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.
For years, just enough classic car lovers and curious travelers wandered through the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green to keep the doors open. Now, after a massive sinkhole swallowed eight classic Corvettes, attendance has skyrocketed with visitors as eager to peer into the chasm as they are to see the cars, if not more so.
Museum spokeswoman Katie Frasinelli says the response has been bigger than anyone imagined.
A milestone was reached Tuesday morning at the site of the new Motorsports Park in Bowling Green. Crews began laying pavement for the 3.1 mile road course across the highway from the Corvette Museum.
“We’re using a 3D paving system, which is something relatively new to the paving world, there’s only a few contractors who use it,” said Motorsports Park General Manager Mitch Wright. “What they’re telling us, is that it will hold the surface to within an eighth of an inch – which is pretty amazing if you think about it.”
Wright says the quality of surface can make or break a track and first impressions are important.
“If the track is rough or bumpy, or whatever – that’s what it becomes known as. If you’ve got an extremely smooth surface, that’s again, just a huge added benefit to us.”
Wright says the paving process is expected to take about a month. The track is set to open in August in conjunction with the Corvette Museum’s 20th anniversary celebration.
The forecast for rain this weekend has led to the cancelation of the Stucky Music Festival set for Saturday near the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green.
Thirteen bands had been scheduled to play throughout the day Saturday. Organizers say tickets purchased online have already been refunded, while those who purchased them in person will need to return them for a refund.
The last Corvette remaining in the giant, 50-foot sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green has been removed.
Crews pulled up the badly-crushed, 2001 Mallett Hammer Z-06 using a crane Wednesday afternoon.
"You would think there would be tears of happiness to pull the last one out, but it's not even recognizable, so I think that created a somber mood among everybody," said the museum's Communications Director Katie Frassinelli. "You usually save the best for last, but in this case, it was definitely the worst."
The Mallett Hammer was one of two Corvettes that had not been seen since the February 12th sinkhole collapse.
The car was donated to the museum last December by a Florida couple who modified it into a racing car. The Mallett Hammer was supposed to be used at the new Motorsports Park.
All eight cars will be on display at the museum through early August. They will then be shipped to Michigan for restoration.
It took nearly two months to unearth all eight vintage automobiles.
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.
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.
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.
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.