HomeCar CultureIndiana history park to celebrate Festival of Machines that move us

Indiana history park to celebrate Festival of Machines that move us


Greg Dawson's 1931 Marmon 16 | photo courtesy Conner Prairie
Greg Dawson’s 1931 Marmon 16 | photo courtesy Conner Prairie

Want to make your inaugural car show memorable? Offer rides in a two-seat Dallara Indy Car. That’s one of the features for the first Festival of Machines: A Celebration of Transportation to be held September 13-14 at Conner Prairie, an 800-acre interactive history park in Fishers, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis.

The park includes five outdoor, historically themed “destinations” as well as indoor, experimental learning spaces that focus on history, science, technology, engineering and mathematics and how they have shaped our society.

Among the classic cars scheduled to be present are a 1914 Stutz Bearcat, one of two surviving 1927 Cadillac dual-cowl phaetons, a 1933 Marmon Sixteen Victoria coupe and many others.

Steam engines, vintage aircraft, boats, military vehicles, vintage fire trucks, construction equipment, helicopters and vintage tractors also will be on the grounds.

Because of the facilities proximity to Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the two-seat Dallara will give rides. Also taking part in the festival is Indy Car racer Pippa Mann, who will talk about her mission to encourage young women to consider careers in motorsports and other STEM-related (Science, Technology, Enginnering, Mathematics) fields.

The Conner Prairie website says the event is being held not only to celebrate Indiana’s history in the design and production of innovative transportation, but also to honor those who are preserving that heritage through classic vehicles.

One of those people is Greg Dawson, who in his early 30s bought a 1955 Jaguar that he admits he really couldn’t afford.

“I didn’t have any money back then but once something so powerful gets in your system, there’s no turning back,” he is quoted in a Conner Prairie news release.

But the time came when Dawson could afford to collect cars. His collection includes some 30 concourse-quality vehicles, including a 1931 Marmon four-door convertible sedan he restored.

“I’m happy to share what I have and what I’ve learned with people of all ages because it’s important to preserve rare cars for posterity’s sake,” Dawson said.

Unlike some collectors of vintage machines, Dawson is eager to let people climb aboard.

”I don’t mind if anyone touches it,” he said. “It’s a petting zoo as far as I’m concerned. I tell people, ‘Get in it. Have some fun. Start it up. It’s OK because that’s what it was made for.’ ”

For more information on Conner Prairie and its inaugural Festival of Machines, visit the Conner Prairie website.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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