The Supernova 1964 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. Photos by Matthew Little, courtesy Auctions America.
Bill Jobe’s day job was selling computers for Data General, but on weekends he vented stress by competing in his 1964 Corvette, first in autocross and later in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) B-Production racing. Adopting the Supernova name for his team after the line of computers he represented, Jobe went on to amass the kind of record that might have led to a career as a professional racer, had he been so inclined. On September 2, his 1964 Corvette Supernova convertible will cross the block in Auburn, Indiana, where Auctions America hopes it will be a shining star of the event.
Jobe purchased the car new from a dealership on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas. To cope with the relentless summer heat, he specified Ermine White paint with a red interior, and despite the convertible top, also checked the option box for air conditioning. Under the hood, Jobe selected the fuel-injected 327-cu.in. engine, rated at 375 horsepower and mated to a Muncie four-speed transmission. With this daily driver, Jobe captured the Texas Southwest Regional autocross championship in five consecutive years.
In 1969, Jobe opted to convert the Corvette from street car to SCCA B-Production race car in time for the 1970 season. The first step to a competition license within the organization was successful completion of a driver’s school, and Jobe excelled here as well, earning the award for Outstanding Student. In 25 races spread across the 1970 and ’71 seasons, the Supernova Corvette never failed to finish and earned class victories in 15 events (including four overall event wins). If these statistics weren’t impressive enough on their own, Jobe and his Corvette never finished worse than fifth during this time, and his skill behind the wheel coupled with the Corvette’s meticulous preparation helped to earn him the SCCA southwest Divisional Championships in 1971 and 1972.
In either 1969 or 1971 (accounts differ), the Corvette’s stock fuel-injected 327 was replaced by a Traco Engineering-built 331, also using fuel injection. The auction house claims this was swapped in 1969, when the car was converted from street car to race car, and its performance on-track would seem to back this up. Traco (a portmanteau of Jim TRAvers’ and Frank COon’s last names) had earned its reputation for building winning engines for a variety of series, ranging from Indy Car to Trans Am, Can-Am and sports car racing. It isn’t likely that a stock Corvette engine would have proven this dominant in SCCA competition, but the Registry of Corvette Race Cars quotes Jobe as saying the engine was sourced in 1971.
Jobe would go on to capture the SCCA B-Production Championship in 1973 and 1974, though not behind the wheel of the Supernova Corvette. His performance in 1974 was good enough to earn him recognition from the Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC), which presented Jobe with the Mark Donohue Award for “outstanding performance, sportsmanship and competitiveness in SCCA road racing.” He would continue racing, on a part-time basis, into the 1980s, typically serving as a team driver for longer endurance racing events.
The Supernova Corvette was sold to G.L. Henderson in 1973, who continued to race the car in the GT-1 class. Its next owner was Bill Morrison, who sold the car to the consignor in 2006. By then, it was a used race car, one that had reportedly been stored for roughly two-and-a-half decades. Under the consignor’s care, it was completely restored to the livery used by Bill Jobe at Atlanta in 1971, where the Supernova earned a pair of victories. Since restoration, it has run six SVRA or VRG events, primarily in the Eastern United States.
Though not piloted by a famous driver or run in storied events, the Supernova Corvette represents a piece of amateur racing history, painting a picture of a time when gentlemen drivers could still enjoy racing success without personal trainers, a publicity staff, and an eight-figure bank account. As offered at auction, the Supernova Corvette includes its Traco-built engine plus three binders full of documentation, outlining the car’s history from purchase through restoration. It’s crossed the block twice before — at two different auction houses in 2012 and 2013 — but Auctions America believes the third time will be a charm; it’s predicting a selling price between $325,000 and $375,000.
The Auburn sale takes place from August 31 to September 3, at the Auburn Auction Park in Auburn, Indiana. For additional details, visit AuctionsAmerica.com.