Going Home- IMS Museum’s From the Vault Collection

I got to go home today. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum re-opened yesterday, and today I arrived there just after it opened. Things have changed, Guests need to fill out a health screening questionnaire at on eof three stands outside the museum’s doors. Hand sanitizer and pens are provided. There is a bin for new pens and a bin for used pens.

Inside the doors one person takes the questionnaire and another on takes a photo of each guest. Guests may then proceed to the admission desk. Cash is not accepted for museum admission or in the gift shops. Merchandise displays are behind tensor barriers. guests must request a staff member to get an item to inspect.

Once inside the museum proper, the brave new world of 2020 vanishes into the comforting past of racing history. The current exhibit is From the Vault. On the floor are things are not usually shown. Some of the cars are beautiful. The trophy collections, especially that of Rudolf Caraccciola, is outstanding. Caracciola’s widow donated his collection to the museum after his death. The German driver convalesced with the Hulmans after crashing on a practice run in 1946.

My favorite trophy is the Wheeler-Schebler trophy, awarded to the winner of the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race in 1909 and 1910. In 1914 the trophy was awarded to the race leader after 400 miles.  It was retired after the 1932 race and given permanently to Harry Hartz, whose cars had led at 160 laps for three years in a row.


As for the cars, there were some I had not seen in the museum before (not on track either). This stunning beauty was from 1938-1940, driven by Louis Meyer and Rex Mays.


A car that never raced is the Firestone Test car. The car was built solely for tire testing in 1954. it was powered by a Chrysler 331 cubic inch stock block. Sam Hanks, Rodger Ward, and Pat O’Connor drove the car.


The collection is not limited to cars that drove at the Speedway. A 1954-55 Mercedes Benz driven by Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio is the highlight of the European part of the exhibit.


The W196 finished 1-2 in their first race, the 1954 French Grand Prix. Fangio won the world championship in this car. The fenders were removed for racing at tighter circuits.

A couple of other interesting items were cloth numbers used for scoring the race. An individual was assigned a car to count laps for during the race. the scorer pinned the number to the back of his shirt.


This mallet was used to remove and replace the wheel hubs during tire changes.


I will share more photos next week. My first impression of the speedway when i got out of my car was how bright everything is. It appears layers of dust and grime have been washed away. Even the grandstands look new.  It was great to return to my second home again, just to be inside the grounds lifted my spirits.

Road America coverage will