'The Quest' to find the original Le Mans Corvette

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comOctober 18, 2012 

  • Park Plaza Cinema will host a screening of "The Quest" at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26. Hors d'oeuvres will be served at 5 p.m. A discussion with Michael Brown will happen after the screening. Tickets are $35.

    Details: 843-715-0479, www.parkplazahhimovies.com

Shortly after the first four Corvettes appeared at the famed 24 hours of Le Mans, they disappeared.

The race is one of endurance, testing racers and their cars to compete a full day. Names are in history books. But in time, the cars themselves just faded away.

"The Quest" is a documentary about where those cars went and the people who tracked them down. The director is part-time Hilton Head Island resident Michael Brown. In advance of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d'Elegance, a screening will be held Oct. 26 at Park Plaza Cinema.

Brown, who lives in Dallas, explains how he and his subjects got hooked on Corvettes.

Question. How did this project come about?

Answer. I've always been a Corvette enthusiast. What we do typically is corporate video and such. But as a former newsman (anchor and talk show host at ABC affiliate in Dallas), I've always been interested in documentaries. For the past several years I've been trying to figure out how to combine what I love with what I do for a living.

Q. How did you meet (Corvette collector and documentary subject) Lance Miller?

A. We started going around the country profiling corvette collections with the intention of putting together a cable show. I met Lance Miller at a show in Phoenix four years ago. I knew him by name and was familiar with his father, Chip. We ended up doing a profile of Lance and his collection. During this interview he told me about the No. 3 Corvette (the class winner at Le Mans in 1960) and how he was going to fulfill his father's dream and take that car back to France for the 50th anniversary of Le Mans in 2010. I knew that was the story I wanted to tell.

Q. From what you say, it seems like many of these cars are lost to history.

A. Absolutely. There's a man named Kevin Mackay who is a renowned Corvette historian and restorer. When Chip set out to find this car he got Kevin involved. If Kevin couldn't find it, no one could. Kevin wrote to Le Mans in France for the (Vehicle Identification Number) and didn't hear anything. Then someone told him, "Oh, no you don't just write a letter in English, you write it in French -- and you send flowers." He did that and a few weeks later he had a VIN. Turns out it was registered to a man in St. Louis. ... He called him up and asked if he wanted to sell. But he wasn't interested at the time. Kevin courted him seven years. He finally sold it.

Q. What is it about Corvettes that you enjoy so much?

A. There's no easy answer. You either like Corvettes or you don't. But if you do, you really do. I have 13 Corvettes. I was a senior in high school when the '63 Corvette came out. It was the 10th anniversary Corvette. I fell in love with it and told myself I'd own one someday. It took me 22 years to get into a position where I could afford to buy one. And it was the '63 Corvette.

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