UPDATE: Sinkhole swallows pricey Corvettes at hallowed museum (w/ video)(CNN) -- Sinkholes are swallowing Corvettes now. Apparently houses in Florida weren't enough. Now nature has gobbled up some of the coolest and fastest cars to come off the assembly line.
By: Thom Patterson, Stephanie Gallman, CNN, CNN
(CNN) -- Sinkholes are swallowing Corvettes now. Apparently houses in Florida weren't enough. Now nature has gobbled up some of the coolest and fastest cars to come off the assembly line.
The news that eight valuable 'vettes at Bowling Green, Kentucky's National Corvette Museum fell victim to a 40-foot-wide, 20-feet-deep sinkhole has triggered a collective gasp from the worldwide Corvette Nation.
"I was shocked," said Frazer Bharucha, 47, a Corvette owner since age 17. "We're talking about iconic cars that have been around for years."
The painful losses have been tallied: Of the eight cars that fell, six were donated to the museum by Corvette enthusiasts, and two are owned by the car's maker, General Motors. Among them were a 1962 Black Corvette, a 1984 PPG Pace Car, and a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder. The total value of the damaged cars is "substantial," said museum executive director Wendell Strode.
Bharucha, of the Long Island Corvette Owners Association, knows the museum well, having visited it at least six times. "There's a sense of awe and you get a lump in your throat when you walk inside."
He's right. I've been there. It's hallowed ground. Under its recognizable yellow spire and towering vaulted 100-foot high ceiling sits a round chamber that cradles rare vehicles that are truly historic, including several Indianapolis 500 pace cars. The room feels like a cathedral. And for many enthusiasts, it is kind of the Church of the Corvette. It is home to more than 30 unique Corvettes, including several prototypes and a unique 1983 model which is the only one in existence.
Among them are Corvettes on loan from private owners and those "made famous by magazines and auto shows the world over," according to the museum's website.
Now, based on the Twitter photos, this holy place has been desecrated from below by a demonic, unspeakable hole.
Let's remember the Corvette's rich tradition. This is the ultra-cool car driven by Bill Bixby in the 1970s TV series, "The Magician." It also was the cherry ride that was good enough to be piloted by the dudes with the right stuff: NASA's Apollo astronauts.
"It's the all-American car," Bharucha said. "No matter where you go, people know it and love it. Sometimes they'll stare at it. Other times they'll wave."
You always remember your first car, and Bharucha is no different. For him it was a 1966 yellow Corvette convertible. Guess what? He still has it. "That's my baby," he said. "That's the one car I will not sell."
The sinkhole couldn't have come at a worse time, as the museum builds a 184-acre raceway and Motorsports Park set to open in August. Some 5,000 people are already pre-registered to attend the park's grand opening.
It's unknown whether the sinkhole will create new concerns about the park.
Nonetheless, Bharucha intends to check it out as soon as he can get away.
Strode said a structural engineer was at the scene assessing the situation. Bharucha is confident the Corvette Nation will survive this hit to its holy shrine, hopefully without too much damage.