The NCM and the Motorsports Park Draw Large Numbers
The National Corvette Museum is celebrating another record attendance year, making 2017 the third year in a row that the NCM saw an increase in visitors to the popular Bowling Green landmark.
In the past year, the museum opened a number of new exhibits, offered visitors vintage Corvette rides, hosted a number of go-kart events at the NCM Motorsports park, and even held driving events that put spectators behind the wheel of the latest-generation C7 Corvette. The new attractions, combined with an on-going curiosity about the sinkhole, attracted 228,744 visitors to the museum.
But what exactly was it about these attractions that makes the National Corvette Museum so desirable?
At the National Corvette Museum
For starters, the museum opened an exhibit celebrating Kentucky’s 225th anniversary as a state by hosting a special exhibit exploring the history of transportation over more than two centuries.
Guests to the NCM were also afforded the opportunity to take a ride in vintage Corvettes owned by the museum. Guests could choose from a number of Corvette including a 1966 Convertible 327, a 1979 Coupe, a 1996 Convertible and a 2003 50th Anniversary Convertible. The rides were offered seasonally and weather dependent, Monday thru Saturday, 10am-3pm, at a cost of $20.00 per person.
“We try to change and stay fresh,” says Katie Ellison, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Museum. “Adding the rides in the museum-owned Corvettes was a popular thing for us in 2017.
At the NCM Motorsports Park
In addition to the visitors to the museum, the NCM Motorsports Park welcomed 60,840 visitors to the track.
The NCM Kartplex opened in the summer, offering visitors the opportunity to pilot high-speed go-karts around the track for $20.00 per-session. The only requirements for visitors to compete with one another on the racetrack is that they are a minimum height of 60″ (or have a valid driver’s license) and that they were closed-toe shoes.
For those looking to get behind the wheel of a Corvette, the track offers visitors a selection of new Stingrays, both automatic and manual, that can be driven as part of a couple different driving experiences. The Corvette Touring program allows each driver to follow a lead car for four laps around the track. This experience is available on weekdays when the track is not being used. Price for this experience is $199. The full Corvette Experience is $599 and includes three 20-minute on-track driving sessions and three classroom sessions (alternating). The Corvette Experience includes lunch and a guided VIP tour of the National Corvette Museum.
The NCM Motorsports Park is also opened throughout the year for owners who want to bring their own Corvette (or other sports car or that matter) on the track. For specific information, including pricing and track requirements, please visit the NCM Motorsports website.
The Past and the Future
But its not only the new attractions that draw in the crowds. Even four years after it happened, people are still drawn to the museum to glimpse the aftermath of the major sinkhole that swallowed eight Corvettes in February, 2014.
“There’s still interest in the sinkhole,” Ellison said. “We’re lucky that it’s still a draw for us.”
Luck has had little to do with the continuing draw of the sinkhole and the museum, according to Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Vicki Fitch.
“I can’t applaud them enough for how they handled that sinkhole,” Fitch said. “I’m excited that it’s still bringing visitors and that they keep adding attractions. Our main attractions in Bowling Green continue to grow, and that helps us as we promote tourism.”
But what’s next for the National Corvette Museum?
“Visitors love hands-on experiences, so we were thrilled to be able to add several to our repertoire,” said Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode. “The success of our 2017 additions led to us adding a racing simulator at the Museum for 2018. It has already proved to be quite popular, so we are excited to offer it to guests.”
The new racing simulator puts drivers of any age in the cockpit and behind the wheel of a C6 Corvette. The simulator moves and vibrates much like a real car, providing a life-like experience and is $10 per session.
Admission to the Museum is $10 for adults, $5 for kids age 5-12, and children age 4 and under are free. The Museum is open daily, 8am-5pm Central Time. Admission to the NCM Motorsports Park is free (with the exception of select major events) and activity prices vary.