It’s not every day that someone wins a classic Corvette, but each year the Saint Bernard Catholic Church in Rockport, Indiana awards that opportunity to one lucky person. For 24 years now, the church has been raffling off a classic Vette to benefit their parish and elementary school, with individuals from all over buying tickets for a chance to win the restored prize. And as we found out from the Examiner, this year’s winner has a rather close tie to the Sting Ray’s original home town, some 800 miles away from where it ended up.
Edward Ess is more than just a Corvette enthusiast, having owned over 40 Corvettes in his life. But it’s not Ess’ passion for America’s favorite sports car that makes his winning of the 1966 convertible through the Saint Bernard Classic Corvette Giveaway so special. It’s the fact that he drove 1,360 miles round trip to claim his prize from Batavia, New York to Rockport. And what’s even crazier is that Ess currently resides just 100 miles from where his Corvette was first delivered in May 1966.
Lucky for Ess, the car may have traveled a long road to become part of his life, but it didn’t lose any of its character along the way. Purchased from ProTeam Corvette in Napoleon, Ohio in November of 2011, the fully restored Sting Ray convertible features its numbers matching 427/475 HP big-block and four-speed Muncie M21 transmission, as well as much of its original interior. The car also retains many of its factory-correct options like a Positraction rearend with 3.70 gears, power steering and brakes, F-41 heavy duty suspension and AM/FM radio.
Ess’ winning raffle ticket was one of 10,000 sold to individuals all over the world for this year’s Corvette giveaway. As you can imagine, Ess was still in disbelief over his luck when he arrived in Rockport with a trailer to retrieve his car. That, of course, didn’t stop him for taking the Corvette for its first test drive before loading her up and heading back nearly to where it all began for the Sting Ray 46 years ago. Check out Ess’ reaction to his first drive in his new car in the video below.