Each September, just as most folks around the country are winding down their summer enjoyment of America's sports car, Mid America Motorworks' founder and "Chief Cheerleader" Mike Yager throws an end-of-the-season appreciation party for his loyal customers. Since its debut in 1994, this Corvette-themed extravaganza-appropriately called "Funfest"-has evolved into one of the hobby's marquee events.
For 2006, Mike, his wife, Laurie, and their sons, Mike and Blake, took on the daunting task of topping last year's 'fest, which drew some 13,000 Corvettes and more than 30,000 attendees. They didn't disappoint, as the '06 attendance figures showed that more than 14,000 Corvettes and 45,000-plus visitors converged on MAM's sprawling corporate campus in Effingham, Illinois.
To be sure, there was no shortage of activities over the course of the three-day event. Numerous seminars-presented by GM designers, aftermarket-parts manufacturers, Corvette engineers, and experts from the Mid America Motorworks staff-gave attendees a rare opportunity to interact with the people who directly influence Corvette history. For classic-Corvette buffs, there were several new collector vehicles to see in MAM's "MY Garage" Museum, including the Bill Mitchell-designed '64 World's Fair GM Styling Corvette. As the "theme car" of Funfest '06, this distinctive-looking midyear was the event's centerpiece and true star.
For fans of performance tweaking, there was a special perk: Most of the vendors whose products are available through the Mid America Motorworks catalog were on hand to promote their wares and even install them for free, save for a nominal labor fee for more-involved procedures. Many attendees had exhaust systems, cold-air intakes, and even upgraded brakes bolted on at the "Install Alley" area while they waited. As is its custom during Funfest, MAM offered a 10 percent discount on all items purchased during the weekend and free shipping for parts not installed on site.
Speaking of aftermarket modifications, Mid America Motorworks used this year's Funfest to officially announce the opening of its Installation & Restyling Center. This shop will provide professional installation services on all MAM products sold throughout the year.
Unlike most shows, not all the goings-on at Funfest were limited to daylight hours. Friday night brought an exclusive automotive-art exhibit and charity silent auction, held at the Yagers' home. The following evening, the MAM crew pulled out all the stops and entertained more than 20,000 people with a pair of bands, one of them being multi-platinum rockers and Illinois natives REO Speedwagon.
Activities continued through Sunday with a second car show, more seminars, and special celebrations by more than 50 car clubs that attended from around the country. Members of the Grand Sport Registry attended en masse to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the '96 GS's release. There were even several '63 Grand Sport Replicas on hand to provide historical context.
Given that Funfest has become one of the largest Corvette events in the country, it wasn't surprising that the show was well attended by luminaries from the Corvette world. Throughout the long weekend, anyone could rub shoulders with and even obtain autographs from leading authors, serious collectors, current and former GM engineers, and automotive-television personalities.
The hosts of My Classic Car and Car Crazy-both weekly shows on the SPEED Channel-were in attendance, as was Corvette Assembly Plant Manager Wil Cooksey. Cooksey drove up in a wicked, black '07 Z06, accompanied by a hauler full of new Vettes and several Vette-based Cadillac XLRs. The cars gave Funfest attendees a chance to better familiarize themselves with these two platform mates, both of which represent the flagship models of their respective divisions.
If you've never attended Funfest, make a point of doing so this year. The event will take place September 21-23, 2007, and registration is free if completed prior to September 1, 2007. We'll see you there.