The National Corvette Museum (NCM) held its ninth annual C5/C6 Birthday Bash April 20-22. On hand to celebrate were a thousand rabid Corvette enthusiasts, their 400 shining cars, and a gathering of GM corporate and Corvette Racing luminaries. The three-day event was jam-packed with car shows, road tours, autocrosses, seminars, auctions, and celebrity dinners-all centered around the NCM and the car it honors.
The first day was capped off by an appreciation dinner for outgoing Corvette chief Dave Hill. Dave has been the driving force behind the evolution of the C5 and C6 Corvette, and he was largely responsible for bringing the cars' aesthetics and performance into the 21st century. He's always been a great motivator and leader for the Corvette program, but his tireless efforts to foster goodwill among the cars' owners are especially noteworthy. He always makes time for questions and autographs or to hear the countless "I love my Corvette" stories shared by lucky owner-enthusiasts.
Rain showers threatened much of the next day's schedule. The weather didn't completely dampen the excitement, however, as the NCM found a way to get in car-show judging and the curiously entertaining office-chair races. Nor did the rain interrupt the numerous seminars and clinics put on by Corvette personalities such as Gary and Robin Pratt, Doug Fehan, Gary Claudio, Steve Wesoloski, Dave Hill, and Tom Wallace. Then there was the ever-popular "Ron and Johnny Show," featuring Corvette Racing drivers Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell. If you haven't seen these two performing their "act," be sure to catch it next time you have an opportunity. These seminars were perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the weekend, as they provided a rare opportunity to throw back the curtain on GM corporate and Corvette Racing and get a real sense of the personalities who drive these programs.
The second day's festivities culminated that evening with a tribute to Pratt & Miller Engineering and GM's Corvette Racing program. The NCM's Darrel Lee celebrated the Corvette's phenomenal 2005 racing accomplishments with an entertaining audiovisual review of the season. It was an enjoyable evening to share the highlights of last year's campaign with those who made them.
The last day of the Bash offered particularly insightful seminars with former and current Corvette honchos Dave Hill and Tom Wallace. They were as forthcoming as corporate policy would allow regarding what's currently in development and what's in store for the future. (Sorry, no word on the rumored "Blue Devil" supercar program.)
Other highlights included the unveiling of the '07 C6. Of particular note for '07 is the addition of a wide range of optional items that will allow Corvette buyers to personalize their cars from the factory. All 122 parts-including spoilers, body-side moldings, interior-trim pieces, engine-detailing cues, stripes, emblems, exhaust tips, color-coordinated license-plate frames, custom seat colors, and more-have been approved by GM and even carry a full warranty.
Also present at the unveiling were an '07 coupe and convertible painted in the latest color offering, Atomic Orange. (The similar Daytona Sunset Orange disappears at the end of the '06 model year.) Color is a personal thing, and you'll have to judge for yourself what you think of this new shade-but to our eyes, the C6 looks good in just about everything it wears.
The event concluded on day three with an awards dinner, which served as the setting for the annual auction. The latter proved extremely successful, generating over $23,000 to help the museum in its quest to remain at the figurative center of the Corvette universe.
If you own a Corvette (especially a C5 or C6), have any interest in the exploits of Corvette racing, or wonder what's going on inside GM with regard to the car and its siblings, the Bash is a must-do event. The setting is intimate, the people are the friendliest on earth, and the object of their affection is both drop-dead gorgeous and scorchingly fast. Next year's event is scheduled for the last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in April. Don't miss it.