Adding an additional day is one way to make an already excellent car show even better. That’s what the folks responsible for putting on the Corvettes at Carlisle event have done. The 2016 edition of the world’s largest Corvette show expanded to four days this year in celebration of everything Corvette, with over 58,000 total guests passing between their gates during the show. On hand were over 5,000 Corvettes, which included the ones in the Corvette-only parking area for those who didn’t want to enter their car in the Fun Field but drove your Vette to the show.
Aided by Mother Nature, the weekend was bathed by glorious sunshine, a key ingredient to draw the Corvette faithful from all over the globe to Pennsylvania. Now in its 35th year, the international appeal to this ever-growing event can be evidenced as you walk the fairgrounds. If you tune in to your surroundings as you move around you can often hear some form of Spanish, French, or numerous other languages being spoken at any given time.
If you have a particular generation of Corvette that rocks your world, the folks at Carlisle make it very easy to locate that object of your desire in the Fun Field. It was once again organized from C1 to C7, with vendors, swap meet, and manufacturer areas clearly defined. Mixed in with the cars on display are also the many Corvette Clubs that use the show as a meeting point. The crew from the ZR1.Net Registry is always out in force with their large display, as was the Grand Sport registry with their growing list of members. Mixed in as well was the NCRS (National Corvette Restorers Society) tent. After many years outside Gate 1 in the makeshift car dealership, they too joined the mix in the Fun Field this year.
There’s much more to the show than just the rows and rows of Corvettes in the Fun Field. The Corvettes at Carlisle show has something for everyone. If you need a new exhaust installed, just visit Installation row, hand over the keys, and come back later. For the guy that doesn’t like to cut a check to have work done, there are numerous seminars throughout the weekend that cover a large range of hands-on topics like computer based diagnostics on C5s and C6s, to hobby oriented topics like “Auctions 101: How to buy and sell a Corvette” and “collector car fraud.” If you are into autocrossing your Corvette, the autocross track at the back of the fairgrounds was buzzing all weekend. If lighting up the tires on your Corvette puts a smile on your face, then the Friday afternoon burnout contest was the place to be. The turnout this year was surprisingly good with four candidates abusing their cars, which resulted in a particularly fiery display of tire roasting showmanship from one of the entrants.
The organizers also believe in giving back to the community, which came in the form of a record setting 500-plus Corvette parade and street party through downtown Carlisle on Friday night. You could also admire the lovely curves of the young ladies competing for Ms. Carlisle on Saturday afternoon; always a crowd favorite for obvious reasons. GM had a strong presence with engineers answering questions throughout the weekend, and doing demos of the 2017 offerings. This face-to-face interaction between the guys making the cars and those buying them has become a crowd favorite over the years, and a great selling tool for the Corvette brand. Every year there is also a specific theme in the Chip’s Choice display. This year celebrated the accomplishments and lives of Dick Guldstrand and John Greenwood, with a sampling of their most notable race and road cars. There was also a large 1966 Corvette display to celebrate its 50th birthday in the Fun Field.
If you’re trying to put a Corvette back together, or perhaps looking to buy a project or turnkey car, the options are far and wide at Carlisle. There was quite a stream of cars for sale at the far end of the fairgrounds all weekend, along with many basket cases waiting for a second chance in the swap meet area. If parts are what you need, this is the event for one-stop shopping. Between the used parts from the guys in the swap meet area to reproduction parts from vendors like Corvette America, putting a Corvette back on the road has become a pretty easy task. Buying a car is equally easy with a bank and notary on the spot as well.
They’ve even considered the unthinkable; those that bring a friend or spouse that have no interest in cars. Since there are outlet malls within striking distance, on Saturday the event staff have free shuttles to the Hershey Outlet shopping center for those that take shopping seriously and need to burn through unused parts funds.
With 2016 in the books, the 2017 weekend plans are already taking shape; pencil in August 24-27, 2017, on your calendars. RPO L88 models will have top billing as the theme in the Chip’s Choice display, along with the 1967 model year, so bring some sunscreen, even more cash, and a Corvette to what promises to be another great event.