An Epic Quest Realized – Fifty Years in the Making (1960 to 2010)
Corvette Aficionado Chip Miller’s Life Dream Fulfilled by Son: Chronicled in Michael Brown Film
CARLISLE, PA – During a pleasant spring evening in downtown historic Carlisle, the red carpet was literally rolled out on West High Street at the 72-year old Carlisle Theatre. For the May 6, 2011 premiere of “The Quest,” the elegant theatre was the ideal backdrop for one of the stars of the evening – the legendary #3 Cunningham Corvette.
Texas filmmaker Michael Brown premiered his extraordinary full-length documentary covering the decades-long span and culmination of Chip Miller’s quest. Chip Miller, the late co-founder of Carlisle Events, Inc., pursued his life’s dream not only to locate and restore the famous third Cunningham race Corvette, but also to bring it and its original driver together at Le Mans for the 50th anniversary of the car’s Le Mans class-winning victory of June 1960.
Chip passed away in March 2004 from the relatively little known disease Amyloidosis. As made evident in “The Quest” film, Chip Miller’s adoring wife, Judy, and family would ensure his [Chip’s] vision was carried out. Lance Miller, partner and owner of Carlisle Events, Inc., exemplified the highest degree of father/son respect and love by fulfilling his dad’s most ambitious quest.
As with any proper premiere, the palpable excitement and anticipation sparked the air. Positioned prominently behind velvet ropes in front of the box office, the world-renowned racecar sat proudly among all the attention. While admiring fans encircled the American racer that conquered the 24 Heures du Mans, cameras flashed with paparazzi flare.
Within the Carlisle Theatre’s elegant Art Deco lobby, many of the evening’s 500+ attendees – with some guests traveling from as far as Europe -- mingled while dining on catered hors d'oeuvres and drinks.
In addition to the priceless white and blue #3 racecar that returned to France last June, there were other significant and famous names enjoying the film’s premiere that evening. To that end, the #3 car’s only living driver, John Fitch, posed for photos, signed autographs, shook hands, and shared that same disarming smile caught in photos and film of his Le Mans triumph 50 years ago last summer.
Well-known participants on hand included: the #3 Cunningham’s restorer, Kevin Mackay of NY-based Corvette Repair, Inc., representation from Chevrolet, “The Quest’s” writer, director, and producer Michael Brown, and his wife, Sandra Brown, the New York Times Best Selling Author, along with other famous names such as noted automotive-industry-leading photographer Richard Prince.
However, there was no overlooking the true star of the evening – Chip Miller. Chip’s larger-than-life energy, passion, and dream came to life on the silver screen shortly after Angela Morsa, President of the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation, and Lance Miller welcomed guests, shared their appreciation, and reminded all that the evening was dedicated to supporting efforts to find a cure for Amyloidosis.
When the house lights came up after the heart-warming film’s credits, with nary a dry eye in the theatre, guests responded with a standing ovation for Michael Brown’s extraordinary representation of an amazing story centered around not just a historically-rich automobile, its story, and the people that made it happen, but a uniquely stellar individual – Chip Miller.
Visiting Carlisle from Detroit, Harlan Charles, representing Chevrolet as Corvette Product Marketing Manager, shared, “What I enjoyed about the film is that it will educate people about not just Corvette as America’s sports car … [and Corvette’s] Le Mans racing heritage, but that the Corvette is more than just a sports car. It is a vessel that can bind families – and even generations – together.”
With all proceeds from the evening dedicated by Michael Brown to the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation, the foundation advanced several more proverbial miles toward its own quest -- to put the brakes on Amyloidosis.
Lance Miller reflected on “The Quest” and the evening of May 6th sharing, “…my dad would be so happy to have been part of this. In everything he did, he looked for ways to bring people together to create something bigger.” Miller went on to say, “His [Chip’s’] passion for cars was fueled by his pursuit of meaningful relationships and his love and concern for others. I’m confident that ‘The Quest’ has captured the essence of my father and his dream. For me, along with all the support from everyone, to have fulfilled that dream is, in a way, my own personal dream realized. Dad - This one was for you! Life IS good!”
We were there!
Leaving home: May 6, 5:21am
Fresh tornado damage from the April 27 storms was evident along I-81 in VA.
The #3 Cunningham 1960 Le Mans winning Corvette on the apron in front of the Carlisle Theater.
2 views of #3's winning driver John Fitch flanked by Kirk Bennion and Harlan Charles in the theater lobby.
Busted: Me between Jack Stacey and Dennis Krajewski, friends from CT.
Putting this page together, I just realized that this poster for the Chip Miller Foundation is in French!
The appreciative and enthusiastic audience.
Back outside after the film for more photos.
The rogue's gallery: Kevin Mackay, John Fitch, Lance Miller,
Film producer Michael Brown, Kirk Bennion, Harlan Charles.
The clowning begins. l-r: Kevin, Corvette Racing photog Richard Prince,
Lance Miller (providing the rabbit ears), John Fitch, Harlan Charles.
Kevin Mackay, Michael Brown, Richard Prince, John Fitch.
Back home Saturday night.