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After 30 Years, Classic Corvettes Still Reign Supreme

Bloomington Gold 2001

Ronnie Hartman Nov 1, 2001

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the hallowed Corvette event known as Bloomington Gold. Over the years, through ownership and location changes, thousands of enthusiasts continue to migrate to southern Illinois in late June to celebrate classic Corvettes. And this year was no different, except that the weather was better than usual. Despite rain all day Thursday (when most of the activity was indoors anyway), the rest of the weekend felt like September, bringing more of the local population into the show than is typical.

And there was plenty to see and do. In addition to a wide variety of seminars, attendees could roam through acres of Corvettes—some of them for sale, most just on display—or connect with a myriad of vendors to shop for parts. The Special Collection, this year a salute to Corvette Power, was packed with visitors, all coming to pay homage. They feasted their eyes on beautiful straight-axle and mid-year specimens including a ’57 fuelie, a couple of rare L88s, big-blocks, and race cars. Also displayed were some special newer models, including a rare, dark green ZR-1, wild tuner cars from Mallett and Rippie, and a fully restored ’65 pre-production 427 cut-away engine display from Mike Yager’s collection. No wonder the display room stayed packed!

The auction tent was filled to capacity with nearly non-stop auctioneering. If you managed to get all that in, you still weren’t through. You had to see the five Corvettes inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame—Chip and Judy Miller’s ’59 “Purple People Eater” race car; Irwin Kroiz’ ’62 Sebring race car; Mike and Laurie Yager’s ’68 convertible Le Mans race car; Frank Stech’s ’69 L88; and the 2001 C5-R Competition Corvette owned by GM Racing.

The newest honor Bloomington Gold offers is the Historic Award. Four Corvettes captured it this year: the wild shark that was featured in the ’70s movie Corvette Summer, now part of Mike Yager’s collection; the ’94 Pace Car from the Brickyard 400, which was driven by A.J. Foyt; the ’67 big-block built specially for Bill Mitchell’s wife that included air conditioning; and the now-green Greenwood racer with an even more colorful past.. There were judging and awards—Gold, Benchmark, Survivor, Historic—take your pick! My personal favorite is the Survivor judging, with its 40-mile road test. This year, I was paired up with Cindy Foss in her Glen Green ’65 that showed exactly 1,600 original miles as we began the road test. Cindy and her husband Ed from Roanoke, Indiana, have a goal: They want to own a perfect specimen from each year between ’63 and ’72. So far, all they’re lacking are a ’63, a ’64, and a ’66. They’d owned a ’64 and a ’66, but they weren’t in award-winning condition, so they sold them and are continuing their hunt. Ed took their white ’68 L89 on the same road test, and the Fosses are happy to report that both cars made the grade. Congrats to all of the folks who took home prizes that weekend, and thanks to all those judges who worked so hard to certify all those Corvettes.

Some of those judges deserve special recognition. As mentioned in last month’s On The Marque, there were nine of them who met Benchmark standards themselves back in 1993. They are Ron Goduti, Kevin Mackay, Brian Pearce, Don Deam, Terry McManmon, Jay Stahl, Lewis Russell, Helene Zasadny, and John Hibbert.

After all that, there was still the road tour Saturday afternoon. A new route through twisting country roads wound many Corvette lovers to the end of a busy day.

At Bloomington Gold this year, if you couldn’t find anything to do, you had no one to blame but yourself.

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