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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Museum Board Finalizes Decision on Sinkhole, Great 8 Corvettes

The National Corvette Museum Board of Directors held their quarterly meeting and finalized plans for repair of the Museum’s Skydome building, and the eight Corvettes affected by the February 12, 2014 sinkhole collapse.

After careful review of additional information and revised plans with price quotes from the construction company, the board voted to completely fill in the sinkhole.

“We really wanted to preserve a portion of the hole so that guests for years to come could see a little bit of what it was like, but after receiving more detailed pricing, the cost outweighs the benefit,” said Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode. “At the June board meeting, the information available at that time indicated a cost of around $500,000 more to keep the hole, but after incorporating additional safety features and vapor barriers for humidity control, the price tag rose to $1 million more than the cost to put the Skydome back how it was.”

Keeping even a portion of the sinkhole would require 35 foot retaining walls to be built inside of the sinkhole, additional micro piling, visible steel beams running through the hole, and soil nailing. All of these additional structural features are to ensure the safety of the sinkhole and prevent cracking and breaking of the sides in the future, which could result in stability issues, but take away from the natural look of the original sinkhole. The board also considered future maintenance issues that could arise if the hole was kept and the possibility that the hole wouldn’t look like a naturally occurring sinkhole any longer.

“The interest in our new attraction has been phenomenal so we do plan to leave it ‘as-is’ through our Vets ‘n Vettes event November 6-8, 2014, after which time we will begin the process of remediating and filling the hole,” Strode added.

Chevrolet and the National Corvette Museum will restore three of the Corvettes that were damaged when they were swallowed up by the sinkhole.

Chevrolet will restore the 2009 Corvette ZR1 prototype, known as the Blue Devil, and the 1-millionth Corvette produced – a white 1992 convertible. The GM Heritage Center will oversee this process. In addition, the restoration of the 1962 Corvette will be funded by Chevrolet, but will be handled by the National Corvette Museum. A restoration shop has not yet been determined. The remaining five cars were determined to be too badly damaged to warrant restoration. They will remain in their as-recovered state to preserve the historical significance of the cars and what happened on February 12, 2014. They will become part of a future display at the Museum.

In total, General Motors will provide nearly $250,000 in support to help the Museum recover from the sinkhole. The National Corvette Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this weekend as it welcomes the Corvette enthusiasts nationwide who have helped expand and support the non-profit Museum.

“Our goal was to help the National Corvette Museum recover from a terrible natural disaster by restoring all eight cars,” said Mark Reuss, GM Executive Vice President, Global Product Development. “However, as the cars were recovered, it became clear that restoration would be impractical because so little was left to repair. And, frankly, there is some historical value in leaving those cars to be viewed as they are.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Corvette enthusiasts from around the globe.

“There has been an outpouring of messages from enthusiasts the world over, asking us not to restore all of the cars,” said Wendell Strode, executive director for the National Corvette Museum. “For Corvette enthusiasts, the damage to the cars is part of their history, and part narrative of the National Corvette Museum. Restoring them all would negate the significance of what happened.”
Timelines for the start and projected completion dates for the three Corvettes’ restorations have not been established. They will be announced later.

Sinkhole summary
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at 5:44 a.m., National Corvette Museum (NCM) personnel received a notification from their security company about motion detectors going off in the Skydome area of the museum. When those personnel arrived on site, a sinkhole was discovered, eventually measuring about 45 feet wide, 60 feet long and up to 30 feet deep.

Security camera footage showing the Skydome floor’s collapse has been viewed nearly 8.3 million times on YouTube.

The sinkhole swallowed eight historic Corvettes – two on loan from GM and six owned by the museum:
  • 1993 ZR-1 Spyder (on loan)
  • 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” prototype (on loan)
  • 1962 Corvette
  • 1984 PPG Pace Car
  • 1992 1-millionth Corvette
  • 1993 40th Anniversary Corvette
  • 2001 “Mallett Hammer” Z06
  • 2009 1.5-millionth Corvette.

On March 3, the 2009 Blue Devil was the first car recovered and despite significant damage was started and driven out of the Skydome. The 1.5-millionth Corvette and Mallett Corvette were the last cars pulled from the sinkhole, on April 3 and April 9, respectively – after workers were initially unable to find them amid the collapsed earth.

All eight cars were placed in a special display, fueling a nearly 70-percent jump in museum visitor traffic in the months after the sinkhole appeared.

Construction is expected to take approximately 6 months to complete. The Museum will remain open during the process, and the work in the Skydome will be viewable via a Plexiglas wall.
The Museum plans to create a meaningful sinkhole exhibit within the Skydome, featuring the cars involved, 3D interactive images of the sinkhole, videos, photos and more.

The Museum is located at I-65, exit 28 in Bowling Green, KY - just one hour north of Nashville, TN and less than two hours south of Louisville, KY. Open daily, 8am-5pm CT, admission to the Museum is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 65 and over, $5 for kids age 6-16 and children age 5 and under are free. Access to view the sinkhole is included with regular admission. Guests who enter the Skydome to view the sinkhole must be age 8 or older. For more information on the Museum, visit their website at www.corvettemuseum.org or call 800-538-3883.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ron Fellows Performance Driving School Partners with the National Corvette Museum

During the National Corvette Museum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, a partnership was announced naming the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain as the “Official Performance Driving School of the National Corvette Museum” and “Official Partner of the NCM Motorsports Park.”

“We are pleased to come to a multi-year agreement with the National Corvette Museum and it's new Motorsports Park," said Ron Fellows, a charter member of Corvette Racing and 2011 Corvette Hall of Fame inductee. "All of us at Spring Mountain and the school are looking forward to this partnership to better serve the Corvette and performance driving community on a number of initiatives.”

Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain has been successfully operating high performance driving schools just outside of Las Vegas, NV since 2008, with nearly 30,000 graduates to date. As “The Official High Performance Driving School of Corvette” and the exclusive home of the C7 Corvette Owners School, partnering with the National Corvette Museum and Motorsports Park only benefits the Corvette community.

The 186-acre NCM Motorsports Park features a 3.15 mile road course which is comprised of two circuits, “East” and “West”. The teams at Corvette Racing and Pratt and Miller advised the Museum on the layout, incorporating features from their most challenging track, the Le Mans circuit. The facility welcomes all makes and models of vehicles, including motorcycles and is located adjacent to I-65 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“Joining forces with Ron Fellows and Spring Mountain furthers our mission to offer a safe and challenging environment where drivers of all ages, interests and skill levels can become more proficient behind the wheel,” said Mitch Wright, NCM Motorsports Park General Manager. “Spring Mountain has a long-standing track record of successful driving programs so we are excited to have them as our Official Partner at the track.”

Look for an announcement in the coming weeks regarding programs and curriculum at the NCM Motorsports Park; featuring the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School, space will be limited!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

NCM Motorsports Park Pavilion and Entry Road Named for Autocross Enthusiast

Family of Kimberlee Fast Donate in Remembrance

Kim Fast started racing in 1997 and was named Rookie of the Year for the Corvette Club of Michigan.  She was always ranked in the top five for the club in racing, and in the top 10 for the Michigan Region of NCCC (National Council of Corvette Clubs).  It was safe to say that autocrossing and high speed events on road courses in the mid-west states were her “thing.”  Kim was also no stranger to the National Corvette Museum, attending most of the events hosted in Bowling Green, KY.

In January of 2007 Kim was diagnosed with ALM leukemia, losing her battle just three years later in 2010.  Her parents, Chuck and Sharon Fast of Northville, MI, wanted an appropriate way to remember their daughter.  “We know that Kim would have been at the NCM Motorsports Park for any and every opportunity,” said Chuck.  “We can’t think of a better way to honor her memory than by contributing to the project.”
Chuck and Sharon first contributed to the Motorsports Park in 2013, purchasing five acres through the Museum’s “Buy an Acre Club” fundraising program, in Kim’s name.

“Kim attended most of the events at the NCM, and that’s why we donated the acres in her name, so when the opportunity came up to name the entry road to the track we couldn’t pass it up,” said Chuck.  “Then in our conversations with Wendell and Gary the naming of the Pavilion came up and we thought that she would really be proud to have the building named after her.”

Chuck and Sharon’s legacy gift to the NCM includes naming the entry road the Kimberlee A. Fast Drive and naming the pavilion the Kimberlee A. Fast Pavilion.  The pavilion’s construction is planned for completion in the spring of 2015 and will include food services, open-air picnic seating, restrooms and showers.  Kimberlee A. Fast Drive will officially open August 28, 2014 as part of the Grand Opening ceremony of the NCM Motorsports Park.

“Chuck and Sharon used what would have been Kimberlee’s inheritance to recognize her love for Corvette and the Corvette Museum,” said Gary Cockriel, Development Officer for the Museum.  “It really is a unique way to remember her and all the memories she made with her family enjoying the Corvette hobby.  Kim’s legacy will continue on at the Motorsports Park.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

NCM Motorsports Park Names Autocross / Skidpad Area

Museum supporter signs on as Park donor

The NCM Motorsports Park has secured a naming rights donor for the autocross/skidpad area of the new Park, giving the project another boost as construction of the track is nearing the finish line.  The Edward and Shari Glazer Vehicle Dynamics Area is slated to officially open August 28, 2014 as part of the National Corvette Museum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and 5th National Corvette Caravan.

“One of the best memories I had with my father was going with him to pick up his first new Corvette back in 1984.  That’s really when my love for the car began,” explained Ed Glazer.  “I’ve been fortunate to own many Corvettes since then and have taken delivery of a couple of them at the Museum.  It’s an incredible experience for anyone buying a Corvette.”

Glazer, of Los Angeles, California, took delivery of a 1999 Light Pewter Corvette Coupe in September 1998, and was the lucky winner of a 2008 Black Z06 Corvette raffled by the Museum, taking delivery in April of that year.

Glazer says he couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the project, “I am so happy to help with the construction of the Motorsports Park and I hope many other fathers and sons or daughters get to create their own Corvette memories there or at the Museum as I did with my dad.”

While the track will be open to all makes and models of vehicles, Mitch Wright, General Manager of the Park, explains how supporters like the Glazers are the reason the Museum is able to take on a project of this caliber.  “For several years, the fundraising for the Motorsports Park was a grassroots effort.  Nearly 200 Corvette enthusiasts and clubs stepped up, contributing funds towards purchasing acres of land to not only get the project off the ground, but to show potential sponsors the kind of support that existed for the track.  Ed’s contribution is a big boost to our on-going fundraising efforts.”

The Glazer Vehicle Dynamics Area will be utilized not only for high performance drivers’ education, but also recreational racing, teen driver safety training, emergency vehicle drivers’ training, corporate hospitality events, manufacturer testing and a resource for engineering, math and science disciplines.  To learn more about the project and view a calendar of upcoming events, log on to www.motorsportspark.org.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Corvette Central Joins NCM Motorsports Park as a Sponsor

Michigan-based Corvette Central, a manufacturer and distributor of C1-C7 Corvette parts and accessories, has joined the NCM Motorsports Park’s growing list of supporters by signing on as a sponsor.

“Corvette Central is proud to support this exciting project,” said Scott Kohn, Co-owner and Marketing Manager of the company.  “We have been a Lifetime Business Member of the Museum since 1999, have a Walk of Fame Brick and have supported America’s Sports Car magazine with advertising through the years.  The NCM Motorsports Park is just another way we can support the Museum, and a great way to connect with customers.”

Corvette Central has signed on as a Garage Sponsor, which includes signage above their sponsored garage, along with additional track signage and other benefits.

In the early 70s, before the days of catalogs and internet shopping, auto enthusiasts relied on swap meets to get the parts they needed for rebuilds and restorations.  It was then that Jerry Kohn, a Corvette enthusiast from Michigan, was searching out much needed parts for a 1958 Corvette.  He discovered that the parts he needed were either unavailable, of poor quality or overpriced.  Being a tool and die maker by trade allowed Kohn to build tooling and die cast his first reproduction parts, grille teeth for 1953-1960 Corvettes.  What started out as a hobby for Kohn grew into an operation that now offers 60,000 parts for all seven generations of Corvette.

“Corvette Central is a leader in researching, developing and manufacturing parts for Corvettes,” said Mitch Wright, NCM Motorsports Park General Manager.  “We’re excited to have them on board with our project, and appreciative of the fact that they are long standing supporters of the Museum.  Coincidentally, Jerry is National Corvette Museum Lifetime Member #11, and Scott is #12.”

The NCM Motorsports Park will host grand opening ceremonies on Thursday, August 28 at 9am CT as part of the Museum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and 5th National Corvette Caravan.  A ceremonial community grand opening will be held on Tuesday, September 16 at 3:30pm CT and is open to the public.  To learn more about the Park visit www.motorsportspark.org.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Holley Performance Products Joins NCM Motorsports Park as Control Tower and Event Center Sponsor

Structure will house viewing deck, event space, offices and more

The NCM Motorsports Park announced today that Holley Performance Products, a leader in automotive performance products, has committed to sponsoring the Park’s Control Tower and Event Center.

“It is only fitting that two great American motorsport brands like Corvette and Holley unite with our sponsorship of the NCM Motorsports Park,” said Trevor Wiggins, Holley VP of Sales.  “This track is going to secure Bowling Green’s identity as a motorsports town and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Holley has been in Bowling Green since 1951, and has been an important part of the Bowling Green economy, currently employing over 250 people at its Russellville Road facility.  The company’s industry leading products include electronic fuel injection systems, carburetors, exhaust systems, and many other products for high performance street and racing applications.  Holley has powered every NASCAR team since the 1960s with products made in Bowling Green including their current EFI throttle body. 

The two-level Holley Control Tower and Event Center will feature 6,300 square feet on each level (12,600 total in building) including 1,800 square feet of meeting and classroom space, lobby/retail area, restrooms, catering kitchen, reception office, administrative offices, race control room, storage and more.  The second level will feature a 2,100 square foot open-air viewing deck, available for private events. A Winners’ Circle Podium is slated for the paddock side of the building, and the overall design of the Holley Control Tower and Event Center mimics that of the Museum. 

“We have been talking to Holley since we first announced that we were building a Motorsports Park and they were as excited as we were,” said Mitch Wright, General Manager of the NCM Motorsports Park.  “Those conversations grew into something bigger and we are thrilled to have them on board.”

Construction on the Holley Control Tower and Event Center is planned for 2015.