Mike Yager To Be Inducted Into Corvette Hall Of Fame12/11/17
If someone had told 12-year-old Mike Yager on the day he saw his first Corvette that his newly-discovered passion would go from a hobby, develop into a business, and ultimately lead to his induction into the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame, it’s hard to say how that young boy would have responded.
It was a Friday afternoon on May 26th, 1962, when Mike Yager saw his first Corvette; riding with his brother, Frank, in a big rig, headed East from St. Louis to get home for the Memorial Day Weekend celebrations. “I had no idea then, riding in the truck with my brother Frank, that my life would become totally involved and encircled by the Corvette,” Yager said. “Being nominated among the 2018 Hall of Fame inductees is not something I take lightly. This is the greatest achievement of my life.”
Induction into the Corvette Hall of Fame is the highest honor awarded by the museum; recipients are recognized for their contributions to the past, present and future of Corvette. Yager will join Tom Wallace, and John and Burt Greenwood at the August 31 Induction Ceremony and Banquet, which is part of the National Corvette Museum’s 24th Anniversary Celebration in Bowling Green, KY.
Mike Yager has always been a Corvette enthusiast first, owning over 300 Corvettes as well as numerous historically significant Corvettes. Yager founded a local Corvette Club 1971 and joined the National Council of Corvette Clubs. Throughout his ongoing NCCC membership, he has held various regional positions and later became a Board Member from 1978-1979. Mike has also served as an influential Board Member for the LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash.
Yager’s career began as a 20-year-old hoping to pay his admission to car shows by selling owner’s manuals, jackets, drinking glasses and more to the loyal Corvette constituency. After nearly 50 years in business under Yager’s leadership, Mid America Motorworks has grown into one of the world’s largest suppliers of aftermarket parts and accessories for Corvette.
As his experience and business progressed, Yager began sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for America’s Favorite Sports Car with Corvette Clubs and others, including key members of the GM team. Through his connections within the Corvette industry, Yager was involved in the early planning stages of the National Corvette Museum and, like many of his peers, was excited about the prospect of seeing the Museum become a reality.
As the project advanced, Mid America Motorworks made many contributions to the Museum, including a $250K donation, in kind, consisting of retail products and cash. Yager was a driving force supporting the Annex Gift Shop, which would be a temporary Museum and Gift Shop that gave enthusiasts a taste of what was to come. Several Corvettes from Mike Yager’s MY Garage Collection have been loaned to the Museum, including one of the first cars to be displayed at the museum to Corvette Enthusiasts. Yager’s guidance in expanding on merchandise ensured that the Annex succeeded while plans moved forward for the Museum.
Through it all, Mike, the Yager Family and Mid America Motorworks were loyal supporters of NCM, organizing fundraising efforts like the Mid America Motorworks Round Up program on customer orders. Mike also participated in a friendly rivalry with fellow Corvette Enthusiasts' Larry Martin and Bob Patrella to see who could take the bragging-rights title of largest donor at Museum-related functions, raising funds for land acquisitions to further the Museum’s development.
Along with featured guests Dan Gale and Jim Perkins, Mike Yager was a presenting speaker at the opening of the National Corvette Museum in September of 1994. As one of the key-note speakers, Mike later led a special ceremony where a time capsule was buried to be opened on the 100th Anniversary of Corvette in 2053. It contained owner’s manuals and other Corvette-related items, including messages from former Corvette Chief Engineers Zora Arkus-Dontav, Dave Hill, Dave McLellan, Jim Perkins and close friend Dan Gale with their ideas of what Corvettes would be like on the 100th Anniversary. An identical time capsule is currently on display at the Mid America Motorworks Corporate Campus in Effingham, Ill.
As the National Corvette Museum settled into its home in Bowling Green, Yager joined the Board of Directors. Serving from 1997-2005, Mike helped the Museum through a difficult financial position as well as highlights such as leading the celebration of Corvette’s 50th Anniversary as Chairman of the Board from 2002-2003.
“Looking back at my time on the NCM board, I recognize that Wendell (Strode) has done a tremendous job managing the NCM, its assets and its growth over the years,” Yager said. “As a Board Member and Chairman we may have been on different pages from time to time, but we were always agreed that the NCM could contribute to the vibrancy of the Corvette community.”
While reflecting on his nomination, Yager joked that it was one of the few times he has been speechless in his life. “I assumed this would happen someday, but didn’t expect it would happen now. This is an honor that I will spend the next year celebrating and I will always cherish this life-time achievement.”
Yager operates Mid America Motorworks from Effingham, Ill. A true family business, the company includes Mike’s wife Laurie, and sons Michael, Jr. and Blake on the Executive team. Daughters-in-law Betsy and Tabbi Yager are also members of the Mid America Motorworks team. In addition to providing Corvette aftermarket parts and lifestyle items around the world, Mid America Motorworks also hosts Corvette Funfest annually, welcoming thousands of enthusiasts to the corporate campus for a weekend celebrating everything fun about America’s Favorite Sports Car.
Thank You for Making Corvette Funfest 2017 Unforgettable!09/25/17
Opening Ceremonies on Saturday followed the trend of new additions, with the announcement of a new Funfest-type event in Nebraska next June. Mid America Motorworks is partnering with Harchelroad Motors to host an event at Motorsport Park Hastings that pairs the atmosphere of Corvette Funfest with High Performance Driver Education. Attendees to the Nebraska event will get two qualifying runs with a main run on the Sunday of the event.
Mike Yager received a special surprise at opening ceremony, as Corvette Clubs participated in a secret contest to “Look Like Mike.” Clubs sat in a special section, wearing red polo shirts and Mike’s signature straw hat, with print out copies of his face as a tribute and a thank you for his continued efforts within the Corvette hobby. Lookingglass Corvette Club had the most Mike Lookalikes, and each participant will receive a customized 2018 wall calendar as a prize.
Mike then noted that next year will be the 25th Anniversary of a little thing that began as a customer appreciation party and has grown into Corvette Funfest. In honor of that milestone, he announced to a surprised and happy crowd that registrations will be FREE for Standard and Club.
For guests who prefer premium services, Premium Registrations will be offered, making it only $25 to secure a prime parking space on the show field. Guests who wish to experience the ultimate Corvette Funfest weekend with an all-inclusive feel can choose the Ultimate Registration featuring the best parking on campus, drinks, meals and snacks, the 2018 event t-shirt and yearbook, a gift from the Yager’s and access to industry celebrities and VIPs for $250.00 per person.
Returning by popular demand, the Club Bartending Challenge gave Clubs the chance to raise funds for their chosen charities in the Funfest Cantina. This year Simply Corvettes raised the most tip money, which will be donated to victims of the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida. The combined efforts of the seven Corvette Clubs raised nearly $4,000 in charitable donations to a variety of worthy causes, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Wreath’s Across America, and more.
Clubs were further recognized on Saturday with a never-before-organized expert panel featuring Presidents from eight of the nine in North American organizations that emerged within the hobby to provide other clubs with a guiding body for everything from sanctioning events to restoration specifications, and even insurance. Corvette Funfest was honored to welcome the National Council of Corvette Clubs, International Council of Corvette Clubs, United Council of Corvette Clubs, Ohio Corvette Club Alliance, Canadian Council of Corvette Clubs – Eastern Region, Canadian Council of Corvette Clubs – Western Region, National Corvette Restorers Society and Solid Axle Corvette Club.
Other additions to the World’s Largest Corvette Party included daily excursions to give guests a glimpse of the communities surrounding Effingham. Those feeling adventurous visited Moonshine, Ill. for a moonburger, as well as the Firefly Grill, Heron Cove Restaurant-Lake Sara and StangArts for a variety of different activities. These were in addition to the automotive and education-themed seminars that Corvette Funfest attendees are accustomed to enjoying on the Funfest grounds.
The World Classic Rockers took the stage Saturday night, living up to and surpassing all the stories and legends of their maiden performance at Corvette Funfest in 2012. Band members ventured out into the crowd to play and sing, with both Mike and Kenny Yager playing guitar during the encore song, as well as the Yager family singing backup and dancing on stage.
Corvette Funfest 2018 is scheduled for Sept. 20-23 in Effingham, Ill. Keep watching www.corvettefunfest.com for highlights from this year and details on how you can register for the 25th annual Corvette Funfest.