With a mission of celebrating the past, present and future of America's favorite sports car, the National Corvette Museum is located at exit 28 off I-65 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, across the way from GM's Corvette assembly plant. The museum covers over 100,000 square feet and houses more than 70 unique Corvette models.
Opening it's doors in 1994, the Corvette Museum is a non-profit organization, totally separate from GM. The museum was conceived by the National Corvette Restorers Society to celebrate, preserve, and educate enthusiasts about the 1953 through present Chevrolet Corvette.
The NCM features special exhibits, such as Car Part Art, featuring over 70 works crafted from recycled Corvette parts. Other exhibits include anniversary, special-edition, and prototype Corvettes.
Racing played a huge part in improving Corvette performance through the years, and a good portion of the museum is devoted to famous Corvette race cars. One of the most popular is the 1963 Z06 Corvette. During the Automobile Manufacturers Association ban on racing which started in 1957, Zora Arkus-Duntov suggested it was in Chevrolet's best interest to continue with parts development to benefit racers. Duntov and colleagues created the RPO Z06 as a special performance equipment package.
In 2009, the museum was expanded to include the library and archives, and a retro diner called the Corvette Cafe.
Corvette Museum Sinkhole
The Skydome exhibit area of the museum is a separate structure connected to the main museum. In the early hours of February 12th 2014, a 60-foot-long, 45-foot-wide, and 30-foot-deep sinkhole opened up beneath the Skydome, "swallowing" eight classic Corvettes. The museum owned six of the cars and the other two were on loan from GM. No one was in or around the museum at the time.
The sinkhole video quickly became an internet sensation, with over 8.5 million views world-wide on YouTube alone. This, along with all the media coverage, increased Museum attendance and merchandise sales dramatically. The NCM's Board of Directors considered preserving the hole as a permanent feature, but costs associated with this proved too much. The eight damaged cars were pulled out from the hole later that year, and workers finished filling in the sinkhole in January 2015.
Three Sinkhole Corvettes Restored
Three of the damaged Corvettes will be restored. Among them is the one-millionth Corvette, already back to museum quality, thanks to General Motors. A 1962 Corvette and a 2009 Blue Devil ZR1 prototype will also be returned to former glory. Five were deemed too far gone to restore, and are kept on display as a reminder of museum sinkhole.
Corvette Pace Cars
Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 a grand total of eleven times, which is more than any other model car. The first Corvette pace car was 1978, and the most recent was 2012. Pace cars are displayed in full force in the Skydome at the Corvette museum. Lined up in the picture below are 1986, 1998, 1995, and 1978 models.
Although the Corvette was the brainchild of Harley Earl, it was the efforts of Zora Arkus-Duntov that turned it into a real sports car. Out of the dozens of rare and unique cars at the museum, I found Zora's 1974 big-block Corvette most intriguing.
read about Zora Arkus-Duntov
Corvette Museum Library
If you own a 1982 or newer Corvette, the museum archives will most likely have the original build sheet for your car. Your classic Corvette is not complete without a copy of a build sheet and reproduction window sticker!
NCM Motorsports Park
Located less than two miles from the museum, the NCM Motorsports Park is a state of the art track for Corvette owners and enthusiasts. A Touring Lap session includes four laps in your own car at average highway speeds. A Hot Lap puts you in the passenger seat while a professional driver runs 100+ mph around the full course for two laps.
NCM raceway also has a high-performance driving school on premises. Laps are available weekdays (when the track is not rented) and during select National Corvette Museum sponsored events and activities.
The Corvette Museum is located at I-65 exit 28 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and is open daily, 8am-5pm central-time. Learn more at CorvetteMuseum.org or call 800-53 VETTE (83883).