Corvette Caravan rolls through Columbia

Corvettes pull into the parking lot at Missouri Auto Auction Tuesday while on the Corvette Caravan.

Hundreds of Corvettes stopped in Columbia Tuesday evening as devotees of Americaâ??s sports car headed to a national meet in Bowling Green, Ky.

Corvette owners from all over Missouri and states like Kansas, California and Oregon met at an auto auction lot east of town for an evening of barbecue and fellowship. Several drivers said they had owned multiple Corvettes in their lives. Colorado resident Jim Derr said he has 93,000 miles on his 2001 roadster, the fourth Corvette he has owned. Derr said his favorite was a 1993 40th anniversary model he used to have. This is the third time Derr has joined the caravan.

â??Itâ??s just the Corvette mystique, being part of a wonderful fraternity of car people,â?? he said.

Mid-Missouri Corvette Club president Jay Armistead said this is the first time the Corvette Caravan has stopped in Columbia. Previous caravans coming through Missouri stopped in Kansas City. Armistead said spending the night in Columbia makes it easier to get to Bowling Green in one day. At least 600 people had signed up for Tuesday's event in Columbia.

Similar caravans are crossing the country on their way to the National Corvette Museum, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Five caravans have traveled to the musuem since it opened in 1994. The last such caravan was held in 2009 to mark the museumâ??s 15th year.

California resident Tony Koester said he bought his first Corvette when â??it occurred to me that girls liked them.â?? Koester said his current Corvette, a 2002 model, is his favorite because it is much more civilized at high speed than earlier models.

The National Corvette Museumâ??s 20th anniversary celebration starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday.