Corvette

Kevin Willis

Staff members with the National Corvette Museum are celebrating the progress that’s been made one year after a sinkhole opened up beneath the facility.

Six of the eight vintage Corvettes that fell into the hole have been fully restored, with the remaining two still being worked on.

Meanwhile, reconstruction of the area where the sinkhole struck beneath the museum’s skydome is expected to be complete by mid-summer. Nearly 4,000 tons of crushed limestone have filled in the sinkhole. Zach Massey, an engineer with a Bowling Green-based construction firm leading the renovations, says it’s impossible to predict whether another sinkhole might hit the area.

“If it swallows the building, we can’t stop that. But there are some additional settlement and movement (where the sinkhole occurred) that we can anticipate. We know there are some loose rocks down there. We had some Ph.D’s go down there and map it, and had some professional geologists go in and take a look at it.”

General Motors

General Motors says it is delaying shipments of thousands of 2015 Corvettes and telling dealerships that already have the new models to stop selling them for the time being.  A spokesperson at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant says two safety issues are at the heart of the decision.

One issue concerns rear parking brake cables, the other with the part used to connect the airbag and steering wheel.

Bill Visnic, senior analyst with edmunds.com says the entire auto industry, not just GM, has learned lessons in the last year about disclosing potential safety problems.

“There’s definitely erring on the side of caution in this case,” said Visnic. “But at the same time, it’s just more-or-less simply the right thing to do, particularly when you’re talking about a high-performance model where someone might be using the car in fairly extreme conditions, you want to make sure you have all the requisite safety items where you need them to be.”

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

For 33 years, hundreds of the members of the very tight-knit community of Corvette owners make their way to Bowling Green for the Corvette Homecoming.  It’s happened every summer since 1981 and heat can usually be the biggest weather concern. But this year, the problem was rain.

There was a steady drizzle all day Saturday in Bowling Green – not conducive to walking around and looking at Corvettes in a parking lot. The cars were still there, just not in the numbers as have been seen in past years.  Most of the action was taking place inside, under the roof of the Sloan Convention Center where some of the most prized Corvettes were on display.

Fans of the car from all over the country were in attendance. For some, they make it a yearly pilgrimage.

“Just the camaraderieship. Mingling with people, having fun, talking Corvette stuff.  Good stuff,” said Cedric Wingo of Clarksville, Tennessee.

National Corvette Museum

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green has decided to turn its unintended attraction into a permanent one. 

The board of directors met Wednesday and discussed repairs options for the Skydome, the site of a February 12 sinkhole that swallowed eight cars on display. 

Preliminary plans include keeping a small portion of the hole open and building over it a bridge.

"We don't know yet if we will do that, but we hope that it can be a part of it so people can walk over it and look down, and possibly place one or two of the sinkhole cars back in there to give people an idea of the depth and what it looked like when it happened," says Marketing and Communications Director Katie Frassinelli.                                

The sinkhole has attracted lots of gawkers with the museum reporting a 59 percent increase in visitors since March compared to the same time period last year. 

Construction plans also call for converting the Skydome from two levels to one, which would enlarge the display area and make it easier to get the cars in and out of the structure. 

Repair work will start in September.   

Lisa Autry

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet has signed a Construction Partnership Program agreement with the company repairing the sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green to ensure and enhance safety during the complex repair process.

Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts said they were proud to work with Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction on the "unique challenges to the workers who are part of the rebuilding process."

WBKO reports the construction will require fall protection, trenching and excavation safety measures as well as proper procedures involving heavy equipment such as cranes all inside an existing structure. The worksite will involve as many as twenty people working in close proximity at one time. That led Scott, Murphy and Daniel to request the partnership with the Labor Cabinet.

Engineers, geologists and emergency officials are also involved in the project. Faculty and students with Western Kentucky University's Engineering department as well as the Geography and Geology department are assisting with the evaluation of the ground surrounding the worksite. Their goal is to make sure there are no further collapses and the renovation is on a solid and safe foundation.

National Corvette Museum

Two more sunken sports cars were pulled from the sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green on Wednesday.  Officials at the museum estimated that it might take weeks to pull the next cars from the hole, but on Wednesday, crews were able to extract a white, 1992 model, the one-millionth Corvette to roll off the assembly line.  Later in the afternoon, they recovered the 1984 PPG Pace Car. 

Five of the eight cars that fell into the hole February 12th have now been recovered and will be on display at the museum through early August.

National Corvette Museum

The oldest Corvette that fell into the sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green last month has been recovered.  The museum says a black, 1962 Corvette was pulled out by crane today. 

On Monday, two others – a 1993 model and one from 2009 were brought back to the surface.

Five more cars remain in the 50-foot sinkhole. The museum says the cars will be put on display at the museum before being shipped to Michigan for repair.

Lisa Autry

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.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Engineers expect to start pulling out Corvettes from a Bowling Green sinkhole next week.

Eight vintage versions of the car fell into the sinkhole that opened up two weeks ago beneath the National Corvette Museum. The construction company Scott, Murphy, and Daniel says the removal of the first three cars could begin next Monday, with the hopes of having those vehicles out of the sinkhole by Wednesday.

The construction team has been told it can bring excavation equipment into the Skydome area of the museum where the sinkhole opened up.

Workers will be allowed to set up cranes that will suspend engineers and contractors into the hole so that they can better examine the condition of the sinkhole and create a recovery plan.

The company estimates the crane will be in place by Saturday.

National Corvette Museum

Construction crews at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green are making preparations to remove the eight cars that fell into a massive sinkhole less than a week ago. 

Measures are also being taken to satisfy curious guests.

Right after the sinkhole collapse, a temporary wall was placed between the Skydome and the rest of the museum.  Now, the wall is being moved closer inside the Skydome and a window is being put in so that visitors can get a better view of the sinkhole and the work being done around it.

"We've had quite a few visitors who have been coming specifically to catch a glimpse of the sinkhole, and for safety reasons, we can't allow them to go into the Skydome to see it for themselves," says Communications Director Katie Frassinelli.

A live webcam has also been placed above the sinkhole and can be accessed here.

Anecdotally, she’s seeing more visitors than normal for this time of year and more local gawkers are showing up at the museum.

National Corvette Museum

Construction remains on schedule at the new Motorsports Park adjacent to the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green.  Mitch Wright, general manager of the Motorsports Park says any concerns related to the sinkhole that opened up inside the museum last week we’re actually addressed months ago.

“We did have some sinkholes on the property, which we have remediated. We had quite a bit of geotech work done prior to the construction starting,"  said Wright.  “We’re pretty confident we found what we needed to find and we’re going to have a fantastic facility for people to enjoy.”

He says crews are making progress with underground work right now, and pavement will be put down in the spring.  The Motorsports Park is scheduled for completion in August.

National Corvette Museum

Eight cars that fell into a sinkhole at Bowling Green’s National Corvette Museum last Wednesday will be getting a little tender loving care. 

The prized sports cars were damaged when a 40 foot wide by 25 foot deep sinkhole opened up beneath the Skydome portion of the museum. 

Long-time Warren County Representative and former House Speaker Jody Richards says the cars will be sent off for refurbishing.

“General Motors is going to transport those to Detroit and they’re going to restore all eight of the Corvettes," the Bowling Green Democrat said. "They are very special corvettes and they want to restore them and they will eventually be back on display in the National Corvette Museum”         

Richards isn’t sure if the repaired cars will be back in Bowling Green in time for the Corvette Museum's 20th anniversary in August.  That's also when a new motorsports park will open in Warren County.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green will re-open to the public Thursday after a sinkhole collapse swallowed up eight of the iconic vehicles.

The collapse happened shortly after 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Bowling Green Fire Department responded to an alarm triggered by the sinkhole.

Security cameras at the museum captured the collapse, which took place in the Skydome portion of the facility where the museum shows off some of its most invaluable vehicles. Six of the Corvettes that fell into the sinkhole are owned by the museum, with the other two on loan from General Motors.

According to a news release by the museum, all cars on display in the Skydome not affected by the sinkhole have been safely removed from the area. That same release also said a structural engineering firm at the site has determined that the perimeter of the Skydome is stable.

Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode estimated the hole that opened up at the facility is 25 to 30 feet deep and 40 feet wide.

The sinkhole didn't come as a shock to WKU Geology Professor Jason Polk, who says recent rainfall may have played a role in Wednesday's collapse.

Emil Moffatt

The last three months have been full of good news for the 2014 Corvette Stingray.  In November it was named Automobile Magazine’s Car of the Year, followed the next month by the same honors from Autoweek.  Monday, it was named the Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

It’s a car with a long and storied past – and no place is that more celebrated than at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. In August, the museum will celebrate its 20th anniversary. As part of the celebration, the Corvette Museum will open a new Motorsports Park featuring a 3.1 mile road course on 184 acres just across the highway from the museum.

Leading the planning for the track is Motorsports Park General Manager Mitch Wright – a former professional race car driver-turn-motorsports park operator, who’s been behind the wheel for most of his life.

“I started quite young – I was 11 years old when I started racing go-carts,” said Wright.  “From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to race…I wanted to race something.”

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