WORTH THE TRIP
Enjoy fast times at the National Corvette Museum
Recent expansion spotlights driving simulators
The National Corvette Museum is definitely about more than just looking at beautiful Corvettes.
The museum’s recently completed 47,000-square-foot expansion included architecturally changing the building’s interior while at the same time creating a new glass-front entrance to the Conference Center, archives and library, and the Corvette Café. Combined with the existing space, the museum now covers more than 115,000 square feet.
There is so much more to see now than before, and at the top of the list is a driving simulator.
Although it doesn’t put you in the cockpit of a high-performance Corvette, it does place you behind the wheel of a car patterned after a Pontiac Sunfire. The car is so realistic that when the seatbelt is secured and the key turned on, the dashboard lights up and the driver can feel and hear the humming of the virtual engine.
The simulator is so authentic that drivers even experience the vibration from the pavement beneath the virtual tires, and the car’s weight even shifts with the turning of the steering wheel.
The museum has two simulators, and, according to Chris Sweeney, tours and admission supervisor, as of their installation in March 2010, they were the only ones of their kind in the United States. They were purchased through a Kentucky Department of Transportation grant.
“With their addition, the Corvette Museum is now more than a place to see classic cars, but now also an educational facility,” he says.
The simulators were created by Virage Simulation, a company based in Montreal, Canada. And they are so realistic that driver education classes are using them in their training.
“Some people come here expecting to drive a simulation of a high-speed Corvette,” Sweeney adds. “But this is not a race car experience or a video game for kids.”
All users of the simulators must have at least a learner’s driving permit. The three-section panoramic view screens not only allow the driver to see what’s up ahead, but rearview and sideview mirrors add to the realism.
The system lets the driver experience situations that cannot be duplicated safely in real life. For instance, a car entering your lane, a blowout, or brake failure are just a few of the scenarios that can be practiced over and over as a training aid.
“We can even change the driving conditions as they relate to weather,” Sweeney points out. “You want snow, we got it. Rain and wind, that too. Fog, yes indeed.”
Sweeney says the museum is currently offering five educational programs on the simulators, including Emergency Driving Situations; Driving Under the Influence; Speed, Road Conditions, and Stopping Distance; Hazard Perception; and Fuel Efficient Driving.
“We occasionally have Vette enthusiasts that are a little disappointed that the simulator is not a Corvette replica,” Sweeney says. “But we think here at the museum it gives us another dimension and that’s to provide drivers with a safe learning environment to develop their driving skills, which may lead to saving lives.”
The National Corvette Museum encourages driver education classes, as well as companies and businesses that revolve around driving, to utilize the simulators.
Katie Frassinelli, the museum’s marketing manager, says several businesses have inquired about the facilities’ use. The museum has recently partnered with AARP to offer a driver safety program; participants can get a reduction in their auto insurance rates. The first class was in June.
“Some have asked if it can be adapted to simulate driving a truck,” she says. “At this point, we can’t.”
There are hands-on simulator demonstrations at no additional charge with paid admission, at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Central Time. They can also be reserved for private rental during and after hours at the museum.
Corvettes and more in Bowling Green
National Corvette Museum
Exit 28, I-65
Open daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CT
Admission $10 adults; $5 ages 6-16; $8 seniors; $25 family
(270) 781-7973 or
(800) 53-VETTE (538-3883)
GM Corvette Assembly Plant Tours
Exit 28, I-65
8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m.,
2 p.m. CT (No tours Fridays or weekends). Admission $7.
Closed-toe shoes required; no cameras, videos, or cell phones. No children under age 7. All tours subject to change due to plant production.
Reservations (270) 745-8019
Art’s Auto Mart Inc.
Exit 28, I-65
Located near the museum at 513 Duntov Way, this under-one-roof facility has more than 90 Vettes and classics on display. Many are for sale. Admission $5
8 a.m.-5 p.m. CT; closed Sunday
Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Exit 22, I-65
352 Three Springs Road
(800) 326-7465 or