National Corvette Caravan 2014
Torch Red, Lime Rock Green, Supersonic Blue, Crystal Red, Atomic Orange, Arctic White, Machine Silver, Cyber Grey, Le Mans Blue, Monterey Red, Velocity Yellow and (my personal favourite) Black Rose . . . the colours are as exotic and varied as any rainbow you can imagine. And by the time we got to Billings, Montana, there were dozens of every colour.
The highlight of the day was visiting Dave Ressler’s private Corvette museum in Bozeman, Montana. It is so secret, we were not told its location until the drivers’ meeting that morning. There was no address, no signs on the highway. We followed our leaders onto a circular driveway surrounding a lot the size of four football fields. To the side were several large buildings which house Ressler’s collection of 43 sparkling Corvettes – most of them never driven. (Ressler is the gazillionaire who owns most of the GM dealerships in Montana.)
At a Barrett Jackson auction in 2008, he bought the first ZR1 – the fastest-ever Corvette that ever rolled off the assembly line. (Photo left) It’s a supercharged 638-horse V-8 with a top speed of 205 miles per hour (0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds). The car’s sticker price was $103,300 (in 2008) but the additional $896,700 went to the United Way. It has a personalized license plate that reads “Ayden Lynn” after his granddaughter.
Ressler also paid $1 million for the oldest known Corvette in existence, a white 1953 Corvette that he bought in 2006 – Number 003. Photo left.
Photo: This is us with the man himself: Dave Ressler. (If we looked drenched it was because it rained like crazy all day.)
On the road
Each morning, there’s a drivers’ meeting before we all line up and head out. We crossed the U.S. border south of Lethbridge, Alberta, at Sweet Grass and then down the freeway through the flatlands and “Big Sky” country of Montana.
Unfortunately, it rained for the first four days of the trip but the weather improved a bit once we hit Nebraska. Most of the women were lamenting that they had only brought shorts which aren’t very comfy in 10 degree wet weather.
On that second day, we stopped in Great Falls for a lunch break. I picked up some stuff in the convenience store at the rest stop while Dan got gas. When he came in, I asked where he was parked so I could go to the car. He pointed in the direction and said, “over there.” Then without thinking, he added, “the black one.”
I hope no one heard him. They may have thought I was some hooker he’d just picked up.
At Bozeman, we met up with the Pacific Northwest and the Montana groups, so the caravan was now up to about 300 cars.
South of Billings, we drove into Wyoming. Mostly flat rolling countryside with soft winds blowing. Still raining so couldn’t see much of it. Was mesmerized by the way the breeze lifts the prairie grasses, making the whole landscape look alive.
Above photo is NOT the Black Hills, however, you could have fooled me.
We drove through hundreds of miles of absolutely nothing – no people, no houses, no trees, no mountains; just a few cattle here and there. Very little traffic on this four-lane highway, making me wonder why they’d bothered to build it. I mentioned to one of the locals that it was nice to see so much vacant land but why not grow something on it? He said, there’s no water there. He mentioned two rivers, the North Platte and the Missouri and said they are unique in that one flows north and the other flows south. The North Platte empties into the Missouri which flows into the Mississippi.
We stopped in Casper, Wyoming, for our fourth meal of barbecued pork, hosted by the local Corvette club. (Did I mention, we got a barbecued pork dinner at Resslers, one in Lethbridge and one in Cranbrook?) Heard one man say if he never saw another pulled pork sandwich again, it would be too soon.
At Casper, we met up with the Wyoming Caravan and were up to about 400 cars.
We didn’t stop at Casper’s Dinosaur Museum, nor at Fort Casper, which might have been worth a look. With so many miles to travel, we couldn’t possibly stop at all the museums, interpretive centres and points of interest along the route (although I sure tried.)
Casper’s population is about 55,000. Known as a booming oil and cattle town, Casper was ranked eighth overall as in Forbes magazine as the best small town in America. Real friendly folks.
The photo at left is the capital as Cheyenne is the capital of the state.
What a nice little city. We got here before dinner, visited the Railway museum. Interesting but not spookatcular. It did give us an idea of the history of this area. Cheyenne was once a huge railway hub of the central U.S. The museum took a lot of reading, had a lot of old photos, some artifacts, a bit of history of the “hell on wheels” – moving tent towns as the railway was built across the nation. (There’s a series on Netflix worth watching called Hell on Wheels. At Cheyenne, they had the real thing.)
Photo left is a lady outside the museum. Note the big boot in the background. We saw a lot of them around town.
After the museum, we walked around downtown and had dinner at a fabulous steakhouse called Ribs and Chops. It’s a franchise that goes all the way to Montana. Really, the best steak I’ve ever eaten in my life. Also had fried green tomatoes for the first time. Really good – sliced tomatoes (quite firm and green) breaded and deep fried with a creamy cheesy sauce. Yummy.
Photo of old Cheyenne. The Union Pacific Railroad opened a station up here and folks from the hell-on-wheels town of Julesburg, Colorado either settled or drifted in.