The Great Car Museum Tour: Studebaker National Museum

A real highlight of the trip was visiting South Bend and the Studebaker National Museum. I’ve always had a soft spot for these cars, probably since my dad always boasted about the red ’52 Champion he had… the first car he ever bought. As a kid, I watched Mr. Ed on TV every week and Wilbur always drove a Lark; check my YouTube area for a vintage Mr. Ed spot I’ve favorited, plus a couple of old Stude spots I’ve posted.

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The Great Car Museum Tour: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

Hall of Fame Museum
Hall of Fame Museum
Hall of Fame Museum
Indianapolis, Ind.
Friday, July 14, 2006

The Speedway museum is a fantastic collection of old race cars, memorabilia, track history and cars made in Indiana. Everything from Duesenberg racers and street cars, a turbine-powered race car, early pace cars and trophies are on display. Allow at least two hours to go through the museum.

More than 75 vehicles are on display. Each car has a story behind it and the information cars are complete and well-written. Unlike the rest of the stops on this trip, I’ve been to the Hall of Fame Museum before. A couple of cars stood out:

  • Winners of the Indy 500
    Winners of the Indy 500

    The Turbine: In the late 1960s, several cars raced powered by turbine engines. They can be spotted by their rather square rear ends, which house high-powered turbines. None won the race but famed engine builder Andy Granitelli tried several times.

  • The Diesel: Believe it or not, a diesel once raced at Indianapolis. It won the pole in 1952.

I didn’t realize that Tony Hulman, who bought the track in 1946, came from the family that made Clabber Girl Baking Powder. Don’t miss the 20-minute movie on the track’s history. It’s included in the $3 admission price.

I went back to the track that Sunday to take the Grounds Tour, an extended tour that goes into the press box and lets visitors walk on the last brick section of the track. It’s $25 and I’m really looking forward to it. On my last visit, I only had time for the shorter track tour, a bus ride around the track and pit area. End

Duesenberg
Duesenberg from the Indiana-built section

The Great Car Museum Tour: July 14-23, 2006

Studebaker!
There's no mistaking a ’50 Studebaker… except if it's a ’51.

California might be the best place in the world to drive, but the Midwest is nirvana when it comes to historic car sites and museums.

As a California kid, the big-time car building business has always been a bit of a mystery. We never made it up to the plants in Los Angeles when they were in operation (the last, a GM factory, closed in the early 1990s). And I haven’t been able to take the tour at the NUMMI assembly facility (since closed) in Fremont, about 500 miles from home.

So, I headed to Indiana, Ohio and Michigan to visit cars new and old. What a fun trip. Hope you can take it some day. End