Thursday, November 20, 2014

Museum Car Loaner Becomes Car Donor

Whenever the next evolution of the Corvette legend comes out of Detroit, it’s not long before high performance enthusiasts begin looking toward Connecticut for what will happen next. That is where Callaway Cars, Inc. has their headquarters and a staff ready to study it, take it apart, and create their own interpretation of America’s Sports Car. Since the late 1980s, a team led by Reeves Callaway has been finding ways to make “fast” faster much to the delight of the Corvette enthusiast who wants something a little (or a lot) different.

Over the years we’ve hosted an unveiling of a Callaway Corvette, along with having historic Callaway Corvettes like the Sledgehammer on exhibit. Recently we had an exhibit featuring Callaway Corvettes where one C5 Corvette in particular got a lot of attention. Owned by Gary Nichols, he decided to donate it to the Museum after facility manager Bob Hellmann told him about how popular the car was with guests.

“When Bob told me about how it drew a crowd, I realized how much it was appreciated here. I even had people come up to me at Carlisle and tell me they saw it here. It made perfect sense to donate it to the Museum. It is a special car and needs to be preserved and displayed.”

While he could have sold it, his concern was that it would have been bought for the performance causing the history to be lost. “I would have felt good about getting it in the hands of a Callaway collector who would honor the car, but this is really a win-win as the car can be a part of the Museum and part of history.”

The thing that makes this car special is that it was purchased by Callaway and used in their development of their C5 Power Groups. This was the test mule used before the car went into production. For one of these to make its way into the public is a rare thing.

“I was looking for a silver C5 Z06 when I heard about this car,” Gary says. “I knew about the work Callaway had done with Twin Turbos, so I drove up to his plant in Old Lyme, Connecticut to see it. Reeves told me he’d never sold a test car before, making it that much more special to get. We worked out a deal and I took it home.”

Knowing what he had, he made it a point to keep everything original. “It is an integral part of Callaway history. It’s been featured in Corvette Enthusiast and Vette Magazine, and has Bloomington certification, and been exhibited at the Museum and elsewhere. The way it sits now it has power group 1, 2 and 3, and it ran an 11.7 at 121 mph. It has almost 500 hp. At one point, one of the engines they put in it tested at 10.9 making the track manager kick them off the track for not having a roll cage at that speed.”

While he will miss it, he feels honored that it has a new home at the Museum. “I feel good about people coming to look it and learn from it. Besides, I like having an excuse to come out and visit it once a year.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Museum Skydome Closes for Construction Monday; Military Appreciation Month Brings Special Helicopter Display

If you have not yet made the trek to Bowling Green, Kentucky to view the massive sinkhole that opened inside the National Corvette Museum on February 12 of this year, you have just a few more days to do so. Construction is slated to begin on Monday, November 10 and is expected to take approximately eight months to complete.

Currently six of the eight “sinkhole Corvettes” are on display in the Skydome: the 1962 Tuxedo Black Corvette, 1984 PPG Pace Car, 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, 1993 40th Anniversary Ruby Red Corvette, 2001 “Mallet Hammer” Z06 and 2009 “1.5 Millionth” Corvette. After November 9th the Museum plans to move three of the cars into other public viewing areas until the Skydome re-opens in July, 2015.

Chevrolet also unveiled this week at SEMA in Las Vegas the restored 2009 "Blue Devil" ZR1 Corvette. The Corvette will be shipped to the Museum after the show and is scheduled to return to the floor in July as part of the grand re-opening of the Skydome.

In addition to the plexiglas viewing window which will be open during construction for guests to view the progress, a temporary sinkhole mini-exhibit will be available in the Museum, providing photos, videos, details and artifacts.

To kick off Military Appreciation Month at the Museum, four special helicopters from the NC Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's Association will be on display Wednesday afternoon through Saturday. They will also make an appearance in the Bowling Green Veteran's Day Parade on Saturday. The helicopters include an OH-6 light observation helicopter, OH-58 bate helicopter for the gunships, UH-1H Huey (Slick) used to carry troops and supplies, and a UH-1C Huey gunship.

The helicopters will be joined by a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and Resupply Vehicle (RSV) from the Kentucky National Guard, which will be available for viewing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The displays are part of the ExxonMobil Vets 'n Vettes event at the Museum November 6-8. All military veterans plus police and firefighters, and their immediate accompanying family receive free admission to the Museum in November as part of Military Appreciation Month.

The National Corvette Museum is located at I-65 exit 28 in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is open seven days a week, from 8am until 5pm Central Time. Museum admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids age 6 to 16, $8 for seniors or $25 family admission. Children age 5 and under are free but are not allowed in the Skydome building. For more information on the Museum, visit, download their free app on iTunes or Google Play or call 800-538-3883.

First Sinkhole Corvette Restored

Corvette ZR1 ‘Blue Devil’ debuts at SEMA Show on way back to museum 

LAS VEGAS – Chevrolet today unveiled the restored 2009 Corvette ZR1 that was damaged earlier this year when a sinkhole developed beneath the National Corvette Museum. It’s on display this week at the SEMA Show, before heading back to the museum in Bowling Green, Ky.

The ZR1, nicknamed the “Blue Devil,” is the first of the eight cars swallowed by the sinkhole to be restored. One of two show cars used to introduce the all-new Corvette ZR1 in January 2008, the car was on loan from Chevrolet to the National Corvette Museum when the sinkhole developed. 

Museum personnel were alerted about motion detectors going off in the Skydome area of the facility on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 12. They arrived to find a sinkhole measuring about 45 feet wide, 60 feet long and up to 30 feet deep – and it had swallowed eight Corvettes. 

Three weeks later, the ZR1 was pulled out of the sinkhole. Despite falling nearly 30 feet, it started and drove out of the Skydome under its own power. 

“After that unprecedented event, the ZR1 was the first car to be lifted out of the sinkhole,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, performance vehicles and motorsports. “It was great to recover it, bring it back to Chevrolet and begin the restoration of this significant Corvette.” 

The ZR1 remained on display at the museum until September, when it was returned to Chevrolet for restoration. The damage included:
* Cracked carbon-fiber ground effects and a broken passenger-side rocker panel 
* Damaged passenger front fender, as well as cracks in both doors
* Cracked windshield, hood window glass and passenger headlamp assembly 
* Bent rear control arms on the driver’s side 
* Cracked oil lines to the supercharged LS9 engine’s dry-sump oiling system. 

Six weeks after work began, the restored ZR1 was started for the first time at the General Motors Heritage Center. 

Two other cars will be restored next year – the 1-millionth Corvette and a 1962 Corvette – while the other five will remain in their as-recovered state to preserve their historical significance. They will become part of a future display at the museum.

Join the social conversation at #CHEVYSEMA.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Team ChEaparral Donates 1986 "Sucker Vette"

One of our top priorities at the National Corvette Museum is to create opportunities that will inspire, educate and engage young minds. The automobile, and Corvette in particular, is in itself the ideal classroom combining art, science, cultural trends, commerce and innovative thinking into what truly is a marvel of human ingenuity. So what better place is there than the Museum to introduce students of all ages to the technologies that go into it?

We often attract like-minded people and organizations who are also on a mission to ignite the imaginations of tomorrow’s innovators. Such was the case last Friday when the members of Team ChEaparral donated their 1986 ChEaparral J2J “sucker Vette” to the Museum.

Part fun, part engineering exercise, and part financial challenge, this was a project taken on by a group of engineers from Proctor & Gamble, looking to come up with an entry to compete in the $2007 Grassroots Motorsports Challenge. The goal for this contest was to build a car for under $2,007 that they could enter in a variety of competitions.

With the challenge of doing this on the cheap, they found a wrecked Corvette in a barn for $1400. It already had a hole in the hood so they cut it out further to make room for twin turbos that gave it an extra 100 horses.

Because they couldn’t get fast enough in an autocross to generate downforce in the usual way, they came up with another idea to get more grip inspired by the Jim Hall vacuum enhanced Chaparral 2J from the 1970’s. For their CHEAParral version of Jim’s car, they rigged up a skirt under the car connected to a cooling fan from an Abrams tank installed in the passenger seat. They powered the fan with a snowmobile engine, to create so much suction that you can actually see the car being pulled to the ground. They wound up getting around 1000 pounds of downforce while making quite a spectacle of themselves for the crowds. With a beer keg for a gas tank designed to keep the engine from being gas starved in the hard turns, they were ready to see what they could do with this car.

They competed against 50 others, winning the autocross, concourse, best-engineered award, top finishing team and the 2007 Challenge Overall Champion award. Having succeeded in their goal of making this car a winner, the question eventually came up of what should happen to the car.

“It is sad for us to let the car go, but we are happy that the car is coming here,” says Cliff Papsdorf when he handed over the keys. “The National Corvette Museum is the perfect home for it.”

The team hopes that the ChEaparral will show future generations what a group of people can make happen with hard work, a good education, and a focused devotion to a cause.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Museum Sinkhole Remediation Plan Outlined, Construction Starts November 10

Corvette Museum Skydome Sinkhole Viewing Ending Soon
National Corvette Museum officials met on Wednesday with construction personnel and engineers to review the plan, process and timeline for remediating the sinkhole and repairing the Skydome building.  Construction is slated to begin on Monday, November 10 and if everything goes according to schedule, the project will be completed by July, 2015.
The team reviewed the step-by-step process of filling the sinkhole beginning with the removal of boulders.  Late November through December the team will then install sheet piling to block the cave openings.  The hole will then be filled with about 4,000 tons of fist-sized #2 stone, taking place late December through mid-January, 2015. The remaining concrete slab flooring in the room will be removed in mid-January.  At that time, electrical, water and HVAC  repair work will occur through mid-February.
A quantity of 46 micropiles as well as grade beams will be installed mid-February through late March. The micropiles will be spaced 15-20 feet apart at an average depth of 141 feet based on the structural engineering design.  This design will ensure that if another collapse were to occur, the floor would remain intact.  Following this process will be the installation of additional stone as well as a new concrete slab floor (anticipated to take until late April to complete).  The final two months of construction will include the rebuilding of a new entrance with garage door and emergency exit doors, other repairs, repainting, installing new lighting fixtures, a thorough cleaning and other final touch ups.
Changes to the room will include a one-level natural color polished concrete floor without stairs and ramps like the current room has; the new garage door to allow for easy display car access as well as the ability to have an open-air entry for after-hours facility rentals; a redesigned drainage system; and 12 foot paved perimeter around the Skydome.  The cost of the project is just over $3.2 million.
While the Skydome web cams will be removed during the construction process, the Plexiglas viewing window will remain so that Museum guests can watch the on-going work.
The Museum team has received numerous ideas and suggestions on ways to tell the story of what happened on February 12, 2014 and provide interesting and entertaining aspects for visitors.  The Museum is currently exploring several options that include the opportunity to see down into the caves and 3D art.
The Museum plans to display the three restored Corvettes and five unrestored Corvettes in the Skydome once work has completed.
“We appreciate all of the support, feedback, ideas and prayers throughout this very interesting time in our history,” said Wendell Strode, Museum Executive Director.  “Sunday, November 9 will be the very last day to see the sinkhole up close and in person – so if you’ve been wanting to check it out for yourself you have just over three weeks to do so.”
Currently six of the eight “sinkhole Corvettes” are on display in the Skydome: the 1962 Tuxedo Black Corvette, 1984 PPG Pace Car, 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, 1993 40th Anniversary Ruby Red Corvette, 2001 “Mallet Hammer” Z06 and 2009 “1.5 Millionth” Corvette.  After November 9th the Museum will move as many of the cars as possible into other public viewing areas until the Skydome re-opens in July, 2015.
The National Corvette Museum is located at I-65 exit 28 in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is open seven days a week, from 8am until 5pm Central Time. Museum admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids age 6 to 16, $8 for seniors or $25 family admission. Children age 5 and under are free, but are not allowed in the Skydome building. For more information on the Museum, visit or download their free app on iTunes or Google Play, or call 800-538-3883.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Corvette Z06 Sprints to 60 mph in Less than 3 Seconds

New eight-speed automatic enables 2.95-sec. 0-60 time, 10.95-sec. quarter-mile

The performance of the all-new, 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 establishes it as one of the most capable vehicles on the market – and one of the few to achieve sub-3-second 0-60 performance and a sub-11-second quarter-mile time.

“The Corvette has long been known as America’s sports car,” said Mark Reuss, General Motors’ executive vice president, Global Product Development. “With the capability of the new Z06 rivaling the best performance cars in the world, we will also be America’s Supercar.”

The Corvette Z06 accelerates from a rest to 60 mph in only 2.95 seconds when equipped with the all-new, available eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission – and achieves it in 3.2 seconds with the standard seven-speed manual transmission.

A quarter-mile sprint takes just 10.95 seconds with the eight-speed automatic and 11.2 seconds with the seven-speed manual. With both versions, the Corvette Z06 hits 127 mph at the end of the quarter-mile.

When it comes to braking performance, the Z06 can stop from 60 mph in only 99.6 feet. That’s the best braking performance of any production car GM has ever tested. Additionally, the Corvette Z06 achieves 1.2 g in lateral acceleration compared with the Corvette’s previous best 1.13 g.
The new Z06 is also the fastest production car ever tested at GM’s 2.9-mile Milford Road Course, beating the record set by the Corvette ZR1 by a full second.

All test results were achieved with Z06 coupes fitted with the Z07 Performance package, which adds Brembo carbon ceramic brake rotors and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The Z07 package also features the most aggressive aerodynamic package available on the Corvette Z06, which delivers the most downforce of any production car GM has ever tested.

“The defining aspect of driving the Z06 is seamless integration of power, technology and aerodynamics,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. “As a result, the Z06 delivers ferocious acceleration, tenacious handling, and high-speed stability that few cars can match.”

It is the first Corvette Z06 with a supercharged engine – SAE certified at 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque – and the first with an available eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission.

Performance-enhancing Magnetic Ride Control and Performance Traction Management are standard, and the award-winning, industry-first Performance Data Recorder is available.

The 2015 Corvette Z06 coupe goes on sale in in early 2015 priced at $78,995, while the Z06 convertible goes on sale in the second quarter, priced at $83,995.

Editors’ Note: Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price includes destination freight charge but excludes tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Excludes other General Motors’ vehicles.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Museum Owned GS90 Unveiled at 20th Anniversary Event

Enthusiast funds restoration of car to former glory

On Thursday, August 28, 2014 as part of the National Corvette Museum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, a special Corvette was unveiled, one that had recently undergone a cosmetic facelift.  The story of the car’s rebirth began during a Museum Display Committee meeting.

“Our collection of Corvettes was continuing to grown, so the committee was reviewing the list to see if there were any we might consider selling,” said Adam Boca, committee member and NCM Insurance Agent.  “The GS90 was in rough shape when we received it, and does not even have a motor so we thought it would be worth exploring a new home for it.”  In December 2013, Adam worked closely with Museum Lifetime Member Charlie Budenz to insure the GS90 #2 that he had recently purchased.  “I thought perhaps Charlie would be interested in the car, so I gave him a call and from there, the conversations turn to bringing the car back to life.”

Charlie offered to fund the restoration of the car and create a Museum quality showpiece.  “Basically, I couldn’t afford to corner the market on these cars… and I didn’t feel that I needed a set of bookends,” Charlie said.  “Then, in February of this year, the very Earth opened up and swallowed so many special NCM display Corvettes.  All of a sudden, the GS90 project went on a ‘front burner’ in order to replace some of the display cars,” he added.

Work on the car began in July and was completed in about a month.  The team at Final Finish in Morgantown, KY (a member of the Motorsports Park One Acre Club) complete some fiberglass repair, sanded the body down to the gel coat, then painted, striped and clear coated the car.  The wheels were also cleaned and new center caps made and applied.

Charlie Budenz provided some history of the car at the event, and former Project Manager for the GS90, Detlef Stevenson, was also on hand to share information and answer questions (and sign a few autographs!).

“Many diverse people have come to this 20th Anniversary Celebration of the National Corvette Museum to share and enjoy its success! These good folks are the fans, the enthusiasts, the hobbyists who have the stories which make the cars so interesting. So many people have contributed to the stories as well as the success of this especially American museum… and they have contributed in large and small ways, which combined have made the huge success possible today,” Charlie said.  “It has been my profound pleasure to provide the donation resulting in the GS90s refurbishment for display as honored at the National Corvette Museum.”

The car is currently on display in the lobby of the Museum.  In addition to the Museum’s GS90, Charlie owns #2 while the other four are thought to be in museums in Detroit, Europe and Japan.

History of the GS-90

In 1994, Corvette racing driver and tuner, Dick Guldstrand introduced his first and only coachbuilt Corvette: the GS90.  The car is based on the Corvette ZR-1 chassis and engine designed by Steve Winter.  When the C4 ZR-1 was released, Guldstrand saw an opportunity to bring back the Grand Sport he used to race with, pitching the concept of his radically restyled ZR-1 to Chevrolet.  He requested several ZR-1s and a few million dollars.  Instead he received one car and a blessing.

The GS90 was Guldstrand’s ultimate 475hp version of the ZR-1, incorporating influences from the Grand Sports of the early 60s inside a distinctive body style that is a throwback to the original 1963 Corvette Grand Sport race cars.   Guldstrand left the ZR-1 cabin alone, concentrating instead on the chassis and engine development, and bespoke coachbuilt distinctive body. 

The car was debuted at the L.A. Auto Show and had a price tag of $134,500, and as a result, only six GS90s were built and sold.