1960 Le Mans-winning Corvette Headed Back to France for 50th Anniversary to Honor Chip Miller, Automotive Legend
CARLISLE, PA - To fulfill a lifelong dream is typically a rare and wonderful accomplishment. To realize a lifelong dream shared with a beloved late parent is extraordinary. For Lance Miller, Partner and Co-Owner of Carlisle Events, Inc., this is a soon-to-be realization. Over the last four years, Lance Miller diligently has been working to materialize not only his goal of taking the #3 1960 Briggs Cunningham Corvette - the first Corvette ever to win in a Le Mans Class (GT 5000) race - back to France but to realize the dream of his late father, Chip Miller.
Chip Miller, co-founder of Carlisle Events, Inc. established in 1974, was known worldwide for his resiliently positive attitude, his passion for Corvettes, his tremendous personal Corvette collection and for creating quite possibly the grandest Corvette event anywhere in the world - Corvettes at Carlisle. In December 2003, Chip Miller was diagnosed with a little-known disease called amyloidosis.
Amyloidosis occurs when abnormally high levels of a particular protein, known as amyloid, build up in one or more organs to cause a malfunction. As an abnormal protein, amyloid originates in bone marrow. The heart, kidneys, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract are most often affected by the disease. Symptoms of amyloidosis depend largely on the organ(s) impacted. And, because there is such a wide array of symptoms - fatigue, weight loss, a feeling of fullness, tingling/numbness in the lower extremities, shortness of breath, an enlarged tongue -- amyloidosis has proven to be a difficult disease to diagnose. For more information, visit the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation website at www.chipmiller.org.
After an intensely brave battle, the world lost an extraordinary person on March 25, 2004. Chip's sudden passing left the automotive, racing and Corvette worlds in a shocked state of mourning.
Lance Miller, "a true chip off Chip," co-leads his company with the same conviction, compassion and business savvy with which his father was well blessed. In honor of his best friend and father, Lance is less than eight weeks from bringing his and his father's dream to fulfillment by shipping the amazing #3 Cunningham Corvette overseas to the mid-June running of the Le Mans, the most prestigious race event in the world.
Not only will the Miller Family's Cunningham #3 - which held its winning status for over 40 years until 2001 - be at Le Mans to mark the 50th anniversary of its 1960 win but the car will have its only surviving co-driver, 92-year-old John Fitch, at the wheel for a celebratory lap. Bob Grossman, Fitch's co-driver in 1960, preceded Chip in death. As shared with an editor of Corvette Fever magazine, Chip had planned to bring Fitch and the famous #3 to France's famous track near the Sarthe River in 2010. Lance proudly will carry the torch forward for his father.
To underscore the significance of the #3 car's accomplishment, in 1960 the four Corvettes at Le Mans were the only cars representing the United States at the time. Not only did the #3 Cunningham win its class and hold the glory for 40 years, it only lost the title to another Corvette when, in 2001, a C5R won the GT class and ironically finished 8th overall, precisely the same as the #3 had done 41 years prior.
This June the Cunningham #3 will be on display in collaboration with Chevrolet's showcase of vehicles and will be representing Jan Hyde and the Registry of Corvette Race Cars. The registry's objective is to preserve the heritage of Corvette race cars in order to keep the Corvette legend alive and well. Important to Lance and the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation, the entire trip to and from Europe will be captured for posterity through a documentary to be produced by Michael Brown and his company, MBP Productions.
The virtual road to this point has been long, windy and challenging. With countless hours invested in restoring the #3, Kevin Mackay and the team from Corvette Repair, Inc. have masterfully restored the Cunningham Vette back to its original racing specifications with no detail overlooked. The vehicle, in concourse condition, is now as it was 50 years ago. Lance Miller notes, "Mackay and Corvette Repair are the best in the business. Their work on the #3 has been nothing short of remarkable. My father would be beyond proud of the way the car looks. It couldn't be any more perfectly prepped for the trip to Le Mans."
Miller points out - in addition to fulfilling his and his father's collective dream - a key objective of this trip is to raise awareness of the terrible disease, amyloidosis, which curtailed his father's exemplary life. The Chip Miller Charitable Foundation (www.chipmiller.org), as per its mission statement, was created "…to empower people with the knowledge and understanding of amyloidosis for early detection, ensuring a better quality of life for those afflicted with the disease and to help science find the cures."
Lance summarizes the catalyst of the epic journey across the Atlantic stating, "I know my dad is looking down and smiling. That's what has carried me through the incalculable hours invested in the rigorous logistics necessary to pull this off. Without question, Dad will be in the cockpit of the #3 this June when it makes its well-deserved anniversary lap."