Editor’s Note: This is the 23rd installment in National Speed Sport News’ 30 Days of Knoxville countdown to the 52nd annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals. During the coming days we will revisit past races, drivers and statistics, while previewing this year’s event.
The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame opened 20 years ago, but there is more work to be done in preserving the past, present and future of sprint car racing. The following is an excerpt from a story in the August issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.
The building housing the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, is 20 years old and efforts are under way to raise the money to add a second building to the complex located on the Marion County Fairgrounds.
Several years ago, officials of the not-for-profit Hall of Fame purchased the car wash located adjacent to the museum’s parking lot and they’ve been housing artifacts there ever since.
But the building is old and is not equipped in the proper manner to preserve the items being kept there. As well, the Hall of Fame is desperate need of a facility to house race cars and prepare them for exhibit inside the museum.
Bob Baker, executive director for the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum, explained the need for a new building.
“As time passes by, more and more of our supporters are dying and leaving their collections to us, which is very gratifying because that tells us that they believe we are going to be here forever and they entrust us with holding on to the things they have collected in their lifetimes,” Baker explained. “It is a really good feeling to know that people include you in their wills, trusts and estate plans with their racing collections.
“The time is rapidly approaching where we need a place to store more of these artifacts for sprint-car racing’s preservation.”
Baker explained that last year when the museum hosted its Salute to Champion Tony Stewart program, six of Stewart’s championship-winning cars arrived in town prior to the beginning of the exhibit and arrangements had to be made to store the cars in the garages of private individuals because the museum lacks a storage facility of the appropriate size.
“Fortunately, we have a wonderful group of volunteers and they loaned us their personal garages. Our insurance company here in town, McKay Insurance, did all of the paperwork to make sure all of Tony’s cars were covered in these off-site locations,” Baker said. “Then we had to find a place for the cars that were in the museum in order to bring Tony’s cars in.
“We put five of them on display at the mall in Oskaloosa, and one went on display at the Wal-Mart here in town,” Baker continued. “That got us out of the space shortage that we had at the time, but that put the light on the fact that we need a place to stage these events.”
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