Vettes at the beach: much more than cars

Chevrolet Corvette fans gather for the annual Vettes at the Beach show on Sunday September 18, 2022 at Ocean Beach Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy reprints
Chevrolet Corvette fans gather for the annual Vettes at the Beach show on Sunday September 18, 2022 at Ocean Beach Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy reprints
Phil Elia admires a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette C-2 as fans gather for the annual Vettes at the Beach show on Sunday September 18, 2022 at Ocean Beach Park in New London. Elia has his own Vette 64 at home, not a convertible, but it is not yet restored. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy reprints
Ocean Beach Park Manager David Sugrue stops to photograph a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette C-2 as fans gather for the annual Vettes at the Beach show on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at Ocean Beach Park in New London . (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy reprints
Chevrolet Corvette fans gather for the annual Vettes at the Beach show on Sunday September 18, 2022 at Ocean Beach Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy reprints

New London ― More than 300 Corvettes lined the parking lot at Ocean Beach Park on Sunday afternoon for the ‘Vettes at the Beach’ Corvette show.

However, the annual car show is not all about roaring engines and impressive paint schemes.

“Corvette people are like family,” said Mark Christiansen, vice president of For Corvettes Only Inc. and event organizer.

For Corvettes Only Inc., a local club of Corvette enthusiasts, invites all Corvette owners to display their masterpieces for a good cause. Private owners and other clubs flock to what Christiansen called southern New England’s “greatest Corvette show”. Participants pay a $20 entry fee for the event, with 70% of proceeds going to charities chosen by the club.

The club chooses five charities to contribute to once the funds are accounted for and the day is over. Christiansen and club president Bob Sicuranza expected more than $10,000 to be raised between entry fees, the 50/50 raffle and the gift basket raffle. In previous years, the club has donated to Make-A-Wish, Safe Futures and local food banks.

“Corvette people are pretty special,” Sicuranza said. “They really are. The complicity is unique.”

Every generation of Corvette, from the original C1 of the 1950s to today’s C8, was represented. Awards were given to the best car and the second of each generation, as well as a trophy for the Best in Show and one for the most represented club at the event. The club with the highest turnout receives a check for $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. This year it was the Corvette Club of Rhode Island.

Even those who left with materials admitted that was not the purpose of the event.

“You put extra time into your car, make changes, things like that, it’s recognition of that,” said Trevor Hartman, whose 65th Anniversary Corvette C7 won best in class. “But otherwise, I think for us it’s just being here and enjoying the company of other people who have the same passion as you.”

Hartman, 49, said he’s been involved with Corvettes for three decades. He said he started with a 1975 model when he was 19. Now he’s a member of the No Rules Corvette Club, where he and other Corvette owners meet weekly for cruises, go out for dinner and get together for holiday parties, long after the racing season is over. motor shows.

“It’s fantastic here,” Hartman said. “This is the show we look forward to every year because it’s here at the beach, it’s well attended, it’s all Corvettes.”

“Nothing seems to attract so many here on the shore,” he added.

It was Keith Brothers’ first car show and his all-original 1965 convertible was named the second of the C2 generation.

“I’m an older C2 guy, but I see all the new Corvettes and the number of cars that are here today,” Brothers said. “It’s like a big brotherhood for everyone. It’s great to see everyone come out. It’s great for the city too.

The terms “brotherhood” and “family” were common responses from attendees, but that couldn’t have been truer for the father and son who collaborated to win the Best in Show award.

Tom Cooper, 78, and his 49-year-old son, Tom Cooper, won the grand prize with their 1956 convertible at its first show. They said they had owned the car for 41 years and had spent the last six restoring it because they “got tired of looking at it”.

“He said we had to do something better,” Cooper recalled telling his son. “It looked like that, only it’s so much better now.

“Once in a lifetime,” young Cooper described the experience.

For Corvettes Only Inc. has been around since 1976 and has held many shows over its history. It was the club’s second year holding the event at Ocean Beach Park and had its biggest showing yet. Sicuranza and Christiansen said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Dave Sugrue, whom they presented with an appreciation award at the end of the event.

“We really like the venue,” Sicuranza said. “We are treated very well. Everyone who comes here seems to like it. It’s just a good general atmosphere.

“They’ve really, really helped grow this event from last year to this year and we’re going to continue to have it here for years to come,” Christiansen said.

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