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74 Year-Old Woman Loves Speed

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Jeanne's Corvette Stingray


My Wheels: Readers recall their favorite set of wheels

74-year-old Corvette Stingray owner is serious about speed

Retired art teacher and Olympic speed skater's love affair with car began 40 years ago.

By Richard A. Wright / Special to The Detroit News

Jeanne Omelenchuk


Age: 74

Home: Capac, Mich.

Favorite wheels: 1963 Corvette Stingray

Favorite roads to drive: Country roads around Capac and Almont



A year or two ago, Olympic speed skater Jeanne Omelenchuk pushed her 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to 105 mph.

That was just for fun, when the retired art teacher from Capac, Mich., was out on a fall color tour with friends from the GMC Corvette Set club.

But Omelenchuk, 74, was more serious about speed when she won a berth on the 1960, 1968 and 1972 U.S. winter Olympic skating teams. She holds the U.S. one-mile record -- 1.52 minutes -- that she posted in St. Paul, Minn.

She's also a biking champion and an inductee to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

Omelenchuk has owned her 1963 Stingray for 40 years. She bought it new and used to drive it year-round to get to work as a Detroit teacher and run errands. When her daughter Kristin arrived, Omelenchuk turned her attention from cars to kids and it suffered some neglect.

Then, around 1997, a friend suggested she look into having the bumpers re-chromed. One thing led to another, and the red convertible wound up in pieces at Elite Restorations in Clinton Township in the capable hands of Gary Mau.

Omelenchuk said Mau would periodically send a bill to her Ocala, Fla., home. When it was finished, Omelenchuk took the Corvette to Bloomington, Ind., where the car won a gold award. Omelenchuk said she insisted hers was better than the silver award the judges were considering.

"I told them I had read the rule books and that mine was definitely in gold condition -- that I wasn't going to come back another year and try again," she said.

In 2003, she and members of the GMC Corvette Set caravanned to Bowling Green, Ky., for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Corvette.

"I really wanted to be a part of that," she said.

"Along the drive, people were hanging over the rails, holding up babies, watching the parade of Corvettes."

The Corvette enthusiast continues to train as an athlete, running the local high school track in the morning, putting her bike in her Sebring convertible to meet friends for long rides and skating at a few indoor rinks.


Richard A. Wright is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.
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That's great! My mom has always joked that she wants a red Corvette when she retires- and that we, her children, are supposed to buy it for her. :P Maybe she'll settle for a nice low-mileage C5...

This reminds me of a nice Caprice wagon I see in my town, one of the mid-90s wagons. It has tinted windows all around, appears to be lowered, and wears nice fat tires on cool aluminum rims. It has dual exhaust and a healthy bark to it too. An older guy, maybe early 60s, drives it. The license plate?

"GO DAD"

:cheers: AWESOME! If I have all my wits about me (or most of them anyway) at that age I hope to be like that too. :)
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It just shows, because they are getting older, doesn't mean they just want to drive Buick Centurys. More and more the stereotypes of aging are being debunked. I love that they don't let age or the expectations of age dictate to them what they enjoy in cars.
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Wow, cool. :)
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