The razor sleek 2020 Corvette Stingray debuted to great fanfare less than a month ago, boasting an aeronautical-inspired design and endorsements from former astronauts. On Friday, the engine guts of an “Elkhart Lake Blue” Stingray prototype were spewed on the shoulder of New Priest Grade after a multi-vehicle collision outside of Big Oak Flat.

Kevin M. Kelly, senior manager with General Motors Product and Brand Communications, acknowledged a traffic incident with a Corvette development vehicle on Aug. 9 in California.

“Most importantly, there were no injuries, and everyone is OK. We continue to investigate and will work with local authorities,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he could not provide any further comment as to what the Stingray was doing in the area, whether it was performing tests or recording marketing for the vehicle, which is set for production by the end of the year.

A video of the crash aftermath posted on YouTube on Aug. 10 had accrued more than 333,000 views as of Tuesday afternoon.

It shows multiple vehicles pulled to the eastbound ascending shoulder of New Priest Grade, or Highway 120, a central corridor to the west entrance of Yosemite National Park. More than a dozen people stand on the eastbound shoulder of New Priest Grade, which is between 100 and 300 feet above a rolling, sloped canyon that ascends to approximately 2,400 feet elevation at the east end of the road.

As the vehicle passes the totalled Stingray — on the shoulder, resting on its wheels and facing westbound in the eastbound lane — the camera focuses in on the flashing front lights, the expelled airbags and an open convertible top.

California Highway Patrol - Sonora Area Officer Steve Griefer said he was the lead officer who responded on Friday.

He said the Corvette was traveling downhill, going 40 miles per hour around a curve, when it crashed in the driver’s side rear tire of the Chevy Equinox. In the video, the left wheel is off the Equinox, which is at an angle on the eastbound guardrail.

The Stingray traveled farther over the double yellow lines. It crashed head-on with a red, older model Ford Ranger, which in the video has a broken, hanging front bumper.

Griefer said he did not have the names of the vehicle occupants immediately available.

Steve Anker, owner of the Priest Station Cafe at the top of Old Priest Grade, observed activity appearing to be a vehicle accident on New Priest Grade, but did not know at the time a new model Corvette was involved.

“It was just another crash to me,” Anker said.

Anker said development cars from Porsche, Volvo and Cadillac were known to test on the winding curves and slopes of New Priest Grade, which has a speed limit of 55 miles per hour.

“They like the new grade because it's fast and it’s curvy,” Anker said.

The test runs usually involve processions of cars traveling with them and teams of engineers performing measurements on the dynamics of the vehicle, he said.

Anker said he did not know why the Corvette Stingray was driving in the area or if it was testing. He said the test cars often had zebra-like black and white swirls to camouflage them from photography or from people interested in knowing the body shape.

The crash generated news articles from online automobile websites such as Cnet.com, Autoblog.com and Motortrend and Jalopnik.

Some of the auto journalists postulated the vehicle was in a caravan with other General Motors vehicles during the crash and some of the people alongside the road were part of a testing team.

Autoblog.com" class="auto" target="_blank">dir="ltr">Autoblog.com referred to the color of the vehicle as “Elkhart Lake Blue.”

An instagram page titled “wrecked_musclecars” posted two photos of the wrecked Corvette on Friday — one zoomed in and one that appears to be through the front windshield.

“Well, that didn’t take long. My wife spotted this brand new wrecked #2020Corvette #Stingray on her way to Yosemite here in Ca,” the caption said.

The caption continued, “It was part of a rally of cars with GoPros mounted. Took the rear wheel off an SUV heading opposite around a turn.”

Some on the automobile website credited the Instagram post as the source for when the story went viral.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the post had over 500 likes and more than 115 comments. One commenter said the Stingray was touring the United States from dealership to dealership.

“Tore up a perfectly beautiful car,” one commenter wrote.

Chevrolet debuted the 2020 Corvette Stingray with a live video and presentation in Tustin, California, on July 18. The event featured presentations from former astronauts Dr. Mae Jemison and Captain Scott Kelly.

In the opening sequence, General Motors President Mark Reuss drove a red 2020 Corvette Stingray onto the stage.

The debut boasted the Stingray as the “first-ever mid-engine Corvette” inspired by aeronautical and racing design.

“The sum of everything that came before it, the 2020 Stingray is re-imagined to bring customers new levels of performance, technology, craftsmanship and luxury,” said a press release announcing the vehicle.

A description of the car said it is equipped with 6.2L Small Block V-8 LT2 engine which will produce 495 horsepower with performance exhaust. It also boasts a zero to 60 miles per hour time of less than three seconds when a performance package is included.

The vehicle is more than 15 feet long, over six feet wide and is just over four feet tall.

The press release said the entry-level vehicle will start at under $60,000 and goes into production at the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Kentucky in late 2019.

The Corvette is manufactured by Chevrolet, which is a division of the American automobile manufacturer General Motors.


Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.

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