What do you call a gathering of more than 15,000 Corvettes representing all six generations back to 1953? The annual Vette Funfest hosted by the Yager family of Effingham, Illinois. The Yagers, owners of Mid America Motorworks (a leading supplier of Corvette parts), welcomed some 45,000 Corvette enthusiasts for the 2011 event earlier this month.
The highlight of the four-day party was Saturday evening's concert under the stars performed by Don Felder. The former Eagle thrilled the audience with an energetic 90-minute set composed of hits with the legendary band and his own solo compositions.
Fans of America's sports car should mark their calendars for next year's Funfest, scheduled for 14-16 September. The 2012 event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the split-window 1963 Corvette Stingray.
One of the big hits of the 2011 Corvette Funfest was the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. Did you know this unique vehicle has a direct link to the Corvette? The hot dog on wheels is powered by a 454-cubic-inch Chevy V8, something it shares with big-block Corvettes of the Sixties and Seventies.
On Thursday night's Fun Run Road Tour through the farmlands surrounding Effingham, Illinois, I had the pleasure of taking it all in from the passenger seat of Gregory Klein's 1996 Collector Edition Corvette, the last year of the C4 generation.
Believe it or not, this 502-powered 1967 Corvette has traveled more than 500,000 miles. It is owned by Dennis and Cindy Monire of Titusville, Florida.
Owned by breast cancer survivor Anita Wilhelm of Terre Haute, Indiana, this Corvette pays tribute to the women who fight the deadly disease. Picked by Mid America's Mike Yager (in the straw hat), Anita is joined by MC Keith Martin of the Corvette Market Letter and noted Corvette tuner Ken Lingenfelter.
While attending the Funfest, many owners took advantage of the opportunity to have their Vettes upgraded on site under the Install Dome. Custom trim, intakes, interior trim, wheels and tires, and exhaust systems were all available for immediate installation during the four-day event.
The technicians from Corsa install a new exhaust system in a C6 Corvette.
In a second enormous arena, dubbed the Fundome, attendees browsed among a huge selection of accessories and apparel for sale.
With the Corvette assembly plant just four hours south in Bowling Green, Kentucky, it was not a surprise to see a truckload of 2012 Corvettes on display. Next stop, Chevy dealers from coast to coast.
One of the celebrity award winners from Friday's judging, this 1961 Corvette owned by Gary Dempze of Rudolph, Wisconsin was a crowd favorite as well.
Of the three pink Corvettes I spotted at Funfest, the one owned by Tina Thompson of Guthrie, Kentucky was the boldest. Unlike with many enthusiast cars, it is not unusual to find a woman behind the wheel of a Vette, not just in the passenger seat.
Corvette owners are not afraid to show their patriotism, as exemplified here on the 1998 Private Malone Edition Corvette owned by Clair Steiner.
Ron Williams brought this C5 Corvette to Funfest. It sports a CRC body that emulates the look of the early, single-headlight C1 Vettes.
Linda Walker of Saint Peters, Missouri attended Funfest with her 1978 Pace Car Edition Corvette, one of 6,502 built that year.
The great thing about Corvette Funfest is always the variety of Corvettes on display--stock, restored, and customized. Here is a modified Seventies Corvette from Terry and Kitty Cramer from Conklin, Michigan.
Seen by some as Corvettes in drag, and by others as the Corvette's ultra-lux cousin, the Bowling Green-built Cadillac XLR roadsters were invited and welcomed to the Corvette Funfest for the first time.
Laura Larsen of Crescent City, Illinois, a member of the Lucky Duck Corvette Club, was awarded the Serious Corvette Collector celebrity award, presented by Bob Patrella, for her 1970 Vette.
Jay Heath of Vette Magazine picked this year's top C6, a red Z06 owned by Tom Bottoms of Paducah, Kentucky.
My choice (there I am, second from right) as the best of show was this 1964 Corvette, dubbed the C2ZR1 and owned by J.W. Lorett (center) and Scott Deierlein of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Its carbon-fiber-enhanced C2 body was tastefully modified by Heartland Customs. The C2ZR1 is powered by a supercharged LS9 engine donated by a new ZR1. (Photo courtesy of Ed Baumgarten/Mid America Motorworks.)
Staff from Karl Kustom Corvettes of Des Moines, Iowa brought two of their C2-inspired C6 Vettes. The Marina Blue roadster is joined by a silver split-window coupe at Mike Yager's vintage gas station on Mid America Motorworks' corporate campus.
Four-time Grammy winner Don Felder rocked the house with a spirited 90-minute set that had old and new fans singing and dancing. The free concert was open to the Effingham community, which supports the Corvette Funfest each year.
Before the start of the concert, the Yager family presented an autographed Fender Stratocaster to Richard Larsen of Lake, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Ed Baumgarten/Mid America Motorworks.)
Don Felder didn't disappoint his fans with a set that included beloved hits, especially from the seminal Hotel California album, and some of his best-known tracks as a solo artist covering a career of more than 40 years.