When the National Corvette Museum was founded, part of the educational nonprofit’s mission was to educate the public on Corvette. In 2014 that mission of education was expanded to encompass immersive experiences on-track at the NCM Motorsports Park. Less than four years later the driving side of education was expanded once again with the addition of Andy Pilgrim and the Traffic Safety Education Foundation (TSEF). Today, TSEF, the Museum and Motorsports Park have come together for yet another educational offering.
Andy Pilgrim, an inductee of the Corvette Hall of Fame and former factory team driver for Corvette and Cadillac, serves as track pro and driving coach at the NCM Motorsports Park and has developed a new drivers’ learning area.
“1995 is when I started this give-back project known as the Traffic Safety Education Foundation where I essentially just try and educate young people, parents and drivers’ education teachers,” shared Andy. “Coming to Bowling Green I have worked to develop a community-centered project, a drivers’ safety driving area. Essentially, most parents don’t spend the amount of time they should working with their children on supervised driving time. This area will hopefully encourage parents to come spend some of that supervised driving time here at the NCM Motorsports Park. And if you drive your own car, it’s free to use.”
Andy took the drivers’ learning area idea one step further, proposing to have Corvettes available for student drivers to utilize for a small fee. Jan Rue and Mark Heusinkveld of Cincinnati, OH were the first supporters to come forward and answer the call for help.
“When we put out a call to our enthusiast following, Jan and Mark answered,” said Dr. Sean Preston, President and CEO of the Museum. “I know I would have loved to do my practice driving at a cool racetrack like this and in a Corvette instead of an empty school parking lot in a 1979 Mazda RX7.”
Jan and Mark, members of the Museum, were happy to support a worthwhile project with their donation. The 1999 Arctic White Coupe Corvette was a 60th birthday gift to Jan from Mark.
“We saw the call-out for cars and talked about it,” said Jan. “With COVID, we’ve both recently retired. We used to go to club meetings and things. There are no meetings this year, no events because of COVID. And so, she’s just not getting the driving and the attention that she should be getting. What a perfect thing for youth to be able to learn some safety in such a cool car or group of cars.”
“The gentleman we purchase this from, he was an ex-Air Force mechanic,” shared Jan. “He was so proud of this car. He sent every scrap of paper with this car, memorabilia, every receipt, and he was the third owner of the car. He put an extra coat of wax on it before it would get on the transport truck and then sent us a video of a walk-around of the car before it left Clearwater. He was very proud of his baby and we were very grateful to get it.”
Mark shared that his first Corvette he purchased about 20 years ago – a ’69 Big Block Convertible that he still has. They have also owned a 2013 Grand Sport that they traded in towards a 2019 Corvette (which they drove to Bowling Green for the donation ceremony). Jan is looking forward to ordering a C8 in the next few weeks.
The couple also enjoy other marques including Jan’s daily driver of a 2016 Mustang GT, and Mark has a long history of Camaros before Corvette – including a ’68 Camaro that he still owns. Their involvement with Camaro is what introduced them to the Museum by attending an F-Body event. “I remember one year there was a couples membership offer and I got presented my membership on Valentine’s Day,” shared Jan. The couple have also participated in Kentucky Club Day and the National Corvette Caravan.
The new drivers’ learning area will be available for public use in the coming weeks with the Corvette driving option being added soon thereafter.
“We want to thank Jan and Mark for their donation and hope this inspires other enthusiasts to come forward and support our program designed to create safer drivers on the road and a new generation of Corvette enthusiasts,” added Sean.
Additional details about the offering will be shared on the Motorsports Park’s website as they become available at motorsportspark.org.