It's been almost three weeks since a 40' wide, 60' deep sinkhole opened up within the Skydome of the National Corvette Museum, taking eight prized Corvettes with it. Construction and engineering teams have been hard at work since day one, putting a plan in place for the recovery of the cars and restoration of the building.
The recovery of the three most accessible Corvettes: the 2009 "Blue Devil" ZR1, a 1993 40th Anniversary Ruby Red Corvette and a 1962 Black Corvette commenced on Tuesday with all three cars being successfully saved. Monday's "Operation Corvette Plus" resulted in the recovery of the 2009 and the 1993 and nearly all day Tuesday was dedicated to the 1962 - a car that was recovered around 1:45pm CT giving spectators watching from the Museum's plexiglass viewing area and the construction and engineering crews a huge sigh of relief.
The team began work early Tuesday, extracting a portion of the car lift that had become mangled around the car, removing the hood from the '62 and tying a strap to the engine bay, then drilling anchors into the slab of concrete that appeared to be wedged into the grill. In hooking their lifting devices to the car they discovered that they didn't have to lift the slab to free the car. "Really, all that went better than I expected... that's my favorite car," said Mike Murphy, CEO of Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction.
"I see body damage. The chassis looks intact, the frame's not bent, the interior (other than being a little dirty) is pristine. So, I think it's some fiberglass work, some ornamentation work, and paint," said John Spencer, Manufacturing Integration Manager at the GM Corvette Assembly Plant. "This car is in amazing shape considering what it's been through. I don't see anything unrepairable."
Murphy indicated that the next step will be to remove the concrete slab off the bank of the hole, and to remove the rest of the car lift. After those are out of the way they will begin stabilizing and securing the red spire and the walls of the hole. "I'm tickled to death that we were able to get those three cars out with no problems, and they were in good condition," he added.
All three cars are now on display in the Museum's Exhibit Hall. They will be joined in late April by the remaining five Corvettes - marking a culmination of the sinkhole recovery efforts. The Museum is planning a formal exhibit of these cars "as is," along with various photos, videos, information and artifacts through August 3. The plexiglass viewing area of the Skydome will be available as long as construction is on-going, and the 'dome' is expected to re-open by late August.
"While we don't know exactly how long the repair and remediation of the sinkhole will take, we feel confident that the Skydome will be as good as new in time for the Museum's 20th Anniversary Celebration," said Executive Director Wendell Strode. "August 27-30 of this year will be an exciting time in Bowling Green, Kentucky as we will have over 10,000 Corvette enthusiasts caravaning from all over the country to celebrate the Museum, the Grand Opening of our Motorsports Park, and now the re-opening of our Skydome."
THIS JUST IN...
Museum officials reported Wednesday, March 5: "Very unexpected surprise today... Construction guys had an opportunity to snag the Millionth Corvette and they took it!"
All photos courtesy of the National Corvette Museum. For additional photos and video, visit http://www.corvettemuseum.org/