What’s Happening at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum

What’s Happening at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum
Monday, July 31, 2017
by Joanne Cram

Gearing up for the 2017 “Salute to Champion Sammy Swindell” exhibit, The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum is expecting its doors and floors to be teeming with sprint car and open wheel fans alike during the 2017 Knoxville Nationals. This year’s display promises to be one of the biggest salutes the museum has put together in recent years.

Sammy Swindell’s lengthy career in motorsports is on display through October 1st, 2017. This one of a kind, unique, and never before brought together all in once place collection is a show stopper. Eight of Sammy’s sprint cars will be on display, along with three large screen tv’s with repeating loops of interviews, highlights, and other memorable moments that fans can view to learn more about Sammy’s career.. Forty-Nine of Sammy’s personal artifacts have also been lent to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum for the public to view. This is a unique collection of Sammy’s personal memories ranging from trophies, tools, hats, suits, and even his King’s Royal Crown.

One of the unique aspects to this display will include a video recording of the Wednesday forum entitled, “Sammy Swindell Team Members Reunion”, hosted by Dave Argabright and Bones Bourcier. This event will be held on the second floor of the NSCHoF at 11:00 am. It is a free event for all museum visitors on this morning with limited seating. The entire interview will be professionally recorded by Bing Bang Media, and then edited for viewing the remainder that the “Salute to Champion Sammy Swindell” is open. Some of Sammy’s former teammates who have already indicated that they will be present include: Chris Paulsen, M.A. Brown, Deuce Turrill, Butch Capo, Glenn Stewart, John Godfrey, David Hesmer, and others.

The eight cars on display began arriving at the NSCHoF in early 2017, and are placed in chronological order throughout the museum. Bill Wright, the museum coordinator and museum staff worked diligently to build and create extra display locations for this vast display, and had the good fortune of having the new staging building complete just in time to make use of the planned staging space.

Roger Johnson and his family have also been instrumental in locating Sammy Swindell’s race cars and getting them transported to Knoxville for this exhibit. Also, the Johnson family has been instrumental in arranging for Sammy’s personal collection of memorabilia to be loaned to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum from Sammy himself, for the “Salute to Champion Sammy Swindell” exhibit, and in organizing the Wednesday morning event featuring Sammy & Amy Swindell along with many of Sammy’s former teammates.

Bob Baker said that, “Our Wednesday morning event with Sammy and his former teammates is going to be a once in a lifetime to learn more about Sammy Swindell’s contributions to sprint car racing through the many engineering and design work that Sammy did behind the scenes in advance of race day to make his race cars faster. Having Big Bang Media with us to capture everything for future generations to enjoy and learn from is what the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame is all about in promoting the future of the sport and preserving the past."

Several new things are happening at the National Sprint Car hall of Fame & Museum this year as well. In preparation for the Bryan Clausen Suite Tower that is slated to be open in April of 2018, the museum hopes to work throughout the Nationals to stay on schedule with their aggressive timeline that is in place. This four story building will house 12 brand new suites, with access to a fifth floor viewing deck. This is a very forward-thinking plan, with a timeline to match. The funds to begin initial construction on the towers were anonymously donated, and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum has roughly half of the $3.4 million construction costs pledged to date. They are still needing help with the remaining funding to complete this new building which will honor Bryan Clauson's legacy, as well as secure the financial stability for the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum to continue on into the future.

Another unique way to raise income for the NSCHoF & Museum is the new Australian Sprint Car Vacation. The winner of the raffle will be drawn Saturday night in the front straightaway here during the Nationals. The winner will receive two round trip airfare tickets to Australia, two VIP tickets to The Classic Sprint car race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, and 7 nights of hotel accommodations for when the lucky winners are in Australia. All of this for only $20 per raffle ticket or 6 for 100. AND..... there is also a $10,000 'cash option’ in the case that the lucky winner is unable to attend The Classic next January.


Our “SALUTE TO CHAMPION SAMMY SWINDELL” will be featured in our museum daily during this year’s Nationals with 8 of the iconic race cars that Sammy drove during his illustrious career. In addition, the museum will be debuting additional TV monitors to showcase Sammy Swindell’s career, and two interactive touch-screen monitors for race fans to learn more about their favorite race cars that Sammy drove.

Wednesday, August 9th:
11:00 AM “Sammy Swindell Reunites for a Special Gathering with His Former Teammates (Second-Floor)
12:00 Noon “Meet Knoxville’s Saturday Night Drivers” with Bill Wright (Theater)
1:30 PM “World of Outlaws – Life on the Road” with Johnny Gibson (Theater)

Thursday, August 10th:
10:00 AM “Sprint Car Racing on the International Stage” with David Mills (Theater)
11:00 AM “Members Only VIP Reception featuring Donny Schatz” with Dave Argabright (Second Floor)
12:00 Noon “Sprint Car Safety” with Greg Nicol from Speedway Motors (Theater)
1:30 PM “State of the Union in Sprint Car Racing” with Larry Boos from Eldora Speedway (Theater)
3:00 PM “Thunder Road” the book with author Tom Toutz (Theater)

Friday, August 11th:
10:00 AM “Sprint Car History” with Gary Guehler (Theater)
12:00 Noon “Meet the Women in Sprint Car Racing” with Lexi Mills (Theater)
1:30 PM Meet the Pennsylvania Posse” with Bruce Ellis (Second-Floor)

Saturday, August 12th:
12:00 Noon Knoxville Nationals Auction to benefit the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum (Second Floor)

Sprint Car Celebrity and driver autograph sessions will be scheduled hourly each day from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM in the Bob Trostle garage inside the museum. Check the daily schedule inside the museum each day for hourly appearances and schedules.

The NSCHoF & Museum has a continued staff of dedicated workers and volunteers that make each experience memorable.
Lori DeMoss is the museum's most tenured employee, as she was the first person who was hired to be an employee, even before the museum was built. Lori takes care of all of the museum's administrative responsibilities and makes sure everything that 'has to be done' - actually gets done.
Laci White is the museum store coordinator who heads up our museum store and keeps it running smoothly, as well as greeting guests with a cheerful smile as they come through the doors.
Garry VanWaardhuizen is our superintendent, who takes care of more things than can be listed. Gary can fabricate just about any parts or fixtures we need, and keeps the building in great operational running order year-round.
Mike Noftsger is the special events coordinator at the NSCHoF & Museum who organizes auctions, the new Mach 1/Ryder 410 engine raffle car appearances and raffle ticket sales, golf tournaments, the Australian Sprint Car Vacation raffle and special events.
Brenda Brown, Bev Goesselink, Angie Dingeman, and Heidi Smith and Riya Smith
are part-time associates who take care of the museum in so many ways. These ladies help keep the museum open and looking amazing for everyone who visits the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum year-round. They allow the NSCHoF & Museum to be open 7 days a week, year-round for race fans to come in and learn more about sprint car racing.

What some of our supporters who come through the doors each Knoxville Nationals may notice most is the unfortunate absence of our dear friend, Tom Schmeh. For those of you who were unaware, Tom contracted a very aggressive illness this past winter. He miraculously made a recovery, however he was diminished in his physical strength. Tom has moved back to New York to be near his sister, and is steadily making gains in his mobility. The museum staff, as well as all of Tom’s friends in Knoxville, are very grateful for his recovery and thankful that he is doing well. Tom hopes to make a return to his beloved National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum some time next year, most likely during a weekly event at Knoxville Raceway.