This past week from September 18th – 21st, the quiet town of Effingham, Illinois was filled with Corvettes and Corvette fans from both near and far. Beginning on Thursday, the quiet countryside was filled with the deep V8 rumble of America’s sports cars pulling through the gears on their way to the beautiful grounds of Mid America Motorworks (MAM), the host and location for Corvette Funfest 2014.
This year’s Fun Festival was a little extra special for choosing to honor “Vets with Vettes.” With many Corvette owners being veterans themselves, it seemed like a great match and added a great dynamic to the event. In fact there was a large area tucked neatly in the corner, for a bit of quiet reflection, that showcased the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. It is a 3/5 scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located in Washington D.C.
There were so many activities and so many great cars. No matter which way you walked, you were sure to find C1s, C7s, and everything in between. We did notice a very high percentage of the most recent three generations, as the majority of the cars were driven from the owner’s homes… many being a great distance. The weather was beautiful throughout the weekend, yet there was a quick downpour and thunderstorm in the very early hours on Sunday morning. Hopefully all of those convertibles got their rag tops up and fastened before the rain came.
The Fun Run
The event kicks off each year with a parade of Corvettes known as the Fun Run. The run made off around 4:30 pm, which created a nice evening backdrop for a late summer cruise. New for 2014 was a photographer taking pictures of each passing car. This gave everybody a chance to see themselves in action with their cars, and add another great item to their car collection.
The amount of cars allowed to run in the event is limited for safety and traffic reasons, but we believe everybody that wanted to attend was able to do so. The signature foam hands were still a big hit, along with smiling faces and plenty of laughs. It was definitely exciting to see a line of Corvettes that looked to be over a mile long… quite the sight, and sound!
Throughout the event, there was an amazing number of seminars being conducted amongst three different tents. Unfortunately, you cannot attend them all as they are booked simultaneously and could almost take up most of your weekend. The plus side of this was that there was something to suit all tastes which allows you to fit several seminars in around your other interests.
One seminar I sincerely enjoyed was titled “Corvette: 60 years” by Dave McLellan, who was the Chief Engineer for Corvette from 1975 to 1992. Joining Mr. McLellan, was Fred Gallasch another pivotal face among the Corvette team. They both had very interesting insight as to where the Corvette was, and what it has become. While it was great to see them speak about the cars of their time with General Motors (GM), we really had our interest peeked when they touched on some recent GM and Corvette rumors, as we were hoping they may have some insight into the untold.
Fred Gallasch quickly shot down any rumors about Corvette breaking away from GM and becoming its own brand. We happen to be in agreement with this, as we have heard similar rumor mill reports from Cadillac. He said it is still in GM’s best interest to continue banding together.
Dave McLellan discussed the performance of the C7 corvette, specifically the pending tests on the Nurburgring. While there was no concrete figure, he seemed to infer that the Stingray would run the course in about 7 minutes and 20 seconds. He mentioned that the Porsche 918 Spyder recently broke the seven minute mark, but was proud in reporting a car costing about 1/10th of the cost, the C7, is remarkably close and sits amongst a class of top performers. Lastly, they covered the thought of a mid-engine Corvette for the next generation. While they could not say for certain, they expressed a desire for it to remain a front engine car so that the usability and cargo room remain, allowing the Corvette to be what it always has been.
Another seminar that was very informative and helpful for the audience, was titled, “Corvette STINGRAY, 2014 and Beyond,” which was was presented by Paul Koerner and Brittany George. Both of the guest speakers are highly trained Corvette technicians. Being the subject matter experts, Paul Koerner explained their position as, “the last line of defense before the troubled car goes back to engineering.” They were both a tremendous help to those in attendance as they worked though particular issues and misunderstandings with some of the crowd’s C7 Stingrays. Paul was both energetic yet concise and explained the technology in a fashion everyone could understand. He was so confident and proud of the capabilities of the new Corvette that it just radiated from him.
Being a Corvette Racing fan, the urge to shoot a few pictures of this car could not be capped. There is just something about the raw power combined with skilled driving and technology that makes an intriguing combination. Surely there were no “secret” parts or intel on this car, although there was an odd look or two from the representative once the shots were getting up close and personal.
Spread amongst the grounds were a few “domes,” or giant tents that contained different activities. The first was the Fun Dome which was packed with Corvette apparel and accessories to satisfy the most die-hard of fanatics. We were impressed by the amount of smiling faces here, ready to help you find your next purchase.
The next dome to mention, was the Install Dome which seemed to be one of the main attractions of the event. It was quite a sight to see the line of cars waiting to roll in onto the lifts to receive their new additions. A very popular install seemed to be getting new exhaust systems; but there was no shortage of wheel and tire packages, body kits, interior accessories, and a few other modifications.
Useful tips gathered for you C7 owners, incase you were wondering:
- If you or an observer happen to notice a puff of black smoke during start up, do not be alarmed. In an effort to increase emission compliance upon start-up, the car delivers a heavy dose of fuel which partially passes through to the catalytic converters, igniting on contact, and increasing the cat’s temperature.
- Should your car come equipped with the Michelin “Summer only” tires, they have an effective operating range down to 40 degrees fhareneheit. From the 40 to 20 degrees, they may still be used, but the driver will experience some loss of grip. If the temperature falls below 20 degrees, DO NOT move the vehicle until the temperature increases. When subjected to that degree of cold temperature, the tire becomes relatively brittle and can experience microscopic fracturing.
- If you are experiencing any issues with connectivity or odd glitches and you are not putting the GM key fob in the proper place on the steering column, begin doing so. Cell phones and a range of other devices may impact this signal if the connection is poor.
- Some owners mentioned that they have to hold the start button down for a solid count of, one-one thousand, two-one thousand, (and some three-one thousand) before their Stingray would fire. Again, no concern as the high-pressure injection system may take a few seconds to ready itself, and initiate the firing sequence.
While we chose to steer away from them, with the desire for non-blurry pictures, there were a few different tastings available throughout the day, which we were told were great. They offered separate tastings of whiskey, wine, and rum. The food was fantastic from the classic “fair-type” food to the prepared lunches and “Country Buffet” on Saturday evening.
As an avid RC (Remote Controlled) Car driver, I couldn’t help but notice the little slalom course setup for a 1/10th scale Stingray… this provided great entertainment for car fans of all ages as many people were baffled by how hard it is to drive the little cars. Returning the car back toward yourself proved to be the most difficult challenge as the steering basically becomes reversed.
Another aspect we found to be great, was the open invitation for folks to check out some of the MMA facillites. You were able to walk right through the production and shipping department in one building, getting to see where all those great products stem from.
There was also a few rounds of celebrity judging which allowed the judges to walk the grounds and simply pick out their favorite car. This provided a very good range of vehicles as it was personal choice and not a standard grading scenario such as a concours or event of that nature. There were some great cars, and happy owners!
Secondly, Mike Yager opened up his personal “family” museum of his own cars… and what a treat that was to see, but we can’t divulge ALL of the secrets, as we hope you will join us next year in person. Although if you would like to own a prior car from Mike’s collection, there are currently four vehicles up for sale: one white 1994 Corvette limousine, a black 1989 #42 Corvette Challenge car, 1 of 30, driven by Randy Ruhlman, the last C5 Z06 ever made (2004) with the unique “C4 Grand Sport-ish” color scheme, a 1978 Indy 500 L-82 pace car in black with 4,200 miles, and finally, a 1993 40th Anniversary, Special Edition.
As if there wasn’t enough entertainment already, Mid America Motorworks and Mike Yager were able to put on an amazing production Saturday night with a concert headlining 38 Special. The night was started off with a raffle to build up excitement but quickly transitioned into a rock show fit for a concert haul. There was quite a turnout there to cheer the band along, and the whole event made for a great evening.
Top Three Pick
With so many great cars spread across a large area, it would be unfair to say for sure that we happened to have found the “top three” cars of the event. Instead, this time we thought we would just mention three unique cars that caught our attention.
The first picture is essentially a stock C7 painted in factory yellow. The owner later themed out this car to look like a Chevrolet Racing C7.R which makes quite a statement. You must admit it’d catch your eye if you saw it thundering down the highway.
The next car we wanted to highlight was this gorgeous C2 Grand Sport clone. The car sounded great with the side pipes, and looked like one mean ride. It isn’t a real Grand Sport, but considering the handful of them around and associated value, this is a much more useable option.
Lastly, we chose this stunning C1 in dark red. The car’s paint caught my eye initially as I was walking by, and just got better from that point on. The chrome was spectacular as was the polished appearance and cleanliness of the engine compartment. According to the owner, both seats and door panels had sections of stingray leather brought in as accent pieces… quite the detail.
All in all, Corvette Funfest 2014 was a great experience for anybody that was fortunate enough to be a part of it, and truly amazing for all Corvette lovers. Mid America Motorworks certainly outdid themselves this year, and are undoubtedly making plans to do so again next year. We would like to personally thank Mike Yager from Mid America Motorworks for making this happen and for his hospitality!
The only thing we found to be as gratifying as the awesome cars, venue, and location, was all of the people we were fortunate enough to meet. Amongst all of the car cultures out there, the most friendly and amazing people seem to find the Corvette… or maybe the Corvettes find them.