Each April, Corvette fans flock to the Michelin NCM Bash to learn the latest information about their favorite sports car. The Bash is a unique event for these enthusiasts because the Corvette Team always discusses current and future products. Many upcoming models have been unveiled at these events, including the C5/C6 Z06, the 2009/2017 Grand Sport and the 2015 Z06. This advance sneak peek at new models has become a time honored tradition for this event. The 2019 attendees were filled with anticipation hoping to see the 2020 mid-engine Corvette.
The buzz throughout the weekend was all about the closely guarded mid-engine C8. Would Bash attendees get an up-close look or would they go away disappointed? On Friday the word began circulating that a C8 mid-engine was parked in front of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. It was there to bring attention to a GM media event hosted by CEO Ms. Mary Barra. For a $500 per person donation to the museum, people could take a tour of the plant and listen to her speech. It was later announced that a second shift and 400 employees would join the Corvette Assembly Plant. Bash fans now knew that a C8 prototype was close by the NCM. Fingers were crossed they would get a chance to see it. As in previous years, GM engineers, designers and plant assembly staff were on hand to answer (some) questions. This included Tadge Juechter (Corvette Chief Engineer), Harlan Charles (Chevrolet Corvette Product Marketing Manager), Kirk Bennion (Exterior Design Manager for Corvette) and Kai Spande (Bowling Green Assembly Plant Manager).
Tadge, Harlan and Kirk conducted a 90-minute product update. Their topics included 2019 C7 product review, 2019 C7 sales data, Corvette Racing's competition record, the Grand Sport C7R Drivers Series and the ending of C7 production. The stunning C7 (2014-2019) joins the C2 (1963-1967) as the shortest running generation in Corvette history. Many attendees wondered if Camaro will replace the C7 as Chevrolet's affordable front engine sports car. Harlan Charles announced that 27,868 units have been built from January 29, 2018 to April 1, 2019. Here is the breakdown by model: Stingray 39% 10,726, Grand Sport 31% 8,600, Z06 21% 5,743 and ZR1 9% 2,599.
Each speaker wore shirts covered in black and white camouflage with a prominent C8 emblem on the front. This is the same pattern that has been seen on numerous spy photos of the mid-engine Corvette. All three speakers were very skilled in deferring C8 questions by responding, "wait until 7-18-19" and all your questions will be answered.
A stunning new exhibit awaited visitors as they entered the museum. Legendary GM designer Harley Earl was responsible for approving the development of the first Corvette. This unique display of a 1953 Corvette shows half of the body on the right and an exposed chassis on the left side of the car. It was mounted on the third 1953 Corvette chassis, VIN#003. It was built by Corvette Repair () in Valley Stream, New York, for the Ed Foss collection.
The Foss family recently donated this marvelous, driveable Corvette to the NCM. Other Bash displays included a tribute to NASA Astronauts and the Corvettes they drove. The racing display featured some new additions, including the Pirate Racing ZR-1. The Performance Build Center team assembled and disassembled an LT4 engine from top to bottom. Other activities included a celebrity car show and classroom sessions by Corvette Certified Technician Paul Koerner. Enthusiasts also enjoyed numerous guided road tours, a Ladies Oasis and an expanded Garage Party with women from the GM Corvette Team. The NCM Motorsports Park had many driving activities during the Bash. Many owners took advantage by wringing their Corvettes out during the weekend at this fabulous facility. Expert instructors were on hand to provide owners feedback on how to safely extract performance from their Corvettes.
The big surprise happened near the end of the weekend when crowds began gathering around the museum entrance. Word quickly spread that a prototype C8 would make a drive by. In the early afternoon, a camouflaged C8 rumbled through the NCM entrance and slowly drove by the crowd of enthusiasts. As it left the museum the driver gave it a quick burst of acceleration. You could hear the rapid shifting of the automatic transmission and in a moment it was gone. It was a great way to end the 2019 Michelin NCM Bash. Stay up to date on C8 news at or . For information on upcoming museum events and news go to . Vette
Photography by Walt Thurn & GM