The Orange Peel
Courtsey of Ed Beaumont and Connell Miller
A familiar sight at California dragstrips such as LIONS and Irwindale in the early 1960s was a 1963 Corvette racing in the D/Gas class. When the owner began experiencing health issues, the car was then sold to Terry Herbeck.
Herbeck quickly pulled the slightly-modded engine, taking it to renowned gasser racer Robert “Bones” Balogh where along with upping it to 331 cu. in., other speed “goodies” including Hilborn fuel injection were added.
Meanwhile, Herbeck removed the independent rear suspension and had Burbank’s Fiasco Speed Shop install a linked setup with a brand new 8-3/4” rear end from a Dodge Charger. To set the car apart from the other Corvettes that were racing, he also made several body modifications, even installing a new, lighter front dog house made by J&D Corvette.
After the body mods were completed, Terry painted his car a gorgeous orange candy. It was dubbed the Orange Peel, with the name actually alluding to Herbeck’s stellar, smooth paintwork that always lacked the “orange peel” often found in custom finishes of the day.
In addition to entering the Orange Peel in various car shows around California, Herbeck raced the car ran at LIONS, Irwindale, Bakersfield, Santa Maria, Palmdale, Freemont, and at the 1968 Smokers meet where he recorded the car’s quickest elapsed time (10.32). Intent on chasing another dream in his life, Terry sold the car to buy a boat and the Corvette ended up at Stick Chevrolet, where it was raced for about 8 months before being sold again.
Bill Shaner bought it off Stick’s lot and began racing the car. After dropping in a 427 cu. in. big block Chevrolet with Crower fuel injection, the Orange Peel again was seen racing at those same strips, such as LIONS, Irwindale, and Santa Maria. Shaner ran the car for several years until about 1979 when it was parked to be modified for Pro/Gas. It was taken apart but never finished or even put back together. The Orange Peel was consigned to a Conex container for 27 years before it was sold and placed on eBay, listed as a Pro Street project.
That is where I came across the car. There was no engine, no floors, and the paint was stripped. It was begging for somebody to realize what this car was and, more importantly, what it could be again. I bought the car, not really aware of its history I had also acquired. There were some old loan papers, tow bills, the original black plate from California and the body tag was intact. As I started working on it, its background slowly became uncovered.
Finding and contacting a few previous owners has been extremely helpful, as they have provided me with photographs of the car as it was being raced as well as time slips and pertinent information from several of its previous lives. I spent two years building the old Orange Peel back, with much of that time spent chasing the correct parts (many were found on or through eBay) before I was able to finally complete the task. It now has a 502 cu. in. big block Chevy with Enderle fuel injection and Doug Nash five-speed, D-spoke American Magnesium wheels, Vertex magneto, mechanical tach and all the other features to take it back to that old school feel.
I’ve made a few trips to the strip now and, with some fixes over the winter due to a couple of broken parts, I think we’ll be ready for some great nostalgic racing this coming season!
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD – Courtesy of Ed Beaumont; Edited by Connell Miller