"Crowds of construction personnel, media, Museum visitors and staff cheered as the first Corvette, the 2009 "Blue Devil" ZR1 emerged from the depths of the sinkhole this morning at approximately 10:35am CT. The process was streamed live on two of the Museum's web cams with thousands of viewers tuning in all over the world.
"It's wonderful... just seven more to go," said Mike Murphy, construction manager for the project.
Even more cheers erupted when the car cranked up after only a few tries, and even drove about 20 feet to the doorway of the Skydome.
"That's a GM product for you. They take a licking and keep on ticking!" added Murphy.
The crews have been working six days a week since the sinkhole incident that swallowed eight Corvettes in the National Corvette Museum's Skydome exhibit area. This past Saturday, the crews rigged up the ZR1 and did a few test lifts. John Spencer, Manufacturing Integration Manager at the GM Corvette Assembly Plant, helped consult the team on the best points to strap up the car. "With Mike, worker safety is number one. There are no compromises," said Spencer.
"I was worried about the wheels," said Murphy. "This morning we took so long because we wanted to add some secondary straps in case the wheels pulled. It was just a little more insurance."
Murphy added that with this project, nothing is set in stone on how to do it. "It's been a huge relief. It went better than expected," he said.
After the elation of the first car being rescued and even cranking up, the Museum staff were excited to put the car back on display in the Museum's Exhibit Hall. "It's incredible to have the car back on display again. It's what we've been hoping for," said Bob Hellmann, Facilities and Displays Manager. "Now we just want to get the next seven, restore the cars, and get them all back on display."
The Museum plans on displaying the cars as they are recovered, now through August 3. In addition, this Spring they plan to create a special display with information on the sinkhole incident, sinkholes and karst background details, videos, photos and more.
After taking a lunch break, the crew will resume the car retrieval process - with the 1993 "Ruby Red" 40th Anniversary Corvette slated for recovery Monday afternoon. The 1962 Black Corvette is planned to be retrieved on Tuesday, but will be much trickier as a five ton slab of concrete is partially resting on the front of the car. Two cranes will be used to simultaneously lift the car and the concrete.
Links to photos, videos and press releases are available on the Museum's website at www.corvettemuseum.org. For the latest updates visit the Museum’s Facebook Fan page at www.facebook.com/corvettemuseum."