WKU Public Radio News Staff
Mon March 3, 2014
First Corvettes Pulled from Museum Sinkhole
The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green put on quite a show Monday. Construction crews began the slow, methodical process of removing eight cars that fell into a 50-foot sinkhole last month in the Skydome exhibit area.
Crews did a few test runs over the weekend, but the moment of truth came at 10:35a.m. when first out of the depths of the hole was a blue 2009 ZR-1.
As a crane safely lifted to the surface the 3,500-pound car known as the ‘Blue Devil,’ Museum Director Wendell Strode smiled and gave a thumbs up.
“It was a wonderful feeling and something we have been building for ever since the first day when this all happened," commented Strode. “The pride, you could just see it. We’re happy for everyone who has had a hand in it to this point and certainly all the supporters worldwide. It’s a great feeling and we’re thrilled to share it with so many others."
Strode was amazed at the car’s good condition.
“The pictures we had seen previously looked as though it had been delicately placed on top of the soil, but when it was coming out, it looked like it could be started right up and driven off," he added. "It’s a great tribute to the engineering and everything that goes into the Corvette.”
Besides some fiberglass damage, an oil leak, and some scrapes, the ‘Blue Devil’ defied the odds. Cheers erupted when the car cranked up and drove a few feet. Construction Manager Mike Murphy was shocked.
“I could not believe it fired up and they could drive it out the door. After taking a 40-foot fall, that’s amazing," said Murphy.
The ‘Blue Devil’ was loaded onto a flatbed trailer and moved to the museum’s exhibit area where all eight cars as they are recovered, will be on display through August 3.
By mid-afternoon, the 1993 "Ruby Red" 40th Anniversary Corvette was pulled from the sinkhole, the damage on this one, much more noticeable.
The 1962 Black Corvette is slated for retrieval Tuesday, but Construction Manager Mike Murphy says it will be much trickier because a five-ton slab of concrete is partially resting on the front of the car.
“That may be a two-day project because we’ve got to hold that concrete slab and remove it at the same time we lift the Corvette out," explained Murphy.
The other cars, two of which can’t even be seen, won't be pulled out until workers further stabilize the sinkhole. The entire retrieval process will likely take four to six weeks.