Punch its throttle and the cherry red 2010 Corvette convertible punches back, shoving the driver’s chest like a barroom bully picking a fight.

Step on its brakes and the Corvette precisely doles out just the right dose of stopping power demanded by its driver. Its brawny brakes — 14-inch discs up front; 13.4-inch platters at the rear — will bring the sports car from 60 mph to a dead stop in just over 100 feet.

Only a calf being roped by a rodeo cowboy stops quicker.

That cowboy would have to be on a prize-winning cutting horse to turn like the Corvette. The car’s steering is so precise and communicative, drivers feel as if they could guide it through a sewer pipe without touching the walls.

The Corvette’s cornering power is equally impressive. Aim it at the tightest curve and Chevy’s superhero simply slinks through at speeds higher than the most drivers think possible.

Almost amazingly, the Corvette convertible has the poise and manners of a luxury car when it isn’t being asked to execute those feats of automotive artistry. Its ride is ridiculously comfortable for such a high-performance thoroughbred.

Raise its cloth top and long highway journeys are made in surprising solace. Lowering its top takes just seconds after the turn of a lever and push of a button. You’d have to be married to a public transit bus driver or have radiator coolant in your veins not to feel your heart flutter while driving the ‘Vette with the top down on a warm, sunny day.

If you’re lucky, all of that automotive elation can be yours for $100. That’s how much it costs for a chance to win the 2010 Corvette Grand Sport convertible I just described.

The Corvette is being raffled off by the non-profit organization that runs Portland’s July 4 celebration. Quirk Chevrolet owner Jack Quirk donated the Corvette at his cost with hopes that the proceeds from sales of up to 1,000 raffle tickets would help fund next year’s “Stars and Stripes Spectacular.”

The 2011 event, sponsored by Quirk Chevrolet, the Maine Red Claws, Wright Express, The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and Bangor Savings Bank, cost about $140,000 to put on.

As this is being written, around 600 of the 1,000 raffle tickets had been sold. Even if all are sold, the odds of winning the stunning Corvette are better than most lotteries — especially for anyone who buys multiple tickets. (And how much have you spent on lottery tickets this year alone?)

Until the sponsors gave me some time behind the wheel of the prize car, I hadn’t driven a new Corvette since the last generation. I’d forgotten how American automotive engineering could produce such an awesome vehicle for a starting price of around $56,000 (for a 2010 Corvette coupe).

The car that’s being auctioned is worth quite a bit more. Chevy’s suggested retail price for the 2010 Grand Sport convertible is around $66,000.

My brief exposure to it convinced me that it’s worth every penny and then some. If you’re a car nut, it’s impossible not to appreciate performance that meets or exceeds cars costing twice as much.

It’s hard finding cars that attract more attention — and outright fawning — than a red Corvette convertible. The car drew stares everywhere I went — and it wasn’t just because of the large “Win this Car” messages on the Corvette’s flanks.

For example, I stopped for a few minutes to catch the action at the new Monkey Trunks climbing park in Saco, and almost everyone stopped climbing, swinging and jumping to check out the ‘Vette. One guy raced down from a perch near the very top of the complex, exited the park, and came over to admire the car.

He asked what it took to win the Corvette. I told him a hundred bucks and a little luck. He said he was going to enter the raffle as soon as he got home.

There’s still time and tickets left to do that. But do it quickly because the winning raffle ticket will be drawn at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Maine Red Claws’ offices. I think there’s going to be a last-minute ticket sales surge, and once 1,000 are sold that’s it.

You can get your chance to own a piece of automotive art and Americana by purchasing tickets online at www.july4thportland.org, by calling 210-6655, or in person at the Maine Red Claws, 413 Congress St. or Quirk Chevrolet at 1000 Brighton Ave.

Scott Wasser is executive editor of MaineToday Media. He writes a weekly auto column for the Sunday Telegram and other newspapers. He can be reached at

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