For 37 years, the National Corvette Homecoming (NCH) drew Corvette fans to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for an annual three-day celebration of Chevy’s premier sports car. When owner Joe Pruitt put the event up for sale last October, it looked like the show’s future might be in jeopardy, but as Corvette Blogger reports, Pruitt has decided to keep the show, announcing similar late May – early June dates and a new location for 2018.
The NCH premiered in 1981, the same year that Corvette production moved from St. Louis to Bowling Green. That’s no coincidence, as the show’s early purpose was to introduce owners to the Corvette’s new home town, adding an even greater sense of community among owners. The NCH has passed through several owners over the years, and in 2001 was purchased by Joe and Vera Pruitt, along with three other investors.
By 2004, only the Pruitts remained, and for the next 14 years Joe and Vera put on an event that included everything from car shows to fashion shows, and road tours to seminars. Age catches up with us all, and after enduring four surgeries – including a hip replacement – in four years, the 74-year-old Joe came to the decision that it was time to sell the show last October. Subsequent conversations with Hemmings revealed that as many as four buyers were in the running to take over the show.
As with any show of this scope, time was a critical factor, and venues like the National Corvette Museum (the show’s home in 2017) book quickly in the summer months. Last December, Pruitt told us he was close to closing a deal with a potential prospect, but if this fell through, he’d consider hosting a smaller, more intimate version of the show in 2018.
Based upon feedback from past (and prospective) attendees, and unable to reach an agreement with potential buyers, Pruitt has made the decision not to sell the NCH after all. As he explained to local Bowling Green ABC affiliate WBKO, “I’m not done having fun… There’s been so many people wanting to continue it that I just could not let it die.”
Thus, the show must go on, and Pruitt is actively seeking sponsors for this year’s show, which has been put together without the traditional amount of lead time. The NCH will take place from May 31 – June 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn on Wilkinson Trace in Bowling Green, which returns the venue to its origins as a small, hotel-parking-lot show. Accordingly, it will have lower pricing for car show entrants, and both spectator admission and parking will be free. The Chevy Invitational portion of the show, added in 2014, will be dropped, returning it to a dedicated, Corvette-only show.
Despite its smaller size, Pruitt tells us that the NCH’s all-inclusive car show categories will return, allowing owners of driver-quality cars, race cars, show cars and concours contenders to compete on equal footing. As in past years, the categories will be Drive and Shine, for regularly driven cars; Show and Shine, for restored cars, typically trailered to events; Reunion Class, for Corvettes 20 years or older; Custom Class, for cars with an altered appearance or enhanced performance; Race Car Class, for track-driven cars; Sans Pareil, for concours-level cars subjected to the strictest of judging; and Ultra Original for cars retaining 85-percent or more of their original components after 30 years or more.
Look for additional information to be published on the National Corvette Homecoming’s website as it becomes available.