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April 18: Bill Mitchell’s Corvette Stingray Racer concept first hit the track on this date in 1959

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April 18: Bill Mitchell’s Corvette Stingray Racer concept first hit the track on this date in 1959

Fifty-four years ago today — April 18, 1959 — the Corvette Stingray Racer debuted at Maryland's Marlboro Raceway. The experimental concept car took a fourth-place finish that day but went on to win an SCCA championship in 1960, thanks to its lightweight fiberglass body, de Dion rear suspension, and small-block V-8 engine that sent 315 hp to the rear wheels. Designed by Bill Mitchell, GM's vice president of styling (who eventually added a passenger seat and used the concept as his personal wheels), and Corvette designer Larry Shinoda, the car's inspiration was a Mako shark Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing.

A visitor to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. captured the car in motion in the following video: