Corvettes At Carlisle Celebrates 40 Years Of Fiberglass Fun

For Corvette enthusiasts, the last weekend in August is always reserved. That is when enthusiasts from around the globe focus on a small Pennsylvania town synonymous with automotive fun. Corvettes at Carlisle is just one of many events that come to this town each year. This year Corvettes at Carlisle celebrated 40 years of appreciation for GM’s supercar. The event is considered “the grandest Corvette event anywhere on the planet” and “the largest Corvette show in the world.” To help drive that fact home, you’ll find attendees from Canada, England, Germany, and even Australia during any Corvettes at Carlisle weekend.

Building A 40-Year Foundation

Chip Miller co-founded Carlisle Events and is a National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame member. Chip guided the development of Corvettes at Carlisle for twenty-two years until he contracted Amyloidosis, a rare disease that occurs when a protein called Amyloid builds up in the body’s organs. Chip succumbed to the disease on March 25, 2004. The Miller family, along with close family friends, including Chip’s best friend and co-founder of Carlisle Events Bill Miller, founded the Chip Miller Amyloidosis Foundation (CMAF), of which Lance Miller, Chip’s son, is president. The Foundation aims to help those with the disease get treatment and find a cure.

Lance (Left), along with co-founder and co-owner Bill Miller (Right), has taken control of the management and development of Carlisle Events. Recently Lance’s daughter Ella (Center), herself a devout auto enthusiast, has been involved with events, including Corvettes at Carlisle. That makes three generations of owners/Corvette enthusiasts participating in the development and presentation of the event.

Chip’s Choice is an annual Corvettes at Carlisle display in honor of Chip, featuring some of the most impressive and outstanding Corvettes. Lance Miller chooses the Corvettes in the exhibition each year. This year’s Chip’s Choice highlighted race car builder Pratt and Miller’s factory C5.R, C6.R, and C7.R Corvette race cars championed around the globe by talented drivers such as Dale Earnhardt and his son Dale Jr., Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin, and many others. Lance’s chassis number 004 C5.R was included in the display and was driven by both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Senior at the 2001 Rolex 24-Hours of Daytona endurance race. Other featured Corvette displays included Callaway Cars’ 35th anniversary C8 Corvette and the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Corvette.

The NCRS Gallery featured a stunning presentation of C1 and C2 Corvettes.

It’s About The Cars & The People

It is estimated that more than 6,000 Corvettes come to Carlisle for the Corvettes at Carlisle event. Many of those Corvettes belong to Corvette club members, and there were some 29 clubs in attendance this year. The top three clubs in terms of the number of Corvettes in attendance receive an award. The top three clubs were: Grand Sport Registry with 103 Corvettes, ZR1 Net Registry with 68 Corvettes, and ‘63-67 Stingray Registry with 63 Corvettes.

Carlisle events are always a great way for clubs and groups of enthusiasts to catch up each year. Many clubs have tents they use as a "home base" for their members.

In addition to Corvette clubs and displays, the foundation of Corvettes at Carlisle lies in the hundreds of vendors for new and used parts and services, such as Zip Products, Corvette Central, and Al Knoch. There are so many vendors selling their wares on blue tarps in the swap meet that an enthusiast could build from scratch a C1 through a C4 Corvette with bodies, chassis, parts, and services from these sources.

The Corvette Mechanic, Paul Koerner, instructs owners and enthusiasts during one of his seminars.

Knowledge is power, and Corvettes at Carlisle presents a list of free seminars covering various topics each year. “The Corvette Mechanic” Paul Koerner, a GM World-Class Certified Technician and Field Service Representative for GM, conducted a series of mechanical seminars covering general questions and answers, diagnostics, powertrain components, and a look at what is on the horizon for Corvette engines. His late-model-based seminars were packed and much appreciated by the attendees.

A C8-Heavy Presence

With over 30 Chevrolet and GM officials participating in the event, Team Chevrolet had a massive presence on the midway in celebration of Corvette’s 70th anniversary. There were multiple displays of the standard C8 Stingray and the C8 Z06.

Attendees had a chance to see the new Z06 up close and check out the inner workings of the 670 horsepower, naturally-aspirated LT6 engine.

The highlight of the 40th-anniversary celebration of Corvettes at Carlisle was Thursday afternoon’s Team Chevrolet walk-around presentation of the 70th-anniversary edition of the C8 Z06. Harlan drove the Z06 into the area in front of the stage, and before shutting down the Z06, he hit the accelerator multiple times, bringing the grandstand crowd to their feet and shouting with an incredible roar. Once the crowd settled down, Harlan presented some of the Z06’s latest news items, including the Z06’s 0-60 mph time of 2.6 seconds, awards, and the unique interior of the 70th-anniversary Z06. Josh discussed the powertrain aspects of the Z06, emphasizing the flat plane, 32-valve, 670hp, DOHC, V8 LT6 engine, and the cooling system specifically designed for the Z06. He also covered the Z06’s oversized wheels and tires as well as its braking system. Kirk gave an overview of how the wider body of the Z06 differs from the standard Stingray. After the presentation, the grandstand attendees came down for a question-and-answer session with the Corvette Team members.

Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles, Vehicle Corvette Chief Engineer Josh Holder, and Exterior Design Manager Kirk Bennion, in front of the Carlisle stage and grandstand.

As the saying goes, “all good things come to an end.” The 40th anniversary of Corvettes at Carlisle ended Saturday night with a parade of Corvettes, led by Lance Miller and Bill Miller in their C1 Corvettes. The procession left the fairgrounds to downtown Carlisle where they parked in the square so interested locals and enthusiasts could see them up close and personal. A street party commenced in full force, featuring a live band and local restaurants packed to the brim.

Corvette was “Born in the USA” as the brainchild of GM’s head designer, Harley Earl, and nurtured by its first chief engineer and National Corvette Hall of Fame Members Zora and Elfi Duntov. They guided Corvette onto the world stage, and with the help of the Corvette community, into what it is today – a World-class supercar. And each year, a small town in Central Pennsylvania chooses to celebrate it in the grandest of ways!

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About the author

Carl Zander

Carl has been deeply involved with Corvettes since he purchased a '61 Corvette in 1964 and has been restoring Corvettes since 1976. He owns a 1966 and 1967 Corvette, both big blocks, and a 1990 ZR-1.
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