8/19/2014 3:28:00 PM Corvette Caravan to make stop this weekend in Williams
The 2014 National Corvette Caravanís Lead Car, a specially-prepared 2012 Corvette Z06 sits in front of the Red Garter. The 2014 Lead Car stopped in Williams March 22, during the SoCal/SoNev Caravan Organizing Teamís PreRun4 trip. Photo/Hib Halverson
The 2009 National Corvette Caravan heads eastbound on Arizona State Route 66 headed for Seligman. Steve Nichols of Las Vegas, Nevada drives the lead Corvette. Photo/Sandy Halverson
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - This weekend, hundreds of Corvettes will start a pilgrimage to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. For the first time, one of the Corvette Caravan groups will make an overnight stop in Williams.
The Corvette Caravan takes place every five years. This is the fifth event since 1994 when the museum opened, according to organizer Hib Halverson.
"The powers that be at the museum at the time decided that one way they could gain a lot of publicity for the Corvette Museum and also generate a tremendous amount of interest among Corvette enthusiasts was to stage this national Corvette Caravan," he said.
The first event had about five caravan sections starting from different areas of the country. This year's event will have 28 sections starting from both the U.S. and Canada.
The southern California/southern Nevada/southwestern Utah caravan team has historically started in California and made its first stop in Flagstaff. However, after Halverson and his wife participated in a different Corvette tour in the Williams area, he decided to incorporate the city in the caravan.
"It's more car-friendly and then also the kind of western flavor and also the fact that you've got old Route 66 with places like Cruisers and all those different attractions along old Route 66, I think it's going to actually make a much more interesting overnight stop for our people," Halverson said.
The fact that Williams was the last city bypassed by Interstate 40 was also significant, Halverson said.
"So the whole thing with Old 66 is kind of woven into the whole Williams environment," he said.
The group is scheduled to arrive in Williams on Friday between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Halverson estimates about 200 Corvettes will be part of the caravan at this point of the journey. Starting at about 6:30 p.m., the Corvettes will be on display along Route 66 until after dinner. On Saturday, the Corvettes will prepare to depart at about 7 a.m.
The group will also make overnight stops in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. With more Corvettes joining the group each day, they'll end up with about 500-550 cars by the time they reach Bowling Green on Aug. 27.
"That's quite impressive," Halverson said. "If you're in front of that looking in your rear view mirror looking back behind you on the interstate, it will be five or six miles long."
Halverson said the caravan isn't just about the cars.
"You always have kind of a segment of the ownership pool that not only like cars but they also like to meet other people who like cars. So you have that kind of social framework or camaraderie that kind of develops," he said. "The other thing that's kind of neat with Corvette Caravan...is the association between Corvette and Route 66. In 2014 we've added new sections of it just because of the demand."
According to Halverson, Corvettes are popular among all walks of people.
"The Corvette is just an American icon," he said. "It's been in continuous production since 1953, which not many cars can say that. It's kind of an aspirational thing with a lot of people, especially Baby Boomers who are now retiring in droves. The new 2014 Corvette, which some people call the C7, was redesigned and dramatically restyled and it's actually appealing to a whole new group of younger enthusiasts."
Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Darlene Bitter, a Corvette owner herself, said she was excited about the event.
"Corvettes and Route 66 are pretty synonymous," she said. "It's pretty significant that they are coming to Williams. I don't believe they stop anywhere else in Arizona. So I think it's really neat that we have them coming here."
More information about the event is available at www.corvettecaravan.com.