The John Paul, Sr. car
by Wayne Ellwood

The year 1976 marked the end of the full chassis race cars in the main North American racing series. New rules introduced for 1977 permitted complete tubeframe chassis and significant modifications to traditional suspension layouts. It was the beginning of a new era of racing. And, as usual, John Greenwood was there.

Using his own ideas and the services of many of his traditional "team" partners, including noted chassis designer Bob Riley, John Greenwood rolled out tubeframe #1 at Brainerd, MN mid-season 1977. This was the two-tone silver #77 car. Later that year, he sold the car to Jerry Hansen. Hansen subsequently sold the car to Greg Pickett, who ran it in the white #6 configuration.

Late in 1977 John Paul, Sr. purchased the second Greenwood-designed tubeframe chassis from Protofab. The #18 baby blue tubeframe which Steve Goldin has just restored and made its debut at Carlisle 2004 is this second Greenwood/Riley tubeframe car. And its history is equally spectacular.

So, who are these people? Well, Steve Goldin is a Miami-area collector who now has three ultra-famous Greenwood Corvettes. He has both the 1976 Spirit of Le Mans and the Spirit of Sebring ’76 full chassis cars. Now, he has added the #2 tubeframe to his collection. John Paul was a mutual funds manager and racer. Bob Riley was a Ford employee at this time and his shop (Protofab) was closely associated with Jack Rousch. AVC Engineering built cars. AVC comprised Charlie Selix (machine work), Bob Urban and Gary Pratt (welding/fabrication) later of Pratt & Miller in Wixom, MI.

But let’s go back to the real beginning of this story.

John Paul, Sr. was a big name in IMSA racing in the mid-'70s and early '80s. He had started his professional career in 1968 when he won the SCCA’s Northeast Regional Championship. In 1969 and 1970, he drove with Bob Esseks in his "lightweight" Corvette. This car was one of the four early open-chamber heads that GM put out just prior to the public release of this option. But, in 1971, Bob Esseks moved over to the Trans-Am series and, in an unrelated move, John Paul, Sr. gave up racing and went sailing for a couple of years. When he came back to racing in 1975, he purchased a Porsche RSR but this car just wasn’t competitive. Late in 1976, John bought a DeCon Monza from Al Holbert. He ran that car, complete with its all aluminum big block Shadow engines in 1977.

It was at the track that John Paul met John Greenwood. He and Greenwood talked a bit about the cars that each were each running. It was Greenwood who convinced John Paul that for the money he was spending, and the class he wanted to run, he could get a lot more out of a Corvette package. Greenwood told him about the cars he was working on and how he felt the tubeframe car had a lot of potential. John Paul subsequently bought the second car from Protofab. It was a Riley design and built by Protofab. Tubeframe #2 was the sister car to the Greg Pickett car. Original "team" car which had been built with the SCCA rules in mind. The second car was specifically oriented to the IMSA endurance series. There were some differences in engine setback and offset.

The next owners of the car were Tico Almeida and René Rodriguez (T&R Racing), often using Greenwood as driver. In this timeframe, the car ran in both the #81 Daytona body style (1981) and the #13 GTO body style (1982).

The car was then sold to Luis Burgos, a club racer in Puerto Rico, around 1982 or '83. It remained there for many years before being offered for sale again.

A west coast collector, Paul Canary, saw the Greenwood/JPR/T&R car advertised in AutoWeek as the John Paul, Sr. car. It had been painted white and was being run as #22, minus the Greenwood body work, in local club racing in Puerto Rico. In fact, this was the second time that Paul Canary had been looking at the JPR/T&R car. Paul almost bought the JPR car when John Paul was originally selling it. The car was offered with several engines and spares but the price asked and the price offered didn’t match. So when the car came up for sale again, Paul Canary had known that he wanted it. He flew to Puerto Rico to confirm the car’s heritage and a deal was struck in 1989.

Unfortunately, the car was not restored but sat in Canary’s warehouse until Steve Goldin bought it in 2002.

Steve Goldin and his brother Keith spent the fall and winter disassembling the car, restoring or re-fabricating every piece, and gradually reassembling the whole package to the John Paul, Sr. configuration. Naturally, there are several major shops involved in the rebuild, too. Kinsler has refurbished the Lucas mechanical fuel injection system . Tom Becker, of Fort Lauderdale, has completed the bodywork and Gary Smith of Carolina Engines refurbished the powerplant. At the local level, Scott Richards did the project oversight. It was here, as each little piece was being repaired or rebuilt, that Steve and his team first noticed how really innovative this tubeframe design really is. Everything on this car is handmade. They are all first efforts… not quite prototypes but nothing you can go out and buy at the parts department. These were new cars.

Technical Specifications:

The technical data on the both tubeframe cars seems to have remained relatively constant throughout their respective racing careers. The Greenwood/Pickett car seems to have been built as more of a short track car for SCCA Trans-Am. The John Paul car was built to IMSA GTO standards and was built to the rules of that series. Body panels have evolved through several iterations in search of improved downforce and reduced drag, but the 1975 Bob Riley chassis design and Greenwood designed mechanicals have proven hard to improve.

The Bob Riley-designed cages and chassis are built of (huge and expensive) 2" chrome-moly tubing with extensive triangulation. The chrome-moly tubing is lighter than conventional mild steel tubing and the larger diameter gives even greater strength. While the whole package was more expensive than the smaller diameter mild steel tube, it paid-off in the total design. It was obvious from their racing history that these cars are more than just solid - they’re the structural equivalent of tanks.

The John Paul car was initially prepared in his own shops, so it didn’t run the usual Greenwood power plants. Instead, they had the big CanAm all aluminum engines from Bob Nicols (ex-Shadow F-1) shops. They were built by (John) Muir in California and put out about 770 HP with the Kinsler injection system, according to the dyno sheets that came with them. When shipped, the engines also came in these really trick crates with "eyes" painted on them (a Shadow team theme).

Later, under T&R Racing, Greenwood installed his favorite all-aluminum big blocks also with the Kinsler cross-ram Lucas-metered fuel injection. Engines would be fabricated under various contracts and with Greenwood doing various amounts of work on them, depending on how busy the schedule was. In it’s "Daytona" configuration, the engine was assembled by McLaren Racing Engines of Detroit, MI and displaced 467 cubic inches. It ran 11.8-1 forged pistons, Carillo billet rods, and chrome steel crank. The engine was set back in the chassis and to the right, as allowed by IMSA rules.

The Emory Donaldson (FT Racing) needle bearing bushings, the traditional Greenwood anti-dive, anti-squat five link suspension (manufactured for John by CVC Suspension), combined with Pinto rack and pinion steering were standard. The cars ran the specially-valved coil-over shocks which John designed in conjunction with KONI and used 17" diameter wheels (15 inches wide) in front to cover the massive rotors and magnesium brake calipers taken from the 917/935 Porsche parts bin. The rear wheels were either 19 or 20 inches wide depending on which year configuration you examine. In later years the wheels changed t the very expensive BBS 3-piece wheels with Kevlar venting fans and some magazines report the brakes as being specially pieces built by Airheart Division of Hurst. John Greenwood always felt that these brakes were a huge advantage over the other cars of the era and has always (modestly) credited much of his outstanding performance to this kind of top-level equipment. John has been quoted as saying that with these brakes he could out-stop the rear-engined Lolas which also ran in the GTP category. The fuel tank was mounted low in the rear overhang. The car also featured twin oil coolers and air jacks for the IMSA series.

John used the conventional stock Corvette rear end, unlike the Valentine car which experimented with a transaxle setup. John’s dashes and gauges were methodical and functional; a Greenwood dash naturally includes a very large tach and all the independent electrical switches for side-to-side control of each circuit.

Finally, it is interesting to find that during Greenwood’s extensive experimentation with the John Paul car, during the 1981 and 82 seasons, the wheelbases were frequently changed. During his time with the car, Paul Canary noted that the chassis had considerable evidence of extensive experimentation with different wheelbase lengths. He recounted stories that John had even altered the wheelbase from race to race and from one side relative to the other side. The body panels would be massaged to hide each modification and any inconsistencies that might have otherwise been noticed. John has confirmed that some experimentation might have taken place. Still, in the final analysis, the car always came back to the original Riley specifications. In other interviews, John Greenwood has stated that this was one of the best cars he had ever come across, straight out of the box.

The 1982 IMSA GTO #13
by John Greenwood

In 1981, the Daytona-bodied "Stars and Stripes" car was owned by T&R Racing. They were looking for something new, so we built right up to the limits of the prevailing rules of the time. In one way, it was just an evolution of body form on the 1977 car. The rules wouldn't permit wings but you could take the spoiler out to a certain length and width so we did. It was actually an incredibly straight line stable car. You just pointed it and it went that way. By the next year, however, IMSA decided that they didn't like the way we interpereted the rules so they changed them. That got us back to a "stubby" back end style. The 1982 year was very successful for this car.

1982 IMSA Race Results, Car #13

Finish Position
Round #
Track Driver(s)
Did not run 1 Daytona
DNR 2 Sebring
7th 3 Road Atlanta René Rodriguez
Did not finish 4 Charlotte John Greenwood
6th 5 Mid-Ohio René Rodriguez
9th 6 Lime Rock René Rodriguez
Did not start or DNF 7 Daytona John Greenwood
26th 8 Brainerd René Rodriguez
DNR 9 Sears Point
13th 10 Portland René Rodriguez
DNR 11 Mosport
DNF 12 Road America John Greenwood
? 13 Mid-Ohio
5th 14 Road Atlanta R. Rodriguez & J. Greenwood
36th 15 Pocono R. Rodriguez & J. Greenwood
DNF 16 Daytona John Greenwood

BUILD CAR # CAR # CAR # CAR # CAR #
YEAR CAR OWNER OWNER OWNER OWNER OWNER
YEAR YEAR YEAR YEAR YEAR
1977 tubeframe #2 #18 #02, #81, #13 #22 #22 #18
J. Paul, Sr T. Almeida
R. Rodriguez
L. Burgos P. Canary S. Goldin
1977-1980 1980-82 1982-89 1989-2002 '02-present