Riding the South

The blog of Scott and Jenny Morris
  • What: National Corvette Museum
  • Where: 350 Corvette Drive, Bowling Green, Kentucky, 66 miles north of Nashville off Interstate 65
  • When: Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Cost: $10 adults, $8 adults, $6 youths, under 6 and active military free. Plant tours ($10 adults, $5 ages 6-16), with reservations recommended

Little red Corvette

vs. big white Buick

By Scott Morris

The irony of driving a Buick Century to the National Corvette Museum was too tempting to pass up.

Imagine your great aunt’s dream car vs. the iconic American sports car.

Daughter No. 1, who works with Teach for America in Cincinnati, usually drives the dependable old Buick. When she decided to come home for a few weeks of rest and recuperation this summer, my job was to bring her car back to Alabama.

Driving a Buick Century is like relaxing in a big comfortable leather sofa while watching a documentary about vanilla extract. When you turn the steering wheel, nothing much happens. When you press the accelerator, nothing much happens. When you hit the brakes, nothing much happens.

After hours behind the wheel of the Buick, I needed some automotive excitement.

So I pulled into the museum across the street from Chevrolet’s Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

When it comes to sports cars, I confess I’m like former President Jimmy Carter. I am faithful to the family sedan, but I have lust in my heart.

I paid the $10 entrance fee and started the tour by watching a short documentary about the history of the Corvette. The first model from 1953 was all show and not much go. Then, Zora Arkus-Duntov got involved and developed the Corvette into a fast and agile machine. Soon, it was the darling of racetracks everywhere.

Arkus-Duntov loved the Corvette so much that his and his wife’s ashes are part of a special exhibit at the museum. His blue Corvette Stingray sits nearby.

In all, the museum features more than 80 Corvettes in period settings, including the little red Corvette that singer Roy Orbison owned.

You might recall the museum was in the news in 2014 after its Skydome collapsed into a giant sinkhole. The cave below swallowed eight sports cars, but didn’t hurt anyone because it happened before business hours.

The episode, which was captured by security cameras, is now a major exhibit, including the mangled cars, which are still covered in red dirt.

If you are lucky enough to order a new Corvette, you can have it delivered to you at the museum in a special exhibit that includes your name and the car model you bought. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an extra $55,400 — the basic price — in my pocket, but I did register to win a Vette.

When I left the museum, I noticed a circular drive out front reserved for Corvettes. After glancing around for security officers, I pulled up behind the sports cars and snapped a photo of the old white Buick in the winner’s circle. Then, I sped away, leaving the Corvettes in my dust.