ZR 1 It

“Growing up I was a hot rodder,” recalls Art “Jackrabbit Arty” Nordstrom. “Even now, going down the gravel I go fast. I never drag raced but I had a reputation for fast cars.” Hot rodding runs in the family. Art’s wife, Marie, was a hot rodder also. “One night I outran a cop with a ’57 Chevy,” she says with a smile. “I had the first car in my class (’51 Nash Rambler station wagon).” They even raced against each other (although they did not realize it until they had been married for 10 years). Marie raced against him in a 4-H go-cart race and ran into him. “It is hard to believe that, in spite of liking cars and going fast, I never liked him when we first met. He did kind of grow on me over time, however.” Art and Marie eloped 47 years ago and 11 years later renewed their vows in a church service.

Art and Marie farmed and milked cows until 1998. At the same time, they were building a business-Nordstrom’s Auto Recycling. Art and Marie have always been car people. However, they have never been “Corvette People” until recently. “We never thought about Corvettes because we didn’t think we could afford them,” said Marie. Art adds, “We were dairy farmers that fixed cars and trucks on the side. Corvettes were out of reach for us. You could pick up muscle and classic cars for a couple hundred bucks at the time.” That all changed a few years ago when their son, Shannon, invited Art to a golf tournament sponsored by Jerry’s Corvettes in Beresford. “I saw a metallic blue Corvette and fell in love with it. I test-drove it and stepped on it and the 585 HP really took off. I was hooked. We did some finagling and traded a couple of our collector cars to Jerry’s and made a deal for the Corvette. We went out to the Corvette classic that year and have every year since.”

Some Corvette friends were planning a West Coast Corvette trip in August. The trip included a tour of the J. Lohr Vineyard in Paso Robes, California. Marie’s sister, Jolene, is married to Jerry Lohr, so Art and Marie were excited to be included in the plans. “We really thought a lot about getting a different Corvette that had an automatic transmission,” says Marie. “It would be easier for us to drive.” So they started looking around and reading more about the new models. “We noticed a Torch Red Corvette on display at the Kansas Speedway in October. We knew that was the color we wanted. After talking with Barry Konken at Jerry’s we decided on a Grand Sport. Art had another classic he wanted to trade in and we made the deal. We did not tell the family what we were doing. One day Shannon got a call from Ron Rysavy, the Dealer Inspector, about the title of the car Art had traded in. That’s how Shannon found out that we purchased the Corvette.”

What would happen to them next was most unbelievable. “We always stopped at the Corvette Museum on our way to Bristol, Tennessee to the NASCAR races,” recalls Marie. “They would hold raffles to raise money for the museum. They would send an email informing us when their next raffle would be held. I had purchased raffle tickets in the past because I thought it was a good cause. Art asked me if I had entered any raffles lately and I said no. This particular raffle cost $500 per ticket and they would sell a maximum of 638 tickets (the exact horsepower of the Corvette). I decided to purchase a ticket and it was ticket #319. They sold only 398 tickets. I went home at 2:30 PM the 11th of November. The raffle drawing was held at 2 PM that day. That night Art said ‘I guess you didn’t win the Corvette.’ I thought to myself, I guess not. What I didn’t realize was that they left a voice mail message on my business phone. I did not get the message until the next day. I noticed the blinking light on the phone the next morning. I was going to delete it. I picked up the message and the voice on the other end said, ‘this is Katie from the Corvette Museum, you better pick out your color because you won.’ I called them back and asked if I truly won. When they told me yes, I started to scream and yell. I was so excited to win this ZR-1. I called Art immediately but he couldn’t understand a word I was saying because I was so excited. I kept saying I won a ZR1 I won a ZR1. The day I found out I won, I ran to all of our employees and screamed my joy. Someone followed me with a camera and now it can be seen on UTube (look for 2011 Corvette ZR1 winner excitement).”

“I had a choice of $80,000 cash or the car. The car was worth about $125,000 but we had to pay the gift tax if we chose to keep the car. Even though we had two Corvettes already and we had to write a check for the gift tax immediately, I just couldn’t pass up this car. It was a ‘Build Your Own’ Corvette and we ordered it.”

“It was so exciting. I got a chance to build my very own Corvette. Barry helped us pick out the options. He really knows his Corvettes. He told us he didn’t know of a lot of other ZR1’s around the state but was aware of one owned by a doctor in Sioux Falls. He even said we could stop the order of our other Corvette since we won this one. We said no. We had to order the car through a dealer in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We thought about colors. I always liked orange. I remember I sewed an orange dress for my senior pictures. When we were deciding whether to take the money or the car, a big reason we chose the car was, because of the limited production and the high horsepower, we felt the car would be worth it. It might even turn out to be a good investment. We ordered the ‘3ZR package’ with polished aluminum wheels and the infernal orange metallic paint. The rest of the car was standard. You could even build your own motor and you are actually present when they build the motor. The guy who builds the motor stamps his name on it. You could have your name on it also. We had to go to Bowling Green to accept car through the Corvette Museum Delivery Program. They did have a couple delays including Christmas vacation. Since it was a limited production car, we were a little concerned that the number stamped on the car would be 666 (sign of the devil) but ours was 668. It was built and set on the floor on the museum. You could see it on the webcam. We took delivery January 10 to accept the car. The morning we got down there, we finally saw the car. We had hoped to take our tour of the factory that comes with the Museum Delivery Program (which came with winning the car) but it was closed. (We did go back in March for the one on one tour of the factory. It was an amazing place. The tour took three hours.) The factory was on one side of the road and the museum was on the other side. The only miles the ZR1 had on it were the ones from driving it from the factory across the street to the museum. It was a stormy day and we wanted to get back on the road. Ron Barton, the museum representative, went through everything on the car. We couldn’t drive it back because of the snow. We had someone haul it back here just in time for the Winterfest Show this year.”

The free car really cost close to $40,000 when you include gift tax, travel and the special insurance. A spokesman from the museum called before the end of the year and mentioned that they could save some money if they sent in a check immediately because the gift tax percentage was going up the next year and because of a deal the Dealer had with the Museum where money would be donated to the museum and Nordstrom’s would save some money on the tax. “So I called my bank,” recalls Marie. “I said I needed a cashier check for $29,000 today. The bank questioned me on this. They asked a lot of questions to make sure it wasn’t a scam. When we returned we brought the bank a photo of us standing next to the car so they would know it wasn’t a scam.”

The museum couldn’t remember the last time when a winner came from the Midwest. They have three prize levels for this raffle: $500, $1000, and the Corvette. Ironically, at the same raffle, another person from Sioux Falls (Darin Vandentop) won $500. At the next Corvette Club meeting, Mike Skiles announced that the Nordstroms had won the car.

Nordstrom’s employees were very happy for Art and Marie. “They all want a ride,” said Art. To date nobody else has driven it. Not even Shannon. Art and Marie both know that Shannon shares their love of cars and speed. Shannon scared the heck out of Art when he let him drive the Z06. According to Art, “We entered a corner at 90 MPH and came around it at 120 MPH.”

Arty “Jackrabbit” Nordstrom has driven fast (most of the time), ever since he was a young kid. He used to go jackrabbit hunting and would sit on the windowsills and lock his feet under the seats giving him a full range of motion when he shot from the moving car. “As a kid I used to make the police mad because I would always cut the corner coming into Garretson,” remembers Art. “I would cut the corner and jump the ditch. I ended up purchasing the corner and that is where part of our business sits now.”

“We have had people offer to buy the ZR1 but we want to keep it. Five years ago it wouldn’t have been possible. We are very fortunate that at this time of our life we were able to keep the car.” Before they bought the 2008 Corvette and because they liked muscle cars, the business didn’t even have Corvette parts. “We now have three Corvettes and our adult children will get one some day. Our kids, Yvette, Suzette, and Shannon all like speed just like us. Before we went to Bristol this spring, we wrote down who would get what if something would happen to us on our two weeks of travel in the Corvette.”

“Now that we have Corvettes, we are enamored with them. We love to go cruising. We are in the Corvette Club. We have a met a lot of neat people in the club. This will be our third year going to the rally. We will take the ZR1 to the rally this year.”

“We gave our life to the Lord in1972 and it changed our lives. That was the best thing that happened to us. After we won the Corvette, a guy came up to us and said this has to be the best thing that ever happened to you and I said it was the second. I do feel so blessed and am very thankful to have my name drawn to own this special car.

They have had raffles since we won but we have not won any. They are having another one just like the one we won but I am not going to enter…maybe.”

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