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National Corvette Museum Completes Sinkhole Repair

NCM 21st Anniversary Celebration: Skydome Reopens After Sinkhole Repair is Complete

Walt Thurn Sep 14, 2015
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This year marks the 21st Anniversary of the National Corvette Museum, located south of the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant. Since 1994 the museum has undergone significant expansion including the new NCM Motorsports Park that was dedicated last year. The most unexpected event happened to the museum on February 12, 2014 when a large sinkhole opened inside the Skydome and swallowed eight Corvettes. Team Vette did a four-part series on each car that fell into that hole. The news gained worldwide attention, which resulted in a dramatic increase in attendance. After extensive repair work, the Skydome reopened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 3, 2015. The repair required extensive use of micro-pilings to ensure this area would never collapse again. Three of the eight Corvettes were repairable (1962 convertible, ZR1 and the 1992 1 millionth convertible). The 1962 will be repaired by the museum and GM agreed to repair the ZR1 and the 1 millionth convertible. The lightly damaged ZR1 was repaired and returned to the museum earlier.

The repaired 1 millionth was unveiled during the Skydome reopening ceremony. That work took place at GM’s Mechanical Assembly and Fabrication Shops in Warren, Michigan. It took 30 craftsman and technicians to complete the restoration. When the car was dismantled the team discovered hundreds of signatures from workers who signed the car during its assembly. They were able to save all but one signature from retired plant employee Angela Lamb. During the ceremony the cover was removed by GM’s John Cafaro and Dave Bolognino and the 1 millionth Corvette looked new. Now retired, Angela Lamb agreed to sign a replacement panel at the ceremony. Dave replaced the signed missing right side gill panel and the restoration was complete.

Katie Frassinelli, NCM’s Marketing/Communications Manager announced that a new “Thunderdome” exhibit will open in November. It will include a multimedia experience that allows visitors to experience the sinkhole first hand. A miniature Skydome is being constructed, where 15 guests at a time can experience a simulation of the sinkhole.

The three day event was packed with seminars that included sessions with past and present Hall of Fame inductees. The presentations included:

• What’s Under the Skydome – Dr. Jason Polk
• Skydome and Sinkhole Repair - Zach Massey
• Meet the New Plant Manager – Kia Spande
• Past and Present Hall of Fame Discussion – HOF Members
• Introduction to the 2016 Corvette – GM Team
• How to Properly Insure your Corvette – Adam Boca

This is a small sampling of the many presentations held during the weekend. In addition, a Celebrity Car Show took place on Friday. Throughout the weekend a High Performance Driving Event was held at the NCM Motorsports Park. For those not racing, shuttles were provided to visitors to observe how Corvettes perform. The GM Team also provided a walk around the 2016 Corvettes and explained its new features. The Labor Day Event is a great way to spend time with other Corvette owners and enthusiasts. It is a relaxing way to spend a Labor Day weekend surrounded by Corvettes and Corvette enthusiasts. For more information on the museum’s schedule go to the National Corvette Museum website www.corvettemuseum.org.

Catch our 4-part series about the NCM Sinkhole Corvettes

History of the ZR1 and 1962 Corvettes - Sinkhole Corvettes: Part 1

History of the 1992 One-Millionth and 1962 40th Anniversary Corvettes - Sinkhole Corvettes: Part 2

History of the 1984 and 2009 Corvettes - Sinkhole Corvettes: Part 3

History of the 1991 and 2001 Corvettes - Sinkhole Corvettes: Part 4


The new for 2016 color Long Beach Red, looks stunning on this Spice Red (RPO ZLE) equipped Z06 convertible.


Multi time Corvette C5R and C6.R GT winner Ron Fellows offers a high performance Corvette driving experience at his school in Spring Mountain, Nevada. Yes, this Blade Silver Z06 is a training car!


Nowicki Autosport.Design displayed this C7 coupe with their company’s products added, at the Michelin tire display. Nowicki has been a longtime supporter of Michelin Tire products.


The repaired NCM Skydome has a completely new look. It features a flat floor, with no carpet or elevated areas. It has a more expansive look and the floor sits on hundreds of micro-pilings attached to the bedrock. Some reach almost 300 feet beneath the floor. The large access door behind the red ZR-1 used for construction, will serve as a maintenance entrance to the Skydome.


This double door hatch leads down 40 feet to the underground cavern. This allows engineers to keep a close eye on the any changes that might occur to the cave structure.


Museum Director Wendell Strode (right), cuts the ribbon for the Skydome reopening ceremony. He is assisted by Scott, Murphy & Brown Construction and Christy Thomas (NCM Finance and HR Director).


Zach Massey from Scott, Massey and Daniel Construction Company, served as the Skydome renovation project manager. His regular video updates helped keep NCM members, enthusiasts and the public up to date on the sinkhole repair progress. He opened the ribbon cutting event with an overview of the project. Job well done Zach!


Only three of the eight Corvettes that fell into the sinkhole were considered repairable. They are the black 1962 on the left, the 2009 “Blue Devil” ZR1on the right and the 1 millionth convertible. GM restored the ZR1 and the 1 millionth, which was unveiled at the ribbon cutting ceremony.


Restorers found signatures from plant workers all over the 1 millionth Corvette. They were able to preserve all but one. The missing signature from Angela Lamb was located on a badly damaged gill panel, Angela now retired, agreed to sign the panel. GM’s Dave Bolognino, Director Design Fabrication Operations (left) and John Cafaro, Executive Director of Chevrolet Global Design, hold the panel.


Dave Bolognino reinstalls the newly signed gill panel onto the right side of the 1 millionth Corvette to complete its restoration.


Corvette Indy pace cars are lined up against the outside edge of the Skydome. The yellow tape line that is embedded into the floor shows the outline of the underground cave. The pink tape outlines the sinkhole area that collapsed.


The eight cars that fell into the sinkhole are on display near the center of the Skydome. They are; 1.5 millionth convertible, ZR-1 Spyder, Mallett Z06, PPG Pacecar, 40th Anniversary, 1962 Corvette, “Blue Devil” and the 1 millionth convertible.


MCS (Mikes Custom Steering) showed their unique steering wheel product line. They offer a wide range of custom wheels for your Corvette. They installed several during the show.


Corvette Racing provided free T-shirts and photos at their impressive outside display. The cutaway C7 Z06 always attracts a crowd.


Construction at the NCM Motorsports Park is moving forward at a fast pace. Members now have access to recently completed garages along the track’s main straightaway.


Fuel mileage drops dramatically when you are hustling your Corvette around the demanding NCM Motorsports Park track. This new Mobil 1 refueling station makes it much more convenient to refuel quickly and return to the track.


Construction is well underway for the $1.8 million Holley Control Tower. The completed 14,635 square-foot tower will provide a large viewing area, meeting rooms, classrooms, retail space and administrative offices. A new noise abatement berm is also nearing completion between the Circle Clark neighborhood and the track on 10 acres of optioned property.



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