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Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011

Road America, Chevrolet Tribute at Elkhart Lake

A salute to Corvettes, with apologies to Hondas

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Owning a '94 Honda Accord probably taints one's take on the matter, but here goes: Classic cars are so appealing because of the powerful pairing of youthful longing with adult nostalgia. Embracing classic cars is both a way to reward those “someday” aspirations of the teenagers we used to be as well as a means for modern grown-ups to proclaim that some things from the past have more moxie and magic than their counterparts in the present. With a singular purchase, it's the boon of declaring, “I finally did it,” at the same time as, “They just don't make 'em like this anymore.”

On Sunday, Aug. 21, at the culmination of three days of racing at Road America, the Corvette World Tribute is gearing up to take over downtown Elkhart Lake. Chevrolet, the manufacturer of quite possibly America's most iconic sports car, is about to reach the century mark, and a bevy of buffs will be there to help light the celebratory candles. The event will present some extremely rare makes from bygone eras that will actually be in motion during a parade. Six generations of Corvettes will be on display for spectators, and many of the well-known drivers of these classic beasts on wheels are set to greet fans, sign autographs and answer questions. Among the drivers poised to socialize with aficionados are members of the ALMS C6.R Corvette Racing Team.

ALMS C6.R may sound like a spunky droid from Star Wars. In reality, the acronym stands for American Le Mans Series, the sixth generation. Clearly, some of us need to defer questions on classic cars to friends who are more knowledgeable and passionate on the subject.

“I typically go to four or five car shows a year,” Josh says. “My dad has been drag racing since the mid-'60s and I've been going along ever since I was a baby. That's when my interest was piqued.”

The general question of why he and so many others are drawn to classic cars was posed. “What really appeals to me about them is that their styling cues are radically different from the 'cookie-cutter' models of today,” he answers. “Everybody puts their own spin and personality into them, from the purists and era-specific cars to the innovators that mold old styling with modern technology. And then there are enthusiasts that just want something to remind them of their younger years and the good times they've had.”

Josh makes a good point about the allure of nostalgia. “I think nostalgia is important,” he says. “It's cool to relive memories of drive-ins and sock hops and post-prom, back-seat shenanigans. But nostalgia isn't everything. It's more about the freedom of not having to follow any specific rules or guidelines when finding your favorite classic or restoring and modifying one.

“It's completely subjective,” he adds. “Even when I'm not crazy about the paint job, rims or stance a fellow fan of classics has opted for, I still appreciate the person's effort and interest to keep these cars alive.”

Scholarly musings only get one so far, though. This close to the finish line, it verges on criminal to overlook a question about the ultimate virtue of classic cars: These splendid machines tend to attract women. “Of course the ladies love badass cars,” Josh says with a laugh.

It was like asking Charles Darwin if he really put much stock in evolution.

“Car shows aren't just for guys,” he adds. “I think women like to make a correlation between the sleek, sexy curves of the cars and the curves of the female form, whereas the raw power of the engine is all about masculine desire.”

When he phrases it that way, it's plain to see why even owners of heinous jalopies should attend the upcoming Corvette World Tribute event in Elkhart Lake. These people are duly advised, though, to hitch a ride from a friend.

Nick Olig is a freelance writer and author of
There Will Be Blog, a collection of comedic essays meshing pop-culture obsession with personal accounts from his blundering yet redemptive life, available through Xlibris and Amazon. His blog, Fist Pumps and Beyond, is good for some laughs, too.
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