More than 120 Corvette owners and guests enjoyed the annual Matick Chevy Detroit Grand Prix Corvette Caravan Experience.
Pete and Renee Pellerito, members of the Eastside Corvette Club, were “pretty pumped” during a recent Saturday morning as they anticipated driving their 2017 metallic black rose Grand Sport convertible (with license plate BLT N USA) in their first caravan to the Detroit Grand Prix.
They joined 120 other Corvette owners and their guests who were excitedly gathering at Matick Chevrolet in Redford Township by 7 a.m. on June 2 for the dealership’s seventh annual Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Corvette Caravan Experience.
The big event kicked off with a breakfast program at the dealership and included the police-escorted caravan to Belle Isle for special Corvette Corral parking, treats at Chevrolet hospitality tent, and reserved trackside grandstand seating near the pits to enjoy a full day of racing. Matick Chevy provided the 120 owners with discounted tickets to all the events.
The Matick main indoor showroom (America’s largest) was transformed into a festive reception venue, with a full breakfast buffet provided by Crank’s Catering, packed tables for eating and socializing and, of course, a few rows of gleaming new Corvettes on display.
Bob Girkin, a former Formula IV and SCGA racer, teased his wife, Polly, and friends Michaelle and Danny Kellermeyer, driver of the Matick Chevy-sponsored signature-yellow Corvette racecar. “Remember,” he laughingly reminded his wife, “When we were planning and having our kids, and you said, ‘I’m not strapping you into these racing cars anymore!’”
Nearby, event veterans Peter and Joan Roberts, wearing Route 66 Corvette Pace Car Reunion jackets, came from Canada with members of the Corvette Club of Windsor.
“Our jackets are from a four-day event we hosted with 38 Corvettes,” Peter Roberts said. “We were the pace car driving from Joplin, Missouri to Tucumcari, New Mexico on Route 66.”
“Today,” he added, “we caravanned from Windsor to here for this event, driving our silver C5 convertible (with license plate 1 BAD 9t9).”
“The hospitality is wonderful. We’ve really been looking forward to coming here,” said Michelle Hale, wife of Michael Hale and passenger in his black 1999 C5 (with license plate Hale 3).”
“It’s our first time here and it’s very exciting,” Michael Hale added. “We’ll be relocating to Florida in two months, so we might not get another chance to do this.”
Donald and Renata Turner, seated at the table with their friends and family (Caroline and Farrell Reis and Dennis and Dorian O’Bryan) drove their cyber-gray Stingray. “Everything was very smooth and organized,” Renata Turner said.
Caroline and Farrell Rels drove their 2010 red Stingray (license plate Farrell), and the O’Bryans drove their 2015 night racing blue Stingray. “Though you should have,” Dorian teased his dad, Dennis, “driven the 30th-anniversary of the C4 — your black rose ’93.”
For Ernest Stevenson, the event was his third Matick Corvette caravan, driving his Nassau-blue ’98 C5. “I’m looking forward to walking around Belle Isle, collecting t-shirts,” he said. “It’s nice and noisy, just like we like it — loud!”
His sister, Annette Stevenson, drove her crystal red, C6 Grand Sport. “I call it ‘Burgundy,’” she chuckled. “I like the caravan, the way people pull over to watch. It stops traffic.”
Steve Wimberly was excited to see all the other Corvettes and “what people have done to their rides.” In his 2002 ZO6 (license plate Stevie), Wimberly was also looking forward to driving on the Belle Isle Grand Prix track, as were Danny and Ron Krewench, in their 2014 Z-51 white Stingray (plate Krewzin).
After breakfast and before the caravan prepared to leave, Matick Chevrolet’s Sales Director Paul Zimmermann addressed the guests.
“Thank you for trusting us, and for your loyalty and business,” he said. “In 2016, we were #11 in the country for new car sales. We moved up in 2017 as Chevrolet ranks us the #7 Elite Leader dealer in the U.S. That’s an impressive and very competitive jump. We’re also moved into the 8th position in the country for Corvette sales.”
Zimmermann continued with an announcement that a “20-year Matick vision” has now come to fruition: the opening of Matick Auto Wash, Michigan’s largest state-of-the art car wash. At 27,000 square feet, it is larger than the average new vehicle dealership.
“As a continuation of service to you, our customers, and as a re-investment in southeast Michigan and employing 50 people, our new auto wash has three special features designed for our Corvette customers and all Corvette owners,” he said.
Zimmermann explained that the conveyor belts in the unique two-tunnel set up are wide enough for any Corvette tire. The wheel-guide heights were lowered to avoid any interference with shrouds and the wash system features a friction-free, brushless spray.
The guests cheered at that point. Before directing drivers to their Corvettes so the 2018 Matick Chevy Caravan could begin, Zimmermann invited them to take a some time to really enjoy and celebrate the Grand Prix experience and Detroit’s auto industry.
Larry and Verna Courtney's flag-wrapped Corvette lead the Matick Chevy Detroit Grand Prix Corvette Caravan.
And, as Larry and Verna Courtney, in their U.S. flag-wrapped convertible and second behind the Matick pace car took the first turn out of the Matick Chevy new car lot, there were honks, waves and revving engines being put through show-off sport and race modes as the caravan began its procession onto I-96.
The staff applauded the departing Corvettes and each other for another successful event. Matick COO Molly Williams, Sales Manager Jack McInerney and Delivery Coordinator Michele Baldini gave each other high-fives as they gazed down the highway at the receding parade of new and classic Corvettes.
“Organizer Ryan Esler, Matick’s ‘man behind-the-scenes,’ really made this happen,” Baldini said. “He’s an organizer, a leader and a perfectionist — just like our Corvette owners.”
She added, “Thanks to our great team, this event ran like a well-tuned Corvette.”