Before the advent and spread of the internet, car culture was much more local. Sure, there were enthusiast magazines, but those only provided a brief glimpse of what was going on in far off lands. Flip on the TV and you’d be happy to catch a race broadcast or spot a cool car in a movie. There certainly weren’t 20 different reality shows about guys working on cars and yelling each other.
It wasn’t like today where we can all connect, share and be inspired by, or argue about, cars across the world that we might never see with our own eyes.
In the years before the internet, people’s automotive interactions usually took place in real life. It could be unforgettable memories of going to a car show with your dad, seeing a badass car cruising the boulevard one night, or maybe going to the track and hearing an uncorked race motor for the first time. The cars that we dreamed about were often found in our own towns and not in digitized images or video clips.
For example, if you like fast cars and come from Northern California then you might be familiar with Brian Hobaugh and his family’s 1965 Corvette Sting Ray – a machine I recently had the chance to spend some time with in the hills east of San Francisco Bay.
When you see the bright red C2 Corvette with its widened body and enormous 315-section tires you might think this a brand new, high-dollar pro touring car that just rolled out from some popular builder. That’s not the case here though. This ‘Vette is much more old school than you think.
The Corvette has been in the Hobaugh family since Brian’s father purchased it in the mid-1980s with the intent of using it for SCCA Solo racing. The history of the car goes back even further than that though – all the way back to 1965 when it was ordered as a factory fuel injected car and promptly modified for autocross.
Back then nobody really knew what these cars would be worth in the future, and many C2 Vette owners in the ’60s and ’70s had no qualms about modifying their machines. Right from the start, this ‘Vette was built to race – and that meant doing things like cutting and widening the factory fiberglass fenders to fit more rubber. Although they’ve been tweaked a bit over the years, it’s these wide fenders help give the Corvette the aggressive look it carries to this day.
When Brian’s dad bought the car in 1983, the Vette had already developed a reputation among Bay Area racers. Mr. Hobaugh himself had also been establishing himself as one of the region’s quickest drivers behind the wheel of a race-prepped Camaro (today Brian also owns a ’73 Camaro race car which you’ll be seeing shortly), but it was the Corvettes that were dominating the class.Refined, Not Rebuilt
So with a young Brian watching, Pops helped turn the Corvette into a true legend, known by just about everyone who’s ever watched or competed in a Bay Area autocross event. Naturally, Brian himself started driving and racing the car after he got his license, continuing to hone his autocross skills and further building on the ‘Vette’s local reputation.
Incredibly, the car has remained in the family ever since, and it’s been raced the entire time. It’s never undergone a full restoration or a complete rebuild, but it has been refined over the years as the Hobaughs search for more speed through the cones. The Corvette’s most thorough update came recently when Brian repainted the car red at the body shop he manages and fitted new wheels and tires.
Lift the hood and you won’t find an LS swap or a couple of turbochargers hanging off the engine. What you will find though is a proven 364 cubic inch small block with Brodix Track 1 aluminum heads and a TPiS fuel injection system.
The small block is also equipped with a lightweight SCAT crankshaft, Crower rods, a Crane roller cam and Harland Sharp roller rockers. When Brian lays into the throttle the V8 will spin all the way up to 7,500rpm.
All together the setup is good for 525 horsepower and 500 pound feet of torque. Neither figure is astonishing by today’s standards, but the Corvette’s competition accolades don’t lie. We all know there’s a lot more to having a fast car than just dyno numbers.
The small block is mated not to a late model T56 or a fancy race transmission, but to an old school Muncie four-speed which has taken every bit of abuse the Hobaughs have thrown at it.
You might also be surprised to find out that the chassis beneath the Corvette’s wide body is also relatively original. The only significant changes are stiffer springs and a set of competition-proven JRi ST-08 shocks.
The wheels are certainly one of the most outstanding parts on the car. They are from a company called Aristo Collection and measure a serious 18×12-inch at all four corners.
Each wheel is wrapped in a steamroller-like 315/30R18 Falken Azenis RT615K tire. Brian actually wanted to fit even larger rubber in the rear, but this was the widest size he could get an RT615K in. Either way, the wheels and tires do a fine job at filling up the Vette’s widened fenders and putting those 525 horses to the ground.
Once you get past the gigantic dish on the wheels, you will notice the upgraded brakes. While a ’65 Corvette left the factory with disc brakes all around, these have been upgraded to a race-ready Wilwood setup with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear.A Part Of The Family
As for the body, aside from the widened fenders the modifications are pretty mild. The bumpers and chrome trim have been blacked out for a more aggressive look and Brian has also fitted a clear Lexan rear spoiler for added downforce without disturbing the lines of the car.
It’s the same story inside, where the cockpit has been kept largely as it was back in 1965 – with the exception of a few safety upgrades.
The original driver’s seat has been replaced with a racing bucket and harness to keep the driver secure during autocross runs.
There’s also a simple roll bar setup in the rear for added safety and increased rigidity.
A stock ’65 Corvette steering wheel looks cool, but it’s also a bit large for racing use, so here it was replaced by a smaller one that still keeps the old school feel.
Otherwise, everything has been kept just as it was when the car rolled off the Chevrolet assembly line – and that’s not a bad thing at all.
With the the value of C2 Corvettes steadily rising over the years, it’s not surprising that you don’t find too many modified examples around.
While I’ve got no idea what hardcore Corvette purists think of a car like this, I personally love the way this car matches an aggressive look and modern track performance with a ton of history.
But it isn’t just the car that is special, it’s the way it represents a family bond passed down from father to son – and surely to future generations of the Hobaugh family.
Whether it’s a local who has watched the Hobaughs race their ‘Vette over the years, or someone who has recently discovered the car through the power of digital media, it’s hard not to feel good about this car and its rich history.
And that said, here’s to many more years of inspiration and smiles from the legendary Hobaugh ‘Vette.