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March 2002 - Grinding the Corvette Axe


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Staff member
Sep 16, 2000
New Hampshire
1990 Corvette ZR-1
<h3 align="center">Grinding the Corvette Axe</h3>
<img src="/images/columns/wheelspin/wheelspin2.gif" width="140" height="79" border="0" alt="wheelspin column" align="left" /><font size="+3"><b>W</b></font>elcome to the new "Wheelspin" column which is the first installment of a series of monthly columns we'll be rolling out over the next month.

The purpose of the "Wheelspin" column is to take a look at various aspects of the Corvette marque and examine related topics and how they relate to the owner and enthusiast. In essence, it's an editorial column which I hope will be informational as well as stimulating to the reader.

One of the projects I've been working on is compiling the survey data from the online C5 owners' survey that we had up on the site for several months. My initial intention was to use the article which looks at the results of the survey and discusses the concepts of Corvette ownership as the debut for this column, however I'm still in the process of putting the article together and after my experience today, it occurred to me that there is probably a more important issue to discuss and one which we all should take a particular interest in. I call it, "grinding the Corvette Axe".

There seems to be this sect....a growing faction of Corvette owner that drives around with a Corvette axe to grind. It's the owner who....doesn't wave when they pass another Corvette owner. It's the owner who looks down upon (and that's if they look at you at all) owners of Corvettes that have less performance, or cost less to buy or don't have the same aftermaket performance modifications. If they are willing to give you the time of day, they either usurp every opportunity to "mention in passing" how much the multitude of aftermarket performance upgrades cost them, or they'll just pay little if any attention to you when you're proudly telling them about how you acquired your prized Corvette from the original owner. They will look at anything and anywhere but won't look you in the eyes when you're talking to them.

At first, I thought this only existed at Corvette shows, but in the last few weeks, it's been brought to my attention that it exists online within forums and chat communities. More recently, I discovered it even exists on the road as I witnessed this afternoon while driving my own Corvette.

Coming home from the gym, I decided to take the long way home. Not a cloud in the sky, around 50 degrees with a slight breeze. Perfect driving weather. As I crossed an intersection, I noticed a 1993-1996 LT1 convertible dressed in Polo Green paint with a tan top getting ready to pull out. As I passed, I waved, but didn't take my eyes off the road in front of me to see if the owner waved back. Eventually, I came to a stop light and the Polo Green LT1 pulled behind a car that was next to me in the left hand lane. Nothing unusual. The light turned green and I took off like I normally do and settled down into a comfortable cruise. The LT1 pulled up behind me and matched my speed. I continued along my way until I came to another stop light. The LT1 suddenly pulled out from behind and stopped along side of me. As I looked over, the owner just looked straight ahead....gold bracelet dangling as his limp wrist hung over the top of the steering wheel. He obviously had a 6-speed as I could hear him incessantly switching in and out of gears. I couldn't figure out what the hell he was doing but I figured....whatever. The light turned green and he floored it leaving me in a cloud of dust. I eventually caught up to him and passed him. At the next stoplight he pulled up along my left side again, limp wrist hanging over the steering wheel...playing with his stick shift. The light turned green, and he punched it again. This happened one other time before he ended up turning off the road as I proceeded on. Each time, he refused to look at me which was probably a good thing because his eyes would have blistered if he read the language coming from my lips.

This isn't the first time I've seen this type of Corvette owner before. I simply can't understand where the attitude comes from and for what reason. Friendly competition is one thing, blatant ignorance and a pompous attitude is another. Unfortunately, it is this type of owner that ends up tarnishing the Corvette marque. It's this type of Corvette owner that everyone else remembers. The attitude is what sticks in everyone's mind. We've all heard the jokes that float around about how Corvette owners are nothing but gold chaing wearing, snotty jerks who use their Corvettes as an extension of there....well....nevermind. You get the picture.

I'm also willing to bet that he didn't even bother to return the wave when I initially passed by him. What's interesting is, I passed a beautiful 2001-2002 Torch Red Z06 shortly after meeting up with "Mister Bracelet". We were close enough that we looked right at one another. I waved. There was no wave back.

On the other hand, I had a small run-in with a brand new Ferrari 360 Modena convertible last summer. I happened to catch the evil front end smile approaching quickly in my rear view mirror. The owner was a grey-haired gentleman wearing a baseball cap. We were on a local highway and as the traffic cleared, I picked up the pace. No matter what speed I drove, he matched me effortlessly. He never tail gated, and never pulled outlandish maneuvers in an attempt to pass me. Eventually, my exit came up and as I was getting off the highway, I looked over at him as he looked at me. I threw him a thumbs up, he threw one back and took off his baseball cap and waved as he drove on. That to me, was a gesture of acknowledgement that I will never forget. To me, it was a mutual understanding that we both own and appreciate a specific type of automobile that is engineered and built to excite the driver and entice the senses. All that coming from someone who can obviously afford a stable full of Corvettes.

<img src="http://corvetteactioncenter.com/images/wave.jpg" align="right" width="160" height="130" />So you may ask what exactly is this...."wave" that I'm talking about? Shortly after the 1953 Corvette went into production, Corvette owners began waving to one another. Although I won't go into great detail about what "The Wave" is and what "Save the Wave" means since you can read a separate article about it in our <a href="http://corvetteactioncenter.com/history/index.html">History Section</a>, in a nutshell, it's nothing more than a quick hand-wave greeting between owners signifying they recognize each other as an owner of one of the most important American cultural icons on the road to date. Basically, your saying "hi, nice Vette" by waving to another Corvette owner. Plain and simple. Jaguar XKE owners wave to one another and will sometimes flash their lights. Dodge Viper owners wave to one another as do Ferrari owners. I'm sure owners of other special marques all do the same.

So why does it seem as though there is a growing population of Corvette owners that have an axe to grind and don't bother waving to another Corvette owner on the road?

It quite possibly could be due to the fact that each year of C5 production, the number of C5 sales increases. The C5 has enjoyed a multitude of praise and gratitude from automotive journalists. It's been well received by the public. And I'm willing to bet that a fair percentage of new Corvette owners are also new to the marque and what it means to be a Corvette owner. For those that can't afford a new C5 Corvette, previous generations are being purchased by first time Corvette owners. In essence, there is an influx of owners that are entirely new to the Corvette experience.

That's why it's up to you and up to me to help educate these owners. As owners and enthusiasts ourselves, we need to show those who are new to Corvette that the importance behind what they drive goes well beyond the sticker price they paid. On the rear bumper of every Corvette are the letters C-O-R-V-E-T-T-E and that is all that matters.

Each time you get behind the wheel of your Corvette you are essentially representing the mainstream owner of the marque. If you carry your attitude around like a chip on your shoulder and treat every stop light and intersection as a means of expressing your Corvette's performance potential, you will do nothing more than strengthen the already tarnished reputation that Corvette owners carry in the eyes of the public.

<table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="150" align="right"><tr><td bgcolor="#000000"width="150"><table width="150" border="0" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="3"><tr><td valign="top" bgcolor="#3C66A0"> <font face="arial,verdana,helvetica" color="#FFFFFF" size="2"><b>Related Links</b></font> </td></tr><tr><td bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><font class="sf"><b><big>·</big></b> <a href="/history/index.html">History Section</a><br /><b><big>·</big></b> <a href="/history/wave.html">The Wave</a></td></tr></table></td></tr></table>When you see another Corvette....WAVE. If you're a member of a local Corvette club, have the editor of your club's newsletter put a little blurb in stating "Help Save the Wave - Wave when you pass another Corvette". In short, help someone new to the Corvette marque learn what it means to own and drive the one and only "Heartbeat of America" and help dull that axe they may have to grind. "Save the Wave"! - <i>Rob</i>

Next Month: C5 Owners Speak Out
Rob said:
That's why it's up to you and up to me to help educate these owners. As owners and enthusiasts ourselves, we need to show those who are new to Corvette that the importance behind what they drive goes well beyond the sticker price they paid.

Well spoken Rob. :upthumbs
Ya know Rob , I checked out another Vette Forum last week and what I found there was a bunch of rude arrogant people that acted , on line the way you just described . Rather than helpful replies , it was more like , Hey you're dumber than hell ; I know way more than you ! . Rather than goodhearted digs it was meanspirited insults . So , yes , they are out there . I just hope they don't find they're way to your (our ?) group !
Re: March 2002 - Griding the Corvette Axe

Rob said:
There seems to be this sect....a growing faction of Corvette owner that drives around with a Corvette axe to grind. It's the owner

I hear you and I agree...

I figure that some of these "Axe Grinders" are people who don't really love, or even like, cars. They probably enjoy very little about their cars other than going fast. They are people to which a car is nothing more than a status symbol. Their car (no matter what make/model) is to say "I have X car, it cost Y dollars on it, and I put Z dollars in aftermarket mods. Aren't I cool?"

These aren't people who are passionate about Corvettes, or cars in general. They have/will never- 1) take the long way home 2) take a "Sunday Drive"...

I'm not a current Corvette owner, I'm waffling on whether I should buy one sooner or later. I maybe able to afford to buy one this year or next. But, I may pay off my current car and wait for the C6's.

Either way, rest assured, when I do have a Corvette, if I ever see you on the road, I'll wave.
I, too, promote the wave, while driving the Corvette or riding the motorcycle. I did give up expecting a response, however.

I thought about the lack of response and realized (regarding Corvettes) ...

The one millionth Corvette was built in 1992, with about 200 thousand added since then. What percentage are still registered and on the road? 80 percent? I don't know. With about a million Corvette owners, give or take 100K, how many are enthusiasts? I don't think we would have a majority of Corvette owners classified as enthusiasts.

To take it a step further, how many non-enthusiast Corvette drivers really care what I think about their driving habits, or the way they act, or the way they represent Corvette enthusiasts? After all, they are not enthusiasts, they are drivers.

Unfortunately, lots and lots of people buy Corvettes because they can. Or maybe the Corvette got handed down, or they won it in a card game, or ...who knows. Nobody has to sign an enthusiast affidavit to own a Corvette. Certain years of Corvettes are regularly found on used car lots along with all the other used cars, and they are priced accordingly. To some extent, they have become a commodity, nothing more, nothing less, and they are treated like that.

It would be nice if all Corvette owners were Corvette enthusiasts. That is not going to happen. However, that will not stop me from promoting the wave, being courteous, being attentive, presenting the best possible image on the road.

I will not expect a return wave, but just in case it's you (an enthusiast) in the other Corvette, I will try. :w


My thoughts exactly!

Rob, you have captured everything with your article!
Looking forward to the next one, so keep 'em coming!

Kenny and I were talking today about road attitude, and how I was treated rudely by another driver, but I did not react back...and I commented that I do not want to be the lady Corvette driver who behaves badly, I'd rather be remembered as being a courteous and polite Corvette driver.

I also tend to stop and talk to other Corvette owners wherever I see them. Everyone I have met has been friendly and is always willing to talk about their Vette! ;)
I have visited a different 'vette 'net site, and was appalled at the language, content, bad attitudes and rudeness expressed by the members. My overall impression was of an orgy of self-expression by any shocking means, spare-no-feelings-at-all.

The visit to that site makes me appreciate CACC for being the high class corvette site on the internet. Waving at everybody! :w
Regarding some vette owners having an attitude problem...the attitude problems may have no bearing on the fact they drive a vette..or a newer vette, or a faster vette...they are probably just rude people and act that way in every facet of their lives. They definitely give vette owners a bad name.

Good article, Rob. Like Heidi...I'm looking forward to the next one too. :)


Hi everyone.This post is not to brag or get addaboys at all.I will talk or wave to anybody while I drive my vette.I have stage 4 colon cancer and I enjoy every momemet I drive old sparky.I am trying to get with the american cancer society and see if I could take youngsters for a short cruise that have cancer but letting a stranger take your child for a drive might prevent this and I understandThey would be totally safe but I will talk with people and come up with a solution hopefully.Any ideas?
Hi hotrodd and Welcome to the forum. :) Your idea sounds like a really good one...kids would love to go for a cruise in a vette. Your local hospital may have idea's on how you might go about it.
There may even be support groups for the families in your area and you could visit and talk about your idea. Very sorry about your cancer diagnosis...will keep you in my prayers.

I really need to work on accepting that not so many wave back. My day is susceptible to negative change when I get met with a snotty attitude after my wave. I gotta remember to maintain the mind frame, that its not my problem happening there, and refrain from thinking about chasing the guy down and jerking his ass outta that car :r
Cause ,He may very well be gigger than me :L

PS..:upthumbs Hotrod
I have been driving Corvettes across a span of 30 years with gaps between ownership. I now live in Florida (Vette heaven) but migrated from Toledo, Ohio in the midwest. I would say that the wave has struggled since my first Vette to my last.

Everything was the same then & will always be this way I'm afraid. Some people just don't get it & never will.

Arrogance among Vette owners especially in the clubs can be brutal. But I keep wavin because some of the best people you will ever meet drive & treasure their Vettes.

Just keep the faith because the tradition & pride you feel owning Americas greatest sportcar is alive & well in most of us & we will keep the wave alive for future generations!
Re: Wavin

hotrodd said:
I am trying to get with the american cancer society and see if I could take youngsters for a short cruise that have cancer but letting a stranger take your child for a drive might prevent this and I understandThey would be totally safe but I will talk with people and come up with a solution hopefully.Any ideas?

Welcome aboard hotrodd! You're probably right about skeptical parents. I have on several occasions done the next best thing for kids that drool over the Vette at shows. If the kid seems to really dig the car I tell the parents the kid can sit in it if they want. They usually are shocked that I'd even offer and gladly accept to the absolute delight of the child. They usually take photos of the kid in the car and I come away knowing that I have just passed Corvette Fever on to another generation. I can almost always here the child walking away just rambling on about how cool the experience was.
Learned about the wave 31 yrs ago with the 1st Vette, thought it was realy "far out " then. Still think it is. :D........Welcome Hot Rod:)
Re: Wavin

hotrodd said:
Hi everyone.This post is not to brag or get addaboys at all.I will talk or wave to anybody while I drive my vette.I have stage 4 colon cancer and I enjoy every momemet I drive old sparky.I am trying to get with the american cancer society and see if I could take youngsters for a short cruise that have cancer but letting a stranger take your child for a drive might prevent this and I understandThey would be totally safe but I will talk with people and come up with a solution hopefully.Any ideas?

Great idea Hotrod! I try to find the good in everything, but get frustrated myself with some of the "better than thou" people that share our sport. I constantly struggle to keep my own ego in check.

Working in the community is a rewarding and beneficial, especially if you can do it in conjunction with your love for the Vette.

I am a hospice volunteer, but have backed off from that to focus on getting my car ready for Sharkfest 2002. I have had an idea in the back of my mind to combine the love for my car, community, and the good of others with hospice in the future. I would also like to take my car to see people of all ages (especially children) and take them for a ride and let them listen to the engine rumble. I would like my car to have a purpose beyond making me happy, but to spread joy to others in need of some cheering up. I saw where a fellow with an original Shelby Cobra does something like this for a particular childrens charity.

There is just something about the shape, sounds, and feel of a Corvette that can make the weakest heart beat a little faster.

Right on Rob!
Right On!!!!

Rob i've seen the same thing in my short month of vette ownership. Being only 29 and looking alittle young to be driving a vette i noticed the waves and thought i was in a new bracket so you could say. I enjoy it when someone waves back or waves first. i get alot of compliments on my baby cause how clean she is but the other night i pulled along a 90 series c-4 and another young guy was driving it. He was street racing around the local cruising strip. Well we pulled up at a light and he was making a left and i looked over and gave him a wave and he looked back then just looked forward like a pompous ass. ( i could read his mind....you got round tail lights your not worthy) Well you get the point he made his left and i went on my merry way. The first wave i got i was estatic over it. I thought that was the coolest! I went over my uncles who owns a sweet 95 and we talked and i told him about the wave he said yeah thats what owning a vette is about! I've been lucky enough to pull along side of vette owners at a gas station and one was this chick (and yes she was pretty hot!) she shared my same philosophy loose an X buy a vette...hehe we talked for about a 1/2 hour at the shell station... All in all i'll wave to all and if they don't well they are missing something special and won't ever be happy with a vette....
I always wave!!!

I always wave, so everyone will get out of my way. You never know what an old man will do with that much power under his foot. :eyerole

Hotrod, try to get hooked up with your local Corvette club, and Fire Department to take the kids for a ride. Make a full day of it or plan it during a fund raising cookout and they will generally go along with it when there is a group. By the way, I could not use my 98 because of the air bag, you need to be able to disengage them to take a child under a certain weight or size.

Good Luck and keep the faith.
Great story and to the point. I put all my gold chains on Ebay after reading it.:cool

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