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.

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