First Pontiac GTO” Headed to Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America will soon display a near-perfect recreation of the Pontiac Tempest that won the 1963 American Challenge Cup. The car would serve as the inspiration for the Pontiac GTO nameplate that would debut later that year.

The lone Tempest in the American Challenge Cup field beat Corvettes, Ferrari GTOs and Porsches in the 250-mile event at Daytona International Speedway.

Paul Goldsmith sat behind the wheel of the Pontiac Tempest. Best known for his stock car and motorcycle prowess, he beat AJ Foyt by two laps. Other drivers in the field included Jo Bonnier, Bob Holbert, Fireball Roberts, Billy Krause and Rex White.

Ray Nichels, of Nichels Engineering, built the car under the direction of Pontiac chief engineer John Z. DeLorean.

Shortly after the race, Nichels sold the original car to Mercedes-Benz. GM had issued a corporate edict banning further direct participation in racing. After Mercedes-Benz shipped the car to Germany for analysis, it is assumed they scrapped the vehicle.

Pontiac built only a dozen lightweight, dual-quad 421-cubic-inch Super Duty V8-powered Tempests. They constructed them for drag racing. Nichels, however, modified one of them for road racing.

In 2014, longtime racers Roger Rosebush and Jim Luikens recreated the car using as many original, period-correct parts as possible.

The recreation will be put on permanent display at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America this summer. The MSHFA is located on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway.

We are so grateful to Deb and Roger Rosebush for donating the legendary No. 50 Pontiac Tempest to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America,” said MSHFA president George Levy. “John DeLorean had an idea for putting a big engine in a Tempest and wanted to show the world what it could do, so he authorized construction of the original No. 50—in essence the first Pontiac GTO. The production version got its name, in part, from the No. 50 beating the Ferrari GTOs here at Daytona.”

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Panamericano New Reader
7/21/22 1:02 p.m.

I've always thought that the '63 has been left out it's rightful place in muscle car history.  It's smaller than the '64 that became the GTO.  It could be had with the 326, while other small US cars did not have a comparable engine.  Anywhere you can put a 326, you can put a 389 or 421.  Transaxle.  I'd love to know how they handled the swing axles.  Was there a Canadian version with the 327 used in so many of their cars?

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