Volume 14, Issue 37 ~ September 14 - September 20, 2006

Corvettius Obsessicus Is a Rare Breed

This is America’s sports car

by Matt Makowski

If you put two people in a room there’s no telling what they could talk about — unless they’re both Corvette owners. This breed of Homo sapiens, Corvettius obsessicus, is largely a North American species noted for a quick-to-smile, friendly demeanor, charitable nature and pack mentality. You can see it in the way they wave to each other as they pass on the road.

It’s a species born out of affiliation, not evolution.

Affiliation often begins in youth. A poster on an adolescent’s bedroom wall transforms into an obsession. It feeds on frequent trips to the newsstand to buy car magazines. It is immune to the whiplash normally induced by following a speeding ’Vette as it races by. The signs are subtle but evident.

Sherry Arigo was 15 when she encountered one of the breed. By 19, she had married him; for the next 31 years, she studied the undeveloped Corvettius obsessicus.

“Every year when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday he said the same thing: a Corvette,” Arigo said.

For 30 years, Arigo’s answer was the same: “We can’t afford one.”

In 2003, she realized they could afford one. Not long later, the fixation spread from husband to wife. Arigo no longer takes her husband’s Corvette to the store. Now, she takes her own.


What is it about the Corvette that attracts such devotion? Some automotive types say the Corvette lacks sophistication compared to European sports cars. Some say the engine is overly simplified. These people are deaf to the music of an overhead valve V8 engine’s rumble. There’s nothing simple or unsophisticated about their car to Corvettius obsessicus.

This is America’s Sports Car. In 1953 Chevrolet became the first American manufacturer to make a sports car. For some, that’s no small part of the attraction.

“The Corvette’s a racer, and I’m a racer,” said Frank Climba, who drives a red 1964 Corvette and has been known to tear it up on the half-mile track.

Then there’s the genes. Since his father always bought Chevys, Climba inherited a genetic predisposition. Plus he likes what he knows.

“Certain wheel bearings are difficult to work on, but you get used to it,” Climba said of the only Corvette fault known to him.

“Camaraderie is good. The common denominator is, of course, the car,” said Arigo.

That shared interest has brought together a lot of people who would otherwise probably never have crossed paths.

Running with the Pack

Arigo is the first female president of Corvette Annapolis, a collective of some 100 Corvette owners who meet, educate, mingle and fundraise.

The club, which has seen over 300 members come and go, is celebrating its 15th year.

“Membership is really diverse. We have folks in their 80s and young married couples,” said Carroll Hynson, who heads up Corvette Annapolis’ public relations and drives a 1999 820-horse-power triple-black Corvette.

Members get together the second Tuesday of every month to wax lyrical on their favorite topic.

Passing along the knowledge he’s gained through working on cars for years, Climba starts each meeting off with a three-to-five minute tech talk.

“I go over the nuts and bolts, from transmissions to what oil to use,” he said. “I don’t want to bore people, and I don’t want to insult them. The point isn’t to make them mechanics; it’s to have them say, Oh, that’s how that works.”

The meetings don’t dwell on what’s under the hood or who’s behind the wheel.

“We ask new members about their car, not them,” said Arigo, who drives a 2004 Le Mans Blue Commemorative Edition Corvette.

Later, members learn more about each other, but when a new member stands up and introduces him or her self, the first question they field is What kind of Corvette do you have?

Members do more than meet up at a library and set up car shows. Traveling as a pack, they’ve ventured to Nashville with a side tour to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where General Motors assembles Corvettes.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which recently held a show with over 6,000 Corvettes, also regularly makes the list of places to go. Then there are pack trips to Ocean City, tailgate parties at sporting events and charity dinners. Wherever they park, a cruise-in ensues.

Revving for a Good Cause

On September 17, the pack gathers in the Fuddruckers parking lot on Jennifer Road across from Westfield Annapolis Mall. The event, sponsored by Corvette Annapolis, is expected to draw over 100 Corvettes and classic cars from around the region for the largest car show of the year in the Annapolis area — if the weather holds out. The show goes on rain or shine, but Corvettius obsessicus is notorious for its aversion to inclement weather.

Owners of corvettes and classics — the latter made before 1981 — are invited to pre-register for $10. However, a registration booth will be open from 8am to 10am show day with an additional $5 surcharge. After registration closes, the show opens and the fun begins.

Corvette Annapolis has also set up food vendors for the event as well as swap tables for all things Corvette, live music, a silent auction, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle. From 10am to noon, enthusiasts and sightseers gawk and vote for their favorite cars on display. At 2pm, the winners are announced and trophies awarded.

Anne Arundel Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center stands to benefit from Corvettius obsessicus’ charitable nature. Their contribution supports NuStep exercise machines to rehabilitate patients.

“Whenever they do a big event they call us and ask what we need,” said Lisa Hillman, chief development officer of Anne Arundel Medical Center. “They do spread it around, which is great.”

Before Corvettius obsessicus begins seeking shelter for winter hibernation, grab a hotdog and a soda and take a look at this rare breed.

Learn more at www.corvetteannapolis.com.

Matt Makowski, of Annapolis, is a journalism graduate of Rutgers University. His last story for Bay Weekly was “In Quiet Waters’ Enchanted Woods, Trees Become Dragons and Tigers” (Vol. xiv, No. 33: Aug. 17).

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