Founded in Bowling Green, in 1981, the same year Corvette production moved from St. Louis to Bowling Green, the National Corvette Homecoming (NCH) has held its annual celebration centered around the Corvette. Held in Bowling Green, the three-day event features car shows, a road tour, guest speakers, seminars, vendors, and exhibits.
NCH has had several owners over the years, beginning with founders Tom Hill and Sam Hall. The Pruitt’s (Joe and Vera), along with a trio of partners, purchased the NCH in December of 2001, but one by one the other partners stepped down and by 2004 Joe and Vera were the solitary owners. Since then, the annual show has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Joe, Vera and volunteers. But after 16 years of rewarding hard work, age and health issues have forced the couple to think retirement.
Joe’s goal for the NCH was to create a premier event for Corvette enthusiasts, and the variety of show categories reflect this ideal. Drive and Shine is dedicated to cars driven regularly; Show and Shine is for cars (often restored) trailered to the event; a Reunion Class focuses on cars at least 20 years old; a Custom Class is dedicated to cars with altered appearance or enhanced performance; the Race Car class is for track-driven cars; and Sans Pareil (“Without Equal”) pits the finest Corvettes with the strictest of judging. In 2014, an Ultra Original class was also added, giving owners of cars 30 years and older (and 85 percent or more original) a chance to compete on equal footing.
This year, the NCH moved to the National Corvette Museum and changed from being a traditional July weekend to one in late May or early June. “In 2008, before the economy crashed, we drew about 500 cars,” Joe explained, “But since then, we’ve averaged around 300 to 350 cars each year.” He attributes this to a variety of causes, including higher fuel prices, less disposable income, and an economy that still struggles to recover to pre-crash prosperity. Those that do attend have a good time, and Joe says that negative feedback letters and emails are few and far between. Following the awards at this year’s show, the NCH staff received a standing ovation from those in attendance, a clear indicator of the effort put into it.
As of now, the outlook for the show’s future looks good, but Joe says it is time for a new owner to take the reins. Fortunately, Joe is already talking with four prospective buyers, and a quick sale would enable the 2018 show to maintain the current late May/early June dates at the National Corvette Museum. It would also give Joe and Vera the chance to enjoy the hobby they’ve invested so much in over the years.
“I’d like to visit some of the larger Corvette shows as a tourist, while I still can,” Joe said. If all goes as planned, he may soon have his chance.
If you have always wanted to own your own Corvette event, please email Joe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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