Wednesday, January 30, 2013

GM Performance Build Center Relocating to Bowling Green, KY

The GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant held a press conference today, announcing that the Performance Build Center, currently located at the Wixom, MI facility, will move to the GM Chevrolet Corvette Assembly Plant by the first quarter of 2014.  The current PBC employs 29, and builds engines for the Grand Sport Coupe manual, Z06, 427 Convertible and Corvette ZR1.  3,376 engines were each built by hand at the factory during the 2011 calendar year, and each engine bears the name of the person who built it.
"I'm very happy to announce today that GM will move its Performance Build Center, which allows engine enthusiasts to build their own specialty engines, from Michigan, and we're going to bring it right here to Bowling Green" said Arvin Jones, Manufacturing Manager for GM North America.

A program was first rolled out for the 2011 Corvette Z06 and ZR1 where car buyers had the option to pay $5,800 to participate in hand-assembling their engine.  For the 2013 model year the program was available for the Grand Sport Coupe (with manual transmission), 427 Convertible, Z06 and ZR1.  With the guidance of the world-class craftsmen who assemble these engines every day, buyers can enjoy an experience of a lifetime.  The program, known as the Corvette Engine Build Experience, is believed to be the first of its kind, offering another level of customer involvement to the new car buying process and strengthening Chevrolet's ties to its most loyal customers. 

“Corvette owners are some of the most passionate – and most involved – enthusiasts in the industry,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet marketing. “The Corvette Engine Build Experience offers customers an unprecedented opportunity to participate, hands on, in creating the car.”

A whole one-day process, it is supervised by the Build Center's skilled craftsmen, and all engines are tested and certified - plus receive a full warranty - before leaving the facility.  Participants receive a flash drive documenting their experience, and their photo is placed on a wall near the entrance to the production floor.  Additionally, the owner has their name affixed on a special plate next to the one bearing the name of the master builder.

With the Performance Build Center relocating to Bowling Green, there is the opportunity for the National Corvette Museum to become involved with the Engine Build Experience and further expand the offerings of the Museum Delivery Program.

"We’ve got lots of excitement headed our way." said GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant Manager Dave Tatman.  "We intend to make the full transition to the Performance Build Center by the first quarter of 2014. Lots of details have got to be worked out yet, but obviously we wanted to share that great news with you.  As you think about this, I know Wendell, that you and your team are jumping up and down thinking about [how] we can continue to combine our efforts between the National Corvette Museum and the Bowling Green Assembly Plant and this new opportunity, and we look forward to those discussions as well.

This program would join other programs currently offered by the Museum, including VIP Corvette Plant Tours, Corvette Photo Albums documenting the build of an individual's car, Corvette Buyer's Tour where you can watch your car being built and R8C Delivery where your pickup your new Corvette at the Museum and receive VIP tours of the Plant and Museum.

View a video clip of the announcement on our You Tube here.

Exhibit “Makes Cents” at the National Corvette Museum

Money isn’t just about dollars and cents.

The ancient Aztecs used chocolate for money, and Yap islanders used 500-lb. stones! So what is money and how does it work?  PNC Bank presents Moneyville, a special hands-on exhibit at the National Corvette Museum offering a tour of money’s many forms and functions with a lesson on how it has changed dramatically throughout history.

Guests at the Museum will see samples of currency from pounds to pesos, have the opportunity to put their face on a million dollar bill, play the stock market and even run a lemonade stand.  Moneyville, on loan from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, uses the fascinating subject of money to build math skills and economic expertise in a fun, immersive setting.  The colorful city includes a PNC Bank, store, anti-counterfeiting lab, stock market and international port.

Create your own “money,” explore anti-counterfeiting measures and see what a million dollars looks like.  Throughout the exhibit, discover how money is made, spent, earned and saved, and how it connects people around the world.  Explore the history, science and culture behind coins and currency and start to see money in a whole new way.

A recent study by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics reveals that many students are not learning the math they need in school.  That’s where Moneyville comes in.  “This exhibit makes learning cool,” said NCM Education Coordinator Kellie Steen.  “Whiz-bang computer games, a multitude of video screens, and eye-popping graphics engage kids (and adults) in a variety of hands-on activities that show them that using math is fun.”  The temporary exhibit joins the Museum’s existing hands-on educational displays, including the interactive driving simulators and new KidZone.  “Visitors to the Museum will get to see our 70+ Corvettes on display; spend time in our KidZone with Pat’s Super Service Center, assembly line and drive-in movie; and take our simulators out for a test drive in addition to this special exhibit.  It’s like two Museums in one,” Steen added.

In addition to the exhibit sponsorship, PNC Bank is providing a number of educational opportunities for children and adults, offering seminars and workshops on a variety of financial literacy topics.  “According to a report by the Consumer Federation of America, the average U.S. family is spending more than $1,000 per year in interest and fees,” said Museum Marketing Manager Katie Frassinelli.  “Everyone stands to gain from learning how to be more money-savvy, and we are excited about the financial literacy seminars PNC Bank will be offering at the Museum.  They will be sharing great money-management tips for our visitors.”  A Moneyville Camp for kids is also planned for March 7-8.

PNC Bank founded the Grow Up Great program, helping to prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life.  As part of the program they partnered with Sesame Workshop to create Math On-The-Go! Cards, offering fun ways for children and their parents to explore math in their everyday routines.  These bi-lingual cards are incorporated into the Moneyville exhibit, and children have the opportunity to take some home from the exhibit.  The cards can also be downloaded from their website at:

The National Corvette Museum is open seven days a week, 8am-5pm Central Time. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and over, $5 for youth age 6-16, and children age 5 and under are free.  The Museum also offers family admission for $25 for everyone in a household.  PNC Bank customers receive special pricing when showing a bank card or other proof.  Group rates are also available with advanced reservations.  For more information, visit or call 270-781-7973.  To get the latest information on exhibits, upcoming events, camps and more – sign up to receive our Community Events & Activities email on our website.

MONEYVILLE was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  The exhibit was made possibly with funds provided by the National Science Foundation.  MONEYOPOLIS is a registered trademark of Ernst & Young. The MONEYVILLE trademark is used under license.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Corvette Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

The National Corvette Museum has announced the following inductees to be recognized as part of the 16th Annual Corvette Hall of Fame Ceremony in 2013:  Wil Cooksey in the category of GM/Chevrolet; Werner Meier in the category of Corvette enthusiast/historian; and Johnny O’Connell, in the category of racing will all be recognized with the highest honor bestowed by the Museum for their contributions to the past, present and future of Corvette.

The 2013 Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame during a ceremony and banquet on Thursday, August 29, 2013. Their induction will take place as part of the Museum’s 19th Anniversary Corvette Celebration festivities August 29-31, 2013.

Corvette Hall of Fame Inductee Wil Cooksey’s career with General Motors is the epitome of achievement beginning with his first job as an assistant professor in industrial engineering at GMI in Flint, MI in 1972.  In 1976 he transferred to the St. Louis plant where he held several positions before being transferred to the Doraville plant in Atlanta.  After working at various superintendent positions at Doraville he was named the production manager at the Fairfax plant in Kansas. 

Cooksey’s connection to Corvette began in February 1993 when he assumed the role as the Plant Manager at the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant, responsible for the production of Corvettes and later the Cadillac XLRs.  He held that role for 15 years – the longest serving Plant Manager to date - before retiring in March 2008.  While at the Plant, Cooksey not only served on the Board of Directors for the National Corvette Museum (1994-2011) and Board Chairman (2008 and 2009), but he was also responsible for helping to get started many of the Delivery Department programs the Museum still offers today including R8C, Xperience, Buyers’ Tours and more.  Cooksey was much more than a Plant Manager, going the extra mile to get to know the customers, traveling to car shows, enhancing the plant tour experience by encouraging employee interaction with guests and being very Corvette enthusiast and owner focused.

Cooksey has received numerous accolades and awards including “Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award” in 1997, “Achiever of the Year” from Austin Peay University, was featured on the cover of African-American on Wheels magazine when they named Corvette the “Best Urban Car of the Year”, “Black Achiever in the Industry” by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the “Lee Iacocca Award” in 2010.

Corvette Hall of Fame Inductee Werner Meier became involved in the hobby in 1969 when he purchased his first Corvette – a brand new 1969 on his 18th birthday.   That same year he began participation in the Corvette Club of Michigan, but wasn’t able to officially join until 1972 when he turned 21.  A graduate of the General Motors Institute, he worked at GM as a manufacturing engineer, service engineer and Engineering Group Manager over a 33 year career, but it is his side hobby of Corvette restoration and collection that has garnered notoriety.  Meier has owned, restored and/or serviced over 100 Corvettes, many of them very rare or unique including a 1958 “Fancy Free” styling car, 1963 Corvette styling car built for Harley Earl and 1964 Bill Mitchell styling car with one piece door glass.

Meier has provided vehicles from his personal collection to various Museums for display including the GM Heritage Center, Gilmore Car Museum and National Corvette Museum.  He has also organized exclusive Corvette displays at events such as the Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, Bay Harbor Concours d’Elegance and Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.  With preservation and restoration being two of his many Corvette passions, Meier has been a member of the National Corvette Restorers Society since 1983 and serves as an annual Tech Seminar host.  He also was an inaugural member of the Bloomington Gold Corvette Hall of Fame in 1998 and has been a Special Collection exhibitor eight times.  As a Lifetime Member of the National Corvette Museum, Meier has loaned his 1963 “Bunkie Knudsen” Corvette and 1958 “Fancy Free” Corvette for exhibit at the Museum, in addition to providing on-going advice and ideas on improving displays and exhibits at the Museum.

Corvette Hall of Fame Inductee Johnny O’Connell is hailed as the most successful GM factory racecar driver from the U.S.  O’Connell’s racing career began in 1987 in the Formula Atlantic series where he won five races en route to the championship and was named Rookie of the Year.  In 1993 he scored a class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring, an overall win in 1994 and another class victory in 1995.  He also won his class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994, which was also his first time competing in the prestigious endurance race.

O’Connell joined the factory Corvette Racing team in 2001, scoring the team’s first overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in the Corvette C5.R, followed by the team’s first 24 Hours of Le Mans class victory in 2001. Since then he has helped GM’s factory team capture eight straight manufacturers’ titles and achieving seven class wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring, more than any other driver.  In 2008, O’Connell and teammate Jan Magnussen dominated the GT1 class, scoring eight wins en route to the class championship.  O’Connell notched his record-setting eighth Sebring win in the season opening race in 2009, and then became the first American to score four class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  He made a seamless transition to the GT2 class, finishing as runner-up in the competition debut of the GT2 Corvette C6.R at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and scoring Corvette Racing’s first GT2 win at Mosport in his record-setting 100th career ALMS start.  At the conclusion of the 2009 season, O'Connell held numerous ALMS records, including the most career starts (102), most podium finishes (80), most top-five finishes (93) and most top-10 finishes (100). After ten years with Corvette, O’Connell joined Team Cadillac in 2011, competing in the SCCA World Challenge GT alongside former Corvette Racing teammate Andy Pilgrim where they still race today.  In 2012 O’Connell was inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame and joined Bondurant School of High Performance Driving as their ZR1 expert instructor, also serving as the school’s VP of Global Operations.  He also now adds insight and excitement to the ALMS racing as a commentator for ABC, ESPN and Speed.

The National Corvette Museum established the Corvette Hall of Fame in 1998 to confer the highest honor and recognition upon the most influential individuals in the history of the Corvette. The award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to their respective fields, each having reached the highest level of accomplishment. Inductees must also reflect the highest standards of integrity and character to positively enhance the prestige of the Corvette and the National Corvette Museum.

Additional information on reserving a spot at the prestigious Corvette Hall of Fame banquet will be available in the coming months via our website at: or can be obtained by subscribing to our weekly eNewsletter “NCM eNews” at:  Corporate tables are available for the dinner and can be reserved by contacting Karen Renfrow in the Events Department at 270-467-8804 or email

The National Corvette Museum is a member-driven, non-profit foundation dedicated to educating the public through the preservation of the Corvette’s past, present and future heritage. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, the Museum is located at Exit 28 off I-65 in Bowling Green, KY.

Bowling Green, KY Chamber of Commerce Purchases Press Kit No. 1 for C7 Corvette

The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce now owns the first-issued press kit for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show on January 14. The press kit is a coveted memorabilia item for Corvette enthusiasts. General Motors produced just 2,014 copies, which were distributed only to media and invited guests at the auto show.

“The Corvette is part of our DNA in Bowling Green,” said Ron Bunch, CEcD, Chamber president and CEO. “We’re excited to be internationally known for this icon of the automotive world and to be owners of the first press kit. It’s a great testament to our business climate as GM brings millions of dollars in investment and hundreds of new jobs to South Central Kentucky, and I’m confident that this momentum will continue to grow in 2013.”

Housing the No. 1 Corvette Stingray press kit at the Chamber is not just for a display. It serves as a reminder of the significant impact that the Corvette makes in South Central Kentucky.

Having manufactured the Corvette in Bowling Green since 1981, General Motors announced in 2011 that it would enhance its Bowling Green facility for the production of the next generation Corvette, the Stingray. In the announcement, the company stated that the project would bring an investment of more than $131 million and plans to hire 250 new employees. Company leaders attribute this significant investment and job creation to the positive, business-friendly environment in Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky.

“I’m proud to tell anyone across the globe that Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky are a terrific place to do business,” said Dave Tatman, plant manager at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. “I’ve worked for GM in several other states and countries, and this is the best place to do business in my experience because the entire region supports the growth of this economy.”
“It is an understatement to say that the Corvette plant is an asset to South Central Kentucky,” said Bunch. “As we market the region, we’re able to tout the success and tenure that the plant has had in this region. Alongside the abundance of automotive suppliers in the region, this is proof that we are an excellent location for the automotive market.”

He continued, “As the buzz grows for the new Corvette, more people are taking notice of Bowling Green and all that we have to offer. We’re also poised for significant growth in the motorsports industry because of the new motorsports park in development by the National Corvette Museum and the companies here that are part of the high-performance and racing segments, such as Holley Performance Products, Quick Fuel Technology, and RC Components. This is all because of the great partnerships that we have with these companies, the National Corvette Museum, and our stakeholders.”

Wendell Strode, executive director of the National Corvette Museum, agreed. “By partnering together, we’re exponentially growing our network of Corvette and motorsports enthusiasts. This is a true example of how we’re all committed to one goal: to grow businesses, create more jobs, and bring more dollars to South Central Kentucky.”

The Chamber purchased the press kit at auction, and General Motors will donate the proceeds to fund breast cancer research through the American Cancer Society. Bunch remarked, “This purchase was a statement about the pride we have in the Corvette, as well as a way for us to support a worthy cause. I commend General Motors for using the sale of this press kit as an opportunity to bring more awareness to breast cancer research.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yesterday to Today: All-new Corvette Stingray Comes to New York City 60 Years After Motorama 1953 Debut

Sixty years ago tomorrow, spectators lined New York City’s posh Park Avenue, waiting to get a glimpse of the ground-breaking 1953 Chevrolet Corvette on display at the General Motors’ Motorama show. Today, the Corvette is back in The Big Apple, marking the historic milestone with the all-new 2014 C7 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

“The all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray is the most advanced and engaging Corvette in the long, prestigious legacy of this uniquely American success story,” said Chris Perry vice president of Chevrolet Marketing. “It is a car woven into the fabric of American culture and it got its start right here in the Big Apple.”

The introduction of the original Corvette took place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Jan. 17, 1953. Only 300 Corvettes were built – all of them white with a red interior. The enthusiastic response prompted Chevrolet to accelerate production plans and by late June that year, Corvettes were rolling out of a specialized assembly facility in Flint, Mich. One of these 300 is on exhibit at the National Corvette Museum, along with another piece of important Corvette history that many don’t know about.

Although the Corvette crossed flags emblem has seen some variation over the years, it actually had a controversial beginning. The first logo design included an American flag crossing over the checkered flag to emphasize America’s entry into the sports car world. Originally created by Robert Bartholomew, an interior designer at Chevrolet, this emblem was installed on the 1953 prototype that was set to debut in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria during the “Motorama” show. As preparations were made for Corvette's big day, the Chevrolet legal department discovered that it was against the law to use an American flag on any commercially made product. With only four days left before the show, the pressure was on to come up with a new logo, and fast.
The designers acted quickly, and looked toward Louis Chevrolet for inspiration. Searching at first for a family crest that could be adapted into a flag they ran into a dead end, as the Chevrolet family didn't have a crest. Getting desperate, they looked to the French origins of Chevrolet’s name for inspiration. They chose the fleur-de-lis, which means “flower of the lily” as it is the French symbol for royalty. Beneath that there are three lines to represent the three Chevrolet brothers. The revised emblem was quickly made by jewelers and installed on the prototype where it has remained on Corvettes ever since.

The actual American flag emblem that was pulled off of the first Corvette for the Motorama show is on display at the National Corvette Museum, on loan from GM.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Akerson’s ’58 Vette Going on Block for Habitat for Humanity

A new home for a classic American car will soon help pave the way for several new homes for families throughout metro Detroit.
General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson’s personal 1958 Chevrolet Corvette will be auctioned off on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. EST, by the famed Barrett-Jackson Auction Company in Scottsdale, Ariz.  All proceeds will be donated by Akerson to Habitat for Humanity Detroit and its efforts to rebuild the Morningside Commons neighborhood located just east of GM’s Renaissance Center world headquarters in downtown Detroit.
“The 1958 Corvette is pure American ingenuity and creativity and the free spirit that Chevrolet represents to me.  I love the car – but I think it’s probably better purposed somewhere else,” Akerson said.  “The need for Habitat for Humanity is so great that I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I could really make a difference in a whole different way.’”

Akerson’s affiliation with Habitat for Humanity Detroit has been ongoing. Last February, he and his wife, Karin, made a personal donation of $1 million to help launch “Leaders to Rebuild Detroit,” Habitat’s three-year, $25 million initiative to serve at least 500 families in Morningside Commons through house construction, rehabilitation and energy efficient upgrades.

“The fact that Dan is giving up a car that I know must mean an awful lot to him is very humbling,” said Vincent Tilford, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit.  “For whoever buys this classic car, not only are they going to give it a new home, but they’re also going to give new, better and healthier homes to families in this neighborhood – and actually help rebuild an entire community.”

The 1958 Corvette featured a 245-horsepower V-8 and included new body and instrument panels and new upholstery.  External highlights included dual headlamps – a Corvette first – and twin chrome trunk spears.  Chevrolet built 9,168 Corvettes for the 1958 model year, but only 510, or just over 5 percent, were painted Regal Turquoise. Akerson’s Corvette is a hardtop convertible and is considered scarce among remaining 1958 models.
“I hope the new owner will feel like their money is going to a good place,” Akerson said. “It will help families become more rooted in our community. At the same time, they’re going to have new memories and new fun of their own.  It’s not often you can get all of it packaged into a great car, great fun, great memories and that you’re doing something good at the same time.”
The National Corvette Museum will be in attendance with merchandise available for sale as well as raffle tickets for their various upcoming Corvette raffles. For information on upcoming raffles, please visit

For more details or to register for the auction, call 480-421-6694 or visit