Carlisle: Fine cars, fine weather
Fine cars, fine weather
An enthusiastic crowd turned out for this year’s Corvette parade, which unlike last year’s did not end stormily.
By Heather Stauffer, The Sentinel Online - August 24, 2008
Last updated: Monday, August 25, 2008 7:45 AM EDT
Rich Cinminello of Bayonne, N.J. completes last minute touches on his 1977 Corvette prior to the start of the Corvette Parade in Carlisle on Saturday. Matthew Harris/Special to the Sentinel
Carlisle, PA - Spectators and participants in Carlisle’s Corvette parade shared two emotions Saturday: excitement, and relief that this year they didn’t face a stormy ending.
“It was horrible,” said Connecticut resident Bill Breski of what happened a year ago. He and some friends who come to Corvettes at Carlisle every year had been in the parade, he said, and they had just finished when Carlisle was visited with ferocious wind and rain.
“It happened so quick,” Breski said. Before they knew it, he said, a tree had hit the convertible his friend and fellow Connecticut resident Larry Arpin was driving.
“We were very fortunate,” Breski said. Somehow, he said, both their cars escaped without serious damage, as did Arpin. And, he said, when they got back to the ravaged fairgrounds, they found their tent standing tall amid many that were downed.
“It looked like a war zone,” Arpin said. But, they said, despite the damage that a number of cars and stands sustained, they were glad to hear later that no one had been seriously injured. In all the many years they have been coming to the show, they said, that was the worst weather they have seen.
This year, though, the two appeared to have put all that behind them as they prepared to drive to downtown Carlisle under a sky nearly as sunny as the Velocity hue of Breski’s 2006 ZO6 Corvette.
“The parade is wonderful,” Breski said. “We go to shows all over New England, and nothing holds a candle to this. It’s kind of the Corvette mecca.”
But, he said, he wouldn’t be doing any heroics during the parade.
“This car is actually a little dangerous,” Breski said. “I’ll rev it some, but I’m not going to let the clutch out.”
Arpin, who has owned seven Corvettes, was driving a ruby red 1968 convertible in honor of its 40th anniversary. Like Breski, he said, he likes driving his Corvette.
“I’ll be back every year,” Arpin said. “This is the epitome of being a Corvette owner.”
Further back in the field was fellow Connecticut resident and Corvette aficionado Al Dubien, preparing to drive his silver blue metallic 1958 Corvette.
“I’ve had this for 33 years,” Dubien said. Bringing it to Carlisle for the first time this year was especially meaningful, he says, because it was here that he got many of the parts he needed to get the car in the condition it is now.
Furthermore, he says, the car was selected as the Lady’s Choice of Michele Miller in the Fun Field Celebrity Contest.
“I’m thrilled,” Dubien said. His plans for the parade, he said, were to “wave to people and enjoy the time.”
Like most people there, Dubien said, his fascination with Corvettes is still very much alive.
“I guess what it is is the shape, the mystique, the name,” he said. “The old ones are really my fancy.”
That the drivers weren’t the only ones looking forward to the parade was evident by the number of people who massed outside the fairgrounds a full 45 minutes before it was scheduled to start. Others, like Theresa and Douglas Stum of Newville, gathered on High Street to watch the cars make their way to the square.
“They’re cars,” said Zach Stum, 6, who had never seen the parade before. He was hoping to see a red one with black stripes, he said, and with prompting from his mother he revealed the other thing he was looking for: a teacher from his preschool, who would be riding with her husband in the parade.
His brother, Kyle Rhoads, 11, said he was looking forward to the show even though Corvettes weren’t at the top of his list of dream cars.
“They’re about fourth,” he said. “My favorite kind of car is a Dodge Viper.”
But for Carlisle residents Roger and Sandy Spitz, nothing compares to a ‘Vette.
“I’ve got a Corvette in my garage,” Roger Spitz said. They don’t drive the silver 1985 model much around town, he said, but they like to take it on vacations.
“I’ve always liked Corvettes, starting back in the early 60s,” he said. “We’ve talked about selling it,” Sandy Spitz said, but every time they drive it they change their minds and buy a new accessory for it instead.
And, Sandy Spitz said, they also like the parade and the general air of excitement that hits the area when the Corvette show comes to town.
“We’re just hoping it’s not like last year,” she said of the weather. But then, she said, threatening skies may not have made a difference in the turnout.
“I doubt that anything will stop a Corvette person,” she said.
As always, Carlisle was awesome this year.
I flew in late Thursday morning, but unfortuately, had to attend a wake that evening and a funeral the next morning up near Hazleton, so I was only able to make it to the Fairgrounds on Saturday.
The weather was perfect and not sweltering hot like it normally is this time of year. It also seemed like attendance was down somewhat, and probably due to the state of the economy this year, but it was still very busy never the less.
GM brought several ZR1s in different colors and I had a chance to actually sit in the red one. Once I got in, I asked my buddy to shut the hood and see if he could get the Cyber Gray ZR1 moved out of the way from in front. Everyone just stood their laughing. Not sure why. I was serious.
What a great car! Year after year, I'm amazed at the level of comfort and refinement of the Corvette over my 1990.
I always thought I liked the Cyber Gray ZR1 more than the other colors....then I thought I liked the blue ZR1 better...then the yellow....then the red. I actually couldn't decide which one I liked better. I think I actually settled on the red one. I'm not really sure why, but probably because my '90 ZR-1 is red and the red 2009 would make a good stable mate.
Overall, I like the design of the ZR1. The design feature I think I actually like the most are the side gills. Very cool.
While some folks may dispute the see through window in the hood, I really like it. I wasn't sure how I'd like seeing the blue coming through the hood on the ZR1s painted red and yellow, but I actually thought it looked great; kind of like "The Heart of the Blue Devil".
Around 2pm on Saturday, the Carlisle folks brought retired Corvette Plant Manager, Wil Cooksey on stage with GM's Tom Hill and Harlan Charles. They said a few words about Wil's career at GM and Corvette and everyone gave Wil a round of applause to congratulate him on his retirement. Wil may be retired, but I have a feeling we'll continue to see him frequently on the Corvette circuit.
Tom Hill and Harlan Charles then conducted a walk-around of the 2009 ZR1. Check for this video to be posted shortly on VetteTube.com.
Again this year, I was one of the Celebrity Judges that got the opportunity to pick our favorite Corvette from the Fun Field.
While this sounds like a pretty easy task, it's actually pretty difficult! When you have Corvettes covering ground as far as the eye can see - 360 degrees around....and you have to pick just one out of all of those, it's not easy!!
I usually spend at least two hours walking around as many Corvettes as I can before I make a decision. This year I chose a modified, black 1970 Corvette coupe. I saw this car in the parking lot of the hotel, but never had a chance to talk to the owner. Everytime I drove by the car, either during the day, or at night under the flood lights, this particular Corvette kept catching my eye.
The modifications he made to the car were tastefully done and with the beautiful black paint, gave the car an ominous, aggressive appearance.
One of the things I look forward to at Carlisle is hitting the vendors and hunting for any kind of rare documentation or tech info that I can add to the Tech Section here at the Corvette Action Center. This year did not disappoint!
All in all, it was another great Corvettes at Carlisle and I'm already looking forward to next year.
Lance: As always, awesome job this year!!
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