Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Millionth Corvette Unexpectedly Saved Early

Crew Took Opportunity to Grab Car During Sinkhole Prep

In an unexpected turn of events, the Millionth Corvette was resurrected from the depths of the sinkhole today.

"Initially there was no intention to bring the Millionth out, but as we got in there and saw more this morning we did feel like this might be our best chance," said Danny Daniel, President of Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction.

Danny indicated that they pulled the car by one wheel from where it was lodged and it swung free into the cavern. They were then able to lift the car and place it to rest, upside down on the bottom of the sinkhole. Finally, the Corvette was hooked up by its two tires for final lifting out of the sinkhole, much like the process to retrieve the 1993 40th Anniversary.

"Went like a champ, we were tickled to death," added Daniel.

"The Millionth Corvette has been through a lot, but the damage at first glance seems to be less extensive than what it could have been, especially given the precarious spot the car landed," said Bob Hellmann, Facilities and Displays Manager at the Museum. "The undercarriage and frame look to be in good condition and everything is repairable."

The Millionth Corvette was built at 2:00pm on July 2, 1992 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Just like the first 1953 Corvettes, it bears a white exterior, red interior and is a convertible. The car was donated to the Corvette Museum by General Motors. In a press release from 1991, Jim Perkins, General Manager for Chevrolet at the time, said "We've been looking for a way to support the goals of the museum, which are to enshrine a great car and the great people who made it an American institution." This donation came two years before the museum that exists today had opened its doors.

"I couldn't afford Corvettes when I was growing up," Perkins said in a 1991 release. "Not many could. But it was enough to know it was a Chevy just as sure as the one I could afford. And that hasn't changed. There's still a little bit of Corvette lurking in every Chevy today. And there will be for a long time to come."

More than 20 years later, Perkins was right. There were and still are many great Corvettes to come. The Museum now has half of the cars recovered from the sinkhole and on display, and in a few weeks hopes to be adding four more cars for visitors to see. Construction crews will continue the stabilization of the spire and walls of the sinkhole before attempting to vacuum out the dirt from around the remaining cars.

"We appreciate all of the support and interest from Corvette and auto enthusiasts around the world," said Wendell Strode, Museum Executive Director. "We still have a long road ahead, lots of repairs to make but we are confident we will come out better than ever. We hope folks will consider registering for our Bash event in April, stopping by when their travels take them through Bowling Green this summer, or make plans to caravan here with about 10,000 of our closest friends in August!"

Links to photos, videos and press releases are available on the Museum's website at For the latest updates visit the Museum’s Facebook Fan page at

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Third Corvette Emerges From Sinkhole

1962 Black Corvette Successful Saved
It's been almost three weeks since a 40' wide, 60' deep sinkhole opened up within the Skydome of the National Corvette Museum, taking eight prized Corvettes with it. Construction and engineering teams have been hard at work since day one, putting a plan in place for the recovery of the cars and restoration of the building.

The recovery of the three most accessible Corvettes: the 2009 "Blue Devil" ZR1, a 1993 40th Anniversary Ruby Red Corvette and a 1962 Black Corvette commenced on Tuesday with all three cars being successfully saved. Monday's "Operation Corvette Plus" resulted in the recovery of the 2009 and the 1993 and nearly all day Tuesday was dedicated to the 1962 - a car that was recovered around 1:45pm CT giving spectators watching from the Museum's plexiglass viewing area and the construction and engineering crews a huge sigh of relief.

The team began work early Tuesday, extracting a portion of the car lift that had become mangled around the car, removing the hood from the '62 and tying a strap to the engine bay, then drilling anchors into the slab of concrete that appeared to be wedged into the grill. In hooking their lifting devices to the car they discovered that they didn't have to lift the slab to free the car. "Really, all that went better than I expected... that's my favorite car," said Mike Murphy, CEO of Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction.

"I see body damage. The chassis looks intact, the frame's not bent, the interior (other than being a little dirty) is pristine. So, I think it's some fiberglass work, some ornamentation work, and paint," said John Spencer, Manufacturing Integration Manager at the GM Corvette Assembly Plant. "This car is in amazing shape considering what it's been through. I don't see anything unrepairable."

Murphy indicated that the next step will be to remove the concrete slab off the bank of the hole, and to remove the rest of the car lift. After those are out of the way they will begin stabilizing and securing the red spire and the walls of the hole. "I'm tickled to death that we were able to get those three cars out with no problems, and they were in good condition," he added.

All three cars are now on display in the Museum's Exhibit Hall. They will be joined in late April by the remaining five Corvettes - marking a culmination of the sinkhole recovery efforts. The Museum is planning a formal exhibit of these cars "as is," along with various photos, videos, information and artifacts through August 3. The plexiglass viewing area of the Skydome will be available as long as construction is on-going, and the 'dome' is expected to re-open by late August.

"While we don't know exactly how long the repair and remediation of the sinkhole will take, we feel confident that the Skydome will be as good as new in time for the Museum's 20th Anniversary Celebration," said Executive Director Wendell Strode. "August 27-30 of this year will be an exciting time in Bowling Green, Kentucky as we will have over 10,000 Corvette enthusiasts caravaning from all over the country to celebrate the Museum, the Grand Opening of our Motorsports Park, and now the re-opening of our Skydome."

Links to photos, videos and press releases are available on the Museum's website at For the latest updates visit the Museum’s Facebook Fan page at

Monday, March 3, 2014

National Corvette Museum Retrieves First Corvette From Sinkhole

2009 "Blue Devil" ZR1 Emerges Nearly Unscathed

Crowds of construction personnel, media, Museum visitors and staff cheered as the first Corvette, the 2009 "Blue Devil" ZR1 emerged from the depths of the sinkhole this morning at approximately 10:35am CT. The process was streamed live on two of the Museum's web cams with thousands of viewers tuning in all over the world.

"It's wonderful... just seven more to go," said Mike Murphy, construction manager for the project.
Even more cheers erupted when the car cranked up after only a few tries, and even drove about 20 feet to the doorway of the Skydome. "That's a GM product for you. They take a licking and keep on ticking!" added Murphy.

The crews have been working six days a week since the sinkhole incident that swallowed eight Corvettes in the National Corvette Museum's Skydome exhibit area. This past Saturday, the crews rigged up the ZR1 and did a few test lifts. John Spencer, Manufacturing Integration Manager at the GM Corvette Assembly Plant, helped consult the team on the best points to strap up the car. "With Mike, worker safety is number one. There are no compromises," said Spencer.

"I was worried about the wheels," said Murphy. "This morning we took so long because we wanted to add some secondary straps in case the wheels pulled. It was just a little more insurance."
Murphy added that with this project, nothing is set in stone on how to do it. "It's been a huge relief. It went better than expected," he said.

After the elation of the first car being rescued and even cranking up, the Museum staff were excited to put the car back on display in the Museum's Exhibit Hall. "It's incredible to have the car back on display again. It's what we've been hoping for," said Bob Hellmann, Facilities and Displays Manager. "Now we just want to get the next seven, restore the cars, and get them all back on display."

The Museum plans on displaying the cars as they are recovered, now through August 3. In addition, this Spring they plan to create a special display with information on the sinkhole incident, sinkholes and karst background details, videos, photos and more.

After taking a lunch break, the crew will resume the car retrieval process - with the 1993 "Ruby Red" 40th Anniversary Corvette slated for recovery Monday afternoon. The 1962 Black Corvette is planned to be retrieved on Tuesday, but will be much trickier as a five ton slab of concrete is partially resting on the front of the car. Two cranes will be used to simultaneously lift the car and the concrete.

Links to photos, videos and press releases are available on the Museum's website at For the latest updates visit the Museum’s Facebook Fan page at