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47th Annual Black Hills Corvette Classic … The Longest Corvette Caravan

… or the longest Corvette caravan you will find

Brian Brennan Sep 18, 2018
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Getting out and about in your Corvette is about as good a reason for owning one as exists. Knowing this, your next step is to find out exactly where you want to drive. And that’s exactly where the following comes in handy.

What has to be one of our favorite outings is the Black Hills Corvette Classic (spread over five days) held yearly and encompasses the breadth of South Dakota (it begins at the eastern border in Sioux Falls and ends at the western border in Spearfish). Hosted for the 47th time, it makes this one of, if not the, longest-running Corvette event in the world. The Black Hills Corvette Classic is organized by the Sioux Falls Corvette Club and hosted by Jerry’s Chevrolet (Beresford, South Dakota; neighboring city). Jerry’s Chevrolet is one of the premier outlets for buying a new or used Corvette in the country. Its Corvette department is headed by Chief Corvette-ologist Barry Konken who also was part of the “fun to be had by all” week and one of the driving forces behind the event.

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Could this be Close Encounters of the C3 Kind? (Couldn’t resist!)

It takes dedicated club members to organize and carry out such an event. It’s here that the Sioux Falls Corvette Club once again comes into play along with the Holiday Inn (host hotel) in Spearfish. The event begins with a morning/afternoon gathering at Jerry’s Chevrolet that’s followed up by a car show in downtown Sioux Falls on Main Street (although this year inclement weather nixed this part of the event). The next morning it’s bright and early and onto the road for the nearly 200 Corvettes as they make their way westward.

Think of this event as a Corvette sandwich. You have Sioux Falls on one side and the town of Spearfish on the other. In between you have approximately 393 miles along Interstate 90 (with its middle section of approximately 250 miles of highway driving) providing the “meat” for your Corvette sandwich. It’s out here on this remote stretch of highway between these two towns that one has the ability to run 80 mph (speed limit) making the dash to Spearfish.

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Driving is the name of the game at the Black Hills Corvette Classic. Here’s a C7 convertible with cold-air package; widebody to encompass the oversized brake, wheel and tire package and the carbon-fiber ground effects package.

There’s a lot to see along the 393-mile drive, which would normally take around 5 hours 30 minutes, as well as have a meal or two along the way and stop off and play tourist and take in old cowboy towns and a pretty good bit of high Plains history.

Some of the great places one could pull off Interstate 90 to visit and get gas, or maybe a bite to eat before resuming the “hammer down” journey to Spearfish are as follows. One of my favorites is ... and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but … The Corn Palace is a very cool place to visit.

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Our 2019 C7 accessorized with the cold-air package, carbon-fiber ground effects package and 3LT suspension all attached to a base Z51 coupe. (And this is how we get our photos … hang a photographer out of a following vehicle … insurance is paid up!)

World’s Only Corn Palace: This palace is decorated using corn, native grasses, straw, milo and sour dock each year to depict a different theme. A local farmer grows all of the corn for the palace and a local artist, along with a supporting cast of 20, works to change the design each year.

Dakota Discovery Museum: Pioneer and Native American life on the prairie depicted around a one-room schoolhouse.

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village: This ancient Indian Village is more than 1,000 years old.

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Jerry’s Chevrolet plays host to the Wednesday festivities before heading to downtown Sioux Falls for the nighttime car show on Main Street. Lots of Corvettes, new and used for sale … any of us should find something we just can’t live without.

Al’s Oasis: It was only a matter of time before food crept into the conversation! Their buffalo burgers and pie is definitely “fuel for the body and soul.”

Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center: This museum is located on the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain and provides history and learning about Native American life.

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The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School was on hand with both cars and staff to talk about their services.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center: This interstate stop offers a great deal of interesting history on the explorers Lewis and Clark.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: There was a time, the Cold War era, when being prepared had a very ominous tone. You can see Delta-09, an underground concrete silo on the edge of Badlands National Park held a Minuteman II missile. Tours of the silo and the Delta Launch Control Facility are offered.

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This 1969 convertible in Riverside Bronze was put together very nicely by Josh Powers of Custom Image Corvettes in Watertown, just down the road. A big-block hood hides the late-model LS3 resting beneath.

Badlands National Park: Striking landscape via a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires. The Lakota gave this land its name, “mako sica,” meaning “land bad.” Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash). Within the 244,000 acres we were able to find bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, eagles and hawks.

Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway: We took our 2019 Corvette Z51 (thank you Chevrolet!) on this 39-mile loop between the towns of Cactus Flat and Wall. There are 16 designated scenic overlooks that provide plenty of chances to pull over and enjoy the views … and we stopped at many of them managing to get our Corvette properly positioned for some cool shots.

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Larry Dixon had his multi-award winning (Gold Certified, NCRS Duntov and many others) 1966 big-block (427ci, 450hp) convertible at Jerry’s Chevrolet for all to see.

Wall: Located on the northwestern rim of Badlands National Park, Wall is a small town that houses Wall Drug, a family-owned drug store that’s known worldwide. A favorite roadside attraction since 1931. This 76,000-square-foot emporium has free ice water, 5¢ coffee, donuts to feed a crowd and an outdoor playground. (Before anyone asks … yes, we found the donuts!)

Wounded Knee Museum: The museum serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives at Wounded Knee Creek. The mission of the museum is to provide and enhance knowledge of this shared history.

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Ted Hughes had his highly modified black 1965 restomod coupe on display with LSA for power.

Rapid City is centrally located in the Black Hills and is South Dakota’s second-largest city. It’s known to be a hub for visitors interested in Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Dinosaur Park and the Journey Museum and Learning Center and many other world-class attractions. (Each day the Sioux Falls Corvette Club led outings so that each Corvette owner could get out and see the sights.)

Sturgis is famous in its own right, and the last stop before Spearfish. Bear Butte State Park is located six miles northeast of Sturgis. Additionally, there is the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, which is home to a variety of motorcycles dating back to 1905.

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John Schmidt out of Lincoln had his 1991 Corvette ZR-1 coupe race car on display.

Being the neighboring town, it is a quick drive from Sturgis to Spearfish, the midway point between Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Devils Tower National Monument.

Spearfish Canyon: The breathtaking limestone palisades of this creek-carved gorge are more ancient than the Grand Canyon. Accessible only by horseback until 1893, Spearfish Canyon’s narrow, 1,000-foot walls are among the most spectacular scenery in the Black Hills.

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While the BHCC does favor late-model Corvettes (C5, C6 & C7) there is always room for a C1, such as this beautiful 1958 complete with its convertible soft-top.

Well, if that isn’t as good a nearly 400-mile drive that you can make in a Corvette I’m at a loss! (The country is full of incredible drives to take your Corvette on, but this is surely one of the best.)

Once in Spearfish, there is still a lot to do. We mentioned the daily tours, typically three a day, but for the more competitively minded there’s an autocross event set up as well as drag racing. Hey, a Corvette was born and bred to be a competitive machine and this event gives you plenty of opportunity.

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If you like C5s, and who doesn’t, there were plenty, such as this Grand Sport.

However, one of the truly fun aspects of the entire week is the Friday night on Main Street in Spearfish. The police shut down the downtown area from about 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. and allow the Corvettes to line up along the curb and side by side down the middle of the street. There must have been 150-plus Corvettes lining the center of town for the locals and Corvette aficionados to walk about throughout the evening. (Once parked you were a “captured” Corvette for the remainder of the evening.) There were also many, many more Corvettes that were parked around each of the city blocks so that they could “escape” when the desire so arose.

Given that our trip began in Sioux Falls, we had to make our way back on Saturday (but the event continued on until Sunday morning). I suppose there are better ways to drive nearly 400 miles than in a brand-new 2019 Corvette … although I, for the life of me, can’t think of any, nor would I want to!

A big round of applause to the Sioux Falls Corvette Club and Jerry’s Chevrolet along with the countless volunteers who organized and managed this amazing event. We are still a few years away from the 50th … bet that’s gonna be a humdinger. Vette

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This T-top C3 has had the miles racked up, but it once again made it through the BHCC event.

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This Grand Sport C7 has all of the factory go-fast goodies, as well as the aggressive rear spoiler.

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Although not many C2 Corvettes were present, this small-block convertible decked out with factory knock-offs was a sharp looking entrant.

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You meet the nicest people at Corvette get-togethers. Here, Ken Lingenfelter (left) is calling for anyone to get him away from Vette Editor Brian Brennan. We counted about a dozen Lingenfelter Corvettes at the beginning of the across-the-state drive segment.

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One of the Lingenfelter Corvettes present was this 2008 convertible belonging to Toby Asplin of Omaha.

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Our 2019 Z51 cruising in front of the World’s Only Corn Palace … impressive to see (Corn Palace and the Corvette!).

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The Corn Palace, while multiple stories, has a great deal going on but the main floor works well as an amphitheater, basketball court, host for live plays on its stage and a trade show floor.

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On the lot at Jerry’s Chevrolet it had to be tempting to not go home with this orange metallic Grand Sport.

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The license plate pretty much says it all: WARPSPD. A brand-new ZR1 complete with its supercharged 755hp 6.2L V-8, eight-speed automatic and adjustable High Wing that is part of the available ZTK Track Performance Package.

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Great weather and five convertible Corvettes in a row. Why wouldn’t you be waving on the BHCC run.

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Friday night in downtown Spearfish. Main Street was blocked off and nearly 150 Corvettes were parked along the curbs and paired up down the middle of the street. The car show began around 6 p.m. and ran until 9:30. There was live music and plenty of places to find a meal aside from lots of walkin’ and talkin’.

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There was an autocross set up on the local college parking lot Friday with plenty of action.

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The Sturgis Dragway (a NHRA sanctioned track) was the home for the BHCC drags.

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33-2018-black-hills-corvette-classic (missing name) (left to right) Shawn Gengerke took home Fastest Trap Speed and Men’s Fastest reaction Time with his yellow 2016 Z06 while Jerry Lentsfield took 3rd Place in the Men’s Drags. Cheri Beyer took home three awards with her red 2016 Z06 coupe (Lingenfelter equipped). She won the 1st Place in Women’s Drags, Women’s Fastest Reaction Time and by winning the match race with Nick Doelman took home the Queen of the Hill in the drags. Doelman took home Men’s Drags top honors with his white 2015 Z06.

Photos by Robert McGaffin and Chad Phillips



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