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Murray Life Magazine Looking Back

Murray Life Magazine now offers you the chance to relive the past and read full copies of articles you missed. We like to call it "Looking Back" Every other week, we will deliver you a different article that helped make Murray Life Magazine what it is today. From our very first issues in the 90's to today's magazine, we have built a large collection of high quality content, and now we are now sharing it with you one more time.

This time we are flashing back to Summer of 2007, with a story about Bowling Green's Corvette Museum.
Murray Life Magzine



Daytrip to the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky
By Nathan Oliver

Corvette lovers can unite at the sports-car haven known as the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. Since its doors opened in 1994, the NCM has become a main attraction of the city, welcoming more than 140,000 visitors a year and playing host to many Corvette-themed events.

NCM Delivery Manager Gary Cockriel has been a part of the museum since its groundbreaking in June 1992. Cockriel has been around cars most of his life. His father owned and operated a garage, and Cockriel was a founding member of the car club Corvettes Limited of Bowling Green, which began in 1980. He was president of the club for 19 years. Cockriel now serves as the guest services and delivery manager of the museum. “The mission of the museum has always been to preserve the past, present and future of the Corvette, but it has been a long road to get to where we are now,” he said.

The idea for the NCM began when the National Corvette Restorers Society wanted to construct a central place for archives and to showcase the car. A committee made up of NCRS members Terry McManmon, Dan Gale, Jon Brookmyer and Ray Battaglini was created to see that the project was completed. Dan Gale played a central role in getting the project off the ground, Cockriel says, and is featured as one of the most influential people in the Corvette Hall of Fame section of the museum.

“The museum had many problems becoming a reality, from raising money to finding the right location for traffic flow,” Cockriel mentioned. “It is a common misconception, but General Motors does not own the museum. But they do help in many ways, such as donating cars for raffles and display. The museum is owned by the members of NCM, but it is really the public’s museum.”

When it came time to find a place to build the museum, city officials in Bowling Green, along with local banker and current NCM executive director Wendell Strode, offered the committee 32.9 acres just a quarter of a mile from the Corvette plant, which has been producing the car since 1981.

The groundbreaking for the museum took place on June 5, 1992, and its doors opened to the public September 2, 1994. The museum has about 70 cars in its collection. Most are on loan from NCM members and are alternated often to show a wide variety of Corvettes.

“I am most proud to have the only 1983 Corvette and half of another in existence in the collection,” he said. “There were 43 built, and all but one and a half were destroyed. ”In 1983, the Corvette did not meet the emissions and safety regulations for that year, so GM waited and released the car in late 1983 as a 1984 model.

“I am also proud to say we have the one millionth Corvette, which was produced in 1992 and donated to us by GM,” says Cockriel.

The museum has roughly 140,000 to 150,000 visitors each year who come from all over the world, and someone from every state has been to the museum in the past 13 years.

“We also have almost every country represented here,” Cockriel said. “Visitors have come from as far as Sweden, Italy and even Australia.”

Many famous faces have visited the museum, including Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Dale Earnhart Jr. and Dale Earnhart Sr., but every visitor to the museum gets the first-class Corvette treatment, with an extensive tour that begins in the Chevrolet Theater.

“The big-screen presentation gets the visitor’s engine revved and ready to enjoy the exciting tour,” says Bobbie Jo Lee, marketing and communications coordinator for the museum. “The first exhibits after that bring visitors to an area located in Nostalgia Alley, where a series of realistic scenes mirror the Corvette’s early history. You can also stroll down Main Street and visit the mid-century barbershop and the old service station, complete with authentic gas pumps, air tower and garage.”

The next stop on the tour is historic Route 66, often called “America’s Main Street,” followed by the Chevrolet Dealership Showroom, which features classic Corvettes.

“Next, it’s time to talk horsepower as visitors explore Corvette’s racing history in the Performance Area,” Lee said. “The inner wall features a timeline of notable achievements in engineering and performance, and visitors can interact and experience the excitement of racing pits by participating as a member of the Corvette team’s pit crew in the ‘Pit Crew Challenge’ exhibit.”

Next up on the tour is the in-house delivery area, home to a special service the museum offers for new Corvette buyers call R8C. This option allows the new owners to visit the museum and the Corvette plant to see their newly purchased Corvette on display in the delivery area. The car is thoroughly cleaned, and the owner is given a one-on-one orientation with an expert before they take possession.

The R8C option has been available since 1996, and September 22, 2006, marked 5,000 cars delivered to someone at the museum, according to NCM magazine.

“I feel like Santa Claus, being able to deliver a brand new Corvette to someone,” Cockriel says. “I can’t believe I work here, and if I can, I always will.”

There are also plans for an expansion of the museum. They hope to add an additional 50,000 square feet for a library archive to house the large amount of documents and Corvette-related materials. The expansion will also include a 75-seat café, a 400-seat conference center and a permanent home for the Corvette Hall of Fame, according to the NCM website.

“We have not broken ground for the expansion yet,” Cockriel says. “We are still in the fundraising stage. So far, through contributions from enthusiasts and Corvette clubs, we have already received $2.4 million of the projected $12.4 million needed to build. Once it is completed, it will offer so much more to the visitors.”

Cockriel says the museum remains a hidden treasure in western Kentucky.
“Some people still don’t know we exist,” he said. “If you have never been to the museum, come see it. The Corvette is timeless and always on the cutting edge.”


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