Get Buried in Your Corvette; You Wouldn’t Be the First!

August 14, 2009
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Photo of PVCA members from 1971

Photo of PVCA members from 1971

They say, you can’t take it with you. Well, tell that to George Swanson who’s buried at the Brush Creek Cemetery in Hempfield, Township, in his 1984 white Corvette.

That same kind of passion and fanaticism possesses the 139 members of the Pomona Valley Corvette Association (PVCA) who meet biweekly at The Garden Square Restaurant in La Verne, Calif.

These guys love their cars, community and country. On August 28, several of these same members will caravan to Bowling Green, Ky., home to the General Motors Corvette assembly plant and National Corvette Museum, which will be celebrating its 15th anniversary, Sept. 5-6.

Steering the club is President Charlie Lipscomb, a retired cosmetics regional manager for Alberto Culver and Coty who owns a 2007 Corvette as well as a 1962 one he purchased in 1967 when he was a 21-year-old college student at Wichita State.

“To get into that old car to drive down the highway is the most fun I have in my life,” said Lipscomb, who is so enthusiastic about all models and makes of Corvettes — the first 300 of which were hand made in 1953 — he could probably sell an entire fleet to consumer activist and environmentalist Ralph Nader who doesn’t even drive a car.

“The Corvette is the pinnacle to me,” Lipscomb said. “It has what I like in a car. It handles. It has performance. It is the safest car you could ever drive in your life.

“Corvette’s idea is to build a very fast, very fuel efficient and a very safe car. How can you beat that?

PVCA President Charlie Lipscomb's 1962 Black Corvette

PVCA President Charlie Lipscomb's 1962 Black Corvette

“More than 400 horsepower sitting under your hood and you’re getting 32 miles per gallon … … who knew about that?”

Lipscomb was quoting fuel economy numbers from a recent trip he and several PVCA members took to Colorado while driving slightly over the speed limit.

If Lipscomb ever wants to un-retire (he doesn’t because he says he’s having too much fun), he could find a home in any Corvette showroom and be the dealer’s top salesman.

“I could put you in a brand new c6 (newest generation of Corvette), put you on a track and you would be able to drive that car,” said Lipscomb, stopping only to refuel long enough for another sip of coffee. “It would save you if you started to go off the road. It’s got traction control. It has such dynamic brakes in the car. The car will actually slow itself down and start putting brakes on to keep you from sliding off the track.”

While Lipscomb and PVCA members clearly take pride in their rides, they are not just “show and shine” guys. They are a family first, representing all walks of life, from CEOs and presidents of their own companies to graphic designers, electricians, plumbers, mechanics and retirees like Lipscomb.

PVCA Members Art and Pam Ramirez with their red 2000 Corvette Coupe and 2007 yellow Corvette convertible.

PVCA Members Art and Pam Ramirez with their red 2000 Corvette Coupe and 2007 yellow Corvette convertible.

“If somebody has a breakdown, if somebody needs something, we’re there for them,” said Lipscomb, adding that before he joined the PVCA in 2007, “I was a lost soul.” Before moving to California in 2003, he was a member of the St. Louis Corvette Club.

Within the PVCA club, there’s a “Sunshine” committee that sends flowers to members who are sick or in the hospital. It also never forgets a member’s birthday.

“The whole point is we are family,” Lipscomb notes.

It’s also a family that looks beyond the hoods of its own cars and reaches out to real people in need. It gives 100% of the money it raises from car show entries to a variety of charities, such as Shoes That Fit, Kids Pack, and Quilts for Valor, an effort led by members Rosemary and Danny Rodriguez to send quilts to wounded members of the military.

Another nonprofit organization receiving PVCA’s support is Painted Turtle, a camp in Lake Hughes, Calif., for kids, ages 7 to 16, facing serious illnesses. The camp’s directors recently asked if the PVCA could drive out a few Corvettes for the kids who had been building pinewood derby cars.

“They asked for three, and we brought eight,” Lipscomb said. “We probably could have brought 40. You ask our membership to do something for somebody else, and we’ll be there for you. That’s the kind of club you’re dealing with.”

For the same event, members Paul and Sue Cope of San Dimas provided 170 tee shirts for the campers. “That money was given freely and openly, so those kids would have those shirts,” Lipscomb said. “Did they say anything about PVCA? Not one word. It was all about the Painted Turtle.”

Lipscomb said all Corvette owners share this charitable attitude.

“It’s not just our club,” Lipscomb added. “It’s all the Corvette clubs. They show up. That’s the kind of people that drive Corvettes. They really care. They give a darn about their fellow man. They’re not just hard-drivin’ guys who like to drive fast on the street and drag race their cars.”

When the caravan finally moves out later this month from the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, again it will be extended family on wheels moving toward the Corvette shrine in Bowling Green.

The PVCA spells out PVCA at Irwindale Speedway.

The PVCA spells out PVCA at Irwindale Speedway.

To help ensure the safety of the large group and coordinate all the town-to-town logistics, PVCA member Brent Hicks has personally run the course from the Southland to a midway point in Texas, when another caravan captain will take over.

“At his own expense, he got in his car and drove the route three times, making sure everything was right.” Lipscomb said, describing Hick’s dedication to the Corvette cause. “That’s how members do things; that’s who they are.”

For the caravan, drivers will be equipped with radios and route books, so if someone needs to pull off the road, no one will ever feel lost or isolated from the group.

“If you’ve ever been in a parade of cars like this, you know were not exactly flying down the road of life,” said Lipscomb.

Similarly, if an accident or breakdown should occur on the road, there’s always a handful of other caravaners ready to provide assistance. Interestingly, Corvettes no longer carry spare tires. Instead they run on “run flats,” pneumatic vehicle tires that enable the vehicle to continue to be driven at reduced speeds for up to another 250 miles.

Along the way, state highway patrols will offer traffic escorts. Many local Chevy dealerships along the route will also clear their lots, parking their own cars in back, so the Corvette caravan pulling into town can park their cars safely and securely. It also gives the local dealer in town a little bragging cachet.

To be a PVCA member, one only needs to own a Corvette. Lipscomb didn’t say if it had to be running. If it isn’t, the PVCA has an incredible network of resources to help potential members, whether they’re thinking to buy new or used.

If the former, buyers can also pick up their new Corvette coupe ($48,465), convertible ($53,220), Z06 ($73,925) or ZR1($103,970) in Bowling Green, where for an additional $400, they can arrange a “museum delivery”

“You get a jacket, a plaque, and they put something on your car showing your car is a museum delivery,” Lipscomb said. “They treat you like a god; they’ve built that car just for you.”

And when you’re back home in your Vette, should a driver of a foreign car pull alongside you at a stoplight, Lipscomb has some advice:

“Just kind of look at him and say, “Any day, bud.”

“It’s all about America. It’s the red, white and blue. That’s why we love the Corvette. It’s made here in the United States,in Bowling Green, in the heart of America!”

*On Sunday, look for a profile on PVCA members Art and Pam Ramirez.


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