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Rotary Club honors Corvettes
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What is believed to be the largest gathering of Corvettes ever in Warren County took place Thursday as McMinnville Noon Rotary held the first Corvette Day in Warren County with 25 proud American classic owners displaying their cars.

"I’ve got fiberglass in my blood," admitted Noon Rotary president Rodney Boyd of his love for Corvettes, noting he is on his ninth Corvette after helping work on his first Vette with his father when he was 15 years old.

The idea for Warren County Corvette Day came when Gary Cockriel of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., agreed to come speak to the civic organization. A total of 25 Corvette owners readily agreed to show off their cars in the parking lot of the Blue Building.

Cockriel, who practices what he preaches and has owned 24 Corvettes, said he treats the museum like his own child.

Cockriel said the museum had its start on shaky ground 20 years ago and, on Feb. 12 of this year, found that it was literally on shaky ground when a sinkhole opened below the main display dome and swallowed eight classic cars.

"We got ourselves a permanent basement," Cockriel quipped, noting he suspects the entire collapse of the floor below the dome may have been triggered by a small earthquake since two other sink holes opened in Bowling Green the same morning.

The hole swallowed eight classic Vettes, dragging them to the bottom of the 40-foot hole. Four of the cars will be restored while four others will be put on display in their damaged condition.

While leaving a massive hole in the middle of the showroom that will take $1 million to fill, Cockriel said the result has been surprising.

"Tourism has been up 67 percent since then," Cockriel revealed, noting a special event to open up the museum’s 3.1-mile motor sports park brought in 10,000 people a day to the museum and lured about 6,000 Corvette owners to display their vehicles.

Cockriel urges people who want to take a day trip to consider the two-hour drive to Bowling Green to see both the Corvette plant and museum. The plant tour requires advance reservations but Corvette Museum tickets can be purchased the day of your visit. It is open seven days a week.