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John Ziglar of Franklin installs rubber gaskets around a window on a Corvette on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly plant. (Miranda Pederson/photo@bgdailynews.com)

Public tours of the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant will be suspended for 18 months.

Katie Frassinelli of the National Corvette Museum said Friday that the suspension is because of extensive work planned at the plant that manufactures the Chevrolet Corvette.

Extended suspensions of plant tours aren’t new, but it is the first time in recent years the suspension is so long.

“The new paint shop at the plant has to be tied into the existing assembly line,” Frassinelli said. “The old paint shop is on the opposite side of the plant.”

Tour blackout dates are May 5, May 8-12, May 19, May 26, May 29, May 30 and June 6, according to the NCM website. Then all plant tours are shut down after June 16.

Frassinelli said the tourism community has been preparing for the plant tour void by packaging an itinerary for motor coach parties that includes the NCM, the Historic RailPark and Train Museum and Aviation Heritage Park together in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

Also, the NCM Motorsports Park across Interstate 65 from the museum has added go-karts for riders at least 50 inches tall.

“There are tons of great activities” for visitors, Frassinelli said. In fact, there are a lot more attractions than the last time Corvette plant tours were suspended for an extended period of time.

“I can remember when I worked at the Bowling Green-Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau we lifted it out of the Visitor’s Guide,” Frassinelli said.

She said it is estimated that about 20 percent of the people who tour the NCM also tour the plant.

Public plant tours typically last one hour and are one mile in length. There is a fee.

The plant tour suspension comes amid speculation online and within the Corvette-watching community about what kind of new car could be coming to potential buyers. GMAuthority.com – a GM-focused website that is unaffiliated with General Motors – has posted photos and videos of an apparent C7 Corvette ZR1 in testing at Nurburgring in Germany, including a video published Friday at bit.ly/2qf9D33.

“The audio isn’t great, but it provides clear shots of the C7 ZR1 doing its thing on the track, strange noise-baffling pipes and all,” the post said. “However, if you notice, the giant wing present on most occasions is tapered down at various point(s) in the video. Whether there are different prototypes running the track, or engineers are adjusting the wing on the go, is unknown.”

“Patents have already shown the C7 Corvette ZR1 is likely in for some sort of active aerodynamic system and the wing may be one component of said system,” the website noted.

GM officials meeting Friday at the NCM said they never talk about the future. At the Michelin NCM Bash, chief engineer Tadge Juechter, Harlan Charles and Kirk Bennion met with the public to talk about Corvettes. The talk was placed on the NCM Facebook page as a live video.

Asked to comment on future car considerations, they declined, saying disclosure of such information could get them fired since a nondisclosure stipulation was in their contracts.

– Follow business reporter Charles A. Mason on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

Charles Allen Mason is the business reporter for the Daily News. He is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a 1977 graduate of West Virginia University in Morgantown. In his spare time he enjoys reading, music, sports and cooking.

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