Corvettes here, there, and everywhere. CORVETTES as far as the eye can see!
It all began on September 26, 1974 when friends Bill and Chip Miller rented the Carlisle Fairgrounds for their first old car parts swap meet. Some 600 vendors rented 800 spaces and over 13,000 car enthusiasts paid $1.00 each to attend. Year after year, Chip and Bill kept improving their operation. In 1981 the Millers bought the 82-acre parcel of land and not only created a local landmark, but established an enterprise that brings in $97 Million dollars to the local economy. Carlisle, Pa has never been the same since!
Being Corvette enthusiasts to begin with, Chip and Bill didn’t need much coaxing to launch a Corvette-only show in August 1981. Over 25,000 Corvette lovers attended to see over 2,000 Corvettes, and a new Corvette tradition was born. Since then everyone who’s anyone in the world of Corvettes has been to the Carlisle show: Zora Arkus-Duntov, Dave Mclellan, Dave Hill, Larry Shinoda, Wil Cooksey. race car drivers including, John Fitch, Mario Andretti, Dick Guldstrand, Tony Delorenzo, artists including Dana Forrester, Dan McCrary, and the list goes on and on.
If you have never been to the Carlisle, let me describe the facility. The first thing that you are aware of is that the place is HUGE! Carlisle is located in the rolling hills of south east Pennsylvania in what is known as “Pennsylvania Dutch Country.” The town of Carlisle dates back to 1751, but is most known for the Carlisle War College that dates back to 1904. Carlisle is also known for the Carlisle Indian Industrial School that was started in 1879. After you enter the fairground, if you look around, you’ll see that the facility is situated in a very large bowl-shaped area. For the Corvettes show, Carlisle productions only allows Corvettes to park in the infield. So, when you are inside, all you see are CORVETTES. Aside from a few trucks and support vehicles, everywhere you look, you see CORVETTES. After four or five hours, it’s sensory overload. “Oh look! Ah, just another ZR1!”
Building T is where you’ll find the “Chip’s Choice” feature Corvettes. Every year there’s a different theme. For 2011 the theme was “Corvette Barn Finds.” Everyone loves a good barn find story, so why not a collection a lost and found old Vettes – patina dirt and everything. In previous years Chip’s Choice has featured Corvette race cars, movie cars, retro rod Vettes, and more. If you are in the market to buy a Corvette, there’s Auctions America by RM that offers auction action with full-service transaction completion services. Yes, you can buy a Vette at Carlisle and drive it home!
The ONLY thing I can fault the event for is that it’s SO BIG that you are totally exhausted by the end of what is often a warn-to-hot and humid day. If you are in the market for a car to buy, parts for your project Corvette, or you just want to soak in the sights, sounds, and history of Corvettes, this is THE Corvette show to attend if you are on the east coast. One thing I have noticed in the 15 years I have been attending the Corvettes at Carlisle Show is that if seems that every year, the number of C1 and C2 Corvettes gets a little smaller as the number of C5 and C6 Corvettes seems to get bigger. Oh well.
It’s also worth noting that the Corvettes at Carlisle event has not gone unnoticed by Chevrolet. “Carlisle Blue” will be a one-year-only addition to the Corvette paint color option list. Not only is this a delightful “thank you” to the work of the Carlisle Productions team, it is in keeping with Chevrolet’s tradition of honoring locations or events of importance in the Corvette world. In the past we have seen Lynndale Blue, Daytona Blue, Le Mans Blue, Mulsanne Blue, and others. Now “Carlisle Blue” is officially in the Corvette history books as another place of honor for the Corvette hobby. It doesn’t get much cooler than that! – Scott
PS – I took hundreds of photos that I’ll be posting in a new section we’ll be launching called, “Vette Shows.”
Here’s the TV commercial for the 2008 Corvettes at Carlisle event.