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Preserving Corvette History … Bloomington Gold 17

Bloomington Gold 17 certifies a Corvette’s authenticity

Walt Thurn Aug 30, 2017
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Bloomington Gold Corvettes USA has been dedicated to certifying a Corvette’s factory authenticity since it was founded. The 2017 edition returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third consecutive year. Indy has proven to be an ideal location for owners, vendors and visitors. Indy is a large facility with trained staff and large areas inside for vendors, certification judging, track activities and Corvette parking. The track is located in Speedway, Indiana, (6.2 miles west of Indianapolis) and held its first race in 1909. The Corvette has a long history at Indy, including pacing the 500 multiple times.

Friendly staff was on hand to direct traffic as vehicles entered the track. Each driver was given a detailed event program with a map inside. The crowds were large on Thursday and Saturday, but heavy rains Friday reduced that day’s attendance. Gold Certification, Survivor and Benchmark judging took place on Friday and Saturday. A total of 67 Corvettes were awarded Gold certifications, 14 were given Silver (for those that did not achieve Gold). Twenty received Survivor and three received Silver (for those that did not achieve Survivor). Fourteen Survivor recipients were awarded Benchmark certification that can only be obtained if your car is a Survivor. The certificates were presented on Saturday afternoon as the owners stopped their Corvettes at the famous yard of bricks in Gasoline Alley. These certifications are coveted by owners and those who want to buy a factory correct Corvette.

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The Corvette only parking quickly filled up on Thursday, the opening day of the show. We could not resist showing this pristine 1958 Corvette.

Bloomington’s main event was the Gold Collection that honored the 1967 Corvette. Thirty-seven rare Corvettes were shown, including eight fitted with the L88 engine option (of 20 produced in 1967). Corvette’s second generation production was scheduled to end in 1966. The C3 was scheduled for introduction in 1967 but due to C3 teething problems the release was pushed to 1968. This last minute decision required the Corvette Team to do a minor “refresh” to the C2 body and continue it for the 1967 model year. The minor refresh included some big news under the hood, two engines that were slated for 1968, became an option in 1967. This included the L71 427/435hp Tri-power big-block ($437.10 option and 3,754 built) and the ultra-limited 427/430hp L88 race engine ($947.90 option and 20 built).

Zora Arkus-Duntov (Corvette Chief Engineer) believed that with the L88 power and the C3 aero body he would be able to build a Cobra-killing Corvette (which he did). It turned out that the L88-equipped ’67 Corvettes became Cobra beaters even with their less aerodynamic body style. Enthusiasts were disappointed, but Corvette fever was still alive and 22,940 were built by the end of that production year. As time has passed, the two most popular C2s continue to be the 1963 and 1967 model years. Prices of both continue to command record levels at various auctions and private sales. Fifty years have passed since this hurry-up restyled Corvette hit the market, but today it continues to be one of Corvette’s most popular and iconic designs. Bill Locke, Gold Collection Event Director, with the support of Guy Larsen, President of Bloomington Gold, gathered this impressive collection of 1967 Corvettes. Bill received support from Hagerty Insurance and a host of others too numerous to mention that helped celebrate this landmark Corvette design.

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This Fawn Beige 1961 Corvette is being parked next to other C1s in the certification area. No golf karts or non-certification Corvettes are allowed to enter this area.

Visitors attended a variety of Gold School classes that included technical and Corvette History seminars. Chevrolet offered free rides in Spring Mountain C7 school cars called the Gold Ride. Expert drivers from the Ron Fellows Corvette driving school did the wheel work. This was held on the infield portion of Indy’s sports car track and speeds exceeded 100 mph. This was a very popular event with visitors. Chevrolet also had a variety of Chevrolet cars, SUVs and trucks that were available for test drives. Gold Laps were available for owners who wanted to drive their Corvette on the 2.5-mile speedway track. At the end of their drive they could have their photo taken kissing the bricks. The Gold Market was open so vendors could offer new or used Corvette parts for purchase and the Gold Mine offered visitors the opportunity to shop for a special Corvette. The popular autocross returned this year and was sponsored by Lingenfelter Performance and Continental Tires. You could take free thrill rides with experienced autocross drivers or use you own Corvette to try and beat their time. After the awards were completed on Saturday, Corvette owners lined up for the closing event called the Gold Tour. They all caravanned together and ended in downtown Speedway for a block party. It was a fun way to close the 2017 Bloomington Gold event.

Guy Larsen, President of Bloomington Gold commented, “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway staff has been great to work with. Indy is the world’s greatest car venue for our event.” Bloomington Gold will return to Indy on June 21-23, 2018. Be sure to mark your calendars and for more details visit www.bloomingtongold.com.

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The 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway offers plenty of parking and vendor space for the Bloomington Gold event. This photo shows Indy’s Turn 3 grandstands in the background and the infield portion of the former F1 circuit that was used for the Chevrolet Driving Experience.

Photography by Walt Thurn

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