"Expand the Dream" Happening Now at National Sprint Car Museum

Monday, May 26, 2014 - Beginning in August 2011, the board of directors and staff of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum embarked on “Expand the Dream,” a three-year, $3.3-million comprehensive fundraising campaign.  Expand the Dream has two primary goals: 1) construction of an enhanced staging & storage facility, and 2) short-term growth of the organization’s endowment funds.  

The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum Foundation, Inc., is an IRS section 501(c)(3) corporation, founded in April 1986 by a group of sprint car racing enthusiasts from across the United States.  In 1989, the organization began construction of its present facility.  With perseverance and two major funding campaigns, all aspects of the founders’ original vision were completed by 2009. 

Presently, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum are located on the first two floors of the four-story facility, with 20 spectator suites (overlooking Knoxville Raceway) occupying floors three and four.  In 2004, the organization purchased adjoining commercial property comprised of a small restaurant and a cinder block car wash.  The restaurant is currently leased and the car wash serves as a storage facility for equipment and memorabilia donated to the museum.

The reputation of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum continues to grow with its years.  It is widely recognized for programs honoring those who excel in sprint car racing, as well as for the preservation of equipment and memorabilia that document the sport’s history and development.  

The capacity of its facilities is the most significant challenge facing the organization today.  12,000 square feet of display space in the museum is fully utilized; the storage facility lacks climate control and it is now full of memorabilia donated over 20 years; and there is no space to stage new exhibits for rotation through the museum.  The challenge increases day by day, as more and more sprint car owners, drivers and race fans make plans to leave some or all of their collections to the organization during or after their lifetimes.  

A recent event illustrates vividly both the opportunities and challenges.  The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum was able to attract a never-before-assembled collection of six (6) championship race cars and memorabilia from sprint car driver and now famed NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart.  The display between August and December 2011 attracted many fans and drew rave reviews; however, this great opportunity came with huge logistical problems because of the current crowded facilities.  When Stewart’s cars arrived in Knoxville, they had to be stored in private garages, as did the cars they replaced from the museum during the display.  The risks and related insurance requirements were nearly insurmountable.

The new staging & storage facility is the first of two expansions envisioned during the second generation of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum.  With staging and storage issues solved, more museum space becomes the next goal.  An expanded museum building would be the focus of a subsequent campaign.  

Expand the Dream seeks $1.8-million for removal of the current, single-story storage building (approximately 5,000 sq.ft.) and replacement with a 3-story, 21,000 square foot facility on virtually the same location.  Targeted dates for this construction are between the summer of 2014 and spring of 2015, or sooner as the necessary funds are committed.

The first, or ground-level, floor of the new building will house up to 30 sprint cars, and provide an all-important workshop for staging new exhibits for timely rotation through the museum.  The upper two floors will serve as storage for the equipment and memorabilia already on site plus the much larger amount on its way to Knoxville via the gifts of many friends.  The entire building will be equipped with climate control for the optimum preservation of so many of the sport’s great treasures.

Expand the Dream is being championed by Donald F. Lamberti, founder and chairman emeritus of Casey’s General Stores, Inc.  Lamberti and Casey’s have played significant roles in two previous fundraising efforts, and once again he has stepped forward, filling the role of national chairperson, and leading the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum toward the future.  

A strong cast of volunteers have accepted roles on the campaign committee, including Parnelli Jones, Ken Schrader, and Bob Myers, current CEO of Casey’s General Stores.  Each one brings years of racing and business experience to the effort, and each possesses a unique passion for the mission of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum.

Those seeking more information on the "Expand the Dream" fundraising effort, including the campaign brochure, are urged to contact National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum executive director Bob Baker at 1-800-874-4488 or via e-mail at
bbaker@sprintcarhof.com.  Individuals can also visit www.sprintcarhof.com to keep abreast of news from the non-profit museum foundation.