February 9, 2009 by  
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Looking for something different to do this weekend? Taking a long-awaited vacation and planning an itinerary? Why not include an auto museum on your schedule – it’s something that provides interest to adults and children alike. Auto museums offer a wonderful opportunity for an educational and exciting vacation activity.

Often publicly owned and operated, auto museums are open to the public and allow a rare glimpse into a world gone by. There are various types of auto museums, some housing all kinds of cars and other specializing in certain types of vehicles from racing cars to motorcycles. Some museums may feature a section with new, space-age designs and concept cars. Discover classic, vintage, antique cars and motorcycles and learn about their development over the years. There are some museums, such as the new International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen, NY that are exclusively devoted to racing vehicles. There are also larger, more inclusive auto museums like the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) located at the Detroit Public Library, a fantastic resource for all things automotive. Of course, you’ll find some of the most historic cars in US history at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. At the other end of the scale, local and regional auto museums offer visitors a close up look at cars and trucks that have local significance. All in all, a visit to an auto museum provides one of life’s rare pleasures – and usually at a very reasonable cost.

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.

Rare Sport Car Collection Opens at Simeone Museum

June 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

After nearly half a century of careful collection, Dr. Fredrick Simeone has seen fit to share his prize, joy and passion with the rest of the world. Located just a short distance off Interstate 95 in Philadelphia, this impressive museum is some 75 000 square feet in size and displays approximately 65 rare sport and racing cars with the sort of meticulous attention to detail that you’d expect from a neurosurgeon. Fortunately Dr. Simeone is a neurosurgeon, and visitors to this fantastic museum will find that his passion and the painstaking effort that has no doubt gone into creating the exhibits was certainly not a waste of time.

The fantastic newly established Simeone Foundation Museum, which is due to open at the beginning of next week, provides car enthusiasts with the ultimate walk through time. After more than 50 years of collecting cars, Dr. Simeone now has one of the finest vintage racecar collections on the planet. The different cars are displayed in dioramas of the actual racing events that those particular vehicles were used in and this gives the museum a rather intriguing edge. It certainly helps to transport one back in time mentally and visitors will find themselves completely immersed in a journey that documents the history and development of sporting vehicles from 1909 to 2002. Classic images of Watkins Glen, Sebring, Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and Bonneville will stir onlookers and leave them with fond memories of their visit to the Simeone Foundation Museum.

So what can you expect to see at the museum? An Aston Martin DBR1 that was piloted to victory by Sir Stirling Moss at Nurburgring in 1958 is certainly not something an enthusiast would want to miss out on. Another highlight is a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S “Tank”. This particular “Tank” took the winner’s trophy at Le Mans in 1958. The 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B on display has the distinction of winning the Mille Miglia during its time as a racing car. While these cars are no doubt interesting highlights that should not be overlooked, the entire collection is also definitely worth seeing. The museum has been designed by its founder to clearly depict how competition and racing has helped to improve the quality, technology and prestige of motor vehicles over the years. The Museum will be open to the public six days a week, so make sure that you book your tour as soon as possible!

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 Borg-Warner Trophy, Indy 500 Victory Symbol

June 1, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

The Borg-Warner Trophy awarded to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 since 1936 ranks with the Stanley Cup and the World Series Trophy as one of pro sports most recognized rewards. As well, this beautiful trophy has had a long and storied history since it was first awarded to Louis Meyer at a dinner honoring his unprecedented third Indy 500 victory.

This magnificent trophy, standing nearly 64 inches tall and weighing just under 153 pounds was presented by Eddie Rickenbacker, former World War I flying ace and then owner of the Speedway. Crafted of sterling silver and displaying a breathtaking Art Deco design, the “loving cup” style trophy was designed by Robert J. Hill and Gorham, Inc., of Providence, Rhode Island under a commission extended by the Borg-Warner Automotive Company. The trophy cost $10,000 to design and create, a staggering amount of money not only for the time, but also considering America had barely emerged from the darkest depths of the Great Depression.

Several times over the past 70 years, the trophy has been refurbished and redesigned to allow the addition of more winners; no further modifications are expected until 2034 – and the estimated current value of the trophy? A cool $1.3 million!

Unlike other sports trophies, the Borg-Warner Trophy is not given into the possession of the driver. After an elaborate presentation ceremony, the trophy is returned to its place of honor in the Hall of Fame Museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That’s not to say that race winners walk away empty handed, however. A 24″ tall model of the Borg-Warner Trophy mounted on a walnut plaque was given to the annual winners up until 1987, when an 18″ tall replica of the trophy was presented to the previous year’s winner shortly before the next year’s race.

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