Stingray Chevrolet, in Plant City, Florida, hosts the celebration of 40 years of Bill Tower’s ownership of Grand Sport #005
Dateline: 12.4.18 – Photos by K. Scott Teeters – Milestone dates only happen once. In September 2018 I was talking with former Corvette development engineers Bill Tower and said to him, “Bill, do you realize that this December it will be 40 years since you bought your Grand Sport?” Bill sputtered a little and said, “Oh man, now you’re really making me feel old!” I said, “Ain’t we all, Bill!” and we both had a good laugh. Then I said, “You should have a party, or something, Bill.”
Bill thought about it and contacted his friend, Steve Hurley, owner of Stingray Chevrolet (a GREAT name for a Chevy dealership!), and Steve said, “Let’s do it here at the dealership. The 25-foot Christmas tree will be up and we’ll make it great!”
On December 2, 2018 Stingray Chevrolet was all Corvettes to commemorate Bill Tower’s 40th anniversary of ownership of Grand Sport #005, the winning-est of all five 1963 Grand Sport (aka, “The Lightweights”) Corvettes. When word got out, Corvette fans from far and wide said, “We’ll be there!”
The notable guests included retired Sr. VP of Global Design, Ed Welburn, curator from the National Corvette Museum Derek Moore, Grand Sport Registry owners John and Patty Hutchinson, CorvetteBlogger.com editor and owner Keith Cornett, Hendrick Performance infrastructure Manager and lead photographer Larrie Matthews, and nearly 150 Corvette fans.
Ed Welburn talked about his love affair with grand Sport #005 and how a pen & ink illustration of the car helped get him into GMI (General Motors Institute) to become a car designer. Then Stingray Chevrolet owner Steve Hurley interviewed Bill Tower about why the Grand Sport was such an important part of the long tern success of the Corvette. A Q&A session from the audience rounded out the celebration.
I will be authoring an in-depth article about the even for the 2019 February issue of Vette Vues that will be out in early January 2019.
Bill Tower is all-in when it comes to the history of the Corvette and how racing made the car what it is today; a world-class all-American sports car. In the last 20 years the Corvette Racing Team has had 13 championships, including the last three years in a row! (2016, 2017 & 2018) This would not have been possible were it not for the early efforts of Zora Arkus-Duntov and many others, that made sure that Corvette racers had the hardware to be successful against anything the international community of sports racing car had.
Stingray Chevrolet looked stunning! Steve Hurley and his team did a delightful job of decorating the showroom with a spectacular 25-foot tall Christmas tree, decked out with red and gold trim. The showroom was wall-to-wall Corvettes, including production Grand Sports, a 2013 60th Anniversary Corvette, classic Corvettes from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, plus two late model COPY drag racing Camaros. In front of the dealership C7 ZR1s, Z06’s, and Grand Sports stood guard. And by the time the event started at 2pm, the parking area in front of Stingray Chevrolet was filled with Corvettes from the Registry of Grand Sport contingent, as well as friends and fans.
Rain had been forecast but never happened; it was a beautiful Florida day for a Corvette event. And the Corvette eye candy was extraordinary. Special thanks to Steve and Susan Hurley, owners of Stingray Chevrolet for hosting the event, the Stingray Chevrolet team for their assistance with setup on a Sunday, Doug White for his support and setting up the continuous video presentation, and Derrick Moore from the National Corvette Museum for video recording the event. And lastly, Bill and Betty Tower for having the foresight 40 years ago to go out on a limb and buy Grand Sport #005 when they could.
On behalf of the Corvette community, thank you to everyone that made this event happen! – Scott
PS – Bill Tower actually purchased Grand Sport #005 on December 24, 1978 from Dave Erwin in Painted Post, New York.