It was a busy year for the ‘Home of Corvette’ as both the National Corvette Museum and NCM Motorsports Park experienced increased attendance. The Museum welcomed 228,363 visitors in 2016, a 3.5% increase over 2015’s numbers while the NCM Motorsports Park also saw an increase over 2015’s visitation, welcoming over 57,000 visitors. The facility opened in September of 2014.
The numbers for 2016 mark the Museum’s second highest in history, the top attendance being achieved in 2014 with the now famous Corvette swallowing sinkhole taking most of the credit for the spike.
“We are still feeling the effects of that unfortunate event, to where perhaps in many ways it was actually more of a positive for the Museum,” said Wendell Strode, Executive Director. “Last year, on the second anniversary of the sinkhole, we opened a new interactive exhibit called ‘Corvette Cave-In’. The display tells the story of what happened, why it happened, how the Museum recovered, as well as educational elements on caves and our karst landscape. The interactive and hands-on elements have been quite popular with our visitors. And, of course, we still have all eight ‘sinkhole Corvettes’ on display, six of them exactly how they were when they were pulled from the hole,” added Strode.
Other highlights for 2016 include the addition of a Maintenance and Preservation area in the Museum where guests can observe on-going work being performed on museum-owned vehicles. Occasionally the door is raised and visitors get the opportunity to watch and interact with the staff performing vehicle maintenance.
“We are excited to now have a dedicated space, and talented mechanic on staff to help with the on-going upkeep of not only the Museum cars, but also the cars we use on the track at the Motorsports Park,” said Strode. “In 2016 we had nine Corvettes donated to the Museum, bringing our total to 79 Museum-owned Corvettes. We are working to roll out a program to offer rides in some of these classics starting this year.”
Across the interstate at the NCM Motorsports Park, the Holley Control Tower and Winding Road Race Shop opened in July, offering nearly 15,000 square feet of functional space. Meeting rooms and classrooms are available for private rentals, a second floor viewing deck offers a birds-eye view of track activity, and the new retail space provides everything from t-shirts to track gear.
“This summer, not only did all of our rental clients report increased participation in their high-performance driving schools and other recreational motorsports events, but we were also able to get involved with promoting the motorsports hobby to local high school and vo-tech students through the Bowling Green Area Chamber,” said Mitch Wright, General Manager. “The new ‘On-Track’ program saw two schools, the Warren County Advanced Technical Center (high school) and the Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College, each rebuild a car from the ground up and turn it into a track-worthy competitor. It was energizing to see what these kids could do, as well as the friendly competition between the two cars at the Holley LS Fest. We were happy to play a small role in spreading the love of motorsports,” added Wright.
Currently, the Museum is celebrating 30 years of Callaway Corvettes with a special display in the Exhibit Hall. Event season at the Museum officially kicks off April 27-29, 2017 with the Michelin NCM Bash – marketing the debut of the 2018 Corvette, seminars, road tours, car shows and more. Track season officially goes into high gear in March. Learn more about upcoming events, exhibits and plan your next visit at corvettemuseum.org and motorsportspark.org.