God Agrees With Jeremy Clarkson!
For years, Jeremy Clarkson of the famed BBC hit series Top Gear has bemoaned the quality and sophistication of American muscle cars, claiming that whilst Americans can build jet fighters and space shuttles, they should leave the design and manufacturing of cars to others (read a great Clarkson rant at Clarkson on: the Corvette). Now it would seem that perhaps, just perhaps, God agrees with Clarkson!
On 12 February, in the early hours of the morning, the police were called to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky to find that the motion detection alarms had been triggered, not by an intruder, but by what appeared to be an act of God who was seemingly in the process of forming a whopping sinkhole, some 35 feet deep and 40 feet wide. The sinkhole was busy swallowing up eight of the rare and allegedly expensive American muscle cars in the museum.
Wendell Strode, the Executive Director of the museum, described the damage as “pretty significant” in what may be a bit of an understatement. You can judge for yourself as the event was captured on surveillance cameras and is now a Youtube hit:
At least eight classic ‘Vets’ have been damaged although all are thought to be repairable, and quick response by employees and firefighters who had been called to the scene stopped further cars from being swallowed. Katie Frasinelli, an employee who was first on the scene, said, “When you go in there, it’s unreal. The hole is so big it makes the Corvettes look like little Matchbox cars.”
For many such as Mr. Bharucha of the Long Island Corvette Owners Club, the Sky Dome’s recognisable red spire and towering cathedral-like vaulted ceilings that cradle the rare and historically significant vehicles is like hallowed ground. Strode went as far as to suggest that for some, it is like the Church of the Corvette.
Geologists and engineers from the Western Kentucky University have already surveyed the site and determined that the Sky Dome had not suffered any structural damage. Frasinelli claimed that during the building of the Sky Dome, a number of smaller sinkholes had been found but these had been filled and made harmless. Hmm…perhaps not, Katie. Bowling Green is situated close to the Mammoth National Park, a sprawling complex of limestone caverns stretching for over 400 miles.
The sinkhole couldn’t have come at a worse time as the museum prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary and open a 184-acre motorsports park in August. Some 5000 people are already pre-registered to attend the park’s grand opening.
The damaged cars are listed below:
- 1962 black Corvette.
- 1984 PPG pace car for the Indy 500.
- 1992 white 1 millionth-built Corvette.
- 1993 ruby red 40th anniversary Corvette.
- 1993 ZR1 Spyder, on loan from General Motors, a design study that was never built.
- 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette, a one-off tuner model.
- 2009 white 1.5 millionth-built Corvette.
- 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” on loan from General Motors, the show car for the re-introduction of the ZR1, last built in the early 1990s.
What is a sinkhole?
Generally, sinkholes are caused by the subterranean erosion of soluble bed rocks by percolating water leading, at first, to a cavern. As the cavern becomes overly enlarged, the collapse of the roof forms a sinkhole. Sinkholes are usually associated with limestone or other carbonate rocks and salt beds. However, man’s activity can also cause sinkholes, particularly in areas of mining activity.
Bowling Green sits at the edge of a karst region (limestone geology) where caves, springs and sinkholes are common. The main entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park is about 30 miles northeast of the city, but that cave system has more than 400 miles that have been explored and covers more than 400 square miles, according to the National Park Service.
PS: In a typical Clarkson-esque move, Jeremy named the 2009 Corvette ZR1 the ‘Car of the Year’! Nice hair, Jeremy!