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The Fastest Corvette In Japan

Growing up, I remember seeing a Corvette Stingray in a magazine and thinking it was the craziest car design ever. I was probably around seven or eight years old at the time, and to this day I still think of the Corvette as one of the most beautiful cars ever made.
At Central Circuit’s recent Drag Festival series round, I spent some time looking over a very cool example run by Rod Motors. The ‘Dragvette’ currently holds a Japan Drag Race Driver Association (JDDA) Pro Stock title.
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I was told that the chassis and body are all original, although I’m pretty sure the front end uses a tube frame and of course the rear end has been tubbed so it can accomodate those massive 33x15x15-inch Hoosier drag slicks. Then there’s the hood and iconic rear split-window roof, which are fiberglass.
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As I found out on the day, there’s a brilliant history behind the car and its owner, Mr. Makoto Katsuragi.
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Back in the mid-1970s, Katsuragi-san emigrated to and opened a garage in San Francisco, where he developed a taste for drag racing. Soon after, and during the same year his son Ryo was born, Katsuragi-san started racing a red 1963 Corvette Stingray – the very same car you see today.
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It’s been raced for nearly five decades, and today competes in Japan in a completely evolved state with Ryo behind the wheel. Up front, a 440ci SBC V8 with nitrous oxide provides the power, while a Powerglide transmission helps get it to the ground.
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It’s amazing to see this 60-year-old car go down the quarter mile in 8.50-seconds at 246km/h – a Japanese drag racing class record.
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The journey that drag cars and their drivers take to gain split seconds of speed is really something special. It shows that perseverance, dedication, hard work and a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears will allow a few select people to achieve greatness.
Drag racers like Makoto and Ryo Katsuragi are my new heroes.
 
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