Museum of American Speed | Performance Racing Industry
Museum of American Speed
By John Kilroy on March 23, 2015

For me, it was a place of legend. I had heard for years about the museum Speedy Bill built in Lincoln, Nebraska. And so, finally, this year, my first business trip was to Speedway Motors headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The history of Speedway Motors and PRI goes back to 1989 when the company’s wholesale division exhibited in a small, new racing trade-only show in its second year of business, and hoping for a long run at it. Visiting with the Speedway Motors team this year was great fun. The brilliant founder Bill Smith, and his wife and true partner Joyce, have passed away, but the company has as much energy as ever with the Smith brothers at the helm—Jason, Clay, Craig and Carson. Walking through the 540,000-square-foot headquarters, one marvels at how amazing the journey has been for the company identified as America’s Oldest Speed Shop. It’s one of the great stories in the racing industry, as this pioneering organization continues to innovate 63 years after its founding. A most recent new venture from Speedway Motors is crate engines for IMCA competition.

Once the business side of our visit was completed, Greg Nicol and Damon Lee generously volunteered to give myself and PRI Sales Manager Eric Jurado a personal tour of the Museum of American Speed next door. It’s three stories, and 135,000 square feet.

The first thing I should say is, “Go.”

This is a museum right at the top of any museum when it comes to the strength of artifacts on display and the quality of the presentation. It’s Speedy Bill’s dream, and a testament to how big the man could dream, and how effective he was at making dreams real.

Anyone with an interest in the history of auto racing can easily spend a full day here. From speedsters from the 1920s to more recent vintage Indy Cars, jalopies to classic midgets, this museum is a phantasmagoria of outstanding race vehicles. It is an experiencing of standing before a presentation that immediately triggers a big smile, only to walk over to another presentation that triggers the same big smile. This is a happy place!

For aftermarket professionals, one presentation particular strikes home. There is an extensive display of aftermarket parts that could be purchased for a Model T. Growth in the aftermarket and the introduction of the first big production vehicle went hand in hand right from the start.

Before going, check the schedule. Days that the museum is open are limited. October through April, for example, it is open only on Friday for 2 p.m. tours. May through September, it is open Monday through Friday, starting at 2 p.m.

Thank you, Greg and Damon, for the extraordinary opportunity to thoroughly enjoy this incredible museum. And thank you, Speedy Bill, for building it.

Museum of American Speed

Having fun in Lincoln, Nebraska, with a personal tour of the extdraordinary Museum of American Speed, built by Speedy Bill Smith next to the Speedway Motors headquarters.  Greg Nicol, left, and Damon Lee, far right, provided PRI’s Eric Jurado (second from left) and John Kilroy with a pretty amazing tour.

About the Author
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John Kilroy is the Publisher of Performance Racing Industry magazine.
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