On our off day between hockey days, we drove out to Rhode Island to check out the ProNyne Motorsports Museum. We had a Pawtucket guide along for the ride as well, a newly minted Puckhead from Australia.
ProNyne is dedicated to New England’s racing history, and the museum is an absolute treasure trove of New England racing memorabilia.
Curator Ric Mariscal was kind enough to open the doors and give us a tour on a Friday, and he even turned on a heater, although I’m not sure any of us would have minded if that had skipped that part.
The museum is packed, but well organized, although we definitely imagined what an adventure it would be to get one of the cars out for a special event.
Every corner comes loaded with stories, even the barber chair. When you stop in, you should ask about the barber chair. The walls are covered with photos, and the books and articles are readily available to peruse. The place is a researcher’s dream; trust me, we had one with us.
New England is not my “neck of the woods” by any stretch of the imagination, and I found myself absolutely fascinated by one car in particular: Bill Slater’s 1954 Studebaker. The car was found in a field, and now rests peacefully against an interior wall of the museum. For me, it did not take a lot of imagination to picture the Studebaker speeding around Daytona at 100mph with Slater behind the wheel.
For anyone remotely interested in racing, the ProNyne Motorsports Museum is well worth the visit. It was an unexpected gem of a destination on this trip.
From all accounts, Don Robertson was the heart and soul of the Gold King Mine in Jerome, AZ. Robertson, along with his wife Terry, spent 30 years building the mine to the collection that exists today.
One of the highlights of the collection, is the 1928 Studebaker Indy race car, built by Robertson himself. Don raced the car in vintage races around the west.
My Kiwi friend visited the Gold King Mine a few years ago, and Don started up the old Studebaker for him.
“He was a big-hearted soul with a side of orneriness,” said Jerome Police Chief Alan Muma. “He had this Indian motorcycle with a really loud motor. To stay out of trouble, he’d ask me, ‘Get your sound meter out and check me’ and as long as he kept his hand off the throttle, he would stay out of trouble.”
Don Robertson passed away in October of 2016. He was 73.
This 1956 VW Bug, is said to have ran La Carrera Panamerican in 1996. It is now for sale in Mansfield, OH for $5600.
The original Carrera Panamericana, introduced when the Pan-American Highway in Mexico was completed in 1950, was a border-to-border, open road race, that ran between 1950 and 1954. It was considered at the time, to be the most dangerous race of any kind in the world. The first winner of the race was Hershel McGriff who drove an Oldsmobile 88. The car cost McGriff $1900, and the race prize was $17,000.
The race was revived in 1988, allowing 100 cars to line up in Southern Mexico to race the 2000 miles north. La Carrera Panamericana lasts a week, with both experienced and novice racers running on public highways at top speeds, with the Mexican Highway Patrol clearing the roads ahead.
A video of a VW Beetle racing in Mexico in 1996. There’s a great moment at about 1:20 where the Bug is passed by an old Studebaker
The 27th Annual Pan-Am Race will run October 17-23, 2014.