'Vette clinic

'Vette clinic

Thomas Keller doesn't like to play favorites, but it's impossible to bring his whole family to the Bloomington Gold Corvette Show at State Farm Center.

The show, in its 42nd year, runs Friday though June 29 in the grass west of Memorial Stadium.

Keller's family comprises eight late-model Corvettes, most in custom colors that make them extreme rarities. They all have modified intakes and other custom parts. He also has original factory tires in storage.

Pressed, he does have a favorite: his 2011 orange Grand Sport, with a Z06 body made into a convertible.

Keller, 68, lives south of Urbana. He originally came from Danville, and worked 40 years in production at Kraft.

One question for each kid.

How do you come to own this fleet of performance vehicles on a workingman's salary?

"I never married." Instead, he took care of his aging parents, leaving no time, he says, for gambling, dating or any other way for spending money. When they passed on, he turned to collecting. "They're my eight kids."

They say "Eight is Enough." Is eight enough?

"I need to get a Vette-sectomy," he says. There's no more room in his sheds.

How do you find time to wax all these beauties?

"They've all got Clearcoat protection." He has them detailed once a year.

At what speed, hypothetically, does one of these top out? If someone was to try to do that. Not that we're encouraging that.

If Keller ever tried, he would find that one of his cars tops out at 182 miles per hour. That's when the governor installed by Chevrolet puts a stop to the fun.

Favorite TV show?

"That's easy," Keller says. "Route 66. I never missed it." The show ran from 1960 to 1964 and featured two young men in a Corvette convertible. Adventures ensued.

Boots are made for walking. Are 'Vettes made for driving?

"Sure, but a car like this is not transportation — it's pleasure."

Are any for sale?

In fact, three of them are. Check Keller out at the Bloomington Gold.

Ever get a speeding ticket?

"Not in a Corvette. The state troopers stop me once in a while, to take a look at the car. My driving record is impeccable."

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