Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Museum Board Meets Regarding Sinkhole Fate

The National Corvette Museum Board of Directors met today to discuss and decide on the future of the Skydome building. Three primary options were presented: 1) Fill the sinkhole and replace the floor so that the building is much like it was previously; 2) Keep the entire sinkhole as is; 3) Keep a smaller portion of the hole open.

With 14 of the 16 board members present, the group decided to move forward with Option 3, keeping a portion of the sinkhole open, but pending review of further information.  This option as it stands would include an opening approximately 25’ by 45’ wide, and 30’ deep, providing views down into a portion of the cave.  The opening could have some existing ground and rock face, and a dirt embankment where one or two of the cars could be placed for display.
Each board member expressed how the decision was not about them or what they thought but rather what is best for the Museum, and what most of the members and visitors would want.  “I have a responsibility to represent the people who sent me here. We all do for our geographic areas,” said a Board Member.  “My own personal opinion changed as time went on.  I come here today with my marching orders from my members.  About two thirds of my organization says to leave it open in some form or fashion,” he added.

After much discussion the Board decided that additional information was necessary before making a final decision.  Some changes discussed could affect the cost estimate.  More information was also requested on the impact on the humidity in the room and potential impact on any cars displayed within; the temperature control of the room and any associated impact on the Museum’s utility costs; and review and consideration of any other costs associated with the maintenance of the Skydome if the hole is left partially open.  The additional information could result in the plans being modified.
Mike Murphy, C.E.O. of Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction, was on hand to answer questions and provide his feedback on the proposals.  “You come in and you have all these displays of the history and life of Corvette, and then you come into the Skydome to see this new part of history,” said Murphy.  “I think it will always be a part of history, but will the increased attendance continue?  I don’t know, but it will always be of high interest.”

As expected, the group deliberated greatly as to what is the right decision.
Christy Thomas, CFO for the Museum, shared that an estimate had been provided for filling in Option 3’s small portion of the sinkhole should the Museum decide later to end the exhibit.  “If the interest in the exhibit wanes, or if down the road we decided that we don’t want the hole any longer there is always an option to put the room back how it was,” Thomas said.

Thomas shared with the Board some numbers – including a 59% increase in the number of visitors from March to June 23, 2014 compared to the same time period in 2013.  The Museum has also seen an increase of 71% in admissions income, 58% increase in Corvette Store sales, 46% increase in Corvette CafĂ© sales, 72% increase in Membership for a total of a 65% increase in these revenue areas overall.
“We have to look at creative ways to generate interest in the Museum,” said Executive Director Wendell Strode.   “It would be so much easier to just be a regular automotive museum with our Corvettes on display, but we have to think outside the box.”

The construction plans also included eliminating the two level display space that once existed in the Skydome, both making it easier to get cars in and out, and increasing the number of cars that can be accommodated for display. 
“We only have one chance to do this right.  As a board, we owe it to everyone to explore all possibilities, to completely investigate all financial aspects and impacts, and to make a fully informed decision,” added one Board Member.

Plans are still on track to leave the sinkhole and 8 Corvettes on display “as-is” through the end of August and then begin construction in September.  The Museum will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with an event August 27-30, and the Grand Opening of the NCM Motorsports Park is slated for August 28.  “We have a lot to be thankful for right now,” said Strode.  “We really want to thank all those who have stood by us during this difficult time, and we are looking forward to celebrating with everyone in August! “

Friday, June 6, 2014

National Corvette Museum Sinkhole Viewing Offered This Summer

Guests offered opportunity to enter Skydome for close look at sinkhole

February 12 the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY was handed a lemon... a 40' wide by 60' deep lemon to be exact. What the Museum did, in turn, was even more unexpected than the sinkhole itself. The Museum turned the misfortune into a tourist attraction.

"We started with a Plexiglas viewing window so guests could see the construction going on inside the Skydome, and eventually the recovery of the Corvettes," said Katie Frassinelli, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Museum. "We always had one web cam available inside the Skydome, and due to the growing interest and popularity we added two more so our online visitors could get additional angles to view what was going on."

The interest in the damaged Corvettes continued to grow as did the Museum's attendance, so much so that the Museum decided to leave the sinkhole for the summer, and delay construction until after their 20th Anniversary Celebration August 27-30. "We have about 6,500 Corvette enthusiasts from all over the world pre-registered for our event so far, and many of them have expressed an interest in seeing the damaged cars as well as the sinkhole. Determining the best method for repairing it and getting bids on the construction work has been a time consuming process also. In the grand scheme of things, we felt it would be best to delay construction a few months to give all of our visitors the opportunity to see it."

NASCAR Team Owner Rick Hendrick snaps a photo of the Mallett HammerAttendance at the Museum since February has been up nearly 50% over the same time period in 2013. Many guests have expressed that while they came to see the sinkhole and damaged cars, they were pleasantly surprised by the rest of the facility and Corvette displays.

"Driving up I-65, I saw the sign for the museum and decided to make a stop but had fairly low expectations given it was a roadside attraction. I was pleasantly surprised by the facility; it was very modern, well themed, professional staff, and it was much larger than I expected with a gift shop and restaurant," wrote Mark Byrn of Orlando, Florida in a Trip Advisor review. "Even more impressive was the fact that the museum suffered extensive damage from a sinkhole, and they turned a negative into a positive by making the sinkhole into an attraction of sorts and displayed the Corvettes that were heavily damaged. Overall I was very happy to have made the stop."

The Museum is awaiting price estimates on the various options to repair the Skydome, from keeping all of the sinkhole, to leaving just a small portion of it, to restoring the building to the way it was before. The Museum's board of directors is scheduled to convene on June 25 to review the proposals and options on both the building and the "Great 8" Corvettes, and make a decision on the plans moving forward.

The Corvettes that are not restored will be kept on display in the Museum's Skydome, as part of preserving and telling the story of the February 12th sinkhole collapse.

Given the recent boost in attendance, the Museum is expected to hit its 3 millionth visitor within the coming days. As of May 31, 2014 the Museum has recorded 2,995,655 visitors since its Grand Opening September 1994. In celebration of the milestone, the Museum will be awarding their 3 millionth visitor with a special "Walk of Fame" engraved sidewalk brick with their name, one-year membership to the Museum, $10 Corvette Cafe gift certificate, $50 Corvette Store gift card, Flint Brick and article in the Museum's membership magazine, "America's Sports Car."

The Museum is located at I-65, exit 28 in Bowling Green, KY - just one hour north of Nashville, TN and less than two hours south of Louisville, KY. Open daily, 8am-5pm CT, admission to the Museum is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 65 and over, $5 for kids age 6-16 and children age 5 and under are free. Access to view the sinkhole is included with regular admission. Guests who enter the Skydome to view the sinkhole must be age 8 or older. For more information on the Museum, visit their website at or call 800-538-3883.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

2015 Corvette Z06 Rated at 650 Horsepower

Supercharged LT4 V-8 engine is the most powerful ever from Chevrolet

The all-new 2015 Corvette Z06 is the most powerful production car ever from General Motors and one of a few production cars available in the United States that delivers more than 600 horsepower.

The Z06’s LT4 supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine is SAE-certified at 650 horsepower (485 kW) at 6,400 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque (881 Nm) at 3,600 rpm.

The LT4 Small Block sets a new benchmark for power and torque at GM,” said Steve Kiefer, vice president, GM Powertrain Engineering. “The engine also puts the new Corvette Z06 on par with the most powerful supercars offered in America, while delivering performance with impeccable manners that make it suitable for daily driving.”

Compared with other supercar engines, the LT4 is a veritable fountain of low-end torque, producing 457 lb-ft (619 Nm) just off idle and 625 lb-ft (847 Nm) by only 2,800 rpm. The V-12-powered Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, for example, produces about 28 percent less torque than the Z06, despite offering about 12 percent more horsepower – and its peak torque isn’t achieved until 6,000 rpm. The LT4 maintains 90 percent of its peak torque, or 592 lb-ft (802 Nm), from 2,500 to 5,400 rpm.

The new LT4 engine eclipses the Porsche 911 Turbo S engine’s peak power levelsby 90 horsepower (67 kW) and 134 lb-ft of torque (182 Nm).

“Torque is the pulling power of an engine and the LT4’s abundance of it at every rpm in the engine’s speed range helps the 2015 Corvette Z06 accelerate quickerand respond nearly instantaneously,” said Jordan Lee, chief engineer for Small Block engines. “It’s the very definition of power on demand.”

The new Z06 engine produces 40 percent more peak torque (180 lb-ft / 244 Nm)than the previous-generation’s 7.0L LS7 engine – and 7.5 percent more than the supercharged 2013 Corvette ZR1’s 604 lb-ft (819 Nm)At 3,200 rpm, the new LT4 surpasses the LS7 by 208 lb-ft of torque (252 Nm)On the horsepower side of the graph, the LT4’s 650-hp rating is 29 percent greater than the LS7’s 505 horsepower (376 kW), and 12 horses more than the ZR1’s LS9 engine.

The new LT4 engine builds on the design strengths of our previous supercharged engine and leverages the technologies introduced on the Corvette Stingray – direct injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously variable valve timing – to take Corvette performance to an all-new plateau,” said Lee. “Our new, very compact supercharger also helps the engine make power more quickly, and perhaps more importantly, it helps produce more torque earlier in the rpm band.”

“It’s also worth mentioning that the LT4’s supercar performance numbers are achieved with an engine that is nearly the same size as the very compact LT1 engine introduced in the 2014 Corvette Stingray,” Lee said“The power density of the LT4 makes it one of the smallest and lightest 650-hp engines in the industry.

LT4 details
The new LT4 engine is based on the same Gen 5 small block foundation as the Corvette Stingray’s LT1 6.2L naturally aspirated engine, incorporating several unique features designed to support its higher output and the greater cylinder pressures created by forced induction, including:
Rotocast A356T6 aluminum cylinder heads that are stronger and handle heat better than conventional aluminum heads
Lightweight titanium intake valves
Machined, forged powder metal steel connecting rods for reduced reciprocating mass
High 10.0:1 compression ratio – for a forced-induction engine – enhances performance and efficiency and is enabled by direct injection
Forged aluminum pistons with unique, stronger structure to ensure strength under high cylinder pressures
Stainless steel exhaust manifolds and an aluminum balancer that are lighter than their LT1 counterparts
Standard dry-sump oiling system with dual-pressure-control oil pump.

A new 1.7L supercharger spins at up to 20,000 rpm – 5,000 rpm more than the supercharger on the Corvette ZR1’s engine. The rotors are smaller in diameter, which contributes to their higher-rpm capability – and enables them to producepower-enhancing boost earlier in the rpm band. That boost is achieved more efficiently via a more direct discharge port that creates less turbulence, reducing heat and speeding airflow into the engine.

“The Small Block’s cam-in-block design heritage has always enabled very high performance and responsiveness in a small, compact package – an attribute amplified by the performance of our new supercharger’s design,” said Lee.

The LT4 is assembled at the new Performance Build Center at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant and at GM’s Tonawanda engine plant in New York. It is matchedwith a standard seven-speed manual transmission or an all-new, paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission built in Toledo, Ohio.

Designed to deliver shift responses on par with the world’s best dual-clutch transmissions, it is the first automatic offered in a Z06. It also makes the Z06 one of the few cars this powerful to offer the choice of a conventional manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic.

The 2015 Corvette Z06 goes on sale in early 2015.

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.9 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality. More information on Chevrolet modelscan be found at