Member Spotlight: George Michel
Corvette collector George Michel shares his garage with the CF200
Every enthusiast has a certain marque or type of car that they are naturally drawn back to. Some love sports cars, others pre-war luxury cars, some Fords, and others Ferraris. For Checkered Flag 200 member and speed hunter George Michel II, it’s Corvettes that get him fired up. His racing car is a Corvette, his collection currently houses seven Corvettes, he has a Corvette boat…even his ‘30 Ford is powered by a Corvette LS engine. I was afraid to ask what powers his lawnmower, but wouldn’t be surprised to learn it has a Chevrolet V8.
Like many CF200 members, Michel spent his childhood working on cars with his father. Although unlike many CF200 members, this led to a career as an engineer, building a company able to manufacture parts for the aerospace and medical fields. Michel joyfully brought his work home with him, where he applied his mechanical know-how to a growing collection of cars. Over the years, he has seen some 20 different Corvettes pass through his garage, everything from C1s through modern C7s. While his collection revolves around the Corvette platform, he also has a few Porsches, an Audi R8, and a ’32 Ford in the garage.
Among the rare ‘vettes in his collection are two ’65 Fuelies (One coupe the other convertible) a ’66 427 and a rare ’67 427/435hp. The one he speaks most fondly of though is the purpose-built 2000 Corvette that rests in the corner of his shop. It holds a special place, not because it has a perfect show history or flawless paint, but because it has propelled him to over 200 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Michel loves racing the LSX powered C5 at Bonneville, testing the limits of both man and machine. His current record is a hair over 214 mph which he managed in the BGT class.
While there are many thrills at Bonneville, the real test is when things go wrong. At high speeds, even the smallest mistake or malfunction can spell disaster. On one occasion, Michel’s 780-horsepower C5 broke loose at over 200 mph, crossing the speed trap sideways. It takes a collected driver to look at his parachute out the side window and remain cool, calm, and collected - but Michel did just that and was able to keep running that week.
Off the salt, he loves spending time with his twin grandsons, who he is transforming into future CF200 members themselves. He has restored a pair of midyear Corvette children’s cars for the two and spends as much time as possible sharing the hobby with them.
While he is based in Denver, Michel spends a few months of the year in Southern California. During his stays, he loves attending CF200 events and visiting the museum. The Corvette XP87 Stingray recently on display at the Petersen is Michel’s dream car, what he describes as the perfect Corvette.
The phrase “never lift” has never felt more suitable than with a Bonneville racer like George Michel. Whether he’s on the salt, or in his garage, he hasn’t slowed down despite retiring from engineering three years ago.
Written by Jeremy Malcolm
Photos Courtesy of George Michel II