Exciting New Attractions at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum
Friday, August 10, 2012
Exciting New Attractions at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum
by Joanne Cram
Once again, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum has added some amazing new attractions to entice open-wheel loving race fans that pour into Knoxville each Nationals, to come in and spend some time going down
memory lane, and creating new memories as well.
The entire staff, volunteers, and members have worked tirelessly over this past season to pair with yet another world-class contributor to the sport of sprint car and open-wheel racing. The 'Salute to Champion Jeff Gordon' exhibit will be open and in full-swing during this year's Knoxville Nationals, and continue through December 31st. This is the second salute to Champions exhibit that the Hall of Fame has hosted. Last year's Salute to Champion Tony Stewart was wildly popular, and Bob Baker, executive director of the museum, is thrilled to host yet another collection of racing history to share with museum visitors. "This exhibit will showcase the diversity and sprint car back-ground of champion driver Jeff Gordon," Baker said.
While this collection of race cars, memorabilia, and video history is just as extensive as the Salute to Champion Tony Stewart collection, this collection was much more time consuming to gather. Tony Stewart owned each of the race cars that was loaned to the museum last year, whereas Jeff Gordon's cars are owned by many collectors, and individuals from all over the country. John Bickford, Jeff's step-father, was instrumental in tracking down all of Jeff's race cars and artifacts, and assisting with their arrival in Knoxville. Just gathering access to JGI, Jeff Gordon Inc., was a major accomplishment, and Baker is so grateful to everyone involved at JGI and HMS, Hendrick Motorsports, for allowing Jeff's likeness and images to be used in the museum's exhibit. Pepsi Cola has also been a great partner in this exhibit as well, sponsoring the transportation of Jeff's race cars to Knoxville
from across the country.
Six of Jeff Gordon's championship race cars will be on display at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum between July 27 and December 31st of this year. Each race car was a champion in its' own right; From the USAC midget and USAC sprint cars, to Jeff's NASCAR winning race cars, all of these unique race cars that Jeff Gordon actually drove will be on display. Jeff Gordon's extensive
career is highlighted through memorabilia, race cars, pictures, and a unique 11 minute video titled "Along for the Ride" which can only be viewed inside the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum. Each race car in the exhibit also features a history board, which details Jeff's success in each different vehicle.
The first of the six cars on display is Jeff's USAC Diet-Pepsi midget that was raced on Thursday and Saturday Night Thunder TV races. This car is owned by Rollie Helmling, the former president of USAC, who currently is the Director for Automotive and Motorsports Initiatives for the Indiana Economic Development Corp. This is the famous #4 USAC midget that Jeff drove to victories in the Turkey Night Grand Prix, the Belleville Midget Nationals, and the Night Before the 500 midget classic.
Jeff's black #4 USAC pavement sprint car is the next race car on display. This is one of two race cars on loan directly from the Hendricks Motorsports Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jeff drove this sprinter to victories at both Salem Speedway and the famed Winchester Speedway, both of which are located in Indiana.
Another USAC sprinter that was raced in both Indiana and Ohio, is the winged dirt track sprint car that Jeff raced to championships at Eldora Speedway, Bloomington Speedway, and at the Attica Speedway. This sprint car is unique also, as it was driven by Jeff in several of the United States Auto Club's winged sprint car races that were briefly held.
Also on display is the USAC Silver Crown race car #4 that Gordon won on both dirt and pavement in. Freddie Ead owns this M&L Plumbing sponsored
piece of history, that brought Jeff Gordon's talents to the attention of the NASCAR world, when he won the Copper Classic race at Phoenix International
Raceway in Phoenix, AZ. as well as the Hoosier Hundred on the one mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Of Gordon's race cars in the museum, most fans will most likely recognize the next two cars in the exhibit; Gordon's two NASCAR rides.
Jeff Gordon's 1992, former Busch Grand National Series (now the Nationwide Series) winning car is on loan from former drag racer Darrell Gwynn's motorsports museum in Florida, Most race fans will recognize this Baby Ruth sponsored Grand National as Jeff Gordon's first NASCAR ride when he began his NASCAR career down in Daytona Beach, Florida.
And finally, the last race car in the salute to Champion Jeff Gordon exhibit is likely Jeff's most well known car, his Dupont 'Rainbow Warrior' NASCAR Cup car
from the former Winston Cup Series, which is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This is the race car that Jeff Gordon won his first NASCAR Cup race
in, during the World 600 at Charlotte, Motor Speedway back in 1994. This race car has just been totally restore at Hendricks Motorsports and is graciously on loan to the National Sprint Car Hall of fame & Museum for the 'Salute to Champion Jeff Gordon' exhibit. This is first time this race car has been on display outside of Hendricks Motorsports Museum.
Highlighting Jeff Gordon's career was Baker's intent with this exhibit. Jeff has shown how the path between dirt track to pavement racing stock car racing can
be successful, and he has paved the way for talented dirt track racers to make their way into other forms of racing. Whether that dream is staying in open-wheel
racing or moving up to NASCAR-type racing, Jeff Gordon 'opened-the-door' for today's dirt track stars to follow their career paths wherever they may lead.
As with last year's 'Salute to Champion Tony Stewart' exhibit. a limited number of special edition 'Salute to Champion Jeff Gordon' t-shirts will be available to purchase exclusively through the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum. You can purchase these directly at the museum's store, on their website at www.sprintcarstuff.com. The commemorative t-shirts highlight all six of Jeff Gordon's race cars that are on display along with Jeff Gordon's championships. As a presenting sponsor, Pepsi will give patrons a $2 discount off each t-shirt when they bring in a Pepsi can or bottle at the time of purchase. Additionally, $2 from the sale of each t-shirt will directly benefit one of Jeff Gordon's children's charities. The remainder of the sales will benefit the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum, to help promote the future of sprint car racing and preserve sprint car racing's rich history.
In addition to the extensive Salute to Champion Jeff Gordon exhibit, three new displays have been added to the museum before this year's Knoxville Nationals,
that are definitely worth a trip to the museum to view.
Parked in Bob Trostle's garage this year, will be the #20 winged sprint car that Jeff Gordon drove at Knoxville raceway in 1987, and Bob Trostle will be in the garage each day at 3:30 PM to sign autographs and walk down memory lane with race fans. This will give visitors both historical and fun-filled stories about Bob Trostle's time working with Jeff Gordon. Baker promises that there will some great stories shared, and wants to thank Craig Agan for loaning the #20 winged sprinter that will be on display inside Bob Trostle's garage.
Next, the BR Motorsports cut-a-way sprint car will be at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum during the Nationals. This is the sprint car that has major components of a modern-day sprint car sectioned open, for race fans to get a better understanding of the modern technology that goes into the construction of today's winged sprint cars that race during the Knoxville Nationals. This is also the cut-a-way sprint car that is used as a discussion tool and visual for the commentators on the World of Outlaws SPEED TV telecasts.
Blake Roberts from BR Motorsports loaned this cut-a-way sprinter to the museum for fans, young and old alike, to get an up-close view of some of the internal workings of a modern day sprint car.
The final new display will be the addition of the 1970 Knoxville Nationals winning race car of 'Little Joe' Saldana. Joey Saldana, current World of Outlaws driver, had Mark Randol and John Layne out of Kansas City, meticulously restore this sprint car for his father and the Saldana family. This will be the first place for this Knoxville Nationals' winning race car to be displayed. The results of the master craftsmanship and restoration promise to be amazing to see. Look for the red #2 inside the museum as you tour through the first floor.
Lastly, Bob Baker wants to showcase the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum's building itself. "Our building turned 20 years old this year, and was in need of some minor exterior repairs, maintenance, and painting. Our building has just concluded an extensive five-week restoration process, and we are very proud of having such a great facility to showcase sprint car racing to race fans from across the country and from overseas", Baker said. "Our museum is the perfect place to learn about sprint car racing's rich history - all in one place", he concluded.
"Thanks to all of the generous support from our patrons, fans, and members - these restoration projects and special exhibits are made possible", Baker said.
The National Sprint Car hall of Fame & Museum's museum store is stocked with unique, and on-of-a-kind finds to complete any sprint car fans collection as well. Volunteer workers are available to assist you and help you ship items back home, if you don't want to transport them yourself during the 360 Nationals or the Knoxville Nationals.
The National Sprint Car hall of fame is also hosting a variety of activities during the four days of the Knoxville Nationals. Most are free events, with your paid admission of $4 per person.