Hall Provides Lasting Memories

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Everything about the brand new NASCAR Hall of Fame is big — the building on its five acres, the ceremonies, the fireworks, Richard Petty cranking up his ‘70s-era race car in the outside plaza and driving it around to the stage during opening speeches, plus all of the month-long attendees who are wandering through its immenseness in awe of how they are being honored to the world.

The 150,000-square-foot Hall becoming a reality, especially to this scale, comes after the long, hard work of many from different walks of life and from within motorsports. Most credits of these names and outfits scroll outside in the courtyard on a huge screen.

At night, neon lights race around the outside circumference of the structure in a tubular form as if race cars circling a race track. Then, upon approaching the entranceway, one can see through the expansive glass walls the Glory Road exhibit of 18 real race cars from the past on varying steeps of banking resembling select speedways. Inside, as you walk along the ramp, it leads you to the 2nd floor and an observation deck.

In navigating upwards, the other levels have interactive fan exhibits and simulator rides, the 278-seat High Octane Theatre with a 64” wide curved screen that projects videos on NASCAR history, and display cases by decade filled with artifacts and photos. There’s even a full-size race car transporter.

ISC Archives loaned the Hall in the neighborhood of $300,000 worth of artifacts, and helped in the selection and production of about 600 photos. It is rewarding to see them interlaced amongst the Hall’s layout. Most of these pieces of memorabilia have never before been put out in the public eye.

Attending other such facilities and events throughout any given year, it’s always a pleasure running into the legends of our sport. Often times some of the same parties are in evidence at numerous different affairs, but at the Hall, we bumped into those not always readily accessible.

Junior Johnson met us in the lobby the night before the opening ceremonies, which was a pleasant surprise. Leonard Wood joked and hob-nobbed on the 3rd floor. But one of my favorite experiences in the two days spent there was the private preview of the Hall’s exhibits the night before opening.

It was an impromptu suggestion of Donnie Allison’s. Bobby, Donnie, and wives Judy and Pat, were standing with me on level one. The socializing was winding down for the evening, so Donnie figured we should mosey over to the elevator and have a sneak peek at the meat-and-potatoes of the place upstairs. Being the Allisons, no resistance was met, so I tagged along behind.

With just the five of us doing a self-tour, we shared stories and pointed out relevant items as we walked.

That’s what I’ll treasure most in my memory of being at the grand opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

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