“EXPAND THE DREAM” – KNOXVILLE’S NATIONAL SPRINT CAR HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM UPGRADE PLANS WELL UNDERWAY

Words and Pics by Paul Griffin

As fanatical Sprint Car fans we all know of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame at the legendary Knoxville Raceway in IOWA, USA. Some of us have even been lucky enough to visit the facility and take in all the memorabilia, displays, and inductee awards. The organisation is a non-profit Museum Foundation and occupies the first two floors of the Turn 2 facility at Knoxville Raceway, with 20 spectator/Corporate suites filling the two floors above.

Well, Torque Tube Media are pleased to advise that plans to build a new staging and storage facility just outside the track are well advanced.

Back in 2011 the Board of Directors and Staff at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum (NSCHoFM) launched the concept of “Expand the Dream”. This is an ambitious three year fund raising campaign to accrue $US3.3 Million to provide a brand new staging and storage facility to support Museum activities, as well as short term growth in the organisations endowment funds.

The staging aspect involves preparing and pre-configuring displays before they are rolled out into the museum proper. It is simply impossible to do on the run within the Museum, so the quality exhibits are always “staged” outside then transported to their final location within the Museum. You need decent floor space to do that and existing facilities that are “chock-a-block” are not allowing this to happen easily.

The “Expand the Dream” initiative is being championed by Donald F Lamberti, founder of Casey’s General Stores Inc. Donald brings to the table a wealth of business knowledge and has played pivotal roles in the facilities previous two fundraising efforts.

The Casey's General Store opposite the Knoxville Raceway

Volunteers supporting Donald include Parnelli Jones, Ken Schrader and current Casey’s General Stores CEO Bob Myers – a fantastic blend of business experience and racing know how. And then of course the staff at the NSCHoFM will play a crucial support role as well.

Of the targeted $US3.3 Million, $US1.8 Million is earmarked for the new staging and storage facility. This money will strip-out the existing 5,000 sq feet storage unit and replace it with a 21,000 sq ft three storey climate controlled, state of the art building. The first floor will house up to 30 Sprint Cars and provide an all-important workshop for staging new exhibits. The second and third floors will allow for storage of equipment and memorabilia that the Museum has in current inventory, plus the huge influx of new items expected in  future years.

Artist's impression of the new NSCHoFM Staging and Storage Facility - Compliments of NSCHoFM Website

Last year the NSCHoFM put together a special array of Tony Stewart’s championship cars.

The ‘Salute to Champion Tony Stewart’ special exhibition, featured six of his championship-winning cars from USAC, IRL, NASCAR and IROC. It was a an incredibly popular display and brought with it some massive logistical challenges.

The Salute to Champion Tony Stewart display last year was a massive success

Because the Museum and current storage facility are bursting at the seams, when Tony Stewart’s race cars arrived in Knoxville, they had to be stored in private garages. The risks in doing this coupled with the insurance nightmare it created made the the situation quite a challenge. Nevertheless, the display went ahead and was a great success.

Over the years the Museum has built up an enviable collection of cars and memorabilia and has effectively run out of space in terms of storage, The other concern is that the current storage facility (an old car wash adjacent the raceway that the organisation purchased in 2004) does not have climate control.  Clearly this is not ideal for preserving the treasured contents.

So a new facility can’t come quick enough. The plan is for construction to occur between the Summer of 2014 and the Spring of 2015 – perhaps sooner if funds are committed earlier.

The NSCHoFM has everything ranging from the new, right down to the pioneering days

Bob Trostle considers Jan Opperman to be one of the all time best drivers - this 2nd floor display is devoted to Jan who was affectionately known as the "Original Outlaw"

Space is a premium in the NSCHoFM

The Windows of the 2nd floor Inductee Display area get a clean before Night 1 of the 2011 Nationals - this region of the facility also doubles as a special invite viewing area on race nights

The NSCHoFM is a fitting backdrop to Sprint Car Racing

Even "The KING" reckons the NSCHoFM is awesome

"The KING and I" - Steve Kinser Tee Shirt Graphic display inside the Museum

She's a Beauty ! - the NSCHoFM commenced construction in 1989 and the final vision of the original founders as we see it today was completed in 2009

Bob Trostle's garage has been replicated in the Museum and he signs autographs each year at the Nationals - Here Bob is joined by two of his respected Drivers Danny Smith (L) and Shane Carson (R)

The Bob Trostle Garage in the 1st floor of the Museum

A bronze Steve Kinser 1987 World of Outlaws model sits proudly in the floor 2 display area of the NSCHoFM

Out the front of Knoxville's NSCHoFM - The new storage and staging facility will be adjacent the track to the far RHS of this photo

Hall of Famer Inductee Display on Floor 2

 

The organisation is forward thinking  and is even discussing early aspects for a future campaign to expand the current Museum building. But right now the main focus is to “Expand the Dream”.

For more information on “Expand the Dream” contact the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Executive Director Bob Baker on 1-800-874-4488 or bbaker@sprintcarhof.com. Additional information is also available on their website: www.sprintcarhof.com

For earlier write ups and photos of the NSCHoFM check out these two Torque Tube links:

1)   http://torquetube.com.au/2011/09/20/knoxville-national-sprint-car-hall-of-fame-museum-part-1/

2)   http://torquetube.com.au/2011/09/27/national-sprint-car-hall-of-fame-museum-part-2/

The NSCHoFM in all its glory during the 2011 Nationals. There are embryonic plans to expand the Museum one day in the longer term future - But right now the focus is on "Expand the Dream"

 

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