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As GM Prepares for Big Reveal, the Home of the Corvette is Buzzing About New Stingray

General Motors

Like kids waiting for Christmas morning, Corvette enthusiasts are on the edge of their seats for a big reveal on Thursday. 

That’s when General Motors will unveil the next generation of the iconic sports car.  Described as a technical tour-de-force, the long-hyped C8 is generating plenty of buzz around the home of the Corvette. 

I recently went along for the ride as a sleek 2017 red Corvette Stingray did laps at the National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park in Bowling Green. It won’t be long before a newer, shinier, and more powerful toy hits the asphalt.

This C7 model will eventually take a backseat to the next generation Corvette, the C8.  Mitch Wright is a retired professional race car driver who now manages the motorsports park.  As he took me for a spin, Wright said he can’t wait to get behind the wheel of a C8.

“The assumption is, with the plant across the highway, that we’ve seen the car here and know all about it, but we’re just as excited to see it as everybody else."

Credit Lisa Autry
General Motors CEO Mary Barra talks with workers at the Corvette Assembly Plant during a visit to Bowling Green in April.

In April, General Motors CEO Mary Barra visited the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant to announce the factory will build the new mid-engine Corvette and increase its workforce to meet demand for the eighth generation of the sports car.

“I am exceptionally pleased to announce we will be adding a second shift and more than 400 hourly jobs at Bowling Green to support the next generation of the Corvette or as we like to call it, the C8, and increase the plant’s workforce to more than 1,300 employees," Barra said to much applause from the hourly workers on hand for the announcement.

To prepare for the C8, the Bowling Green plant received a major overhaul that included increased engine capacity, as well as a new paint and body shop.  According to Barra, GM has invested more than $900 million in the Corvette Assembly Plant since 2011.    

"Clearly, it’s great for the plant. It provides more opportunity, but I also think it provides for a strong local economy, as well," Barra told WKU Public Radio following the announcement. "I actually think this next generation vehicle will win more customers into the Corvette family, so we’re super excited about that.”

The Bowling Green plant currently builds the Corvette Stingray, Z06, Grandsport, and ZR1.  It’s estimated the plant will roll out about 10,000 C8s in the first year of production. 

For now, the car is under wraps, literally.  A camouflaged C8 was spotted cruising around New York City in May as the automaker’s CEO announced the C8’s debut at a charity event. 

If you’re looking for details about the car, you might have better luck getting the CIA to talk.  No one at the plant is sharing any details until after the car’s reveal on Thursday.  It’s unknown when production will begin or when the cars will hit dealer showrooms. 

Secrecy around the next generation Corvette has had the rumor mill working overtime.  What we do know is that it will debut as a Stingray and be GM’s first-ever mid-engine version of the Corvette.  Professional driver Andy Pilgrim works as a consultant to the National Corvette Museum and Motorsports Park.  He says the new configuration is all about physics.

“If you can lower the center of gravity of the car and more centralize the weight toward the middle of the vehicle, overall, you’re going to get more performance out of that vehicle," explained Pilgrim.

The C8 is also expected to have a shorter hood and expanded windshield for better visibility.  

One automotive pundit described the C8 as the most radical engineering change since the Corvette debuted in 1953.  You can see it for yourself if you’re willing to stay up.  The car will be unveiled on Thursday in California at 9:30 p.m. central time. The big reveal will be streamed live by the National Corvette Museum. 

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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