A stone's throw from the one and only Corvette manufacturing plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky sits The National Corvette Museum - a beautiful state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the preservation of Chevrolet Corvette history. We visited not long ago and were positively enamored with the paraphernalia on display. We are also super excited to learn more about the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park, which is currently under construction and will be open for racing next year.
Immediately upon entering the building, we were greeted by a number of Corvettes on display in what was made to look like a main street setting (known as Corvette Boulevard). Corvette Café, the Corvette Museum Delivery "store" (where new owners can choose to pick up their Corvette), Library and Archives, and the Corvette Store are all located on the indoor strip. We grabbed our tickets at the tour entrance and got moving.
The first stop on the tour was the Gateway, which outlined each generation of the Corvette and housed a Polo White with Inca Silver side indent 1957 Vette (1 of 318) once belonging to author and collector Michael Hunt as well as a '67 once belonging to actor Roy Orbison. After watching a short film in the Chevrolet Theater, we entered our favorite part of the tour: the Nostalgia Area.
With super realistic displays of a barber shop, Mobil Service Station, St. Louis Assembly Plant, and Chevy dealership, there were so many details to take in! Also located in this area was a Zora Arkus-Duntov exhibit (complete with the only Corvette he ever owned) as well as a timeline of early production. A pair of Schwinn Corvette bicycles sit in the corner, and the dealership and Mobil station are full of actual Vettes with boards explaining what makes them so special. The St. Louis Assembly Line display is flanked by walls built from Flint bricks, which can be engraved at the price of a donation to the museum - a very cool feature.
Unfortunately the driving simulators in the Performance Area were not open for business, so we bypassed them and checked out a display on Corvette Racing with a recreated pit stop and a Pit Crew Challenge! Racing champions throughout the years were showcased here as well. As we moved into the Design and Engineering Area, we were in awe. A Nürburgring display and a line of concept cars stretched the length of a wall, with cars like the 1968 Astro-Vette (used as part of an aerodynamic study), the 1968 Astro II (experimental mid-engine car), the Black Concept Fiberglass model, and the 1986 Indy Concept car (fully functional). Even the 2014 Stingray Integration vehicle, which was used to check how body components fit together, was on display there!
Also in the Design and Engineering area, we had a chance to feel the difference between carbon fiber and conventional hoods, check out how clay modeling works, and see firsthand what a rolling chassis and crash test car look like.
The Enthusiast Area was next on our list - a small area rich with memorabilia, videos and images, and interactive games to test visitors' Corvette knowledge - which led us into the Skydome and Hall of Fame. Over thirty Corvettes sat spread out in a huge round room. It is here that the Lingenfelter Corvette display sits (we told you about it here!) as well as many other impressive vehicles such as Commemorative Editions, a 2000 427 Twin Turbo Corvette, a signed 1984 "Zora-1" Corvette, and a 1995 #3 Grand Sport Prototype.
Last, but certainly not least, was our visit to the Exhibit Hall, where we viewed the special NCRS Marque of Excellence fourteen-car display of specimens who have earned the honors of NCRS Top Flight and Bloomington Gold.
As our tour drew to a close, we decided to check in and see what all the buzz was about concerning the upcoming opening of the NCM Motorsports Park. Basically, the track will be composed of four miles of surface, multiple configurations of up to 3.15 miles in length, 22 turns, and a 4,000 foot straightaway. We could definitely have some fun with that! Autocross, a skid pad area, paddocks, a control tower, and classrooms are also in the making.
Sometime down the line, when adequate funding becomes available, a third road course, karting track, drag strip, fueling station, garages, concession stands, condominiums, and commercial development are also in the cards. The incredible facility will offer vehicle testing by engineers at the nearby Corvette Assembly Plant, teen driver training programs, emergency vehicle response training, corporate events, team building events, or even customer reward events.
We can't wait to see and experience the finished product and bring you all along for the ride - figuratively of course! For more information and to find out what you can do to help support the NCM Motorsports Park, visit www.motorsportspark.org.