The Knoxville Raceway in IOWA USA is a fabulous track. It’s known affectionately as The Sprintcar Capital of the World and it’s also the home of the National Sprintcar Hall of Fame and Museum (NSCHoF&M or “Hall of Fame” for short).
While at the Knoxville Nationals back in August I checked out the Hall of Fame and I met up with Thomas Schmeh, the current Curator. In this role he is responsible for the exhibits, displays, collections and archives. Tom has been associated with the Hall of Fame for many years now, in fact he has been Curator the past 3 years and before that was the Executive Director for 19 years. The current Executive Director is Bob Baker and together these two gents and a throng of support staff do a magnificent job. Thomas gave me a good overview of the facility and then let me loose to probe everything on show.
This week Torquetube has a general look about the Hall of Fame and next week we will concentrate on the museum.
The Hall of Fame opened in 1991 and is located on turn 2 of the racetrack. The lower level comprises a comprehensive museum of race cars and artefacts, as well as a neat Merchandising Shop. Right now and running until December this year, there is a dedicated display called Salute to Champion – Tony Stewart. On display are 6 of Stewart’s Championship racecars including three USAC cars, an IRL (Indy Style) car, an IROC stock car (now defunct) and a NASCAR – not all Sprintcars, indeed not all Open Wheel cars, but nevertheless an awesome display and testament to a very versatile and adaptable driver. It’s the first time such a display has been configured and the intent is to continue the Salute to Champion concept into the future with different Champions.
Steve Kinser the next Champ for showcasing? What do you think?
The second level combines presentation areas, VIP viewing, a motorsport movie theatre and of course the massive photographic display of all Hall of Fame Inductees over the years. Inductees are recognised for their outstanding contribution to the Sport of Sprintcar racing, and its not only for Drivers. Levels 3 and 4 house impressive Corporate Suits that include outside balconies and seating.
During the Knoxville Nationals the Hall of Fame had set up a heap of autograph and chat sessions. These were held in a mock up of the 1970’s Des Moines Bob Trostle garage – a model of how it was back then, and even Bob himself saying it felt like home ! Then there were interviews and panel sessions where Drivers like Danny Lasoski, Cody Darrah and Kraig Kinser rocked up and shared their thoughts on racing and took questions from the audience.
The facility is run completely separate to the Knoxville Raceway and entry is only $4 for Adults. You can sign up as an annual member for $25 if you live in The States, or $40 for an International Membership. This allows you free entry at any time, discounts to the Merchandise Shop and other benefits including information mail-outs etc.