Corvettes at Carlisle
Venerable 'Vettes to visit Carlisle again
Thursday, August 23, 2007
In 1953, the Corvette roared off a Chevrolet assembly line in Flint, Mich., and into the hearts of American sports car enthusiasts.
Half a century later, the Corvette is still the apex predator among American two-seaters.
"It's the best sports car you can buy for the amount of money you spend," said Dave Walter, a longtime member of the Cumberland Valley Corvette Club based in Carlisle.
The Corvette also has been the primary engine driving Carlisle Events, which stages 10 large-scale car shows each summer at the Carlisle Fairgrounds, drawing more than 500,000 people.
The shows provide showcases for fans of Fords, Chryslers, GMs, trucks, modifieds and motorcycles.
But all are subordinate to Corvettes at Carlisle, which will be staged for the 26th time this weekend. It will include the traditional Corvette parade through downtown Carlisle Saturday evening.
The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., calls Corvettes at Carlisle "the marque's premier national event."
The late Chip Miller, a Corvette lover who co-founded Carlisle Events with his friend Bill Miller, is enshrined in the Corvette Hall of Fame.
"My father was literally sitting on a curb when he found a Corvette magazine, and he just fell in love with them," said son Lance, events manager for Carlisle Events.
Lance Miller inherited his father's passion for Corvettes and has a remarkable collection of them, including a race-prepared yellow 'Vette driven by stock car legend Dale Earnhardt just two weeks before he was killed in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500.
The car bears Earnhardt's trademark No. 3 and is thought to be the only race car driven by both Earnhardt and his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It looks fast, even parked.
"The sound of the engine is almost scary," said Lance Miller.
The collection also includes a 1953 Corvette with just 9,200 miles on it -- the lowest known mileage on a '53 'Vette in the world, according to Lance Miller -- and a 1960 model that was the first 'Vette ever to win at LeMans.
A handful of Lance Miller's 'Vettes will be part of the weekend show, which will feature thousands of the vehicles.
Walter and his 'Vette-loving wife, Sally, will attend in their 2007 Corvette. They will be joined by many of the club's 250 members.
"It's the mecca," Walter, a retired electrician, said. "There are bigger shows, but this is the show that has everything."
Mostly, it's a great place to ogle rare and beautiful Corvettes.
For example, General Motors is providing some rarely seen Corvettes from its Heritage collection, including a 1993 40th anniversary maroon ZR-1.
In addition, about 160 Corvettes will be auctioned Friday and Saturday at Carlisle Expo Center near the fairgrounds.
Of interest at this year's show is the 1957 model Corvette, which is 50 years old. A special collection of first-rate examples of the model will be displayed in a huge tent on the show field.
Missing will be Chip Miller's beloved 1957 Corvette, which was sold at auction for $135,000 to benefit the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation.
The foundation funds research and awareness programs for amyloidosis, a rare and incurable group of organ diseases caused by the buildup of abnormal proteins known as amyloid. Miller died from complications of the disease in March 2004 at age 61.
"We miss that car, but it went for a good cause," Lance Miller said.
DAVID N. DUNKLE: 255-8266 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I arrived in Carlisle this afternoon. God it feels good to be home again!
Silent auction a tribute to late Carlisle Events co-founder.
By Heather Stauffer
August 25, 2007
The Sentinel Online
Last updated: Saturday, August 25, 2007 12:30 AM EDT
It wasn't just the sleek, shiny Corvettes that made Ellen Delaney smile Friday.
Sitting beneath a canopy in the middle of Carlisle Fairgrounds, Delaney wore a pink T-shirt sporting a heart and the words “Life is good.” That, she said, was the favorite slogan of her big brother, the late Chip Miller, who would have been thrilled at the cars, the people ... and the silent auction in his memory.
“This was Chip's favorite event,” Delaney said of Corvettes at Carlisle, which today is one of many automotive events sponsored by Carlisle Events. It wasn't a surprise, she said, when her brother joined with his good friend Bill Miller to start the company. He bought his first car before he was 16 and was a lifelong enthusiast.
What was a surprise, she said, was discovering in late 2003 that Chip had amyloidosis. The rare disease is caused by the abnormal accumulation of protein molecules in body tissues, she said, and currently there is no known cure. Less than four months after his condition was diagnosed, she said, Chip Miller died.
But that wasn't the end of the story, because Chip and his family had decided that there had to be a way to use his passion to fight the disease that claimed his life. The result was the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation, which exists to raise awareness of amyloidosis and funds to research it.
In the past, Delaney said, fundraisers for the foundation have taken the form of live auctions during Corvettes at Carlisle. Her brother donated at least two Corvettes to be auctioned, she said, and literature from the foundation indicated that so far, results from all the efforts total more than $300,000.
“This is the first time we tried the silent auction,” she said, standing behind a long table filled with items people could write down bids for until noon Saturday. “That's the amazing part of this: People give these things just because of the way they felt about Chris.”
“These things” included numerous signed memorabilia, two miniature Corvettes carved in mahogany and a guitar signed by “American Idol” contestant Chris Daughtry. Nearby, a sign invited passersby to “Be one of the few to own this special Corvette guitar signed by the GM engineers.”
Among the people inspecting the items were Chris and Cindy Meyers, who drove from Indiana to be in the area for the show. Although they hadn't known Chip personally, they said they had bid on several of the items in an attempt to raise the prices.
“You don't go to an auction to get a bargain,” said Cindy Meyers, and her husband said, “At least not this kind of an auction.”
But despite that, they said, they wanted to lend their assistance in the battle against amyloidosis.
“We had an acquaintance who had the same disease,” said Cindy Meyers, adding that happily, their friend survived. Still, they said, the friend had been a strong man who played football in college, and his illness was sobering.
On a more pleasant subject, the Meyers said they've been coming to the Corvette shows for five or six years and enjoy both seeing the cars and getting to visit other area attractions. They own two Corvettes - both black, one a 1963 model and one a 1967 model - but said they didn't drive them to the show because the distance was too great.
Reading resident Kevin Messner, who was also voting on several items, had a different reason for not driving one of his ‘Vettes to the show.
“We'd like to but we had three (people), so we couldn't,” he said, explaining that both his 1991 and 2000 Corvettes are coupes. Miller said he hadn't met Chip but did know his son, Lance Miller, who is now filling Chip's role at the show. It was at this, the largest Corvette show in the United States, that he bought his first Corvette back in 1989, he said, and he's been coming ever since.
Several years ago, Messner said, his club, Skyline Drive Corvettes, drove up to the Millers' garage to see their collection of Corvettes and was quite impressed.
There were 18, he said, nine on the floor and another nine on lifts.
Even that wasn't the end of Chip Miller's passion for the cars. Back at the registration booth, Delaney turned to Chip's granddaughter, 9-year-old Lexie Gundersen, and asked if she remembered the little Corvette Chip had bought her to ride in parades.
At first Lexie didn't, but then the memory shone across her face. It had been a pedal car, she said, and she thought she still had it, in a basement somewhere.
“This thing is a family affair,” said Delaney, explaining that she and her husband drove from Toledo, Ohio, to be at this year's show, primarily because of the auction. Other family members were scattered across the grounds, she said, and it was neat for all of them to see what had become of Chip's cherished avocation that later became a world-famous vocation.
When Chip first bought the fairgrounds, Delaney said, “The townpeople were not in favor of it.” But gradually, she said, as he and his partner worked with the community and the shows began to gain fame, that situation changed, and now she appreciates being able to feel the support from all the goodwill her brother's life inspired.
“We talked with everyone and anyone,” she said. “I hear so many stories, personal stories.”
Asked if the foundation had a fund-raising goal for the auction, Delaney smiled and said, “As much as possible!” As people kept coming by the table, registering and writing down their names by ever-increasing figures, it seemed that that might happen.
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