Mike Yager, founding father...
Mike Yager, founding father of Mid America. In addition to being a part of the Corvette Challenge panel discussion, Yager could be found autographing copies of his Corvette Bible, presenting the Celebrity Choice awards, and generally serving as the host of Funfest.
It also puts you in the same place with some truly unbelievable cars, such as the new ZR1, which GM engineers brought to Funfest in triplicate. Not only did the good folks from GM show off the supercharged, 638hp beast in walk-around tech briefings, but they also offered rides. This went over swimmingly until one of the ZR1s--the yellow one, predictably--was pulled over during a demo. I don't know the exact speed, but word on the street was that it was running about a hundred...over.
Editor Jay Heath referred to this event in a previous issue as possibly apocryphal. Being of an inquisitive mind myself, I did my best to ascertain the actual facts of the encounter. Mike Yager referred to the exact speed as "about a buck over," high enough to make it what Illinois law refers to as a "general offense" (read: jail time). Although I later overheard the passenger who was in the car at the time say they were doing 120, I decided that going straight to the source--the driver, whose name I'm not printing here--would be best.
Yager mans the autograph table,...
Yager mans the autograph table, flanked by super-tuner Reeves Callaway (left) and Vehicle Line Executive Tom Wallace. Other luminaries on hand included Bowling Green Assembly Plant Manager Paul Graham, race legend Bob Bondurant, former Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McLellan, and Corvettes at Carlisle honcho Lance Miller.
He shrugged when I asked him what happened. "You know, it's a ZR1. They wanted to know about the car."
"How fast were you going?"
"I don't know, I was watching the road." He raised his hands helplessly. "That's what you're supposed to do, right?"
With all of the seminars and exhibitors--and the tours of Mid America's Performance Choice manufacturing facility and the MY Garage Museum--it's tough to take the time to simply walk down the rows and rows of Corvettes parked side-by-side. But it's something worth doing; you'll see every generation, from stock, fully restored C1s to restomods that have virtually no actual Corvette parts in them. You can always pony up the $20 for a helicopter ride that will circle you around the area and give you a bird's-eye view, but it's in getting right there next to them that you get a real sense of the broad variety of Corvettes that show up.
The new ZR1 was one of the...
The new ZR1 was one of the stars of the show. GM engineers provided both walk-arounds of the car as well as rides--all well and good until that nasty incident with the Sheriff's deputy.
Not only do you get to see what others have done with their cars, there's also the opportunity for your car to be recognized, because walking with you down those aisles will likely be one of the celebrity judges. Made up of members of the motoring press and a variety of VIPs from the hobby, the judges get to pick their favorite cars from those who attend, and their selections are announced at the end of every day. From a beautifully restored '54 that was trailered there to a supercharged Callaway C6 Pace Car, the cars selected are as individual as the owners who created them and the judges that chose them (look for an upcoming article on the '68 restomod selected by Editor Heath).
Watching the proud owners as they receive their awards from Mike Yager, you get a new sense of what this event--and the hobby--is all about. Steve Wiedman put it best when we were talking about the Corvette Challenge cars: "It's about the people. It revolves around the cars, but it's really about the people."
Special thanks to Ed Baumgarten, Valerie Corrie, Lori Worman, and Mike and Laurie Yager.
Celebrity Choice awards were...
Celebrity Choice awards were handed out at the end of each day. My personal pick, this restomodded '58 featured C4 running gear under a clean, well-thought-out C1 body and interior--a very impressive piece of work.
Yager presents Jeff Barnett...
Yager presents Jeff Barnett with a Celebrity Choice award for his '68 custom. Stay tuned for an upcoming article on the freshly built shark, which was selected by Editor Heath. (That's him with the gray shirt and matching hair.)
Corvette culture is about...
Corvette culture is about nothing if not patriotism. This C4 tribute car is dedicated to the victims and heroes of 9/11 as well as the owner's Christian faith and military service in Vietnam.