Corvette Plant & NCM Motorsports Park Suffer Tornado Damage

This past weekend’s string of tornadoes was devastating for many people as the squall line marched its way across the country from Canada to Texas. One area that was hit especially hard was Corvette’s Hometown, Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Corvette has had deep roots in this small Kentucky town ever since the production of America’s favorite sportscar moved there in 1981. Previous Corvettes were built in only two other places, Flint, Michigan (1953 only), and St. Louis, Missouri (1954- 1980). As Corvette’s roots grew deeper into the Kentucky countryside, the National Corvette Museum was founded just across the street from the entrance to the Corvette Assembly Plant. You may recall a few years ago about the sinkhole which engulfed six priceless Corvettes from within the very heart of the NCM. Over the past few years, Corvette enthusiasts were able to enjoy yet another Vette-centric venue when the NCM Motorsports Park opened to the public.

Enthusiasts from around the globe have trekked to Bowling Green, Kentucky to enjoy all that each of these venues has to offer. This past weekend, those tornadoes came to visit Bowling Green, and unlike the many visitors who come there for fun, these gusty devils wreaked havoc in their wake. There are reports of significant loss of life directly related to the storm and many images show the extensive damage to property and buildings as a result of the ensuring tornado.

The line of storms ranged from Canada, all the way to the lower edge of the United States. Photo: C4 N A C8

As a tornado traversed the area around GM’s Bowling Green Assembly, the NCM, and the NCM Motorsports Park, it continued its track of damage, causing significant damage to the NCM Motorsports Park buildings, as well as causing a fire at the Bowling Green Corvette assembly plant. This video from C4 N A C8 shows the extent of the storm line, as well as the damaging fire at the Corvette assembly plant.

The Corvette assembly plant suffered damage, which was captured on video by Bowling Green local, David J. Schutt.

As a result of the damage at the assembly plant, production has been halted for at least the week of December 13th. GM has issued the following statement:

“We can confirm that the fire that took place as a result of the tornado activity at the Bowling Green Assembly plant early Saturday morning has caused damage to the facility, including the room and an employee entrance.

Maintaining a safe work environment for plant employees is our top priority. Therefore, we are canceling production on the first and second shifts the week of December 13 as our trained teams work to get tooling, equipment, and the facility space up to standard.”

This drone footage shows only some of the damage to the NCM Motorsports Park. Corvettes for delivery through the NCM’s R8C Delivery program were stored in the buildings awaiting prep and delivery to their new owners. Photo: Corvette Action Center

The NCM Motorsports Park also sustained extensive damage and issued this statement via social media.

“It is with great disappointment that we announce the suspension of all activities at the NCM Motorsports Park. This includes all Touring Laps/Experiences, Twinkle at the Track, and the Run, Run Rudolph 5k.

Like many businesses in our community, the NCM Motorsports Park sustained heavy damage from the overnight weather event, making it temporarily unsafe to welcome guests. The MSP team is working to evaluate the damage caused by the storms and to develop a plan for repairs and reopening. We will continue to update our website and social media channels with the latest information.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this unprecedented situation. Our hearts are with those across the Commonwealth who have been impacted by these storms.”

The National Corvette Museum luckily did not suffer such extensive damage as the assembly plant and motorsports park. The NCM posted this message on its website in response to the storm. “During the storms on December 11, 2021, the Museum was spared from significant damage, and the building will remain CLOSED on Sunday, December 12.”

These events contribute to the extraordinary history of C8 Corvette production, which has been pummeled with various stoppages, a strike, pandemics, and now, tornados. Thankfully, loss of life at these locations has been limited, and our hearts and prayers go out to those Kentuckians who have suffered in such heart-breaking ways. The community in and around Bowling Green is exceptional. It goes without saying the businesses and community will recover and rebuild. For those who have suffered loss, we pray for a speedy recovery and healing in due time.

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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