Thursday, April 21, 2011
From 1957-1981, the Omaha Tangier Corvette Patrol wowed crowds with their precision driving skills
The Tangier Shriners are headquartered in Omaha, and during that 24-year period, about 13 members formed the Tangier Shrine Corvette Patrol. Each year, these members would purchase a fleet of brand-new, identical Corvettes. They would then take these unique cars to parades, circuses, and other events around the country, and perform precision driving demonstrations to bring attention to their children’s burn hospital efforts.
Obviously, the guys that were buying these cars had some money. You don’t just buy a new Corvette every year if you’re struggling with the rent. And certainly, this group consisted of lawyers, doctors, and other businessmen.
1978 was also the year that my dad’s former Shrine Patrol Corvette came into our lives. With the base 230-hp 283, Powerglide automatic transmission, and Ermine White over Jewel Blue paint scheme, the old ’61 isn’t what you’d call outstanding by Corvette standards. But it has a great history, and it is cool to look back at the old photos and realize that this car was actually participating in these precision driving demonstrations.
While I was putting this story together, I came in contact with several interesting folks who have some connection to the Omaha Shriner Corvettes. Wayne East owns a perfectly lovely 1967 Shriner car, and is working on a Shriner Corvette registry for the approximately 300 cars that were built between 1957 (when they were equipped with special horns that sounded like a cow "moo") and 1981.
Although they don’t have this exact program anymore, the Omaha Tangier Shrine Temple is still in operation, and they still have a Corvette club (today, they don’t have to all match). Several members from that organization were willing to share information with me, including Leonard Crossley, Sully Sullivan, Barry Ahlborn, and James Smith. Many of the photos in the slideshow below came from the collection of Tangier Shrine member Jerome Givens. I also want to thank Cythia Walling. Her dad was a member of the Shrine Corvette Patrol, and she generously provided several of the photos for this story.
Of course, this is an ongoing search for me. I would love to see more photos of these cars in action. I would especially like to see more pictures of the ‘61s from back in the day. I’m always on the lookout, and would welcome and appreciate any tips that you might have for me about the original Tangier Shrine Corvette Patrol.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of these great pictures that have been provided to me from several sources. It would be pretty awesome to see these cars in action today.