This issue finds us on the cusp of autumn, traditionally a time of year when many Corvette enthusiasts prepare to decommission their cars for a long winter of maintenance chores and restorative tinkering. But before you unlimber the handtools and dive elbow-deep into that next DIY project, consider taking a few moments to plan out a road trip or two for next year’s sunny season. For as much as we appreciate the practice of meticulous preservation, the only way to achieve a full and proper appreciation for one’s Corvette is to point the car at the distant horizon and drive.
While the journey is ultimately more important than the destination here, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a humdrum Point B. With that in mind, I’ve put together a short-list of Corvette events every marque enthusiast should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Corvettes at Carlisle (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)
The world’s largest Corvette show may also be its most picturesque, held as it is among the undulating hills of Central Pennsylvania. Ironically, the sheer scope of C@C may also be its lone liability: There’s so much to see and do, it’s virtually impossible to take it all in over the course of one long weekend. No matter. Once you’ve experienced Carlisle in all its many-splendored glory, chances are you’ll make it a regular entry on your summertime itinerary.
Mid America Motorworks Corvette Funfest (Effingham, Illinois)
If MAM supremo Mike Yager truly is the company’s “Chief Cheerleader,” this annual gathering of Corvettes and marque luminaries amounts to his Super Bowl, NCAA Championship Game(s), and NBA Finals all rolled into one. Having celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, Funfest clearly has staying power, not surprising given the depth and breadth of the activities on offer. Indeed, this may be the only place on earth one might view a presentation by the Corvette engineering team, take part in a Vette-parts swap meet, and attend a concert by a top-tier musical act, all without leaving the sprawling MAM campus.
Holley LS Fest (Bowling Green, Kentucky)
If your idea of performance driving extends beyond the occasional back-road strafing run, the Holley LS Fest should rank high on your list of potential destinations. While the Fest does include a traditional car show and swap meet, the real draw here is the on-track competition, which includes drag racing, an autocross, a speed-stop challenge, and more. (Note that while participation in the competitive elements is restricted to LS-powered cars—including older vehicles with transplanted LS mills—anyone is welcome to attend.) It also bears mention that the town of Bowling Green is not without other inducements for Corvette aficionados, as we will see momentarily.
National Corvette Museum (Bowling Green, Kentucky)
The NCM isn’t an event, obviously, but it does host a variety of Corvette functions throughout the year, from car shows and scenic drives to a recently launched high-performance driving program. Even if you manage to show up when nothing “special” is underway, you’ll have no trouble spending the better part of a day perusing the many historically significant Corvettes and Corvette-themed exhibits on display. Even better, the Museum rotates its vehicle inventory on a regular basis, meaning you’ll never see the same cars twice.
ALMS Races (Various Locations)
Production-based racing provides marque devotees with a look at how their cars might perform in fully optimized trim, unencumbered by comfort options, emissions equipment, and other assembly-line impedimenta. Races are held throughout the country (there’s even an event in Canada), so getting to at least one of them shouldn’t be overly difficult. Our recommendation for a first-timer? The season kick-off event in Sebring, Florida, where the spectacular new Corvette C7.R is slated to make its competition debut.