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'Home Improvement' viewer wins Corvette

June 01, 1999

Vette winnerBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




Ronald Staley won a television contest last month and drove off with a "free" Corvette.

"It's not really free," said Staley, who added that he plans to sell the prize.

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Staley, one of two Hagerstown residents who won a classic Corvette from UPN Channel 20's "Great Improvements Giveaway" contest, said taxes will run about $2,500 on the 1977 car. That doesn't include the registration fees and insurance payments.

"I'd like to keep it," he said, admiring the red car with white interior. "But there are more practical things I could do with the money It's just a lot of money to have to put up for taxes."

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Staley said he thinks the car, which is valued at $10,000, could fetch about $7,500.

Staley was one of thousands of people from a three-state region who entered the "Great Improvements" contest, according to Leisa Weir, a spokeswoman for UPN affiliate WDCA.

Hagerstown resident Kelly Weagley, also won the contest, bagging a yellow 1974 classic Corvette with a saddle interior.

The station sponsored the contest during its daily airing of "Home Improvement."

Viewers who dialed a toll-free number that ran during the 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. broadcasts were registered for a random drawing. Five viewers won a Disney World vacation during the first week, and the station gave away a car each day during the second.

Weir said the station sponsored the contest to generate excitement for "Home Improvement," which finished its nine-year run on ABC this season but will air in reruns on UPN 20 for the foreseeable future.

Staley said he saw advertisements for the contest for several days before the contest week. But he said he did not get a chance to watch the program until Wednesday, May 19.

He was telling his wife, Norma, the next evening that he entered when the phone rang.

"I told her, 'They're calling me to say I won the Corvette,'" he said.

Norma Staley said she looked at caller ID and saw that it was, in fact, the TV station.

"I was sitting there to see if he'd won. He doesn't show a whole lot of emotion anyway," she said.

The Staleys' neighbor, Bill Rimbey, said he thought they were pulling his leg until he saw the car. Now, he said, he's kicking himself for not entering the contest.

"I watch the show all the time, too," he said.

Staley said he has no specific plans for the money he'd get from selling the car.

"I've never won anything in my whole life," he said. "I didn't give it any thought."

Norma Staley had no trouble finding a use if she had won: "Me, I'd have seen dollar signs and plastic surgery."

Staley, 37, said she would like to remove tattoos that cover both of her arms. She said she got the body art during a rowdier period before she married her husband about two years ago.

Whoever ends up with the Corvette will get a good car, Ronald Staley said.

He had a chance to check it out when he picked it up from the dealership in Colonial Beach, Va., on Monday and again Monday night when he went to his job at Chatham Technologies' Hennessy Products in Chambersburg, Pa.

He said it was a change from the family's other three vehicles, two cars and a pickup truck.

"You can definitely tell the car handles better. You can tell a big difference going off an exit ramp or on the interstate," Staley said. "It rides pretty good for a Corvette. They're not known for comfort."

Although the Corvette has 99,000 miles, Staley, 41, said it was rebuilt from the ground up several years ago.

Staley knows his cars. His family owned a repair garage in Williamsport and he said he builds race cars as a hobby. He works on engines for a local race driver who competes at Hagerstown Speedway and similar tracks.

"I've pretty much worked on cars all my life," said Staley, who built his first race car in 1976.

The Corvette inspires memories of past cars Staley has owned, like the white Corvette. Or the 1955 Chevy two door. Or his first car, a 1969 Plymouth GTX.

"I'd love to have that car back," he said.

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