Michigan Corvette Caravan Captain Larry Courtney directs activities at the Marshall, Mich. meeting site.
“It was like watching a huge, colorful snake speeding down the highway.”
That’s how George Matick Chevrolet Owner Karl Zimmermann described the Michigan Corvette Caravan on its first interstate leg Aug. 26 of a multi-day adventure to the National Corvette Museum’s 20th anniversary celebration in Bowling Green, Ky.
Michigan Caravan participants lined up at the site where east, west and north contingents met Tuesday afternoon (8/26/14).
While most of the 160+ owners in the Michigan Corvette Caravan sport veteran credentials from previous caravans of some type, Zimmermann, whose dealership is in metro Detroit and was a sponsor of the Michigan Caravan kick-off event, was the rookie – both to the caravan experience and driving the new C7 Stingray.
“I’m a driving enthusiast who loves Corvettes and I’ve been on road tracks and ovals at high rates of speed. But I’ve never participated in an extended Corvette caravan like this,” said Zimmermann. “The novelty of this caravan event and my exposure to such Corvette camaraderie is outstanding.”
“The experience was purely wonderful and enjoyable. I’ve now come to better appreciate the friendships that develop during these caravans … and being with fellow Corvette owners who have aspired to enjoy "America’s Sports Car" and being on the open road in them,” he added.
But Zimmermann made a rookie caravan mistake: running low on fuel.
“The fact is, that despite having a significant allocation of these beautiful new Stingray C7s in our dealership's inventory, this is the first time that I have driven one. To personally participate in the caravan, I drove a new convertible home the day before the caravan was to begin so I could get a feel for the car,” he admitted.
“Problem is I didn’t check the gas gauge before I left because I was so excited to be involved in the caravan, especially since our dealership was hosting the send-off breakfast for Caravan Captain Larry Courtney and 100 Corvette owners.”
Day-Two Update: The Michigan Corvette Caravan readies for photo laps around the Indianapolis Speedway Wednesday morning (8/27/14).
So before he reached the Caron Chevrolet staging area in Marshall, Mich. more than two hours away, where the east (Matick Chevy), west and north (Graff Chevy) Michigan contingents of the Michigan Caravan met up, Zimmermann had to pull off I-94 for gas.
While trying to catch up with the caravan, he ran into highway construction delays and decided to take a different route, passing his alma mater (Albion College) on the way to Marshall. “Another fun part of this adventure was seeing scenic Michigan in an iconic American car on old country roads and cruising by my old college.”
So how does he rate the new Stingray?
“It’s unbelievable. Its capabilities … its refinements, its touch points, its performance … its accommodations in five different driving modes is just exceptional. I enjoyed four of the modes and found them very nice,” he said.
“Plus, I was able to make several business calls along the way. The Bluetooth quality of experience talking hands-free with the top down while driving on the expressway is outstanding. And then the new large-screen navigation system is just fantastic.”
Matick Chevy’s multi-million-dollar renovation added to the excitement for Zimmermann. “Leaving our 13-acre campus all shiny and new as the caravan pulled out was a sight to behold. Everything looked beautiful as Redford Township Police escorted our leader, Larry Courtney, and the caravan onto the highway."
“Looking forward and backwards in my rear-view mirror on the road … wow … what a thrill to see that extended column of Corvettes stretching out in the distance. The more than two-hour ride from Matick Chevy to Caron Chevy gave me time to think about how thankful I am for Corvettes, Chevrolet, our customers and a great staff back at the dealership taking care of business while I’m out here having some fun.”
The Caron Chevrolet gathering point for the Michigan Caravan also provided Zimmermann a chance to see Larry Courtney, the Michigan/Indiana/Western Kentucky Caravan captain, in action. “The staging site was exciting and it took more than 10 minutes to get all the Corvettes back on the interstate. I came to appreciate Larry and the affection so many Corvette owners have for this guy. He takes a thankless leadership position in the Corvette community, especially in organizing all these fun events for so many. He does it all so wonderfully and remains pleasant the entire time. Corvette owners just love him.”
What’s next for Zimmermann?
“I’m looking forward to spending more time in a Corvette … yea the incredible C7s … and hopefully being involved in a longer caravan in the future. I'm enjoying this special Corvette community more and more!”