One annual show Corvette people are remiss to miss is Carlisle, with 2009’s event held on August 28-30. About every five years or so, the stakes get higher. This is when Carlisle staffers round up a choice selection of vintage race cars and drivers to spike what event organizers Bill Miller and Lance Miller (no relation) call the “world’s largest and most prestigious” in the show car world of Corvettes.
I have no problem with their assessment: Carlisle is a cornucopia of Corvette cars, Corvette parts, Corvette memorabilia, and Corvette people from manufacturing, racing, and restoring. It reflects the diehard nature of Corvette enthusiasts. Though rain fell hard a couple hours Friday and Saturday from cloudy skies, the Corvette cognoscenti stayed on. And why not? Amanda Lawson was there to win another bikini contest–another big attraction at the Fairgrounds–even if another regular feature, the burnout contest, got rained out. Nobody left. After all, the winner has to be present to win the drawing for the car, another annual feature of every Corvette car show.
This year, the first ticket out of the giant bin brought Diane Black of nearby Hanover, Pennsylvania running and screaming with glee from the packed grandstands to the stage for an interview with Bill Miller. She told the disappointed audience (disappointed she was still there so Carlisle could not pull another ticket) that she was sure she would win the Corvette and had even practiced her celebration before hearing her number called on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm. She drove home in the winning 2004 Millennium Yellow LS1 Corvette coupe–Diane’s husband’s garage is already filled with five Corvettes from five different generations!
The Corvette race cars brought out Corvette race car drivers, including Mario Andretti. He addressed a VIP luncheon on Friday (under a tent shielding diners from the rain). Andretti showed his Corvette colors when he announced he drove to Carlisle in a new ZR1. He further comforted the pro-Vette crowd saying some of the Corvettes were better looking than Ferraris. Andretti revealed his attraction for the C1 Corvette when he selected a black 1957 convertible owned by Kenneth Bolton of Millerstown, Pennsylvania for his “celebrity pick.” Later that afternoon, fans lined up by the hundreds for an Andretti autograph.
Manufacturers are always a part of Carlisle. This year, despite the gloomy economic climate for new car sales, The GM Engineering Team showed up to introduce the new 2010 Corvette Grand Sport. Kerbeck Chevrolet, the largest Corvette dealer in the world, displayed several Grand Sports under their tent. Pretty girls signing posters depicting the new Grand Sport, the 1996 and the original 1963 racing Grand Sport, got maximum crowd attention. (The GM Engineering Team is where?)
An obvious up-and-coming Corvette racing car is the “Challenge” series. Carlisle arranged Challenge cars in a semi-circle in the heart of the car show area, dubbed the “Fun Field.” Not far away, but under a tent for protection, were the high-dollar, vintage racing Corvettes of the glory years.
Carlisle estimated registered Corvettes at 3,000, and attendees in the tens of thousands. Vendor spaces were sold out too, making 2009 and the 27th Annual Corvettes At Carlisle a rousing success.
Look for Corvettes At Carlisle to return in 2010 the weekend of August 27-29 to feature “the return of the Corvette American flag.”