New Glory Road Debuts at Hall of Fame
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on January 12, 2014 | 8:30 A.M. EST
Marshall Teague's 1952 No. 6 Hudson Hornet sits in the Great Hall before being placed on Glory Road this past week. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - After months of planning, the NASCAR Hall of Fame completed its first makeover of Glory Road - an exhibit of 18 historic stock cars - since opening its doors in May 2010.
The change was so big that the Hall of Fame had to close its doors this past week from Jan. 6-10 to move the original cars out and replace them with the new ones, which some were announced via social media and in-person reveals dating back to October 12 when Buck Baker's 1957 Chevrolet "Black Widow" was revealed as the first car.
The inaugural collection of cars that included more than Cup cars, including Richie Evans' modified, Ron Hornaday's 1996 Craftsman (now Camping World) truck and Jack Ingram’s 1981 Busch (now Nationwide) Pontiac, all were iconic in their own right. But with the cars on loan from teams, drivers and collectors they felt it was time to tell a new story for one of the Hall's signature exhibits. The new Glory Road tells the story of the six generations of Cup Series cars.
"When NASCAR introduced the Gen-6 car and the concept that we are on our sixth generation of NASCAR stock cars we said there's an ideal theme right there," said Kevin Schlesier, NASCAR Hall of Fame Director of Exhibits. "We had an evolution exhibit before but that gave us a much tighter structure to base the selection of our 18 cars around."
With the theme in place, the big challenge came when NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley , NASCAR Hall of Fame Historian Buzz McKim and Schlesier had to determine which cars will be on the new Glory Road.
“We’ve had several of NASCAR’s finest tell us that the original Glory Road would be tough to top, although I’m confident this new version definitely carries on the tradition of illustrating NASCAR’s rich heritage,” Kelley said. “Our goal with Glory Road 2.0 is to produce an exhibit that’s as equally impressive and engaging as our inaugural Glory Road.”
This past summer, McKim came to Kelley with a binder of 50 different vehicles he felt could help tell the new story. But with only 18 available slots, the team had to narrow the list down and they did that over multiple lunch meetings where they debated while looking through photos and over storyboards.
"We knew we wanted this nice combination of important cars, milestone cars and drivers that impacted that generation," McKim said. "That's what really guided a lot of selections."
Once the wish list was complete, the next challenge was trying to find the cars.
"It's almost like a detective story and you kind of have to put the pieces together and figure out what is what and who is who and who has got what," McKim said. "Some of these cars are still being raced on a regular basis with the vintage guys. The ones that were owned by the teams were no problem."
But one of the toughest cars to get was Baker's '57 Chevrolet because they didn't even know it existed.
"We just happened to stumble upon it going through the Internet," McKim said. "We contacted the person who owned it and he was more than happy to send it out here. He got the car years ago and he had it restored and only showed it once or twice and then he put it away for about 10 years. He went as far as to find a '57 Chevy pick-up and painted it just like the car and he would take the pair to the show. It's awesome, but he was willing to give that up for three years."
The "Black Widow" was one of the cars that traveled across the country from California to its new home for the next three years in Charlotte. Another was the controversial 1966 No. 26 Ford Galaxie that Fred Lorenzen drove in one race when the car took on a nickname for its raised rear quarter panels.
"There is a tremendous group of people on the west coast that had these old Cup cars that they have restored and they are drum break cars," McKim said. "That’s one of the reasons we got the 'Banana' car from Vic Edelbrock because it's a drum break car and he was getting kind of scared and he said, 'this thing doesn’t really stop like it should.' So he put it away and we hit him at just the right time and we were able to get that car. That's really an iconic car - there were so many changes that came about in NASCAR because of that particular car."
Out of the 18 new cars, the first one the Hall was able to secure was Marshall Teague's 1952 No. 6 Hudson Hornet. The last one they were able to acquire was Dale Earnhardt's 1990 No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet Lumina that he drove to his fourth of seven Cup championships.
"Marshal Teague's daughter owns the car and we have known Patty for 40 years," McKim said. "It was a matter of giving her a call and she said 'yeah, that would be great. I would love to see my dad in the Hall.'"
The Hudson Hornet is the lead car on Glory Road and Matt Kenseth's 2013 Dollar General Toyota - the only from generation six - sits at the end on 33 degrees of banking.
With the banking increasing on Glory Road to represent the different tracks on the NASCAR circuit, the last five cars had to be lifted up in the air with the help of Superior Crane out of Rockingham, N.C.
The other cars that complete Glory Road 2.0 are: Wood Brothers’ 1961 Ford Starliner, Ned Jarrett's 1966 Ford Fairlane, David Pearson’s 1969 Ford Torino Cobra Talladega, Bobby Allison's 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle, Cale Yarborough’s 1976 Chevrolet Laguna S-3, Richard Petty’s 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Darrell Waltrip’s 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aerocoupe, Jeff Gordon's 1994 Chevrolet Lumina, Rusty Wallace's 2000 Ford Taurus, Bill Elliot’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid R/T, Jimmie Johnson's 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS and Tony Stewart's 2011 Chevrolet Impala.
"Each one of these cars has a very specific story and a very specific location on Glory Road," McKim said. "It had to fit this spot. It had to have a good story. It had to have a good history. Hopefully, it was connected to a Hall of Fame inductee or nominee. So there were a lot of variables and we were really trying to thread the needle on almost every one of these cars."