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National Corvette Museum Recovers After Sinkhole Disaster

The extraordinary pictures that went around the world following the collapse of part of the ‘Skydome’ area of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling `green Kentucky due to the emergence of a sinkhole was heartbreaking stuff for the famously brand loyal Corvette enthusiasts.

Overnight on 12 February a motion sensor alarm was the first warning that a sinkhole had collapsed within the Museum.

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No one was in or around the Museum at the time but the subsequent 40 feet diameter and 25-30 feet deep void swallowed eight historic Corvettes:

1993 ZR-1 Spyder on loan from General Motors
2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” on loan from General Motors

The other six vehicles were owned by the National Corvette Museum including:

1962 Black Corvette
1984 PPG Pace Car
1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette
1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette
2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette
2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette

Here’s how this same area looked before the collapse

On Thursday, February 13 the Museum held a press conference to update everyone on the game plan for the sinkhole.  Mike Murphy, CEO of Scott, Murphy & Daniel Construction, shared that sinkholes are very common for this area, but what is not common is for one to swallow eight Corvettes.  He stated that it is repairable and the building foundation and structure is in good condition.

The plans for moving forward include securing the sinkhole and surrounding areas so that even if the Museum were to experience future sinkholes nearby it would not affect the Museum.  It will take 2-3 weeks to stabilize and secure the area (the red spire, the walls of the sinkhole), after which the process of vehicle recovery will begin.  The team will be making sure the sinkhole is safe and that no further damage will occur before starting vehicle recovery.

The vehicle recovery process is anticipated to take 4-6 days to retrieve the vehicles.  After that, they will replace the earth and floor system.

“We have a good plan and it takes action tomorrow [Friday],” stated Mike.  He added that they don’t foresee any problems, and that they have accomplished a lot in the past 24 hours.

Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode added their confidence in the process being complete in time for the National Corvette Museum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration August 27-30 and the Grand Opening of the NCM Motorsports Park.

To help the National Corvette Museum recover from the massive sink hole, Chevrolet will be overseeing restoration of the Corvettes damaged.

“The vehicles at the National Corvette Museum are some of the most significant in automotive history,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of General Motors Global Product Development. “There can only be one 1-millionth Corvette ever built. We want to ensure as many of the damaged cars are restored as possible so fans from around the world can enjoy them when the Museum reopens.”

The restoration will be overseen by Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design.

When the cars are recovered, they will be shipped to the Mechanical Assembly facility, a small specialty shop within GM Design, where the best restoration approach will be determined. Mechanical Assembly has been part of GM Design since the 1930s, and today maintains and restores many of the vehicles in the GM Heritage Collection and GM’s historic concept cars.

The National Corvette Museum is independently owned, and supported solely by charitable donations from enthusiasts. It is currently accepting donations on its website to assist in refurbishing the facility.

All pictures and video footage copyright of National Corvette Museum