After unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot by police in Ferguson, MO on August 9, protests, looting and acts of vandalism flared up throughout the city as residents called for an investigation into the incident. Ferguson happens to be the former birthplace of the Chevrolet Corvette and not far from the home of a Road & Track staffer, who recently drove their long-term Stingray home and stopped off in Ferguson along the way.
Ferguson was lumped in with two other communities that neighboured St. Louis, Hazelwood and Florissant, which at the time weren’t as badly affected by St. Louis’ ongoing socioeconomic problems. These communities had nearby factories, including the former Corvette plant, and as such had thriving businesses and well-established neighbourhoods. Then Kentucky offered GM a tax break to move Corvette production to Bowling Green and due to the relocation clause in their UAW contracts, the nearly 1000 workers at the plant went with them.
When the Corvette plant left, other manufacturing sectors in the region took a turn for the worse. R&T says Carter Carburetor shut down shop on 3000 employees and Ford’s factory closure got rid of another 2500 jobs. The economy took a turn for the worse, with real estate values plummeting and businesses losing revenue. Racial tensions also began to heat up.
When R&T drove the flashy Corvette down West Florissant Street in Ferguson, where the majority of protests were happening, no one so much as glanced at them. They were too preoccupied with the protests, except for the police in the area who pulled them over and asked them not to cruise so slowly down the street.
Today a third of Ferguson residents live in poverty, while almost 50 percent of residents can’t afford their own Mortgages, according to R&T. There are deeper, underlying issues in Ferguson apart from the Michael Brown case, just as the protests represent more than just the shooting of an 18-year old. Ferguson used to be home to the Stingray, but what would it be like if that were still the case?
Click here to read Road & Track’s full report of the road trip.