Community, Springfield

Launching Fourth: ‘Barbie’ goes cliff diving

GLACIER VIEW, Alaska – Most people enjoy their Fourth of July with a grand fireworks show and a barbecue cookout. Some 6,000 people celebrate by watching cars fly off of a 300-foot cliff. 

Different strokes for different folks.

In a 2,000-plus mile trip from Springfield to Glacier View, on June 29, Springfield residents Nancy Mauk and David Dearth hit the road in their custom-made 1990 Corvette with every intention of sending it off of a cliff on the Fourth of July. 

“We wanted to do something iconic, something that people would recognize,” Dearth said. “Nobody’s ever launched a Corvette off a cliff on purpose.” 

The “Flying Barbie Corvette,” as the two named it, took about two years to remodel to make it reliable transportation for the road trip.

“I was concerned for everyone that was rooting for us, and if we broke down and didn’t make it, it was all for nothing,” Dearth said. 

Dearth spent hours on improving its mechanical operations and aesthetics, right down to customized Barbie license plates. 

The car was a bright Barbie pink scattered with flower decals, the classic Barbie silhouette, and the Barbie logo bold and center on the hood of the car.  

A 12-foot Barbie skeleton donning a custom-made dress, wig, and necklace Dearth made out of ping pong balls, was strapped to the roof and launched off the cliff at the event. 

Skeleton Barbie is strapped to the car and ready to be launched.

The Alaskan Car Launch started nearly 20 years ago, after Arnie Hrncir, founder and a Glacier View resident, became inspired after he launched his wife’s car after it was totaled in a “moose incident.” 

The cars are rocketed off the cliff by jamming a piece of lumber on the gas pedal and using a ratchet strap to keep the front wheels straight. With only as much gas as it takes to go down the ramp, the cars are sent on their final flight. 

Hrncir said that besides the Springfield participants, cars from Florida, Georgia, and Colorado have driven to the event. In total, 30 cars were sent off a cliff this year; a huge leap from 2020 when only six cars were sent off. “I haven’t asked one person yet to come here,” Hrncir said. “There are people already calling about next year.” 

Fiona Gledhill, who works at Willamalane, is one of those supporters and said she was excited for Mauk and Dearth.

“This is not something that just happens every day. It takes some special kind of people to have this kind of vision,” Gledhill said. 

Dearth and fans flipping the car back over after the launch.

The Barbie Corvette started its journey right after Willamalane’s Children Festival on June 28, where the car was one of the most popular attractions, Gledhill said.

“All the children loved it, and the parents loved it too, because of the nostalgic value,” she said. 

At the event, people were allowed to sign the car and Dearth and Mauck continued this trend of gathering signatures along the way to Alaska. Dearth said they would let people they met along their trip sign the car, and once they made it to the launch location, approximately another 1,000 people signed it. 

“It was at the point where it’s like, I can’t find a place to sign,” Dearth said. The duo included the signatures because they wanted people to feel like they were a part of this journey. 

“We did this, 90% for the people and 10% for us,” Dearth said. 

After the launch, spectators swarmed the area to collect any remains of the cars as souvenirs, hence why Dearth and Mauck put so much time into the car details. They wanted the spectators to be able to take the iconic aspects of the car home, Dearth said. 

The remains of the car that Dearth and Mauk took home with them.

On his way out, Dearth saw the instrument cluster he had installed in the Corvette. The part was what one group of spectators had found for their souvenir, and Dearth signed it for them. 

“For them to have a piece of something that I did … that meant a lot to me and it meant a lot to them,” Dearth said. 

Dearth said they had a great time driving the car around and seeing how many people loved it. 

“Even the grumpiest person has to be squealing on the inside. There’s no way to not be filled with childlike delight when you see a pink Barbie Corvette,” Gledhill said. 

Dearth said he and Mauck were a bit emotional about the loss of their Barbie Corvette following the event, but they were still glad they were able to share their car with all the spectators at the event. 

“We bought it for this, and we bought it to put on a show and to make a few thousand people happy, and we succeeded in that,” he said. “Looking back, it’s hard to fathom that we pulled off this monumental thing.” 

Both Dearth and Hrncir said they are unsure if the event will continue next year due to the river near Hrncir’s property growing and taking over the spectator area. 

Dearth said if they were to go back he has no idea what they would bring. 

“How do you top a flying Barbie Corvette with a 12-foot skeleton Barbie on top of it?” Dearth said. “I don’t know what’s in store for next year.” 



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