Now in its second year as a four-day event, the 2017 edition of the Corvettes at Carlisle show was another home run for the organizers. Aided by exceptionally tame weather for August, the show drew over 5,000 Corvettes and 60,000 fans from across the globe to the largest Corvette-themed event.
Keeping all those fans entertained can sometimes be a difficult task so every year the Carlisle Events staff works on a key display where some specific milestone in the Corvette world is celebrated. For 2017, the ’67 L88 Corvette took center stage. With only 20 examples produced in 1967, and 16 known to exist, half of those were on display during the weekend. There was even a fully functional L88 engine display to show just how special these cars are.
This year Carlisle also hosted Callaway’s 30-year reunion of the (RPO) B2K Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette. Introduced in 1987, this was the first and only time that Chevrolet had a factory orderable non-GM Performance option on a Corvette. As you can guess, there were some examples in the Callaway display. The 25th anniversary of the Callaway Speedster was showcased as well, with some examples at the show.
Also set up with a strong presence was the National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS), with their tent housing a number of Corvette generations that have gone through the certification process. Some NCRS level cars could also be found in the invitational display exclusively set up for the 1967 Corvette. This was a great mix of Vettes that ranged from survivors to full blown restorations.
This year, a pair of well-worn C1 Corvettes showed up and stole the show. Their popularity rivaled that of the multi-million dollar L88s as fan favorites.
Beyond some of the high-end displays, there was also the swap meet area that was lined with vendors selling restoration and aftermarket parts, and a vast amount of used Corvette parts and cars. For those hunting parts, it is a safe bet that if you can’t find it in the swap meet area at Carlisle, chances are you aren’t going to find it. From mechanical and body parts to automobilia there were plenty of folks selling their items throughout the swap meet area. Project cars could also be found. But if you were looking for a turnkey ride, then the car corral was the place to look. This year, as in previous years, there was a wide selection of cars to choose from that appealed to the varied tastes of the attendees looking for a car. From NCRS certified to Pro Street and restomod—it was all well represented.
For those that didn’t want to drive away with their purchase, and prefer to get their hands dirty, numerous project cars in varying degrees of completeness could be found. The other aspect that makes buying a car at Carlisle a painless process is that the folks that run the show offer title and registration services on the premises, along with financing through a third party.
Another show favorite is the burnout contest. Corvette demographics don’t show the average owner beating on their cars, so the burnout candidate counts are usually low at the show. This year there were three: Ella Miller—the daughter of the co-owner of Carlisle events Lance Miller—usually does one with her Corvette-bodied go-kart, and two other individuals took up the challenge. The owner of the silver C5 was repeat participant. His car nearly burnt to the ground last year during the burnout attempt.
And then there is the bikini contest. Like it or not it’s a Carlisle tradition, and as expected, it continues to be a favorite that rivals any of the Corvette happenings throughout the weekend. This year there were only five entries for the contest.
With such a large gathering of the Corvette faithful in one spot, the show is a golden opportunity for companies like Chevrolet to display their cars and also inform prospective buyers of what they have coming down the line. They had a sizeable presence this year with a full product display. Beyond the GM display, the Manufacturer’s Midway was also lined with aftermarket vendors selling everything from complete frames to engines and restoration parts. The largest was show sponsor Corvette America, with their extensive line of licensed Corvette reproduction parts for every Corvette generation.
It’s still early to find out what displays will be at the show for 2018, but we suspect that it will be tied in with some significant Corvette produced in 1968. The bikini contest and the burnout contest will also be on the list, and we know that it will take place on Aug 23-26, 2018.
Photography by the Author