It also bears pointing out that, invariably, you get to ask questions during these presentations. While many of those presenting are well-known authors (Emanuel and Newton both signed copies of their books at Funfest), there's nothing like being able to actually have a conversation with someone about your particular needs, as opposed to simply reading what they've created for the general readership.
All of this, though, while enjoyable and helpful, isn't "participation" in the classic sense of the word. That was supplied on Funfest Boulevard, where you could put your car on the dyno and put some numbers to your car's performance, or compete in the Burnout and Exhaust wars. In preparation for the burnout competition, a "box" had been created and surrounded with bleachers, which were absolutely packed when Lance Miller of Corvettes at Carlisle fame backed in his C6 Z06 and made ready. Unfortunately, the roughness of the concrete made his burnout a non-starter. We all thought the show was over, until he idled out of the box onto Funfest Boulevard and, after a long enough pause to let us know his intentions, made the LS7 scream and used all 505 of its horsepower to turn rubber into smoke. The resultant cloud literally blocked out the sun.
Across Funfest Boulevard from the burnout box were the Exhaust Wars. We all know that Corvettes are loud, and are meant to be, and with that in mind, it's wonderful to be someplace where that's celebrated instead of complained about. Measured by a computerized device reminiscent of a drag-racing "Christmas tree," contestants backed their cars up and had a sensor put in place. When the lights counted down, it was time to put your foot to the floor and see how loud you could make it scream.
A C5 with a supercharged LS7 427 engine took a strong lead early on, hitting something like 128 decibels. Personally, I've always wanted to see how one of the older side-piped big blocks would do, but there's no denying that C5 sounded mean.
Another first was the all-Corvette auction held on Friday afternoon. For those who have never attended one in person, it's something to see-more than 50 Corvettes crossed the auction block, from solid axles and beautifully "correct" midyears to customs-even including a stretch-limousine Vette.
As usual, the GM Engineers had a tent where they displayed the newest models of the Corvette, this year adding the Grand Sport to the ZR1 that was such a hit when it debuted last year. Scheduled walk-arounds and question-and-answer sessions gave you the chance to learn about the cars direct from the source, but these inevitably pale in excitement compared with the road demos, where you actually get to ride in the cars. There was no word this year of anyone getting pulled over, but that may also have been because of the wet roadways.
Yes, unfortunately, it did rain, but the event wasn't rained out; in fact, I'm not sure something like Funfest can be rained out. Many Corvettes disappeared under covers and into trailers (and some just flat disappeared) but the festivities went on, including the seminars and the traditional Saturday night concert.
As for me, when the skies opened up and the rain fell, I ducked into the MY Garage museum, where many of Yager's Corvettes are on display. With the rain drumming on the roof overhead, I wandered between the prototype vehicles-such as Duntov's open-wheeled CERV-1, or the CERV IV that Chevrolet used to engineer the C5-and the storied racers, like the L88-powered '68 that was resurrected from the wrecking yard to take 15th overall at Le Mans in '72, a feat no Corvette would equal for more than 20 years. Eliot Forbes-Robinson's lightweight '69 racer was there as well, the one that took the class championship in the last SCCA A-Production race ever held, along with a 212-mile '88 twin-turbo Callaway that Yager's sons had restored to Bloomington Gold status. I also bumped into a friend from last year who has a lovely restomod '68, and caught up with him for a while before the rain slacked off.