When the National Corvette Museum recently put out a call asking enthusiasts to donate Corvettes for use at the Motorsports Park’s youth driving program, Jan Rue and Mark Heusinkveld of Cincinnati, Ohio answered.
The two became the first people to donate a Corvette to the motorsports park to use in its expanded Traffic Safety Education Foundation program that helps young people learn how to be better drivers.
Andy Pilgrim, a member of the Corvette Hall of Fame and former factory team driver for Corvette and Cadillac, actually started the TSEF in 1995 “where I essentially just try and educate young people, parents, and drivers’ education teachers,” he said.
“Coming to Bowling Green I have worked to develop a community-centered project, a drivers’ safety driving area,” Pilgrim said. “Essentially, most parents don’t spend the amount of time they should working with their children on supervised driving time. This area will hopefully encourage parents to come spend some of that supervised driving time here at the NCM Motorsports Park. And if you drive your own car, it’s free to use.”
Pilgrim thought the program might be more exciting if Corvettes were available for the student drivers to use for a small fee and thus issued the aforementioned request for donor cars.
“When we put out a call to our enthusiast following, Jan and Mark answered,” said Dr. Sean Preston, president and CEO of the Museum. “I know I would have loved to do my practice driving at a cool racetrack like this and in a Corvette instead of an empty school parking lot in a 1979 Mazda RX7.”
Mark had given the Arctic White 1999 Corvette to Jan as a 60th birthday gift, but with the pandemic limiting club meetings and other enthusiast activities during 2020, Jan says the car was “just not getting the driving and the attention that she should be getting. What a perfect thing for youth to be able to learn some safety in such a cool car or group of cars.”
Those young drivers will be enjoying a C5 Corvette that has been babied throughout its life. “The gentleman we purchase this from, he was an ex-Air Force mechanic,” Jan explained. “He was so proud of this car. He sent every scrap of paper with this car, memorabilia, every receipt, and he was the third owner of the car. He put an extra coat of wax on it before it would get on the transport truck and then sent us a video of a walk-around of the car before it left Clearwater. He was very proud of his baby and we were very grateful to get it.”
Fortunately, the two won’t be without Corvettes as Mark still has the first one he ever bought about 20 years ago – a ’69 big block convertible as well as a 2019 that they drove to the donation ceremony. Jan also plans to order a new C8 soon.
The NCM says the new drivers’ learning area will be open to the public in the coming weeks, with the Corvette driving option added soon afterward.
“We want to thank Jan and Mark for their donation and hope this inspires other enthusiasts to come forward and support our program designed to create safer drivers on the road and a new generation of Corvette enthusiasts,” Preston said.
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