GLASGOW — Wendell Strode, executive director of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, was recently named to the 2020 Corvette Hall of Fame class.
The announcement was made during the Corvette Hall of Fame Banquet on Aug. 30 as part of the National Corvette Museum's 25th Anniversary celebration.
Strode, who has ties to Barren County, has been with the museum for 23 years. Being named to the hall of fame, he said: “...Is a most humbling honor. It's a real credit to the great team that we work with here at the museum.”
The Corvette Hall of Fame was created in 1997 and has 74 members. Those who are inducted into the hall of fame are people who worked for either General Motors or Chevrolet, people who race Corvettes or are Corvette enthusiasts, said Katie Ellison, marketing and communications manager for the National Corvette Museum and NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green.
“It's never an employee. Wendell wasn't eligible until he retired. He's retiring in January of next year,” she said.
Strode helped get the museum off the ground and running.
In 1988, word had begun to spread about the National Corvette Restorers Society exploring the idea of building a Corvette museum. Strode, who was a banker at that time, contacted the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce with the idea of initiating a proposal for it be built in Bowling Green, said a press release about his induction into the hall of fame.
Strode soon found himself heading up a task force that worked to secure a 30-acre tract of land as a donation from private citizens and a commitment from the state to put in the road and utilities for the museum construction site.
He also worked to put together a financial package that included a feasibility study to get banks interested in joining the effort, said the press release.
The museum opened on Labor Day Weekend in 1994. Strode was recruited to be the executive director in December 1996.
The number of people inducted into the hall of fame varies from year to year.
“There's not a set amount,” Ellison said.
The names of the inductees are displayed on large banners that line the walls of the Skydome in the museum, and current year inductees have display cases featuring memorabilia and graphics inside the spire of the Skydome, as well as a video that plays for one year. There are also videos on each of the inductees on the museum's website, she said.
Strode has no specific plans after he retires. He and his wife plan to travel and spend quality time with grandchildren.
It is also possible that people will still see him at the museum “every now and then,” he said.
The 2020 Corvette Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted during a ceremony and banquet scheduled for Sept. 4, 2020. Additional inductees will be announced at a later date. Their induction will take place as part of the museum's the 26th Anniversary Celebration set for Sept. 3-5, 2020.