Tornado Hits Corvette Plant in Bowling Green, Damage Reported

The plant will reportedly close for at least a week.

byKristin V. Shaw|
Chevrolet News photo

If you’ve ever seen or experienced a tornado, you know how much damage one twister can create in a matter of seconds. On Friday, a massive storm ripped through at least four states multiple tornadoes and winds exceeding 150 miles per hour, flattening towns and causing dozens of deaths in Kentucky alone. Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency for the Bluegrass state, activating the Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky State Police.

Only 130 miles or so from the epicenter of the damage in Mayfield, Kentucky, a fire was reported on the roof at the GM Bowling Green Assembly plant as a result of one of the tornadoes. It’s the only plant in the world where Chevrolet Corvettes are built, 1400 people work on the models Chevrolet Corvette Stingray/Z06/Grand Sport/ZR1 from 2019; LT1, LT4 and LT5 6.2-liter V8 engines for Corvette; and the C8 Corvette Stingray.

Owner of enthusiast site Corvette Blogger Keith Cornett spoke with Rachel Bagshaw from the plant, who confirmed the plant will be shut down for the week of Dec 13, if not longer. 

“We can confirm that the fire that took place as a result of the tornado activity at Bowling Green Assembly plant early Saturday morning (December 11) has caused damage to the facility, including the roof and an employee entrance," Bagshaw said in her statement. "Maintaining a safe work environment for plant employees is our top priority. Therefore, we are cancelling production on first and second shift the week of December 13 as our trained teams work to get tooling, equipment, and the facility space up to standard."

The Bowling Green plant has produced over one million Corvettes since its opening in 1981, and represents millions of dollars for the state. It has been a tough year for the facility, as it was affected by supply chain issues early in the year and then a devastating winter storm

Nearby, NCM Motorsports Park is also closed, and a statement issued by the park cites significant damage: “It is with great disappointment that we announce the suspension of all activities at the NCM Motorsports Park. This includes all Touring Laps/Experience, Twinkle at the Track, and the Run, Run Rudolph 5k. Like many businesses in our community, the NCM Motorsports Park sustained heavy damage from the overnight weather event, making it temporarily unsafe to welcome guests. The MSP team is working to evaluate the damage caused by the storms and to develop a plan for repairs and reopening. We will continue to update our website and social media channels with the latest information.”

Bowling Green police reported staff is working “numerous reports of building collapses, gas leaks, and extrications in the city due to the tornado and severe weather.” Governor Beshear said this is the deadliest tornado Kentucky has ever seen. 

The families of those affected by this horrific storm are in our thoughts today. 

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