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The Chevrolet Corvette is an American icon. It was a crowd-stopper when the concept car, the Chevrolet EX122, was introduced at the 1953 GM Motorama, General Motors’ travelling show that took new models and concepts to cities all across America. In its 56-year history encompassing six generations of Corvettes, it has developed into one of the most sophisticated and desirable automobiles in the world.
As with all collectibles, enthusiasts gather to show their cars. Often, show cars are customized or restored, enhancing their visual appeal but minimizing their authenticity.
In 1973, a group of Corvette enthusiasts gathered in Bloomington, Ill., to show off their cars and swap or sell extra parts. This “Bloomington Corvette Corral” drew 112 Corvettes and 19 vendors. The one-day event even drew 1,500 spectators. The next year, a repeat event grew to two days. There were almost 700 cars competing in several judging classes: restored, original, custom and semi-custom. There was even an autocross, a timed event driving a course delineated by traffic cones.
By 1975, an auction was added, with more than 1,200 Corvettes on display. The event continued to grow in popularity and prestige, and soon became the biggest Corvette event in the country. Like most car shows, Bloomington had class winners and a best-of-show champion. Then, in 1978, the show and the world of Corvettes changed forever.