New ‘Start Your Engines’ Exhibit in Hayward

June 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips

Hayward and San Leandro are certainly no strangers to the auto racing scene. This small corner of East Bay has been burning rubber on the racetrack for more than fifty years. While people continue to cram themselves into speedways around the country few people give much thought to the history of this legendary sport.

If you want to change this trend and learn more about the history of auto racing in the East Bay area, the Hayward Area Historical Society Museum is the perfect place to get yourself acquainted with the past. This museum, which is located in downtown Hayward, has just launched a ‘Start Your Engines‘ exhibit, which explores the auto racing history of the surrounding area. Few people today realize that auto racing was once king on the San Leandro flatlands and the Hayward Museum’s new exhibit recreates all the excitement of stock car, roadster, hardtop and midget racing in those early years of auto racing. While today this area is jam-packed with homes and businesses, between 1931 and 1955 it was the home of the Oakland Speedway (later the Oakland Stadium). Despite difficulties, the Speedway remained open during the Great Depression and it continued to carve a name for itself even after the AAA pulled out of the West Coast. In its day it was known as the “fastest dirt mile in the Nation”. This was the place where locals came to watch the biggest names in auto racing compete with locals for top titles and prizes. One of those big names was Tom Motter. Motter is now an auto racing historian who’s first hand experiences no doubt give his books an exciting edge. His books about Oakland Speedway and Oakland Stadium are currently on sale at the museum’s gift shop for those who would like some additional reading. The Oakland Speedway was finally replaced with the Oakland Stadium in 1946 after a grandstand fire and the fuel and rubber rations of WWII brought the old speedway to a close. The new track had a 5/8-mile paved oval combined with a quarter-mile oval and was every bit as popular as its predecessor.

Visitors to the museum are usually surprised to learn that the Bayfair Center shopping mall was once the location of the top auto racing stadium in the area. After the Oakland Stadium was torn down to make way for the shopping mall, youths between five and sixteen years of age continued to compete on quarter-midget tracks in Hayward for almost 30 years. Among them was the Rice family who are now famous for their quarter-midget racing cars. Many enthusiasts may feel saddened that very little of this once great legacy remains in Hayward, but a visit to the museum can certainly help to ease that feeling. A life-sized side-view cardboard cut-out of a 1915 Ford race car provides visitors with a great photographic opportunity and the museum’s shop has all the additional information and keepsakes you could want.

The Physics of NASCAR

March 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is a professor of physics, researching biomedical nanomaterials at the University of Texas in Dallas, USA. As a devoted NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) fan, she is fascinated by the science behind this popular American sport. This intense interest has been channeled into writing what is being haled as one of the most educational and intriguing books that has ever been written about NASCAR – “The Physics of NASCAR“.

Although some may be tempted to dismiss the book as being too technical for the average NASCAR fan to comprehend, this would be a misconception. The author manages to superbly balance the numerous scientific aspects of the sport with its human element and this is reinforced by the appealing stories of her visits to the racing tracks and the development facilities during her research for The Physics of NASCAR.

Professor Leslie-Pelecky was given access to race shops, crew chiefs, pit crews and mechanics to research her book, and she has displayed the ability to translate technical jargon into something that the majority of fans can readily understand. She acknowledges that she did not fully appreciate the extent of the science behind NASCAR at the beginning of her project and emphasizes that her greatest reward has been to become acquainted with an exceptional group of people who are united in their passion for racing. Critics agree that the people discussed in the book as well as the bits of history and general information are very interesting and because these are balanced with the technical aspects of auto racing, the book is both educational and entertaining – even if best read with a dictionary at hand.

The information for the book has been taken from different areas in the United States. For example, in one chapter Professor Leslie-Pelecky talks about tires at a shop in North Carolina and includes the history of vulcanized rubber as a point of interest. In another chapter she examines track safety improvements, such as more efficient barriers, that are being tested in Nebraska.

Interestingly, research reveals that 75 million people are NASCAR fans, forty percent being women. Television broadcasting of NASCAR events reaches 100 countries in 21 languages and NASCAR generates over two billion US$ in sales of licensed products each year. Just with these figures in mind, there is certainly a market for “The Physics of NASCAR” – a book which combines the curiosity of an auto racing fan with the expertise of a physics professor resulting in a book that NASCAR fans are sure to appreciate.

Shelby American Collection’s 11th Annual Holiday Gala

October 4, 2007 by  
Filed under News

The 11th annual holiday gala for the Shelby American Collection will be held on 1st December 2007 at its museum in Boulder and promises to be a very special occasion. This annual event serves to honor Carroll Shelby’s memorable race history, as well as his legendary Shelby American Team of the 1960s and the automobiles they built. Among the racing heroes to headline the event will be Carroll Shelby, Phil Remington, Lew Spencer and Bob Bondurant.

This year’s celebration takes on an additional dimension as it marks the 40th anniversary of the Shelby American Team’s victory in 1967 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The auto racing event is expected to draw a crowd of 400 attendees. One of the highlights of the evening will be the unveiling of an original painting by the automotive fine artist, Bill Neale. The painting will be sold during the celebration, with the proceeds of the sale going to the auto museum’s endowment fund.

Carroll Shelby enjoyed overwhelming success during the mid 1950s, earning him the reputation of being one of America’s greatest race car drivers. Sports Illustrated as “Driver of the Year” named him twice. Due to a heart condition, Shelby had to retire from racing in 1960. His retirement did not mean the end of his fascination with fast cars though. Shelby went ahead to forge a mutually beneficial relationship with Ford Motor Company. Sourcing talented individuals from within the aerospace community and making use of Ford’s resources, Carroll Shelby established Shelby American and created the legendary Cobra sports car. Some memorable wins for Team Shelby include the Grand Touring Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans – both in 1965. The team won the 24 Hours of Le Mans again in 1967 after taking second place in the 1966 Le Mans.

The Shelby American Collection was founded in 1966 and is dedicated to preserving the Shelby automobiles and representing the history of the 1960s Shelby American racing team. This non-profit museum situated in Boulder, Colorado, is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Shelby American racing cars. The exhibitions at the auto museum also include a number of rare, developmental and prototypical parts, historical records, race trophies, driver uniforms, crew uniforms, vintage models and artwork.

You may not have been invited to attend the Shelby American Collection’s 11th annual celebration, but you can visit and explore this unique museum which is open to the public.

The Volo Auto Museum

June 25, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

A trip to the Volo Auto Museum should be on every car lover’s list of things to do. Situated in the beautiful little village of Volo in Illinois, Chicago, the theme park covers an astounding 30 acre piece of land with an example or original of almost every famous car to have ever existed. Rated as one of the top 100 things to do in Chicago, this 47-year-old auto museum should simply not be missed.

The Volo Auto Museum has long been known as one of the best and largest car collector and sales companies in the world. Its five climate-controlled showrooms have approximately 300 collectible cars on display – most of which have featured in prominent Hollywood movies or TV series. As many as 350 different dealers make use of the museums reputation by displaying their own unique finds at the museum which further adds to the museum’s appeal. If your appetite has been whet, then you are likely trying to imagine just what sort of amazing cars the Volo Auto Museum must have. Well, this family-orientated museum complex is home to the first working Batmobile, the General Lee, Grandpa Munster’s Dragula and the Ferrari Daytona Spyder from Miami Vice. More unusual attractions which appeal to children include the DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’ and the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. A variety of antique children’s rides also provide hours of entertainment.

At the Mercantile Mall visitors will find a wonderful variety of automobile-related gifts and souvenirs to remember their trip by. Other facilities include a food court where you can purchase freshly baked, delicious food and an Armed Forces Exhibit which will make you feel as though you are in the heat of battle. A display of well-preserved antique cars will intrigue you while the concept cars from the movies will leave you guessing. There is an entrance fee which differs for children, adults, seniors and those with military ID. Visitors can also make use of the Museum Membership facility whereby they can pay a specified amount for either an annual or lifetime membership. Both memberships allow special access to the museum and related events as well as discounts on food and gifts while the lifetime membership also includes a name inscription and a lifetime of benefits.

Overall the museum is one of the best day outings that you will find in a 50-mile radius of Chicago. It is open every day of the week except for special holidays and should simply not be missed!

The Great American Automobile Race of 1908

April 9, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

Ever since the invention of the wheel, mankind has been searching for better ways to travel faster and more effectively. This process has taken many thousands of years yet one competition has helped to speed it up rapidly: The Great Race which took place nearly a century ago. It spawned a generation of auto racing events that have captured the imagination of car enthusiasts in the United States and internationally.

The Greatest Auto Race of 1908” consisted of six teams driving the most modern vehicles of the time around the world. The race covered an amazing distance of 22,000 miles and took seven months to complete with only the three teams and vehicles arriving at the finish line in Paris, France. The race created incredible enthusiasm for the automobile and raised the visibility of the sport of racing to unimaginable popularity.

The Great Race captured the imagination of the public and car manufacturers and spurred developments in the automotive industry. In America, a race known as the Great American Race began to be held annually and this year the event is celebrating its 25th year anniversary. Today the race is seen as being the ultimate automotive adventure and participants proudly display and drive their antique motor vehicles over impressive distances to not only win prizes but also to prove the value and robustness of their antique motor vehicles.

Today there are many different versions of the race which all stem from the same origins – the Great Race of 1908. There are coast-to-coast competitions for Muscle Cars and Hot Rods and technology races where the emphasis is on higher performance fuels rather than on the cars themselves. Interestingly enough, in the 2003 race it was discovered that the 80-year-old Ford’ Model T proved to be more fuel-efficient than the current Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle. This proved the value of the competition and resulted in design changes and driver habits (as well as acceptable standards) of fuel consumption.

The specialty classic automobile events and vintage races attract visitors from across the country that enjoys watching this great annual event. So why try it yourself? The next Great American Race will be held from June 30 to July 14 2007, so be sure to add it to your calendar!

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