'Sexy Vet': 300-member family shares passion for 'sexy vet,' helping others
Asking six Corvette Club of Rhode Island leaders why they love the classic car provokes a rush of passionate answers.
“Because it’s sexy, that’s why. It’s one sexy, good looking car,” was the first response from new President Liliana Dolan.
A few others said they like owning an American sports car or that they like the properties and features of a Corvette. Vice President Tony Montalbano noted that the car has no steel in it except for the engine and transmission. Even the springs and whole outside of the car are composite, and the running gear suspension is aluminum, he added,
“There’s no way the car is ever going to rust,” he said. “[It’s made of] very exotic materials and people don’t realize it.”
For others, nostalgia lies behind their reasoning for loving the Corvette.
“It could have been when you were a kid, your dad had one or somebody you knew had one. But it’s bitten somebody somewhere along the line and it stays in you until you own one. It’s in your blood, almost,” said Dennis Langlois, the club’s membership director.
The Corvette Club was founded by a handful of Rhode Island sports car enthusiasts in 1964. Though Dolan is only the third woman to take on the role of president (she takes over for Jim Campanini, who was president for six years), she said men and women alike have found a home within the club. Their motivating factors, “to foster camaraderie between Corvette owners and club members; to provide a meeting ground for those having common interests; to encourage planned trips, events, and social activities for members,” have remained the same. However, members emphasize that they’re not just a car club - they describe themselves as a 300-member family of people who just happen to love the same car.
“I think we all get together and we love the Corvette and we love the people that are involved with the Corvettes. I have an old saying [that] Corvette owners like to be with other Corvette owners, and that’s how this club has come about,” said Board of Directors Member and Historian Richard Nelson.
Indeed, the Corvette Club members are a close bunch. As they answer questions about the club’s history, they stop to pull up photos on their phones or recall a specific party or event they attended. They remember one of their “Weekend Getaway” trips in which they took about 40 Corvettes to the Thompson Speedway in Connecticut - people in surrounding vehicles were snapping photos of the long line of shiny cars. They poke fun at each other’s Corvette cleaning rituals when it comes time to show them off in car shows, pointing out which ones use q-tips to clean their wheels and explaining the “Rags Down” ritual in which everyone must stop cleaning and waxing their vehicles before a show begins.
However, members also remember times where they must support each other. Recently, when their Quartermaster Eddie Imondi passed away in a snowmobile accident, the members had a memorial for him during another one of their social events at the Salem Cross Inn in Massachusetts. They shared photos, drinks, food, and memories of Imondi’s “infectious smile” and “giving personality.”
Imondi’s nature of giving lives on through his fellow members as they have made charity a platform of the club. In the past years alone, the Corvette Club has collected thousands of pounds of food in food drives and donations to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, hosted collections for Toys for Tots, and done other charitable work for the Salvation Army, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, and the Rhode Island Family Shelter.
“I think that makes us different from any other car club,” Dolan said of the club’s giving.
Later this year, Dolan said members hope to set a date for a “Spring Cleaning” event in which they will collect “all kinds of stuff” - clothes, shoes, junk, or other articles in house - that will be brought to Savers. Savers will then calculate the poundage of the items and deposit money directly into the Corvette Club’s account that will be donated to a charity that’s chosen at a later date.
The Corvette Club will kick their new season off with their first meeting on May 2 and are already planning for a packed year. Their first big event, the Vettetacular show at their sponsor Paul Masse’s facility in East Providence, takes place on June 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Their next, the Corvettes By the Sea event, will take place at North Kingstown’s Scalabrini Villa August 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Last year’s show had 250 cars from every generation, and a portion of the proceeds benefited the veterans of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and the Scalabrini Villa.
The Corvette Club is also showing at the Field of Dreams Cruise in and 39th Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival on July 22 at the University of Rhode Island Kingston Campus. Those proceeds will benefit the National Corvette Museum, the “mother hub” of all Corvette lovers.
For more information on the Corvette Club and its events, visit corvetteclubofrhodeisland.com