HomeNews and EventsCorvette museum offers virtual tours of the sink hole cave

Corvette museum offers virtual tours of the sink hole cave


The worst thing that might have happened to the National Corvette Museum took place early in the morning of February 12, 2014, when a sink hole opened beneath the Skydome in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and swallowed eight vehicles from the museum’s collection.

But in what should be a Harvard Business School documentation of how to handle a crisis, the museum responded with a public relations effort that shared video of the rescue of the vehicles, and the repairs and restorations that followed. 

Museum supporters responded with donations and a 67 percent increase in visitation.  Each year, the museum celebrates what others might have considered an insurmountable disaster. 

For the 5-year anniversary, the museum this week worked with LifeLike Imageworks to launch a 360-degree interactive tour of part of the remaining sinkhole. The tour allows virtual visitors to explore the cave, and to use VR goggles if they have them.

Sink hole, Corvette museum offers virtual tours of the sink hole cave, ClassicCars.com Journal
Cars were removed, most of the cave was filled, the floor was repaired, and the visitors came to see it all

“While many visitors and enthusiasts encouraged us to leave the sinkhole as-is, it was not feasible to do so,” Katie Ellison, the museum’s marketing and communications manager, said in announcing the new video feed, which went live on February 14.

“All eight of the Corvettes are on display in approximately the same spots they were prior to the sinkhole, with five of them looking exactly like they did after being pulled from the depths of the hole. 

“We also offer an interactive exhibition, allowing guests to learn about what happened, the cars affected, caves and karst landscapes, how the building was repaired including a time lapse video, and even a live web cam in the cave. 

“A lot of people are curious about what it looks like inside the cave, beyond what the webcam shows, so we decided to add a 360-tour allowing them to take a look.”

Sink hole, Corvette museum offers virtual tours of the sink hole cave, ClassicCars.com Journal
Vintage roadster on the Brickyard oval | Museum photo

Vintage Indy racers return to the Brickyard oval

The IMS Museum presents the 21st annual Indianapolis Historic Racing Exhibition on May 23-25 when around 70 Indianapolis 500 racing cars are expected to return to the track for exhibition laps and to be displayed in the museum parking lot inside Turn 2.

The event is open to cars that raced at Indy between 1911 and 1994.

Fiat 500 F at the MoMA

Sink hole, Corvette museum offers virtual tours of the sink hole cave, ClassicCars.com Journal
MoMA showcases ‘good design’ | Fiat photos
Sink hole, Corvette museum offers virtual tours of the sink hole cave, ClassicCars.com Journal
Fiat at the MoMA

Through mid-June, a Fiat 500 F series is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of its “The Value of Good Design” exhibition. Styled by Dante Giacosa, the Nuova 500 was unveiled in 1957 as an affordable car for post-war Europe, but also under the concept that high-quality design should be accessible to all, Fiat notes as it shares some photos of the car on display.

“In spite of its small size, Giacosa’s design maximized the space inside, creating a surprisingly roomy interior able to accommodate four passengers,” the automaker notes. “The standard folding soft top gave this budget car a touch of luxury, while reducing the use of steel, which was very expensive at that time.”

SEAT car collection reported safe

Spanish and English language automotive websites report that a fire earlier this week in a warehouse adjacent to el Museo SEAT, the historical car collection of Spanish automaker SEAT in Barcelona, damaged the building but neither the 200 vehicles nor the company archives inside were harmed. Despite thick smoke, employees removed many of the cars from the building before the adjacent fire was extinguished.

Special events this weekend

The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, opens its “Classic Cars and Post War Paintings” exhibit this weekend. The exhibit pairs classic vehicles and post-war paintings and runs through May 19.

The Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile in Turin, Italy, hosts the Italian Association for the History of the Automobile seminar Saturday morning, February 16,  on British racing driver Jim Clark.

Sink hole, Corvette museum offers virtual tours of the sink hole cave, ClassicCars.com Journal
Cars on display at the North East Motor Sports Museum | Museum photo

The North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, hosts a Daytona Party on February 16 from noon until the end of the NASCAR 300-mile race, which will be viewed on television during the event. Also during the event, the museum will unveil its four-lane, 1/24-scale slot-car track as well as the museum’s newest vehicle addition, a 1960s-era Gavin Cooper cut-down supermodified racing car.

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, hosts its monthly car show February 16 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. 

The Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island stages a “hoods up weekend” February 16-17 to show off the engines of the vehicles in its collection.

“Best of Britain” is the theme of an annual exhibit at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, where this year the exhibit that opens Saturday and runs through March 3 features 16 Bentley vehicles as part of the British automaker’s centennial celebration.

“Pint with the Past” is a beer-tasting fundraiser February 16 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan. On February 17, the museum’s speaker series features “Profiles in Citizenship: A Portrait of Henry Knox and Rosa Parks,” by former state senator Cameron Brown.

In conjunction with the February 16-24 school holiday in England, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu will host a Hands-on Half-Term event featuring its Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 50 Years exhibit with students invited to make like Caractacus Potts and create their own balloon cars and then see how fast they’ll go.

During the same dates in February, the British Motor Museum at Beaulieu will offer special children’s programs on jet-powered cars daily from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., with children building third own “jet powered” (OK, it’s the air emerging from a balloon) cars. 

After its recent Sunday Drives program was rained out, the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento has rescheduled the event for February 17.

Mark your calendar

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will stage a parade of movie and television cars through the streets of LA on February 18, starting at 10 a.m. near Santa Monica and ending around 1 p.m. at the museum. The parade route will pass several LA landmarks.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts a “create your own Kissmobile” event February 18 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event is designed for children ages 4 and older.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum hosts its Bootleggers Blowout party from 8 to 11 p.m. on February 22.

February 23 is Trivia Night at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana, where the first of 100 questions will be asked at 7 p.m. Teams are asked to register in advance by calling the museum.

“Winning Numbers: The First, The Fastest, The Famous” is the title of a new exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, where board member Bruce Meyer will display 10 race cars from his collection through January 19, 2020. The exhibit opens February 23.

The British Motor Museum’s annual Mini Motorists program for those 5 years of age or younger starts February 25 and includes crafts, story-telling and playtime from 10:30 a.m. until noon.

Registration closes March 1 for the Museum In Motion trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race with the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The dates for the trip are June 6-17 and the tour includes four nights in London, three in Angers for the race and then another in Paris before flying home.

The Brooklands Museum in England offers a presentation March 7 by author Matt James on the 60-year history of the British Touring Car Championship

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine hots its Brass Club speakeasy gala on March 9 from 7 until 9 p.m.

The 31st induction ceremony at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona Beach, Florida, takes place March 11-12. Inductees will be Augie Duesenberg, Dario Franchitti, Phil Remington, Don Schumacher, Kevin Schwantz, Tony Stewart and Linda Vaughn.

The National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park will be the site of BingeTokyo on March 16-17. Though it may sound as though only Japanese vehicles are welcome, organizers say all makes and models are welcome in what they believe to be “hands down the cheapest seat time you will get,” seven hours of track time over two days for $500.

LeMay Collections at Marymount participates in the Almost Spring swap meet and car show at the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup, Washington, on March 16-17.

The Miles Through Time Automotive Museum in Toccoa, Georgia, stages a car club cruise-in on March 23.

“RADwood: Cleveland Goes Rad” is the title for an exhibit/experience running through March 24 at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland. Staged in partnership with RADwood car shows, the exhibit will celebrate 1980s and ‘90s car culture and will showcase vehicles, clothing, music “and everything in between.”

LeMay Collections at Marymount in Tacoma, Washington, hosts the LeMay Tea Party on March 30.

The Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild will stage a reunion and model car exposition April 4-7 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, where more than 100 of the cars will remain on exhibit through October.

“USAC Stars: From Dirt Tracks to the Brickyard” is the theme of a panel discussion at 6 p.m. April 9 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum featuring U.S. Auto Club racing champions Brady Bacon, Tyler Courtney, Dave Darland, Justin Grant and Kody Swanson. 

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu hosts its annual “Simply Audi” car show on April 21.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is organizing a bus trip to the New York International Auto Show on April 27.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, opens a special “RCR 50: Only in America” exhibit featuring 50 years of Richard Childress Racing in May. 

The Simply Ford gathering May 5 at Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu will feature the 60th anniversary of the Ford Anglia 105E and the 50th birthday celebration for the Ford Capri.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, opens two new summer exhibits on May 18 — Studebaker Cool: 114 Years of Innovation, and Harley-Davidson: History, Mythology and Perceptions of America’s Motorcycle. Both exhibits run through October 20.

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu hosts both its silver-anniversary spring autojumble (swap meet) May 18-19 and a 60th anniversary celebration of the Mini. 

LeMay Collections at Marymount in Tacoma, Washington, offers Model T drivers education classes May 18, June 8, July 7, August 4 and September 8.

LeMay Collections stages LeMay Motorcycle Days from June 13-23 with 200 motorcycles on exhibit and with rounds of motorcycle soccer.

“The Car. The Future. Me” is the title of an exhibit scheduled to open July 13 at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, UK, to explore “futuristic car design and (to) challenge your idea of how we will interact with the cars for the future,” the museum said. 

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, inducts new members Sergio Marchionne, the late chief executive of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify as a driver in the Indianapolis 500; Richard “Dick” Dauch, co-founder of American Axle Manufacturing; and Patrick Ryan, creator of the first auto dealership finance and insurance department, on July 18 in Detroit.

On August 3, the British Motor Museum will be the site of the Classic Mini Mosaic world-record attempt that is expected to draw more than 600 classic Minis. The following day the museum will be the site of the National Metro & Mini Show.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, inducts racer Briggs Cunningham, Corvette designer Tom Peters, and Dollie Cole, Corvette enthusiast and widow of former GM president Ed Cole, into its hall of fame on August 30.

“Legends of Speed,” a showcase of nearly two dozen historic racing cars, opens November 2 at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected].

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



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