CHAMPAIGN — All the pristine 1960s Corvettes brought Memorial Stadium back Friday, back to a time when everything was candy red, sparkly and shiny, when the 'Vettes and the 'Stangs were wonders upon the earth, when there was horsepower to spare and gas sold for 39 cents a gallon.
Oh, and the 2014s looked great, too, at the Bloomington Gold Corvette Show, where 30,000 people will spend the weekend lusting after a car from the era when author Tom Wolfe wrote "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby."
The show's own radio station was blasting "I Can't Drive 55," though most of the owners had passed that limit.
Bill Eichstadt and friends came from Cincinnati with his 2003 "spiral gray" Anniversary model. He said he has been coming to the show since its early days in Bloomington and St. Charles.
"I always wanted one. It's what you would see the cool guys driving," he said.
Unlike some collectors, he has only one 'Vette. "That's all I'm allowed to have," he says. If he had to pick another dream car, it would be a much more expensive Ferrari or Lamborghini.
Marty Lieberman, of Eagan, Minn., drove south in his 2003 yellow convertible. "I've had six of them over the years," he said of his addiction.
He's a member of the Ya, Ya Betchas Club, which boasts "No officers, No dues, Yust for fun."
It has 25 members — "we're very selective," another member said.
Steve Dvorak of Bloomington, Minn., has a 2003 black convertible he worked 50 years to get.
"This is a great show, good vendors, a chance to meet up with old friends from all over," he says.
One of the top vendors is Spring Mountain Resort and Country Club, which has a race track in Nevada where the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School teaches how to handle a Corvette.
A 3-day program for $3,895 will get you instruction from performance drivers like Todd Joyce.
The school is certified by Corvette. However, you're not certified to drive one at 172 miles per hour. That's the max Joyce has reached, but only because the straights weren't long enough and he had to turn.
"At 150, the broken white line becomes solid," he says.
And then there were the dreamers.
"I like the 2014," said Jim Barham of Champaign. "Maybe I'll buy one. When I'm older."
Barham, founder of the indi go art gallery, was tootling around on his bike, the only way to move quickly through the traffic snarl. He said he'd probably have to be retired to be able to afford one.
Though vintage 'Vettes were on sale all around — one Stingray for an affordable $60,000 — Barham thus far has to content himself with treasured memories of a Stingray bike — high handlebars, white banana seat — that made him the toast of Bottenfield School when he was in fifth grade.
Also affordable: Horizon Hobby offers a couple of 1/10th-scale Corvettes for $290 each. Derek Wagner of Champaign noted that the RC 'Vettes are licensed by GM, checked for accuracy and ready for the streets.