Welcome back to On the Campaign Trail where I’m chronicling my experiences with my 1972 Corvette convertible. While the politicians spent the summer campaigning for votes, I spent the summer campaigning for high-level Corvette show awards. When we left off last time I had just wrapped up at the NCRS Motor City Regional. Now with my Top Flight ribbon in my back pocket, it was off to Bloomington Gold to chase Survivor, Bloomington Gold, and Benchmark honors.
You can catch up on the previous articles in this series here:
- Follow Along as I Campaign a 1972 Corvette Convertible (Part 1)
- Preparing for Flight (Part 2)
- The NCRS Motor City Regional (Part 3)
With less than 2 weeks between the Motor City Regional and Bloomington Gold I had little intent or need to make any improvements on the car. So early on a Wednesday morning we loaded up and made the 300ish mile drive from suburban Detroit to Indianapolis. When we arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway we got the car unloaded and I promptly checked in at the registration table. The car was positioned underneath the grandstands due to the weekend-long threat of rainy weather. A great adlib by the Bloomington staff. With the car parked, my squad and I headed back to the hotel to rest up for the action-packed days ahead. Thursday would be the Survivor Road test consisting of 2 laps around the historic IMS track. The actual Survivor judging and Benchmark Audit would take place on Saturday following Friday’s Certification judging.
I arrived at the track early Thursday morning under threatening skies. Like most Corvette owners I wasn’t real keen about driving my car in the rain, but that was offset by my excitement about those track laps in my old Corvette! During the owners meeting, the BG team announced that they were canceling the road test due to the weather and the track conditions. Each car would be given its functionality credit since they were driven into their parking spot the preceding day. So, by 8:30am my Thursday judging was complete. Off to see the rest of the show!
Flash forward to Saturday and the actual Survivor judging. My goal was to get a Survivor Gold award which signifies that the car is 80% or more unrestored in the 4 categories: Chassis, Exterior, Interior, and Engine. Score at least 66% in all 4 categories and you get a Survivor Silver award. Survivor Gold or Silver on Saturday plus a Gold Certificate on Friday will net you the prestigious Bloomington Benchmark award. Here the judges are looking for originality. They want to see original fasteners, paint finishes, belts, hoses, and inspection marks among other items. They want to see the vehicle just as St. Louis built it. The parts either pass or they don’t. There are no partial deductions here. Based on the calculations at the end of each section, the final percentage of originality is determined. The 4 judges all work at the same time evaluating their respective sections. After each judge finishes, they’ll review the sheet with you so you can see your score.
When I arrived back at my car after the owner’s meeting the judges were already there and ready to work. After exchanging greetings and some witty banter they set off on their duties. Overall, I was confident that I’d beat that 80% threshold in all 4 categories, but now it was up to the judges. As usual, my main concern was the chassis and its 46 Michigan winters. After about 30 minutes they had finished and it was time to review my scores. First up was the engine section where I scored 96% which was on par for what I was expecting. The engine judge even commented on how nicely unrestored the car was. Next up was interior and a 100% score. So far, so good. Exterior was the 3rd section we reviewed and ended up with a score of 95%. Finally, it was time for the chassis section which would ultimately determine if I’d be eligible for a Survivor Gold and potentially a Benchmark award. When the dust had settled chassis came in at 68%. I have to admit that I felt this score was lower than it should have been. While there are a couple of small areas that look like they could have been touched up at some point, I think the deducts penalized more parts than they really should have. I think a closer, more thorough, look would have brought the chassis score up higher. Would have I scored 80%? Maybe, maybe not. Like with Flight judging at the regional I elected not to belabor the point since I was still in line for a Benchmark award which was my ultimate weekend goal anyway. Lose the battle to win the war.
With 3 of 4 sections checking in well over 80% and one at over 66% I was the proud owner of a Survivor Silver award. While it wasn’t the exact award I wanted I was more focused the big picture and that Benchmark award.
Certification judging would bring a new level of scrutiny in both originality, condition, and functionality. Come back next time when I’ll recap Certification day at Bloomington Gold. Did I get that elusive Benchmark award? Stay tuned.
Photos by Steve Burns