Corvette Sting Ray Returns To Track Where It Crashed

(Editor’s note: This story is from the RIDE-CT archives having appeared in the “Republican-American” newspaper in March 2018. Mark Prause still owns the car.)

LAKEVILLE, CT – History didn’t repeat itself. It was in late October 2018 that Mark Prause’s 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray departed Lime Rock Park in the same shape that it had arrived. 

The previous time that the Sting Ray was on the racetrack, decades ago, it crashed. Its then-owner immediately relegated the remains to a barn for a quarter-century before Prause rescued it in 1998 and spent nine years making it roadworthy again. 

It was on a cold morning that Prause drove the car from his home in Goshen, CT back to the track and got the opportunity to do a few laps himself, joined by his wife Rebecca. He was well aware of the spot where the Sting Ray had wiped out – on the right-turn, downhill curve leading to the main straightway. He approached that section of the track cautiously knowing what had happened decades earlier.

“From what I understand, it did a simple roll over, upside down. That happened I’m assuming in the early ‘70s ‘cause that’s when the registration sticker was last (valid),” he said. After completing a few laps, Prause recalled saying to his wife, “I just wish I could go back in time and see it and understand what happened.”

See the 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray in action in this YouTube video…

Prause was certainly less aggressive on the accelerator than the instructor who crashed it with its then owner in the passenger seat. “The car ran fine through there. This car just wants to go. It’s such a heavy horsepower hitter. This car just wants to go. I’d love to rip around the track with it, but these guys were nice enough to let us here at the track and bring back some of the history because it does have a Lime Rock history to it,” he said.

Since putting the Corvette back on the road in 2007, Prause hasn’t driven it much; maybe 2,000 miles total. “It took a lot of money and a lot of time and a lot of effort to get it back to where it is,” he said. “It’s so perfect and so numbers matching that I’m really nervous if something were to happen with it.”

Prause was well aware of his 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray long before he was able to acquire it. “It was actually my wife’s cousin’s car,” he said, explaining that it took years before he even got to see it.

“It took a lot of convincing because her cousin really was a serious Corvette enthusiast at the time. He had three Corvettes. This one was sitting in the barn for probably 25 years until I got my hands on it,” Prause said.

Having been rolled at Lime Rock Park, the Sting Ray presented a restoration challenge when he hauled it home in the spring of 1998. “The car was in rough shape,” he said. “Four flat tires. It had the original Goldline tires on it. All the windows were blown out. The motor was taken out at that time because he used the motor in another car ’cause that’s what you did in ’70s.”

Fortunately, the previous owner had collected some parts in anticipation of reviving the Sting Ray himself. “He had a lot of new old stock items – hood, side exhaust, glass – all in a box ready to go but he never got working on the car. He got working a little bit,” said Prause. 

“There was a lot of fiberglass damage to the top of the fenders. The birdcage (frame) did not get effected by any means. The door reveals were good. He got started on it but lost interest.” 

Prause did some work himself, especially in the tear-down phase, and went outside for the major work. Howard Block at Unique Motor Sports in Pequabuck, CT did the body work and interior, while Billy Mathis of Performance Engines in Torrington, CT handled the motor, a 396-cubic-inch Chevy big block V8. While it runs smoothly, the Sting Ray’s not perfect. Prause said it can overheat on a hot day. 

When put back on the road in 2007, the Sting Ray was remembered by locals because of its history. “A whole lot of people from Torrington knew about the car. When I finally brought the car back to life they were like ‘Oh, that’s the car that was on top of East Main Street in Torrington for so many years,’” he said, referring to the car’s previous home.

Part of what made that gorgeous fall morn at Lime Rock, with the leaves changing and mist rising above the adjoining woods, memorable was that history didn’t repeat itself.

Mark Prause and his 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray

About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy prep school, he holds a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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