Daytime Corvettes in Sinkhole - WFLA News Channel 8

Daytime Corvettes in Sinkhole

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A sinkhole formed back in January under the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky swallowing eight cars.  One of them belonged to Tampa resident Kevin Helmintoller.

Sometime before 5:30 a.m. CT, the sinkhole started to form, authorities believe. By 5:44 a.m., motion detectors were going off and police were called, Executive Director Wendell Strode said. Security cameras at the museum caught the destruction.

When emergency personnel got to the museum, they discovered a sinkhole 40 feet wide and 25 to 30 feet deep.

Of the eight cars that fell into the hole, the museum owned six and General Motors owned two. GM's Bowling Green Corvette plant, the only factory that builds Corvettes, is across a highway less than a half mile from the museum.

Cars involved in the incident, which occurred inside the museum's iconic spire called the Sky Dome, are these:

  • 1962 black Corvette
  • 1984 PPG pace car for the Indy 500
  • 1992 white 1 millionth-built Corvette
  • 1993 ruby red 40th anniversary Corvette
  • 1993 ZR1 Spyder on loan from General Motors, a design study that was never built.
  • 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette, a one-off tuner model (this was Kevin Helmintoller's vehicle that he had just donated to the museum 12 days before the sinkhole occurred)!
  • 2009 white 1.5 millionth-built Corvette.
  • 2009 ZR1 "Blue Devil" on loan from General Motors, the show car for the re-introduction of the ZR1, last built in the early 1990s.
Staff were able to move 20 cars out of the Sky Dome later in the day after engineers determined that nothing was in danger of collapsing. Early in the day, Strobe said emergency personnel allowed museum staff to remove only one other car, the only surviving example of the "1983" Corvette. It had not fallen into the hole.

Andrea Hales, communications manager at the Bowling Green Corvette plant, said the Corvette was not produced in 1983. A six-month delay in the new generation created a model year gap. GM built about 40 prototype 1983s, which could not be sold, then built the production cars as 1984 models. It crushed all the 1983s except for the one given to the museum.


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