Mid September can mark a number of changes for those of us across the United States. The children are getting back into school, summer continues to wind down, and some parts of the country even begin to experience a slight change in the air and a few trees begin to shed their most mature leaves.
For those of us lucky enough to be involved in the Corvette world, it means something entirely different. The smiling faces of Mid America Motorworks have been full steam ahead for many months, and all their hard work is about to come to fruition.
As you can seemingly imagine, this event takes tons of work, planning, cooperation, a large beautiful facility, and a little luck from mother nature, all coming together to create this spectacular show. Allow us to take you through some of the festivities and show you some of our favorite rides from the week.
As you will see, there are literally thousands and thousands of Vettes to pick from, and more that we wish we could share with you. That being said, we hope you like the cars we selected, and keep in mind we were also able to shoot a few car features that we will be releasing at a later date.
Mid America Motorworks (MAM) headquarters are located in the quiet, peaceful town of Effingham, Illinois. While there are plenty of businesses like MAM that continue perfecting aspects of design, production, and distribution; Effingham is one of those towns where things tend to move a little slower, and compared to the pace of Southern California, we always welcome it.
To kick things off with a bang, Corvettes began rolling into MAM on Thursday afternoon to gear up for the parade which leaves the facility, winding amidst the forests and corn fields. Ultimately they end up in downtown Effingham, and begin lining the streets where the locals and Corvette drivers can cruise the beautiful lineups of America’s sports cars at sunset.
The majority of the festivities begin bright and early the next morning, and continue throughout the remainder of the week. There really is something for everybody at the Corvette Funfest, and as you can see the visitors make good use of it all. The install dome is a huge attraction, as many Corvette owners love the idea of being able to drive to the event on a factory exhaust system, and return with a ferocious sounding Vette, with a whole new driving experience.
The days are also filled with tons of great seminars out in the Seminar Village. Everything from restoration tips, to theories on the next generation Corvette from current and former Chevrolet employees, to tips on how to care for your new Corvette. Additionally, the grounds are buzzing with rows of vendors, to the Chevy Performance team alongside their assortment of gorgeous new Corvettes. We even had the opportunity to see and hear a few words from the host Dennis Pittsenbarger, most of the Yager clan, George Baris, and Linda Vaughn.
Rain or Shine
At one point during the event, we got a few hours of precipitation which got all those convertible owners back on their feet in a hurry. The rain would only last a couple hours, so we decided to take a look around the museum and retail buildings in the mean time. If you have never been, we suggest you take a walk through on your next visit. The cars were quite amazing, ranging from an early C1 to several historic C4 race cars, to the Alpha and Beta C5 test cars – very interesting stuff.
We also gave the gift shop a walkthrough which showcased a multitude of Corvette collectibles, some from Mike Yager’s personal collection, and others that had been selected for sale. We really liked the Corvette pedal cars, and had to tear ourselves away from contemplating the pedal car project. Lastly, we were able to check out the detailing and garage section, which was full of Adam’s Polishes car care products, and a few other goodies for every Vette owner’s garage. Eventually the rain subsided and it was back out to the show!
Celebrities’ Choice Award
Yours truly had the pleasure of taking a seat in the “Celebrity Judging” proceedings and for my decision came rather easily. We had already gawked over this gorgeous C1, and while there were many cars that deserved some recognition, our choice was simple. The owner was beyond excited when he found out that he had been selected, and we later learned that this was his fifth consecutive time receiving the award at the Mid America Funfest.
This all-original beauty is a 1960 C1 Corvette coupe. The original owner purchased the car in 1960, and enjoyed driving it for some time. However, in 1968 the first owner was driving the car at a high rate of speed, and reportedly when one of the front tires went low, he nearly flipped the car.
This was enough of a scare to the owner that he put the car in storage, never driving it again, where it would sit until 1986. The current owner and neighbor to the original owner, purchased the car in ’86 and carefully cleaned the car, bringing it back to its original, unrestored condition.
The owner mentioned, “I know I’m fortunate to have found the car, but Im glad I did because I don’t think most people would have cared for it in the way that I have, leaving it original. I’d say about 85-90 percent of the paint is still original. It has the 283 ci V8 engine making 270 hp with the Duntov cam and two four-barrel carburetors. It’s quite peppy!”
The car and its owner made for one great pair, so stay tuned for a full feature on this beauty to follow.
The C1 above, definitely helps to kick off our featured spotlights, but we have a few more that caught our eyes. Again, we know there were tons of gorgeous Vettes to choose some, and we just can’t cover them all. Fortunately, there is always next year – here are a few more we really liked.
This C2, which was also selected by a celebrity judge, is no ordinary 1964 coupe. This gorgeous Corvette was torn down and completely rebuilt at the Roadster Shop based out of Illinois.
This is definitely one of those examples in which a picture can’t really do it justice, but the car is stunning nonetheless. The car is sitting atop a Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis to really aid in the ride and handling department. In fact this car has been caught on camera tearing around some cones at an Optima Street Car Challenge autocross event.
The gold wheels are race inspired and real functioning knock-offs, which have been wrapped in some retro looking Redline tires. Aside from large, drilled rotors and other modern upgrades, the real gem of this build lies under the hood where a Chevy Performance LT1 lies beneath, belting out 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. Not a bad swap!
To start with, we should warn the purists out there that this C3 is far from original. That being said, that is what grabbed our attention and led us to wanting to know more about this 1978 Corvette. This Vette has an interesting theme of silver and black, both inside and out. The massive tires are affixed to a set of Boyd Coddington polished wheels, and the custom headlight louvers are the one-off handy work of an aircraft fabricator.
There are other interior appointments that have been upgraded in addition to some of the drivetrain and running gear, but the engine is one of the most noteworthy items. Thanks to a custom built 383 ci Dart Block and a host of other aftermarket accessories, this car produces 510 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque. The power is then ran through a highly-fortified Turbo 400 transmission before lighting up those rear tires.
While the public opinion continues to waiver on the C4 Corvette, we have a special level for each generation of America’s sports car – after all they never would have progressed without the predecessors, but we digress.
This 1995 C4 happened to catch our eyes as we were cruising throughout the rear parking area of the grounds. The owner explained, “It has Z06 wheels on it, and a cat-back Magnaflow exhaust system. Originally, the interior was all black and I changed that to the red and black combo you see here. I later had the engine compartment painted as well to match the interior and exterior colors.” We also learned that the paint is all original, though we could clearly see that there has seen some serious spent put into wet-sanding the car and polishing it to an amazingly high level of shine.
Cars like this really go to show that no matter your preference for year or generation, the Corvette can evoke a true labor of love in their owners.
Our last and final spotlight was on this beautiful, and rather exotic looking 2006 Callaway C16 Coupe. The car traveled to the show from Indiana, is certainly no trailer queen, with over 14,000 miles on the clock. The engine under the hood of this creation is a Callaway-modified LS2 block and heads, with Mahle pistons, and an Eaton Roots-type supercharger; which uses an air-to-liquid intercooler.
The car is riding on Eibach coilovers, Callaway edition wheels wrapped in aggressively sized Michelin rubber, and uses a custom set of six-piston calipers to bring all of this power to a quick stop. We didn’t get the opportunity to hear it run, but with Callaway’s reputation, we’re sure it is something to be heard.
Until Next Year
As the sun began to set on Saturday evening, many of the Corvettes scrambled to their hotels or close-by homes to grab some dinner a quick rest as the festivities weren’t quite over. As hideaway headlights dimmed on the grounds and lawn chairs began to fill the arena, we were greeted my Mike Yager who gave a great little speech and thanked everyone for their continued participation. At that time they drew raffle tickets for a gorgeous guitar which was signed by none other than the entertainment for the night – the Surf City Allstars, comprised of many talented musicians including the Beach Boys lead guitarist, David Marks.
They put on quite a show as everyone jammed into the night to those great Beach Boys classics about surf, sun, cars, and gals. As the concert was wrapping up we said our goodbyes and loaded ourselves back into our rental to catch a few hours of sleep before our flight home. Every Mid America Funfest we attend is bigger and better than the year before, and we can’t wait to see the special surprises at next years event.