A Stinger of a Collection: A father inspires a lifetime of Corvettes
Next to my family and career, cars have always been an important part of my life—almost an obsession.
I was born in Phoenix, and my wife and I raised two sons in a little suburb north of Scottsdale. But my first love was a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette.
The car came into my life with the help of my father. He was one of those guys who never took his car to a mechanic and instead worked on them himself. He had a bunch of Cadillacs back in the ’60s and ’70s when gas was cheap, but when everybody transitioned to smaller cars, smaller engines, he made the shift to Japanese cars, mostly Datsun 280Zs. He basically taught me how to work on cars—plus I took three or four years of auto mechanics in high school, so that helped me learn along the way.
As my interest in cars grew, my father encouraged me to save up to buy a nice one. We made a deal: He’d double whatever I could save. So starting at 15 years old, with my $4-an-hour job, I managed to save $4000 by the time I was 18. My dad just about had a heart attack, but he came up with his $4000, and in 1983, I found a car born the same year as me—a 1964 Corvette coupe for $8000. It needed work, but it ran, and my dad talked the owner down to $7500 (and got to pocket the extra $500).
It was not an original car when I bought it—that’s why I was able to get it for $8000.
Back then, original cars were substantially more money—almost double—so even in the ’80s, they weren’t cheap. But when I say mine wasn’t original, I mean only the engine wasn’t original. Everything else was.
Over the years, I’ve built it the way I wanted, including installing a manual six-speed back in the ’90s. Far as I know, I was the first person to put a six-speed in a C2 Corvette; I bought one of the first units made by Richmond Gear, right when it took over Doug Nash, which was a big transmission company back then for five-speeds. Some of the new Corvettes were just coming out with six-speeds, so I thought, “OK, I’m going to get rid of the four-speed and put a six-speed in.” Today, after all has been said and done, my ’64 has about 500 horsepower, and nothing is stock.
And I still love it. It’s the car that started everything. It got me nuts on Corvettes, and I’ve owned eight of them now. I currently own four. The ’64 was how I got into racing as well. I have a good friend who is a captain in the Phoenix Fire Department and a big Corvette guy. We’ve known each other since high school, and we’ve bought various Corvettes together. We used to race each other back in the ’80s and ’90s, just messing around with our cars.
Eventually, racing the ’64 got too expensive to keep up and continually fix, so I bought a 2002 Z06 race car with a 600-hp LS3 and six-speed manual, plus a rollcage, harnesses, and racing suspension. The Z06 also happens to be my daily driver. A while back, my friend and I got involved in open-road racing in the Silver State Classic Challenge in Nevada, where they shut down State Route 318 and you just go for it for about 90 miles. I also do some autocross with it a few times a year in Phoenix.
Next is my 2015 Z06, which I purchased about five years ago. It’s 100 percent stock. I come from a long, proud line of police officers, and I retired from the Phoenix PD in 2018 after 33 years of service. Back when I was an active cop, I always wanted a Z06, so I worked a lot of extra jobs, saved, and bought it used. It’s a seven-speed and the most loaded Z06 you can buy—and it only had 20,000 miles on it.
Last year, I think I went a little nuts. I bought a brand-new C8—a 2021 mid-engine hardtop convertible. It’s the only automatic of the group. I’ve always been a manual Corvette guy—all of my cars have had them except for a 1986 Indy Pace Car that didn’t really do it for me and I ended up selling. But I’ll tell you, this new one is so much different. It’s what they call a dual-clutch automatic, and there’s an eight-speed in there. It doesn’t even feel like an automatic. It feels like there’s just one gear, and you don’t even feel it shift. It’s crazy.
The thing that ties all of my cars together is the color scheme. All four are black with a red stinger on the hood. I don’t know why, but I’ve found that once you get black cars, you’re done. You can’t get away from black.
Although my wife thinks the cars are nice, she’s not obsessed like I am. But my sons are becoming car guys. My 19-year-old is in the Marines and fortunately doesn’t need a car right now, but my 22-year-old is in college and trying to get on the Phoenix Fire Department. He’s a big car guy. I’ve told them both I’ll honor the same deal my father gave me: Save up and I’ll match it. My 22-year-old saved $10,000, and I helped him buy a 2010 Camaro SS—black with red on the hood, of course.
I guess it’s true what they say: Like father, like son.