Corvette Museum Decides It Just Might Keep Sinkhole

Officials at the National Corvette Museum tentatively plan to keep intact a portion of the massive sinkhole that swallowed eight historic ‘Vettes back in February.

Back in February, we brought you news that made every diehard Chevrolet Corvette aficionado nationwide cringe – News that a massive sinkhole had formed in, of all places, the floor of the Skydome showroom at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Now, E3 Spark Plugs has learned that the gaping hole that swallowed eight historic rides may itself become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

When the museum’s motion sensors went haywire at precisely 5:44 on the morning of Feb. 12, the Bowling Green Fire Department quickly responded, only to find a gaping hole measuring an estimated 40 feet across and up to 30 feet deep. At the bottom lay a mass of metal carnage that proved unnerving for any classic American car buff – the twisted remains of eight historic ‘Vettes including:

  • A 1993 ZR-1 Spyder on loan from General Motors
  • A 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” on loan from General Motors
  • A 1962 Black Corvette
  • A 1984 PPG Pace Car
  • The 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette
  • The 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette
  • A 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette
  • The 2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette

In the weeks that followed, teams of structural engineers, building contractors, recovery specialists and the like collaborated on a massive effort aimed at retrieving the cars one-by-one. But it would take a full two months before last of the eight cars, the 2011 Mallett Hammer Z06, would emerge. By far the worst damaged, the missing car’s specific whereabouts had only been discovered days before being lifted out of the hole on April 9. It was found upside down and, said donor Kevin Helmintoller of Land O’ Lakes, Florida, who witnessed the retrieval, looked like “a piece of tin foil … and it had a roll cage in it! It makes all the other cars look like they’re brand new.”

The cars immediately were assembled for a Great 8 exhibit that will open for viewing through the Museum’s 20th Anniversary Event August 27-30. Meanwhile, museum officials initially focused on developing efforts to repair and restore the space. But then, the organization’s finance guys shared a few interesting numbers: a 59-percent increase in the number of visitors from March to June 23, 2014 compared to the same time period in 2013; 71-percent in admissions income; 58-percent increase in Corvette Store sales; 46-percent increase in Corvette Café sales; and a 72-percent increase in membership for a total of a 65-percent boost in overall revenues.

Clearly, the sinkhole itself had proven a draw and, perhaps, not just for curiosity’s sake, but as a history-making matter of its own. So, after a spate of meetings, feasibility studies and estimations, word is museum officials have tentatively decided to keep a portion of the sinkhole in place. Of course, more studies are needed, including several to determine how the sinkhole’s continued presence might affect humidity in the exhibit space and potentially impact other cars displayed there.

What do you think, E3 Spark Plugs fans? Would repairing the sinkhole be a good riddance? Or is it a new part of Corvette history that should be preserved? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.


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