conesare2seconds Dork
5/27/17 4:55 p.m.

The C4 Gathering is held annually at the NCM. Organized by the ZR-1 Net Registry and the Grand Sport Registry the Gathering is open to all C4 enthusiasts and features talks by pivotal figures in C4 history, road tours, touring laps and karting enduros at the NCM Motorsports Park, and historic info about the C4 Corvette. This year's theme was C4 racing. Drove the 94 ZR-1. Mandatory beauty shot of my car in the museum parking lot:


The museum would interest any gearhead but it is Nirvana for the Corvette enthusiast. These dioramas depict the old St. Louis assembly plant and a period Mobil gas station.


The only Corvette personally owned by Zora Arkus Duntov is displayed. Zora commissioned a number of performance updates over the years including EFI. It also wears custom paint and other appearance enhancements.


Here is the C6 ZR1 in which Chevrolet engineer Jim Mero set the 7:26 Nordschleife record. Youtube link to in-car video.


The rare and unusual Guldstrand cars are well represented.


The 2014 cave-in under the Sky Dome was widely reported. GM pledged resources for the damaged cars and several were completely restored. However, others were ultimately written off. This one-off C4 ZR-1 Spyder built by GM was a total loss. Many of its body components were custom made and it was determined less than 50% of the original car would remain if restored so it Is displayed in as-recovered condition. It was badly damaged by falling concrete and the weight of cars on top of it.


Also beyond repair were the heavily-modified 86 Indy Pace car, the white 1.5-millionth C6, a 93 40th-Anniversary car and a custom C6 Z06. Link to story. The restored C6 Blue Devil and the 1992 Millionth car are displayed and several others continue to undergo repairs.


This diorama depicts the car and team that ran the C4 ZR-1 which set the 24-hour speed record in 1990 in Ft. Stockton, Texas. The car was prepared by Tommy Morrison and particpants included GM driver John Heinricy and racers Kim Baker and Stu Hayner. Heinricy and others inside GM such as Dave McClellan used vacation days to participate in the effort becuase GM, fearing bad publicity if the effort wasn't successful, declined to participate or officially support the effort. Morrison recruited Mobil's sponsorship and others brought in EDS but he later estimated the record run cost him $300,000 personally. More info here and here including link to rare footage of the record attempt.


Chris Chesnoe from Callaway Cars was on hand to give a guided tour of the Callaway 35th Anniversary exhibit. Chris offered insights on the historic cars as well as the current Callaway organizations. It was great to see the Sledgehammer again. Sledgehammer set a production car two-way speed record of 254.78 mph in 1988. The Sledgehammer has a full interior, AC and a radio and was driven from Connecticut to the Transportation Research Center facility in Ohio for the record attempt and back. Stories on the Sledgehammer are linked here and here.


Chris also detailed the other cars, which included the first Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette (#1987-001), the purple "Mini-Sledge", a dark blue C12 coupe based on the C5 Corvette, Speedsters featuring custom body work and cut down windshield frames, and a rare LM Superspeedster featuring LeMans front end styling.


  Befitting supercars of the day, some owners elected paint and interiors in wild color schemes very much of the era. Wilton wool carpets and full leather interiors in custom colors were available.  Note the faired-in rearview mirrors on the windshield frame of these Speedsters.



This car was prepared by Callaway in Germany and raced at LeMans and elsewhere. Note the unique front bodywork.


Doug Rippie was a racer and team owner in the Escort, Corvette Challenge and World Challenge days and has had continued success as a builder and supplier of performance parts. Doug was on hand to talk about those series and was candid about the ins and outs of trying to win, especially in the spec days. The later World Challenge cars had more latitude in how they could be prepared. This Rippie-prepared ZR-1 competed in World Challenge under the privateer Pirate Racing banner until 1999 when Doug challenged GM to support the new C5 chassis. Pirate Racing campaigned the C5 for two seasons until GM withdrew its support and brought the C5-R program in-house.

Doug gave a walkaround tour of the car. Here Doug, in the gray shirt, discusses a detail of the ZR-1 with former head of GM Marketing Ralph Kramer.



Also on hand was Robert Pfeffer and a representation of the Morrison cars he now owns and curates. Robert became close to Tommy after purchasing a Morrison car and later came to own most of the surviving examples. Here, Robert discusses a detail of the Andy Pilgrim car.


Robert and Marc Haibeck talk about details of the record-setting Morrison ZR-1.


Other Morrison cars and an early Escort series car were also on hand.


Despite intermittent rain and weather halts, I was able to complete 8 fairly quick laps on the Motorsports Park circuit, which replicates corners on famous racetracks such as the LeMans Porsche Curves and the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. The elevation change on Bowling Green's "Sinkhole" is 40 feet and you enter blind, just as at Laguna Seca. True story: my passenger's surprised reaction to our first encounter with the Sinkhole was a heartfelt "Holy E36 M3!" Happily, the moment was captured on video.   Here is a still:

This was my longest road trip yet in the Z, approximately 1410 miles over six days. As a first-time attendee, I'm kicking myself now for never having made the time for the Gathering and like events in the past and have vowed to make up for lost time by making the most of future opportunities to indulge the Corvette habit. Karting (two 60-minute enduros) was new and a big hit and there is talk of incorporating HPDI in the future. The event theme changes every year so there is much to look forward to.

Spoolpigeon PowerDork
5/27/17 5:30 p.m.

Thanks for the pics! I haven't been to the museum in ages. I need to go back soon.

That also explains the ton of C4s I've seen today.

Ransom PowerDork
5/27/17 5:53 p.m.
conesare2seconds wrote:

There are a lot of interesting and very cool cars in the tour, but I gotta say, this shot shows your car looking really "right". I go back and forth on whether I'd be happy driving a Corvette; I think most are not old and weird enough for my main project car, and too much car for a general semi-daily... But this is a compelling shot.

conesare2seconds Dork
5/27/17 6:17 p.m.

In reply to Ransom:

Thanks! The Z is the 9th C4 I've owned. I have a soft spot for each of the eras and engines, particularly the 88-96 cars. The L98 is a torque monster and a great momentum car for autocross, the LT1 is a smooth customer and the under-rated (in hp) LT4 can really stretch its legs but the LT5 is an altogether different experience than the OHV cars. Most all the LT5 parts are available, though a few are a little scarce. It is also at or near its nadir in desirability which made it very easy to afford, even for my modest means.

Looking back, I might have held off since the timing could have been better, but the ZR-1 joins an '88 Callaway Twin Turbo in my garage. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to own both of the cars that represent the peak of C4 performance when I brought the Z to live with me last year. Certainly the C5/6/7 cars are more refined and practical for regular use but the late C4 interiors are quite nice and the car's lines are still sexy to me and the prettiest modern Vette. Only the purposeful wide bodies of the C6 and C7 Z cars come close to rivaling the earlier car's form, IMO.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
5/27/17 10:02 p.m.

In reply to conesare2seconds:

Wow, sounds like an event I need to try & make, if I can get the Vette in reliable enough condition to make the trip.

Indy-Guy Dork
6/1/17 9:38 p.m.

OOOOooohh that C4 ZR1.... DROOL !

conesare2seconds Dork
3/29/18 1:48 a.m.

Getting ready for the 2018 Gathering in May, re-uploaded pics and fixed all links.  Also added a few shots I'd left out because they have various technical problems. 

Our Preferred Partners