Before the a massive sinkhole put the National Corvette Museum on the map, classic car lovers and curious tourists traveled to its yellow-coned skydome outside Bowling Green in Kentucky. More than 5,000 Chevrolet Corvettes were on the grounds as part of the celebration of the museum’s fifth anniversary.
Classic car fans look at the Corvettes on display at the museum 60 miles north of Nashville and 100 miles south of Louisville.
A 1957 Corvette Roadster and a 1955 Roadster in a Mobil service station display. The museum is nearby the General Motors Corvette assembly plant, which has been in Bowling Green since 1981.
A worker unstraps a 1993 Chevrolet Corvette. Eight cars were damaged. The cost? More than $1 million. Only six of the eight cars were museum-owned — the other two were on loan from General Motors.
Damaged in the accident were a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette, a 1962 black Corvette, a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, a 1984 PPG Pace Car, a 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette, a 2009 white 1.5 Millionth Corvette, a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil and a 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette.
Unsure what to do with the sinkhole, the museum board considered three options: fill it in, preserve the entire thing, or keep only a portion.
But what was first seen as a tragedy was becoming an attraction. The Associated Press reports attendance is up 50 percent.
“We would not have even stopped had it not been for the hole.” Luke Smith of Lima, Ohio, told AP after touring nearby Mammoth Cave.
“It just shows you the power of nature,” Stephen Robb of Waterloo, Ontario, told the AP. “I can’t believe the devastation to the cars. I don’t see car accidents this bad.”
After a closed-door meeting, the museum board decided to keep a portion of the sinkhole with a strong probability of putting back one or two of the damaged cars. The estimated cost of the project is $3 million to $5 million.
“There is a natural tendency to want to see the aftereffects of a natural occurrence,” Jason Swanson, a University of Kentucky assistant professor in hospitality management and tourism, told AP.
“On the one hand it’s been really good for business, and the publicity it has gotten you can’t buy,” Katie Frassinelli, marketing and communications manager for the museum told the New York Times. “But on the other hand, at some point the novelty of it will wear off, and we don’t want to be known as Sinkhole Museum forever.”