Corvettes At Carlisle 2019: One For The Record Books

It doesn’t take long for someone new to Corvette to start hearing about an annual event called Corvettes at Carlisle. Held in August, this celebration of all-things-Corvette has become a ground-zero for friends and fans of the beloved sports car.

Each year, the Carlisle Events team seems to somehow improve upon the already awesome event and bring out more to see and enjoy. This year, they enjoyed a little bit of help in that regard, as Chevrolet agreed to bring out a fleet of its newest mid-engine C8s, along with their accompanying display. This was to be the first official viewing of the new car at an enthusiast event and the opportunity wasn’t lost on those who traveled to see them. Those who came to see the new car were not disappointed, as Team Chevrolet brought 14 of their all-new 2020 C8 Corvettes to the show.

While you could likely talk to several enthusiasts who made the trek specifically to see the new car, to mention Corvettes at Carlisle without highlighting some of the other opportunities available for the entire weekend would be selling the event woefully short. Not only could attendees view the newest version of America’s favorite supercar, but they also let their eyes flow over some of the most iconic body lines ever created.

The entire Carlisle Fairgrounds was overflowing with America's favorite sports car. Over 2,900 Corvettes were signed up for the Fun Field alone! (All images courtesy of Carlisle Events Staff)

One of the age-old sayings about Carlisle is, “if you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist.” While it may be a bit of an exaggeration, it’s likely not by much. You’ll find some of the rarest, most desirable, and highly noted Corvettes on the face of the planet probably worked their way through the gates of Carlisle. Parts ranging from prototypes to grab-bag specials can be found while walking the miles of aisles in the swap meet area. Expertly restored vintage Corvettes glisten in the Car Corral while projects looking for a new home eagerly await their new owners nearby.

Whether almost new, or a couple of decades old, parts are one of the mainstays of Corvettes at Carlisle. Phrases such as, "I found it at Carlisle!" attest to the scope of goodies awaiting new owners amid the swap meet area.

Cultural Corvette Melting Pot

When such a great number of the Corvette faithful get together at a place like Carlisle, you are certain to get a very diverse group. Walking among any given row, you are just as likely to find numbers-crunching restorers looking for that last piece of their Corvette puzzle as you are world-renowned Corvette engineers and executives showing off their latest creation. They also use Carlisle to connect with like-minded enthusiasts, gathering information for products they can’t yet discuss. Don’t try them, they won’t. Lol.

Of course, many were anxiously awaiting their turn to experience the new C8. Team Chevrolet brought over a dozen 2020 Corvettes to the event and held a welcoming seminar at the grandstands. They also had a full-blown display on the show field, where enthusiasts lined up to get a closer look.

The team at Corvettes at Carlisle has worked hard to ensure that drivers, as well as frame-off restorations, are equally celebrated and fun is the order of the weekend, no matter how you decide to enjoy your Corvette. There are driving events as well as Concours-worthy point races. Groups use the event as a great reason to join together and celebrate their particular passion with other enthusiasts.

There were plenty of modified Corvettes on hand. Carlisle gives all enthusiasts an opportunity to show off their Corvettes.

There are show and judging events for the restored Corvettes, and modified cars can either stretch their legs on the dyno or on the autocross. Every Corvette is encouraged to drive along during the parade that clogs the downtown arteries of Carlisle Saturday evening of the event. Lingenfelter Performance supported the second annual King of the X autocross competition, offering $1,000 in total prize money for competitors.

Besides scouring the rows of boxes and folding tables, looking for a solution to your Corvette’s most pressing issue, there are also plenty of opportunities to address areas of your Corvette that you, as the owner, want to modify or personalize. It’s always interesting to walk through the Manufacturer’s Midway.

Vendors had a large scope of products to either preserve, personalize, or increase the performance of your Corvette. One thing we like to do is stop by the exhaust installation area and watch the mound of factory exhaust systems grow over the weekend.

Where else can you watch exhaust systems drip off of the backs of almost-new Corvettes, giving way to better sounding, louder or performance-enhancing versions? The pile of stainless, or even titanium, is a testament to their owners’ search for more performance.

Information Overload

Sometimes, you just need to fix some nagging issues keeping you from enjoying your Corvette to the fullest. In that case, there are plenty of individuals on-hand who offer products to correct the most common issues. This year, seminars and tech-talk sessions were available via three different locations – four if you count the C8 walkarounds at the stage. Seminar hosts included Wil Cooksey (previous plant manager at Bowling Green Assembly), the NCRS team; Corvette restorer Kevin Mackay, and Corvette’s previous Ride and Handling Vehicle Dynamics Engineer Jim Mero.

Seminars are one of the big events at Carlisle and the Carlisle Events team bring in some big guns to share their experience with attendees. Seminars are held all over the grounds and cover a variety of topics important to the enthusiast.

In the case of Corvette technician, Paul Koerner, you could simply sit-in on one of his seminars that deal with many of the common issues he’s seen with late-model Corvettes. Many times, if you speak with him ahead of time, he may be able to use your Corvette as an illustration during one of the seminars on how to fix that particular issue.

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There is plenty to do at Corvettes at Carlisle, and this year was just more of the same. Thanks to the incredible August weather (except for a little rain on Friday) and a C8-hungry throng of enthusiasts, this year’s Corvettes at Carlisle is one for the record books. Almost 3,000 Corvettes signed up for the Fun Field itself. When you consider the numbers of other Corvettes that joined in the fun as part of their club or organization, the entire number of entries is staggering.

To try and capture all that went on over the weekend is next to impossible. The amount of new friendships, reunions, chance meetings and parts purchases that occur on a daily basis during the event is one of the things that makes Carlisle so special. The only way to understand the scope of the event is to experience it first-hand. Thankfully, we have an opportunity to do that each August.

On Friday night, the annual Chip Miller Amyloidosis Foundation held it's annual fundraising dinner. Lance Miller, co-owner of Carlisle Events, took a pie to the face for this great cause. Altogether, well over $20,000 was raised to help find a cure for this dreaded disease.

Corvettes at Carlisle returns to the Carlisle, Pennsylvania Fairgrounds August 27-30, 2020 and Fun Field registration is now open. Make plans now to take in all next year’s event has to offer. Go to the Carlisle Events webpage for Corvettes At Carlisle and reserve your space on the Fun Field. By signing up, you’ll open up a world of opportunities for you and your Corvette. You’re almost guaranteed to have a great time and make new friends. And who knows, you may just find that super-rare item you’ve been looking for, whether it be vintage or brand-new.

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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