Corvette owners rally to collect food for needy
Bloomfield Hills — What do you call a car that is twisted steel and sex appeal while as All-American as a 12-gauge shotgun?
For the 10th straight year more than 400 Vettes (and we don’t mean Chevettes) gathered in the parking lot of the Kingsley Inn for a food drive and strut-your-stuff rally on Woodward. And the man in charge of it again this year is its original organizer, Larry Courtney, and his wife, Verna.
“I got the idea for the food drive after I met the wonderful people at the Open Hands Food Pantry in Royal Oak,” Courtney said. “After my visit I said, ‘Man, nobody should go hungry at this time in my life.’ ”
So Courtney organized the Corvettes on Woodward rally where Vette owners are asked to donate $10, canned and dried foods as well as toiletries for the needy.
“Last year we collected enough to fill a two-car garage,” said Courtney, 68, a retired steel worker. “We also encourage people to donate soap and lotions, the little ones that you find in motels while you travel.”
Among those at the rally were Ray and Sue Miller who blew everyone away with their pristine red and white ’59 Vette that Ray bought when he was just 13.
“It was rusted out, had no interior and the engine didn’t run at all,” said Miller, who bought the car for $500 that he earned mowing lawns, working in a bowling alley and repairing old cars for sale.
“I fixed it up and drove it at age 16. It was at my wedding when I got married in 1982 and then it spent the next 22 years in storage before I completely restored it.”
When it comes to longevity Ken, 93, and Shirley Zemke, 91, are the king and queen of the rally, and this is the first year they’ll be driving in it.
“We’ve been married for 70 years,” said Ken, who is driving a ’64 Corvette that is one of three Corvettes that belong to his son Steve. “I drove it for the first time today and it was a lot of fun. It has so much power, but I can handle it.”
Zemke, who is retired from General Motors, used to build Pontiac Firebirds and GTOs.
“I love this Corvette but GTOs rock,” Zemke said.