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Home Car Culture There’s more this weekend in Daytona than a 500-mile stock car race

There’s more this weekend in Daytona than a 500-mile stock car race

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes

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It’s Daytona 500 weekend, but there’s more than stock car racing to celebrate at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, which is located at the track.

The museum is open to visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through February 13, but is closed February 14 for the 500 NASCAR race. A special $12 Speedweeks admission fee will be offered for adults with a $7 ticket for children 5-12 in age. People showing tickets to the race will pay only $7. 

Lincoln ‘Batmobile’ dirt-track racer was outlawed after winning its first and only race

The museum currently features Gary Balough’s “Batmobile.” The car, built by Kenny Weld, put a Lincoln body on a dirt-track racing car. It won its only race, the 1980 Schaefer 125, but officials quickly outlawed its radical features, though its design inspired future cars that competed on the Northeast dirt modified circuit for years.  

The museum also announced recently that Linda Vaughn, fabled “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter” from a bygone era of American auto racing, and New York muscle car collector Bruce Smith had donated Vaughn’s personal 1979 Hurst-Olds W30 to the museum.

“I’ve loved all my Hurst/Olds,” said Vaughn, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019. “And I love that Mr. Bruce Smith and I were able to make sure one of them has a permanent home at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Bruce is a real collector of true muscle cars with glamour, and I love glamour in my cars.”

And although it’s Daytona 500 weekend, the museum will host a special “Heroes of Horsepower” Facebook Live event with Toyota on February 13 featuring Ivan “Ironman” Stewart and other off-road racers including Robby Gordon, Cal Wells III, Roger Norman, Frank Arciero Jr. and Walker Evans. The event begins at 3 p.m. (Eastern).

Stewart, winner of 85 desert races and 10 championships, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020.

Wheels Through Time museum founder dies

It was in 1967, at the age of 15, that Dale Walksler built his first motorcycle.

At 22, he had a Harley-Davidson dealership in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. He not only sold motorcycles but collected them.

In 2002 — and on July 4 at that — he opened Dale’s Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, 5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Walksler died earlier this month after a lengthy illness. 

Seal Cove’s 1916 Saxon runs again

In 1916, a Saxon Model 14 made a historic journey, traveling more than 10,000 miles across the country carrying Alice Burke and Nell Richardson and others promoting women’s suffrage. Last year, the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine opened a major exhibition, “Engines of Change – A Suffrage Centennial,” featuring a 1916 Saxon Model 14 in the display.

They bought the car and went to work putting it back together and in January, the car’s 4-cylinder Continental engine ran for the first time in perhaps half a century.

The museum plans to take the car on the road, doing pop-up women’s suffrage exhibits at local schools. 

The museum also announced its 2021 Cars and Coffee calendar, starting May 1 with Big Displacement cars (more than 350cid). Others are the Drop Top Showcase, June 12; Steam Day, July 10; and Import Showcase, July 24. 

Bernie’s visit to Canada

Gotta love the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, for no other reason than its recent news release.

“Will there be car shows this year? When can we have visitors in the museum? Why are we photoshopping Bernie Sanders into the gallery?

While there’s a lot we don’t know, we do know that the Canadian Automotive Museum has some great virtual and outdoor events planned throughout 2021…”

Like everyone else, the museum has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, it has moved its Third Thursday lectures to Zoom, which not only expanded the potential audience but meant that it could recruit historian Dale Johnston of Regina, Saskatchewan, to talk February 18 about General Motors moving west to establish an assembly plant where it employed 850 people building Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs.

As far as the photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders at the museum, anything that brings a smile these days is appreciated.

Alfa museum shares themes online

On a Sunday each month of 2021, the Alfa Romeo Museum, which is closed because of the pandemic, is staging a “Backstage” conference on the museum’s Facebook page to focus on a particular theme or event from the automaker’s history. The programs begin at 7 p.m. (GMT/BST).

The program actually began in January, focusing on the 1971 Alfa 33 victory at the Targa Florio. Next up, February 21, is “Birth of Juan Manuel Fangio.”

On March 28, the conference focuses on Vittorio Jano. On April 18, it’s the company’s Balocco Proving Ground. The complete schedule (in English) can be downloaded from the museum’s website.

Special events this weekend

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, hosts a “Sweetheart Soiree” on February 13. Three seating times are available. On February 14, the museum hosts a “Toast to Love” brunch, again with three seating times available.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento will offer a special outdoor exhibit from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on February 13 featuring cars owned by the museum’s docents. Also showcased will be several cars the museum is selling from its collection.

Mark your calendar

The Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, offers its Third Thursday Talk at 7 p.m. on February 18 with Dale Johnson presenting “When GM headed West.” The topic is the opening of the GM assembly plant in Regina, Saskatchewan in the 1920s to build Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac vehicles.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, presents “Hemi Highlights: The Ardun Hemispherical Head Design Flat Head Ford Conversion” at 10 a.m. February 20 featuring Lynn Paxton, Eastern Museum of Motor Racing curator. Topics to be covered include how the Ardun design relates to the Chrysler Hemi, connections to Allard, and research and design in dirt track racing.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, stages its first Winter Motoring Meet on February 20. The museum will offer rides around the likely snow-covered campus in vintage vehicles, an exhibit of vintage snowmobiles, an ice-carving exhibition, outdoor games, and food and beverages. 

The Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California, hosts a muscle car show from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on February 20.

The Revs Institute (Collier Collection) in Naples, Florida, re-opens to visitors on February 25.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, hosts its monthly Fords on Sunday car show February 28.

The 2021 season opens March 5 at the National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with a driving club day. The Kartplex opens the following day, and a King of the Heap event also is scheduled for March 6.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum has moved its Spring Carolina Cruise to April 24 and its California Special Mustang Day to May 1.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com

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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