I purchased it 50 years ago,” Bayer explains.
Bayer and his family really enjoy the Corvette and drag racing. At events, you’ll find Bayer, his wife, his daughter, and her husband all at the track enjoying the sport. For Bayer, drag racing is all about the competition — he’s done it since he was young with his family, and he plans on doing it for many years to come.
If you see Tom and his Corvette at a local cruise-in spot don’t think the car is all show and no go — there’s a good chance he’ll show you what the taillights look like on his Corvette with a smile on his face.