Gearhead of the Week: Tom McKinley

Gearhead of the Week: Tom McKinley

Corvette special!

Over the next several weeks, Gearhead of the Week will feature local owners of the different generations of Chevrolet Corvettes, leading up to the 2013 Bloomington Gold show June 28-30 at the grounds of the State Farm Center in Champaign.

Corvette history: The third generation of Corvettes was model years 1968-82. This was the first generation to offer T-top removable roof panels and introduced model names such as LT-1, ZR-1 and Collector Edition. A copy of the 1978 25th anniversary edition was the first Corvette used as a pace car for the Indianapolis 500. The Sting Ray nameplate was not used on 1968 models, but Chevrolet referred to the Corvette as a Sting Ray, which was shortened to one word — Stingray — for the 1969-76 models. A new front bumper and larger fender flares give this series a unique twin hump look from the front. Model year 1979 marked the peak production year for the car with 53,807. The end of the third generation also marked the move of production from St. Louis to Bowling Green, Ky., in mid-1981.

Driver's license

Name: Tom McKinley

Age: 56

Residence: rural Urbana

Occupation: locomotive engineer

How long I've been a gearhead: "At 16, I got my first car: a Chevrolet Vega GT."

The vehicle I wish I never sold: "A 1970 Chevrolet Nova. I got married."

Street cred: McKinley also has owned a '74 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

On the sticker

Make/model: 1979 Corvette coupe, T-top

Powertrain: 409-cubic-inch V8 (bored-out 400-cubic-inch) small block with 425 horsepower; a 700 R4 automatic transmission; four-barrel carburetor

Class: modified

The story: Parts from Mid-America in Effingham have made this car custom: Chrome Hooker header side pipes, Holly 670 carburetor, Dart aluminum heads, roller cam and custom interior.

Watch the video

More sights and sounds of McKinley's ride can be found here.

Know any gearheads?

Do you know someone who has a passion about vehicles?

Nominate a friend, family member or even yourself for Gearhead of the Week by emailing

We have received a gratifying number of respondents, so please be patient. We're working our way through the nominees — and we're always glad to receive more.

If you know of any events within driving distance that would be of interest to gearheads in the area, email us. We'll run them occasionally in our gearhead calendar.


June 1: Cruising For A Cure, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Champaign County and sponsored by Sundowners Car Club. First stop 9-10 a.m., Colbert Park, 203 E. Church St., Savoy; second stop 10:30-11:30 a.m., downtown Sidney; third stop noon to 12:45 p.m., park on Grand Avenue, St. Joseph; final stop 1-2 p.m. downtown Homer (enter your car after arriving for Homer Soda Fest car show; voting by the public; trophies awarded). A trophy for the car owner who brings in the most donations to American Cancer Society. Information: Jill by calling/texting 979-1504 or emailing

Aug. 3: Villa Grove Car Show 2013, "Cars for the Cure" in support of breast cancer awareness. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Harrison Park. Registration runs from 9 a.m. to noon ($10 entry fee); trophies will be awarded at 3 p.m. to top 20 cars, top 10 trucks, top 10 motorcycles, veterans' choice, chairman's choice (three), sponsors' choice (three), best paint (three), best interior (two) and farthest traveled. Other features: dash plaques, free goody bags, raffle drawings throughout the day, first 25 entrants receive free T-shirt, free barbecue lunch to all participants, 50/50 drawing to benefit the Mills Breast Cancer Institute. Register/information: Stephen Akers, 832-9778 or 621-3027.

Sections (1):Living
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