32nd Bloomington Gold

Pheasant Run Resort
St. Charles, IL

June 24-26, 2004

This was our 7th year for Corvettes Conquer Cancer as a guest of Bloomington Gold. As usual, my bodyguard and co-pilot, Gary Readio, accompanied me for the trip. This event in Bloomington in 1998 was our first major national event, and the good folks there, headed by Cathy Storm, have continued that tradition. This year Cathy served us above and beyond the call of duty by giving up her staff room at the Holiday Inn Express for us to use, and by bringing her own tent to use at our display. Cathy, you're the greatest!

Wednesday, June 23

Heading out:

Mallett's
We stopped for the night in Middleburg Heights, OH. After checking into our room,
we cruised the 3 miles over to sponsor Chuck Mallett's shop in Berea to see if
anybody was there. Arriving about 8:30, this is the sight that greeted us:

Chuck and his crew were furiously working on this black Cadillac CTS-V, with some Mallett "enhancements". These included a supercharged 435ci LS6 engine (out of his "Green Car"), brake upgrades, bigger wheels & tires. The car produces 715 hp at the rear wheels!! Through perfectly quiet mufflers. The car was being prepped for a Car and Driver Magazine "0-150-0 Shootout" for street cars the following weekend at Michigan International Speedway. They would be competing against, among others, BMW and Mercedes teams - the Caddy's target market. Their task this evening was to make the car "less violent", to make it a little easier for driver Jim Minneker to get the power to the ground.

Some serious tires under this car!

Chuck tweaks the blower pop-off valve, takes it out for a quick road evaluation,
followed by the debriefing.

So how did they do in the Shootout? 1st in Sedan class, 5th overall.
Plus a special award for "fastest acceleration from 100-150".

Thursday, June 24

After 90 minutes of stop & go on I-90 around Chicago, we arrived
at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, the last 1/2 hour in the pouring rain.

Scouting the cold, wet grounds for our yet-to-be-assigned space, we found this C6
in the Chevy display. The rain had stopped, but you can see the sweatshirts & jackets.

Friday, June 25

First up in the wash bay at the HIE. That's 5:40 am local time!

Some random sightings around the show:

"As found in barn..."

Some of the Callaways featured in the "Special Collection."

This, the last of 10 Callaway Speedsters, owned by the late Chip Miller.

This one is owned by friends Randy & Judy Flock. The ONLY Callaway Grand Sport!

And look, there they come driving by our display in a golf cart!

The food court was extremely popular. The stand at the right edge of the picture had
incredible apple dumplings, which Gary & I found to be a daily requirement!

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Friday Evening:
The American Cancer Society
"Relay For Life" of Kane County

Held at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva,
home of the Kane County Cougars baseball team.

This was the highlight of our trip to St. Charles this year!

Thanks to Cathy Storm of Bloomington Gold, we were invited by Karen Breier of the ACS Kane County Unit to participate in this very special event. Our first time at Bloomington in 1998 also coincided with the Relay for Life there, where Sandy was invited to speak at the opening ceremonies and she walked the Survivors' Lap. That one blew our minds as it was so far beyond anything we had seen at home in Maine. This one in Kane County far outshone any other Relay for Life I have ever participated in!

In coordination with the Relay, there was another show going on that evening where the Chicago Corvette Club was fundraising. They left that show and brought all the Corvettes to the stadium about 10:00 that evening with the money they raised.

We had our own spot, the only Corvette inside the stadium, right inside the entrance.
It turned out to be a popular photo op for some of the Relay teams.

The opening ceremonies kicked off, quite literally, with a cancer survivor dance studio
owner speaking, then encouraging the crowd to dance in place as her star pupil danced
to the BeeGees "Stayin' Alive". To say that got everybody inspired and pumped up
is a serious understatement: Just look at the crowd!

Still on the Kicking theme, here the captains of 2 competing high school kick-dancing
teams told about combining their efforts to jointly raise money for this event, then
demonstrated their routines. This one team of high school girls raised $33,500
for the American Cancer Society!

Another moving feature of this event that I had not seen before:
for the Survivors' Lap, they first emptied the stands to line both sides
of the track to honor the Survivors as they took their lap.

Here, the Luminaria lining the track have been lit.

As scheduled, the Chicago Corvette Club arrived from the other event
around 10:00. That's Karen Breier gathering up their collection cans in front
of CCC Pres. Mike Mandarino's Corvette.

The relay teams and the spectators were treated to a spectacular fireworks display.

Gary with Allen, Corvette guy, cancer survivor and new friend.
He insisted on buying us coffee and a box of Krispy Kremes before we left!

Oh, so what did this event raise?
At last tally, the Kane County Relay For Life raised

$432,000
for the American Cancer Society.
Congratulations for a job extremely well done!

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Saturday, June 26

This was our spot this year: beautiful waterfront,
between the lake and the golf cart path, with Cathy's tent, tables & chairs.

The "Gold Tour"

 

While waiting for the Road Tour to start, we exercised the radio control C6 and posed
for pictures with Sonny Kilgo, retired from the Corvette Plant, and Mike Mandarino,
Pres. of the Chicago Corvette Club, and their wives.

Random sights along the 50 mile road tour, and some of the 1200 Corvettes participating. The tour through mostly farm country was led by a group of 1954 Vettes followed by the blue C6, then the rest of us. We were #15, after the GM cars, as you can see in the shot at the traffic light below. The Tour ended at a shopping center near the start for an informal display before everybody scattered for dinner.

Sunday, June 27

Steve Tribble, Gold Tour organizer and all-around good guy,
stopped by to visit our display the next day as we were about to pack up.

Loading completed, Gary & I hit the road for home a little before 1pm local time. We took a back road runaround recommended by a native vendor to avoid major delays on I-90 around Chicago. We'll never know if it saved any time or not, but it was a pleasant change of pace, and at least we were moving!

We stopped for the night in Middleburg Heights again.

Monday, June 28

The last day on the road we were treated to a 1¼ hour stoppage on I-80,
followed by another 15 min. stop a few miles later. Oh, and it rained most of the day.
Aside from that, no problem...

These are the final stats back home again.

  Many thanks to Bloomington Gold, especially Cathy Storm,
to Karen Breier and the Kane County Relay For Life,
to Gary for his help and support, and to Cheryl and Taylor,
his wife and daughter, for sharing him with me for the trip!