There’s no denying Bloomington Gold as the granddaddy of Corvette events, having hosted 46 events leading up to this year’s celebration. In grand fashion, the Bloomington Gold staff secured the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 2019. Attendees had seminars, judging, vendors, and driving events to keep them occupied for days throughout the entire complex.
The event got underway on Thursday, June 20, and ran through Saturday, June 22. The Midwest has been undergoing a deluge of rain storms that have been wreaking havoc for farmers and automotive enthusiasts alike. Thankfully, the skies were kind and any precipitation that made its way to the IMS facility was limited in scope and intensity. The cloud cover helped to keep the hot sun at bay, but also may have deterred some attendees from bringing their cars to the event.
We say “cars”, because this year’s Bloomington Gold has opened up the fraternity to include Camaros as well as Corvettes. In true Bloomington Gold fashion, there were some very historic and incredible examples of “the other Chevrolet” vehicles in attendance.
Once inside the gates of IMS, attendees could take in all of the great exhibits and activities which have made Bloomington Gold a must-attend event for decades. Of course, there were many vintage Corvettes — and nervous owners — on the judging field, seeking either Gold Certification, Survivor, or Benchmark status from the knowledgeable judging teams.
Stars Of The Show
There were also many Corvettes that already met the criteria for super-star status which safely tucked away in one of the many displays within the event. This year’s Gold Collection focused on the Shark Corvettes from 1968-1972 and featured the 1969 Corvette as the Gold Year. There were so many notable variants produced during these years and Bloomington Gold did a fantastic job of bringing them all under one roof.
Of the 45 Sharks chosen to represent the earliest segment of this generation, Bloomington Gold secured numerous big-block and small-block Corvettes that were not only powerful, but rare. No Bloomington Gold would be complete without a sprinkling of L88s and other variants wearing both multiple and single-carb applications. There were also numerous small-blocks in attendance including the high-winding LT-1s, ZR1s, and even a ZR2 convertible.
In addition to the vast collection of Sharks was the 1965 Corvette Manta Ray, on loan from the GM Heritage Center. Interestingly, both of the two ZL-1 Corvettes ever built were on-hand for viewing. Bringing these two cars together under one roof validates Bloomington Gold’s clout for bringing out the best of the best.
There were also several Sharks which made a name for themselves on racetracks around the globe, such as the Owens-Corning racers. These cars were a sight to behold, but the real experience was when they formed the Shark Parade on Saturday afternoon. All of these race-fuel-fed beasts were unleashed for a stroll down Legends Row. The smell of high-octane race fuel was intoxicating!
Beyond the Sharks, there were first-generation Corvettes that were either production or prototype in design. Attendees were greeted into the Gold Collection tent by the SR-2 racer owned by Irwin Kroiz. As the “first General Motors purpose-built and sponsored Corvette racer”, the SR-2 Corvettes are the seedlings of Corvette’s rich racing history.
Featuring a 331 cubic-inch small-block fed by a Rochester fuel-injection system that wore two fuel meters for maximum performance, this SR-2 Corvette set out to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with amid a crowd of contenders. Raced by famous names such as John Fitch, Jim Jeffords, and Dr. Dick Thompson, the SR-2 carved through fields at the hands of some of the most-skilled drivers of its day.
There were also some sights to behold outside of the covered tents of the Gold Collection. The IMS Museum brought out the 1957 Corvette SS to show during the event. Zora Arkus-Duntov donated the car to IMS in 1967 where it has been housed ever since, save for specific viewings such as this.
The 1957 Corvette SS was built as light as possible — reportedly 1,850 pounds — using a tubular steel frame and magnesium body. It features an independent rear suspension and coilover shocks. Designed to race at the famed 24-Hours of Le Mans, a less than stellar showing at the earlier 12-Hours of Sebring ended the car’s racing career.
Putting Go With The Show
After taking in all of the eye-candy, attendees could also peruse the various vendors of both old and new goods. Some were even selling New-Old-Stock parts that dated back to the earliest generation of Corvettes! Knowledgeable vendors were on-hand to help you with your questions, whether about restoring the earliest example or infusing more power into Chevrolet’s latest creations.
Some vendors were equipped to swap-in their performance products on-site during the event. We saw several exhaust systems getting upgraded with better sounding versions and brake systems “going big”, for when you need to bring all that power to a halt.
Once your Corvette, or Camaro, was up to the task, you could try your hand at the Gold Autocross, a safe, yet challenging course constructed in one of the paved areas within the IMS facility. If you weren’t seeking speed, but wanted to put a few miles on your Corvette, you could drive your car for two laps on the IMS track. Speed was limited (of course), but the thrill of hitting the legendary track is a moment to remember. If you desire more smiles per gallon, you could hit the open highway in your Corvette with hundreds of others during the Gold Tour on Saturday evening.
As this year’s Bloomington Gold settles into the history books, the event proved, once again, that the Corvette community is going strong with a rich seasoning of history, provenance, and performance. While 2019’s event is now in the rear-view mirror, make plans for next year’s event. Or, you can also visit Bloomington Gold during their next event being held at the Hendrick Motorsports Complex in Charlotte, scheduled for October 11 and 12. You’ll likely need a couple of days full of Corvette goodness to take it all in, so plan accordingly!