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Never mind beach parties and baseball. There are better things to do in the waning days of summer.

Drool over sleek expanses of fiberglass. Thrill to the deep rumble of barely tamed V-8s. Hear the gospel according to Zora Arkus-Duntov, father of the Corvette.This Labor Day weekend is the opening of the $15 million National Corvette Museum, with more than 50 models and prototypes on display.

Organizers say they expect more than 100,000 people for the opening, including caravans of as many as 4,000 new and vintage Corvettes rolling down I-65 toward the museum's huge red spire sprouting from a yellow cone.

"My wife and I feel like little kids," said John Sroka, a corporate recruiter from St. Louis who plans to drive his 1994 black rose 'vette in one caravan to Bowling Green. "It's like the Woodstock of Corvettes. We expect to see just thousands of people with a common interest."

The museum, run by the non-profit National Corvette Museum Foundation, covers 68,000 square feet across the street from the 'vette assembly plant.

Inside, visitors will find futuristic concept Corvettes and classic driving machines, including No. 262 of only 300 built in 1953, the year the first 'vette rolled off the Chevrolet assembly plant, then in Flint, Mich.

There's a 1967 L-88, one of only 20 ever made, and the car that won its class in Sebring in 1967, and the one-millionth Corvette, built in July 1992. A worn 1990 ZR-1 on display ran 24 consecutive hours at an average speed of 175.88 mph during an endurance test.

And 85-year-old Arkus-Duntov was expected to visit for the opening as well. He's the engineer who wrote that the first Corvettes were underpowered and encouraged Chevrolet to build credibility on the European racing circuit.

As Corvette lovers patiently explain, their interest transcends the steel, rubber and fiberglass of what they describe as America's only true sports car. Just don't ask them to explain why.

"I think explaining the meaning of life might be easier," quipped Walt Stannard at DRM Co. of Plymouth, Minn., which customizes Corvettes into machines that streak a quarter-mile in 12.5 seconds.

"Domestically, there's nothing that can touch it. It's the power, the style," offered fan Larry Hall. "It's not a $200,000 Ferrari. You have the look and mystique of an exotic in an American car that's almost affordable."

"The Corvette crosses all barriers," said Dan Gale, president of the museum's foundation.