Saturday, February 5, 2011

Three Perfect Days With Slim

My father, who I nicknamed Slim in 1976, and I took the perfect three day mini vacation together this past week.  First, why I call my father Slim.  The nickname Slim came about because I was working for Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) my senior year in high school.   During that time period the generic term in the gym was not "hey buddy", but "Slim" when you wanted to talk to someone you did not know.  Everyone called everyone Slim in the gym.    I started calling my father Slim and it stuck :-)

Last fall my perfect wife, Julie, says to me, "Dave it has been ten years since you got your Corvette, isn't  it time for a new Corvette?"  That is just one reason why she is perfect.  As luck would have it I was taking my 1998 Corvette into Tony's Corvette Shop for some minor work the next day, so I told Tony what Julie told me.   Tony then said, "you know Dave, Julie is right."  Tony then goes on to say that it is starting to get harder and more expensive to get parts for my 1998 Corvette.   GM only has to carry parts for ten years.   He then told that as someone who drives the hell out of their Corvette, that I should think about a newer one.  He then told me about the other costs of parts rising on the C5s (1997-2004).  The EBCM Electronic Brake Control Module was no longer being made by GM for the C5s and he had to have them rebuilt - not a cheap proposition.  Something to think about...

After a week or so thinking about it, I decide Julie and Tony are right.  I start looking around for a used Grand Sport.   After a couple of months of scouring the US for the exact one, I decided I was going to order a brand new Corvette, take the museum delivery and bring my father along if his health was up to it.   The museum delivery is a $495 option known as R8C.  Corvette owners refer a lot to the order codes.  Everyone who I talked to said it was well worth it and a once in a lifetime experience.  I decided to first go to Pohanka Chevrolet because that is where my buddy John Meyer purchased his new Corvette and had a great experience there.   I went in the day after Thanksgiving with a printout of
the best internet price I could find on a similar model of Grand Sport I wanted.  The salesman David Coggin went and ran the numbers and they beat it by $3,000.  I just looked at the numbers and said let's do it.   The schedule I was told would be early to mid March for the actual pickup.  That was a good schedule because my father's chemo would be finishing up by then and it the weather should be less of a factor between here and Bowling Green, Kentucky where they have the GM Assembly Plant for Corvette and the National Corvette Museum (NCM).  First, I was going to get one way flights to Nashville, then drive in from there.  With my father's health, sitting in a germ filled airport and germ filled plane did not seem like a good idea.  I decided for a one way rental to Nashville airport and then the NCM had a special one-way rental to the NCM from Enterprise.

The driving factor on why and how I decided to time this new purchase of a brand new Corvette Grand Sport was the one year anniversary of my separation package from Sun/Oracle.  HUGE thanks Scott McNealy, Bill Joy, Andy Bechtolsheim and Vinod Khosla for having the foresight to have a change in control package for Directors and VPs!     Besides buying a new large screen Sony, I did not spend any of that large check.   So, I decided that part of that check would be used to purchase new Corvette Grand Sport with the museum delivery option.  I timed it almost to the exact day of Sun being purchased by Oracle.

The National Corvette Museum is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky.   The plan was that my father and I would be getting a personal factory tour of the Corvette plant, a personal tour of the National Corvette Museum and a personal Corvette Grand Sport overview.  That was the plan.

As luck would have it, I got a call that my Grand Sport would be ready to be picked up on February 3rd.   This was great providing my father's health (finished four rounds of chemo for his CLL and is getting treatments currently to get the good white blood cells back up where they should be) was up to it and the weather was not an issue.  Driving a new Corvette back through the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia is not anyone's idea of fun.   We obviously had to play it by ear.   The week before, my father told me that he felt he would be fine.  Great!   However, the weather was looking to be a real disaster.   It was literally looking like the perfect winter storm.   There was a huge arctic cold front coming deep into the south that would meet with a gulf front to create the mother of all winter storms.     I was monitoring the weather and thought I saw a window on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday early where we could get out in an SUV and deal with any light snow that might hit.  The weather was just north of us on Tuesday and Wednesday.   Returning, it looked like Thursday would provide a window if we drove the 750 miles back in one day.   I called the NCM and they said I should reschedule.  I said I would make a game time decision at 2pm on February 1st.   Slim and I looked at the weather forecast and thought there would be a small window we could hit - if we were really, really lucky....

Above was the first day of driving from 2pm on.  We put in almost 400 hundred miles that included a nice long dinner with my two oldest sons.  I knew my father was looking forward to spending all of this quality son/father bonding time when the first thing he does is pull out his audiobook

We had dinner with John and Michael at Sal's in Blacksburg before continuing on to Bristol to spend the night.

It was about 750 miles door to door.

Pulling into the National Corvette Museum with our one-way rental from Enterprise.  It was actually 11:48 Central time.

Above is one of the photoshop pictures you can buy when you go through the tour.

These were just two of the many welcome screens they had with our names on them.

The sign in front of my new Grand Sport Corvette.

My new Grand Sport in front of the NCM Delivery Offices.  They can do about 8 deliveries a day.  Mine was the only that day with weather and the slow sales for Corvette right now.  Normally 35,000 Corvettes are sold a year and it is down to 12,000 in the current economy.

Below is from the 2011 Corvette brochure on the Grand Sport:

The best combination of all-out performance and efficiency . Grand Sport coupe beat
every other production car with the exception of the Corvette ZR1 (very limited availability)
and a special $460,000 Lamborghini Murcielago in the 2010 edition of the Car and Driver
Lightning Lap at Virginia International Raceway. It lapped the circuit with a time of 2:58.8,
faster than the Audi R8 V10 and the Porsche 911 Carrera S. On the test track, Grand Sport
coupe delivers 1g of lateral acceleration and goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than four
seconds. Yet it does all this with an EPA estimated 26 MPG highway 1 and without a gas-guzzler tax. That’s what engineers call bandwidth.

What makes a Grand Sport?  Start with a wider track, wider tires as well as wider fenders and
quarters. Add a high rear spoiler and special five-spoke Grand Sport wheels. Under the skin
add aggressive dampers and springs, large stabilizer bars, performance gear ratios, additional cooling, and six-piston front and four-piston rear brake calipers engaging cross-drilled rotors.

Slim in front of my Grand Sport at the NCM Delivery area.

Me sitting in the Grand Sport for the first time and getting ready to get an overview on the car's features from Ron.  I watched the C6 Owners Video three times to get ready for the trip.   There is o substitute for hands-on learning.  The NCM has cameras so we sent text messages for family and fellow Corvette owners so they could watch on the NCM cameras.

Back view of the Grand Sport that looks down the hall of the National Corvette Museum.

 We had the world's best NCM Tour Guide in Ron Barton.   Ron worked for GM making Corvettes 35 years before he started working at NCM ten years ago.   Here you can see that Ron is answering one of my countless questions that I had.  I thought I knew a lot about Corvettes until I talked with Ron.  He spent five hours with us the first day at the museum and the four days the second at the factory tour.  My father and I took countless photos.  Slim took the best photos.  His new camera worked great.

Above is Wendell Strode, the Executive Director of the National Corvette Museum standing with my father.  Both served in the Vietnam War with Wendell being awarded a Purple Heart.

I can not recommend the Museum Delivery Option highly enough.  It is the best investment you will ever make for your new Corvette!

  Wendell, Gary Cockriel, Lori Bieschke and Ron Barton were absolutely fantastic.  They made us feel at home and very welcome.  It was fantastic!

This is me in front of a 1963 Z06 serial number 1.    This was part of the special back stage tour that you get as part of the NCM Delivery Option for a new Corvette.

Above is Slim lifting an all aluminum Z06 frame at the NCM.

Above is just one example of the exhibits in the NCM.

Above is a 74 Stingray that has 1,350 hp.

Above is the only 1983 Corvette left on planet earth.  Chevy made 55 1983 Corvettes.  The quality was terrible.  Chevy decided to squash the 1983 year and go right to 1984.  There were no 1983 Corvettes ever sold.  They ordered all 55 to be crushed.  Someone pulled one out and hid it.  That one is the white one above that sits at the NCM.  Great trivia question for your Corvette buddies.

This another of the paid for photoshop photos you can get.

Me and Slim after the five hour NCM tour and the detailed Grand Sport features demonstration on Wednesday night.   After that photo, we left my Grand Sport at the museum and had a nice dinner in Bowling Green.  When we drove the Grand Sport out of the museum for the final time all the museum employees were there clapping in a long line which was pretty cool.

Above is the 2nd brick that I purchased for my garage.  Below is the brick that will be forever placed inside the National Corvette Museum to mark that day Slim and I picked up my new 2011 Grand Sport Corvette.

Above is me on November 11th, 2016 pointing out my and my father's Grand Sport brick when I was with John Meyer for his delivery of his 2017 Grand Sport.

 Above is me in front of the GM Corvette Assembly Plant Tour Entrance.  It was pretty cool having your name up in big letters on the entrance.  The tour is fantastic.  Three hours watching new Corvettes start off on a 7 mile journey through the 1.5 million square foot plant.   The only car they make here are Corvettes.  We saw everything with our VIP Museum Delivery Tour by Ron.   Having someone like Ron who had worked at Corvette Assembly Plants for 35 years was fantastic.    I was also given the opportunity to "birth a new Corvette" by being the first person to start one up after it was completely assembled and ready for final testing.  They also showed us a Carbon Edition Z06 that was extremely cool.  No pictures are allowed inside of course.

Our NCM Tour Guide Ron Barton giving me the FOB for the new Grand Sport before we drove the 750 miles back home to beat the snow coming up behind us as we head through the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

On of the things included with the purchase (if you took delivery in January through mid February) was two full days at either the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving  or the Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School.

Failure was not an option.  Slim and I took turns driving the Grand Sport.  We used OnStar to get weather and traffic reports on the way back as well as messing with the Navigation system and XM.    After dinner, I asked my father if he heard any news on Egypt and the protests going on there.  He responded, "How the HELL would I know, we have been listening to 70s on 7 XM Satellite Radio for the past 486 miles!"   My plan for father and son bonding had worked!  :-)

The weather was not a factor for us but a nightmare for others.  The picture above of the US and Canada gives you some idea.  Chicago had two feet of snow and 50mph winds.  Chicago Schools were closed for the 2nd time in 12 years.   Dallas had one inch of ice.  The south and midwest were nightmares.  Ice storms and massive snows everyplace.  The road between St. Lois and Kansas City (rt. 70) was closed for the first time EVER.   New York City Schools were closed for the first time in 30 years.  We REALLY had to find the right window and the right path to drive both there and back.  Going there I had an SUV.  Coming back we were in a Corvette - not exactly known for its winter driving :-)   Check out these amazing photos of the winter storm of 2011 here.

 We made great time heading back and got very lucky.  I dropped my father off at about 11:15 pm and then got home around midnight.  Julie and Tim got up to check it out.  It was good to be home and not have to worry about any weather issues. 

Back at home with the snow still on the ground.  I now have the "Steve Ferry Problem", which is "Which Corvette Do I Want To Take Today?"  :-)

With my two Corvettes and my wife's Mini Cooper S, we have over 1,000hp of sports cars in our garage.

I stated it earlier, and I can not recommend the Museum Delivery Option highly enough.  It is the best investment you will ever make for your new Corvette!

With the weather, my father's health, it could have been a real disaster, but instead it turned out to be like one of the MasterCard commercials:
  • Price of new Corvette Grand Sport after discounts - $55,000
  • Price of three days of rental cars, hotels, meals, and Corvette souvenirs - $1,500
  • Spending three days with my father who is beating cancer - PRICELESS

That is why I called this blog entry:  Three Perfect Days With Slim.