Photos via Brian Ballinger and Chris Smith, used with permission.

Corvettes are dirty cars. I don’t care how many times they go to LeMans with the Z06, a Corvette will always remind me of Dirk Diggler, the 1970s, shag carpeting, and porn. Even the new ones. Most owners I know embrace their heritage rocking excellent vintage mustaches and jewelry. They learned at an early age that gold goes well with a Corvette. I learned this as a kid too. I also learned that you never button your top three buttons when in the presence of a Corvette. You can’t let it know that you’re not cool. But this Corvette is different.


It’s like someone shrank it into a little Miata and then turned it into a dune buggy! This is Brian Ballinger and Chris Smiths’s build for the next Gambler 500. Before we get into how great this is, lets get one thing out of the way. This is my least favorite Corvette model. It’s the one Barbie drove. It’s the Corvette most likely to enjoy the latest Michael Bolton album with its owner. Yet Brian turned it into heavy metal. You see this pull up and you pray he’s not here to pick up your daughter. No way Barbie would drive this. This is awesome.

I actually don’t know that much about Corvettes but I can only assume that the factory gas tank was somewhere near the rear bumper and all the stuff that Brian cut off. I assume that’s why there is now a giant fuel cell dominating the back of the car.


I also can’t help but see the desert racing dune buggy like stucture that’s been hiding under all that sports car. Amazing what a set of 31" tires will do for a Corvette. The mustache and mullet completes the look though.

Brian and Chris call their creation the “Van Damme Vette” and it reminds me so much of my Baja Pig!


The really cool part about their build is that its still on the factory suspension. They just cut away the bodywork instead of putting the wheels outside of it. Brian’s entering it in the Detroit Gambler next Spring and you can follow the build on Brian Ballinger’s and Chris Smith’s Facebook page. Maybe I should build a V8 powered Corvette? 

I asked why he started with the Corvette and “Free” was the answer. “Oh, and with the one condition that we race it!” This is how the best racing stories start. I naturally suggested he cage it and run in the Baja 1000 next year. Brian’s response was, “It’s on my bucket list.”