Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Corvette Museum Marks One-Year Anniversary of Sinkhole

Live Streaming Ceremony Planned to Re-Introduce Restored Blue Devil to Display Floor

This Thursday, February 12 marks the one-year anniversary of the day the car community collectively gasped at the sight of eight Corvettes tumbling more than thirty feet into the depths of a sinkhole inside the National Corvette Museum’s Skydome. What could have been disastrous for the Museum, which celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2014, turned out to be a positive, landing the Bowling Green, KY attraction prime time news coverage across the globe and a 67% increase in attendance for the year.

“We were fortunate the good Lord was watching over us,” said Wendell Strode, Executive Director, “because no one was in the Museum at the time.” Security cameras captured the first moments of the 5:39am sinkhole collapse, and the footage has garnered 8.5 million views world-wide on YouTube, plus countless more via news media outlets and television documentaries.

Of the eight prized Corvettes claimed by the sinkhole, two were on loan from General Motors and the other six were owned by the Museum. All eight cars were recovered from the hole, each receiving various degrees of damage. Only three of the cars were deemed in good enough condition for restoration.

“General Motors came forward the day after the sinkhole collapse and offered their support in restoring the cars,” Strode said. The 2009 ZR1 ‘Blue Devil’ was repaired by GM this past Fall and unveiled at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas on November 4, 2014. The 1992 ‘One Millionth’ Corvette began restoration at the GM Design Center in Warren, MI in January. The process is expected to take six months. The Museum will be working with a private Corvette restoration shop to repair the 1962 Tuxedo Black Corvette. Currently six of the Corvettes are on display in the Museum’s Exhibit Hall. All eight are planned to be reunited later this year when the Skydome construction is complete and the building is re-opened to the public for tours. The main portion of the Museum continues to remain open for tours during the construction process, which can be observed through a Plexiglas window.

The Museum’s Board of Directors had initially voted to explore keeping a portion of the sinkhole open, but ultimately it was decided to fill it in due to cost, safety and appearance concerns. The process to fill the hole was completed in January, and micropile installation starts this month.
“We are currently working with Creative Arts Unlimited of Pinellas Park, FL to develop a meaningful, first-class exhibit to tell the story of our sinkhole,” said Katie Frassinelli, Museum Communications Manager. “The construction team installed a manhole which leads into one side of our cave. The exhibit will incorporate a kiosk which connects to a camera and lights inside the cave, allowing visitors a live view of what lies beneath their feet. The exhibit should be educational and entertaining with plenty of hands-on and interactive features.”

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the sinkhole, the Museum has planned a ceremony for 3pm CT featuring a recount of the discovery of the sinkhole by Betty Hardison, Museum Library & Archives Coordinator, who was contacted by the security company and was first on the scene. Zach Massey, Project Manager with Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction will then share details on what work has been performed thus far, and provide updates on the remaining work to be completed. The ceremony will include an official unveiling of the restored 2009 ZR1 ‘Blue Devil’ as this will be the first time it has appeared on display at the Museum since the repairs were completed. The Blue Devil was the first Corvette recovered from the sinkhole, cranking up for a crowd of cheering on-lookers.

“Everyone has joked that the Museum ‘made lemonade’ out of this situation, so we thought it fitting to end our ceremony with a lemonade toast to continued good fortune for the Museum,” added Frassinelli. The ceremony will be live streamed via YouTube and can be accessed on the Museum’s website at

The Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation, is located at I-65 exit 28 in Bowling Green, KY and is open daily, 8am-5pm CT. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids age 6-16, children age 5 and under are free, $8 for seniors or $25 family admission and free for active military. Learn more at or call 800-53 VETTE (83883).