HomeCar CultureLifestyleGilmore museum celebrates local ties to Indy 500

Gilmore museum celebrates local ties to Indy 500


A.J. Foyt Jr. is a tough Texan and the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, but it is his connection to the quiet farmscape of West Michigan that will be the focus of a special exhibit opening Saturday at the Gilmore Car Museum.

“A.J. Foyt: A Legendary Exhibition” debuted last year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and is moving to Hickory Corners, Michigan, in conjunction with the 102nd running of the 500. But the emphasis on the display at the Gilmore will be the local community’s connections to the driver and to the race.

Foyt Coyote is part of museum’s permanent collection

For many years, including his record-setting fourth Indy victory effort in 1977, Foyt’s cars were sponsored by Jim Gilmore Enterprises. Jim Gilmore Jr. was the nephew of museum founders Donald and Genevieve Gilmore, served as mayor of Kalamazoo, owned several television and radio stations and new car dealerships. One of Foyt’s bright-orange No. 14 Indy cars hung from the ceiling of Gilmore’s downtown Kalamazoo Cadillac store.

Gilmore’s involvement in big-time auto racing dated to 1967 when he sponsored an Indy entry by Gordon Johnson, a West Michigan native. A 1968 Gerhardt-Offy driven by Johncock will be part of the exhibit.

Other vehicles in the exhibit include those Foyt drove in his early dirt-track racing days and all four of his Indy-winning cars — the 1961 Bowes Seal Fast Special, the Sheraton-Thompson Specials of 1964 and 1967 and the Gilmore-Foyt Coyote of 1977.

The exhibit also will pay tribute to the first Indy 500 winner, Ray Harroun, who still has family in the Kalamazoo area, and to the Blood Brother’s Cornelian racer built in nearby Allegan, Michigan, and entered at Indy in 1915 by Louis Chevrolet.

Foyt set closed-course speed record in 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech

‘Powering the Future’ learning lab opens at LeMay

“Powering the Future” is the name of a new learning lab opening Saturday at LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington. The lap is designed to educate visitors on the various power sources for automobiles — then, now and into the future.

Artist’s sketch of new LeMay lab

“As students work their way through five interactive components… they will explore the history of what fuels have powered automobiles and how energy discoveries, technological advancements and unforseen events have shaped our energy consumption habits,” the museum said in its news release.

“We embrace our responsibility to continually produce and promote STEM-related education for the next generation,” said Adam Langsbard, chief executive of America’s Automotive Trust.

The lab is a joint effort of the museum, Puget Sound Energy and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and is engaging high school students to lead outreach lessons for local elementary and middle schools.

On April 17, the museum will host a Green Transportation Summit and Expo and on the 21st a Powering the Future Family Fun Day.

For additional information, visit the museum’s website.

Mercedes museum welcomes 9 millionth visitor

Here’s a news release every museum would like to issue: The announcement of its 9 millionth visitor. In this case, it was sent by the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany, which welcomed its milestone guest this past Sunday as the 300-member “Gospel in the East” choir staged a flash-mob performance at the museum.

Officially, the 9 millionth ticket was purchased by a Mrs. Wecke, a member of the choir, when she bought tickets for her family. 

The Mercedes museum opened in 2006.

Among the 9 million visitors so far, 60 percent were from outside of Germany and 10 percent were from China, the museum said.

Avantis featured at KC museum

April is Avanti Month at the Kansas City Automotive Museum with eight of the radical Studebakers displayed in the museum’s drive-in area. 

Seal Cove adds a kitchen

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine hosts various group events but until recently, those groups that wanted food had to bring it precooked. This winter, the museum installed a full kitchen and it passed its first test during the museum’s recent Speakeasy gala.

The museum has joined with other custodians of the history of Maine’s Mount Desert Island area and with HistoryIT to put its archives online. For viewing, visit the History Trust Digital Collections website.

Special events this weekend

LeMay Collections at Marymount in Tacoma, Washington, stages its Wine, Spirits & Chocolate festivities Friday and Saturday with more than 75 varieties of beverages available for tasting.

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia stages one of its Demo Days on Saturday, this one featuring cars of the Mille Miglia, including a 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza, 1937 8C 2900 A, and 1938 8C 2900 MM, 1924 Lancia Lambda and 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing.” Also on Saturday, Andrew Taylor offers the first in a series of six Foundations of Photography classes.

The fourth annual Dancing with the Cars gala is scheduled for Saturday at the Kansas City Automotive Museum. 

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles opens its “Custom Revolution” exhibit of exotic and innovative motorcycles on Saturday.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, will host a book signing Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. with Hurley Haywood signing Hurley from the Beginning.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts Auto Appraisal Group Appraiser Certification training April 14-17. 

In addition to the opening of the special Foyt exhibit, the Gilmore Car Museum will feature authors Christine Byron and Thomas Wilson doing a presentation on “Riding Across the Sands of Time: Dune Rides, Dune Scooters, Dune Schooners, Dunesmobiles, and Dune Buggies” as part of its Sunday winter lecture series. 

Mark your calendar

Tuesday, April 17, is National Mustang Day and the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host a Cars & Coffee gathering at 9 a.m. before leading a tour that includes CJ Pony Parts, lunch at Hometown Restaurant in Palymra, and a visit to Classic Auto Mall in Morgantown.

Beaulieu, the National Motor Museum in England, stages its 41st Boatjumble (nautical swap meet) on April 22.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, hosts the annual Michelin NCM Bash on April 26-28. There will be special 2019 Chevrolet Corvette displays and seminars, cooking and art classes, a women’s basic car maintenance session, car show, lapping at NCM Motorsports Park, road tours and more.

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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts