The 2015 Bloomington Gold show was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indy) located in Speedway, Indiana, on June 25-27. Speedway is located 6.2 miles west of Indianapolis. Indy is a state-of-the-art racing facility that has a rich motorsports history. Its first race was held at this location on August 19, 1909, and today Indy has become a worldwide racing brand. Bloomington Gold USA owner Guy Larsen made a bold decision to move this annual Corvette event from Champaign, Illinois, to Indy for 2015. But if crowd reaction is any gauge, it looks like he made the right call. Bloomington was able to offer its Gold and Survivor certifications at Indy, plus a host of additional events. The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School offered testdrives in their Z06s on the infield sports car circuit. An all-day autocross was offered for all three days to allow owners to test their Corvette driving skills. The schedule also included multiple parade laps around the famous 2.5-mile rectangular Indy 500 oval. If you had the desire, and cash, to go really fast you could pay $500 for a ride in a two-seat Indy Experience race car. It was a thrill to hear and watch these cars flashing by at incredible speeds.
Even with the smorgasbord of activities offered at the Bloomington Gold Indy event, its Gold certification heritage remains strong and for good reason. The Corvette is rapidly moving through its sixth decade of production. The older the brand gets the more important it is to preserve its rich heritage. Bloomington Gold Corvettes USA was founded in 1973 for the purpose of preserving the Corvette’s heritage. In 1978, Bloomington introduced the Gold Certification. A Gold Certification is awarded when a Corvette receives a minimum of 95 points (out of 100) when judged. This award confirms that a Corvette is close to or the same as when it left the factory. In 1990, Bloomington added the Survivor Award, which requires a Corvette to be at least 50 percent unrestored. One year later, Benchmark was introduced. To obtain the Benchmark status a Corvette must be unrestored and have Gold and Survivor certifications. This year, 93 Corvettes received Gold Certification, 18 Survivors attained Gold, and 20 achieved Benchmark. Judging such a large number of Corvettes requires a cadre of dedicated Bloomington Gold trained volunteer judges. The awards were presented on Saturday afternoon by the judges. Each car crossed the famous yard of bricks in Gasoline Alley before stopping to receive their award. All of these certifications are coveted by owners and for people who want to buy a factory correct Corvette.
Finally, the large Gold Field in the middle of the track was exclusively for Corvettes and it was packed all weekend. A Gold Market was open all weekend so vendors big and small could offer new or used Corvette parts for visitors to buy. The Gold Mine provided a great way to shop for that special Corvette to drive home. The free Gold School offered seminars on a variety of topics from experts in the Corvette hobby. After the awards were completed Corvettes lined up for the closing event, the Gold Tour of Corvettes that caravanned through the streets of Indianapolis and ending up at the Metropolis Mall on Saturday night. It was a fun and rowdy event for all who participated.
We asked Guy Larsen for his overall impressions of this year’s Bloomington Indy event and here is what he said, “Attendees this year were thrilled with the driving opportunities at Bloomington Gold. Fast laps, autocross, and driving their own Corvettes on the world-famous Indy oval track! It was a car guy and girl’s dream!” Bloomington Gold will return to Indy on June 23-25, 2016. Be sure to mark your calendars, and for details visit www.bloomingtongold.com.
The large multi-colored entrance welcomes Bloomington visitors. When we parked our 2015 eight-speed automatic coupe on Friday, the weather was cool and soggy. Fortunately, the weather cleared on Saturday and like lemmings, Corvettes flooded the Bloomington show field.
Owner Guy Larsen purchased Bloomington Gold USA from Dana Mecum in 2011. His decision to move the show to Indy in 2015 is a positive move for this historic event.
During the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400 this tall sign near the start/finish line shows the overall positions in the race. Bloomington used this innovative cover to make it clear to everyone attending that this is Bloomington’s new home.
Throughout the event, Corvette owners were allowed to take their car on a lap around the famous speedway behind a Corvette pace car. They exited the track through the famous Gasoline Alley arch, which exits the pits and that leads to the team garages.
Photo: Memory Lane Photography
Bill Morrison’s 1967 Elkhart Blue 435/427 coupe was one of the cars waiting to be judged in the large Survivor field. It received a Gold Certificate on Saturday.
The large infield at Indy provided plenty of room for Corvette parking, called the Gold Field. The Gold Market near the left front of the photo is for vendors and Corvette parts for sale. Behind the Gold Field is an infield portion of the racetrack where you could ride (or fly!) in a Ron Fellows Performance Driving School Z06.
Corvette parking stretched almost to the exit of the Speedway’s Turn 2. The city of Indianapolis can be seen 6.2 miles east of the track.
Corvettes have paced the Indianapolis 500 a total of 13 times, including 2015. This is confirmed by this impressive display of Corvette Indy pace cars that date back to 1978.
Taking a ride in a two seat Indy car is probably the most thrilling way to experience the famous Brickyard. Bloomington arranged to have the two-seaters at the event. Each day (weather permitting) two-lap rides were offered for $500. The people exiting the racer had huge smiles on their faces.
Bloomington Gold celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Corvette. A special exhibit of 16 special 1965 Corvettes was on display in the Gold Collection. A wide variety of Corvettes were in the collection, including this see-through coupe built by Corvette Repair.
Lingenfelter Performance Engineering owner Ken Lingenfelter (left) stands next to multi-time autocross champion Danny Popp. Danny drives Ken’s cars in various competition events and was on hand to give free autocross rides around Bloomington Gold’s autocross course.
The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School gave free rides on the infield portion of the Speedway’s road course in its Z06 school cars. You should have heard the sound of these beasts at wide-open throttle.
Steve and Debbie Berry own this Aztec Copper 1956 Corvette. They brought it to Bloomington seeking to have it recognized as a Survivor. It received a Bronze Survivor Award from the judges.
Each generation has a group of judges that specialize in the Corvettes built during those years. These C4 judges were inspecting John Malmquist’s 1995 pace car replica. From far left: judge Joe Jurkowski, owner Malmquist, and judges Jerry Mulick, Chris Chessnoe, and Ray Zisa.
This is one of the least raced Corvette Challenge race cars, purchased and driven by the late Tom Juckette. It is now owned by Kent and Melissa Hussy, and it received a Survivor Benchmark at Indy. This is the first Challenge car to receive this honor.
Vendor displays could be found inside many of Indy’s buildings, so they were able to avoid the wet weather, like artist Dana Forrester.
Jason Sharkey crosses the famous yard of bricks at Indy to receive his Gold Certification award. Chris Chessnoe, Division Director, 1984-Present Certification and Survivor judge presents Jason with his award.
Photo: Memory Lane Photography