Around 150,000 cars pass along Wilsonville on Interstate 5 on a daily basis. Most are commuters, on business trips, or shoppers that are going to the Woodburn Company stores. There is a good chance that a handful of them are car lovers, and are probably clueless about the World of Speed museum that is just west of Interstate 5. It’s not just any museum, it is the dreams of founders Dave and Sally Bany made real. It contains unique race cars that is a treat for race fans and also caters meetings and special events such as parties and weddings. The World of Speed can be found on the west frontage road but be careful as the sign is very easy to miss.
Barry and Sally met where they were in high school, both of them were already car lovers. Barry had a 1957 Fairlane and then a 1965 Impala. The couple entered Portland car clubs. Later in life, they wanted to have their own establishment that would be a haven for car fans and show their passion to the world.
Around 3 years ago, they started to make that dream a reality. Through different foundations, private companies, local school and other means to have the funds needed and was able to hire an executive director. They looked for a perfect spot near Portland and heard that a building that was previously used by a Dodge dealer was up for sale, they took the chance and bought the building.
Triumph Rocket Cycle
As the name implies, speed is everything here and most of their display is all about speed. From NASCAR racers, cars that hold land speed records or attempted to beat it, dragsters, open-wheel race cars (midgets, Spring, Karts, Formula 1), high performance classic motorcycles, and there are also two hydroplanes that hang on the wall. They even have the Triumph rocket-propelled speed record machine, although it is currently not at the museum but will return this September.
Currently the museum exhibit features 33 Indy 500 racers from different eras. The oldest one is the authentic 1914 Sunbeam but the museum says that they will have an older one that will be added to the collection, a 1911 National that is said to be one of the first to race in the Indy 500. Believe it or not, reports says it is currently being raced at vintage race events at Indiana.
Bentley Indy 500 Racer
The other Indy 500 racers are this Bentley racer, several racers from the 30s, 40s, and 50s up to the more modern Dallara chassis Indy 500 racers. The exhibit is so unique that you probably can’t find another one just like it, you can get a glimpse of the century long history of the Indy 500. Guest can check the cars up close and personal as long as you don’t touch them, you can take a peek into the cockpits and imagine what it’s like driving one.
This is heaven for fans of the Indy 500. Seeing at the earlier racers of the Indy 500 with an exposed cockpit, vertical steering wheels, and without any safety features such as seatbelts or harnesses. The early days of the Indy 500 were crazy and the men that drove them are crazier. Later on, women started joining the racer and safety gears were added such as Janet Guthrie’s car which is also part of the collection.
Art Pollard’s 1968 STP Lotus Turbine-Powered
There are more historic cars in the collection such as the last car driven by Rodger Ward, the car driven by Juan Manuel Fangio where he was not able to qualify and retired after that, the STP turbine driven by Andy Granatelli, the 1961 Cooper-Climax that was driven by Sir Jack Brabham in the 1961 Indy 500, two cars that was driven by Al Unser. Several tires of these cars have wears on the right side going down the cords which was common for Indy racers. A few cars also have the fuel and oil streaks, acting as battle scars from their races.
Jack Brabham’s 1961 Cooper Climax Indy Car
The floor of the museum is covered with faux bricks that gives out the same atmosphere as the Indy 500 track. Each car has their own placard with a brief summary of their history or specifications that will surely interest both the fans and casual guest, the placards were done by the curator of the museum, Ron Huegli who is a true Indy 500 fan.
#26 1966 Lola
Ron Huegli drive this #26 1966 Lola during this year’s Parade Lap. Huegli has been a true fan since he was still a boy. When he was still 3 months old, his parents brought him to a drag race although he probably doesn’t remember anything. When he was still a boy, he spent a lot of time around the tracks and did some menial work for local teams from the Pacific Northwest. His work paid off when he finally had a Funny Car for his own. Later on, he got acquainted with Dave and Sally Bany and is now a curator of the World of Speed. He spends most of his time managing the exhibits and collections, but he still humbly says that he just a “curator in training”.
1925 Miller Indy Car
After 9 decades of Indy 500, it’s exciting to see such a large collection such as this one outside of the Indy 500 track museum. Although several cars are from teams that never finished the Indy 500, they are still part of its history. Out of 33 cars in the exhibit, 12 of them were driven at this year’s Indy 500 Parade Laps. The event was successful with the support of the Indy 500 museum who provided 11 cars, and several cars owners who were really excited to be a part of such a historic event. That reason alone is enough reason to visit The World of Speed.
One of the Land Speed Record Car Driven by Mickey Thompson
There is also an exhibit for cars that attempted to break or broken the Land Speed Records that includes four LSR cars that was driven by Mickey Thompson to break land speed records at Bonneville. One LSR car has the blown two-cylinder engine and one has the 4 blown Pontiac V8 engines fused together that was able to go over 400 mph but unfortunately did not set the official land speed record. You can see the huge engines on display and other accessories that were used to break the records.
Representation of the different track bank angles
You can see in this picture 4 NASCAR stockers that are mounted on the wall the represents the banking angles of Daytona together with bank angles of other tracks. Two other stockers are displayed on the floor for better viewing that are also accompanied by other race cars from the earlier Cam-Am cars to the more modern Crosley Hotshot.
1962 Lotus 20 racing simulator
For anyone who wants to experience what it’s like to be behind, you can choose from 3 different simulators: a Formula Junior Lotus 20, Adrian Fernandez’s 1955 Lola Indy Car, and a NASCAR Ford Taurus. The Simulators really gives a more realistic feel as the users are sitting on the actual car.
The “Start Line Club”
For the younger guest, they can stay at an educational area that is also a play area for the kids. The “Start Line Club”, features different toys and games to enjoy while the parents are taking the exhibit tour.
The museum is still trying to expand their collection of memorabilia from all racing eras that include the whole collection of Art Pollard, a variety of shop manuals, 1930s original car movie posters, the entire collection of Hot Rod magazines, and all of the Indy 500 programs since the beginning. All the documents are well maintained and protected by climate control systems and advanced fire suppression system.
The World of Speed is without a doubt a world class museum, but Barry’s is not yet done and plans to go further.
Barry has made plans with 4 local schools that the museum will host automotive shop classes for up to 80 students per week, another 6 schools are planning to join the program. The students will attend classroom lectures for two months and will then work with real world problems using 6 cars that will be given by local dealers. They expect the program will be able to handle up to 110 students by next year.
Every Saturday morning from 8:00 am, there will be a Cars & Coffee cruise-in at the World of Speed. Most of the time, around 200 cars fill the ground for several hours.
Barry is still making more plans to attract racing fans around the West Coast and make the museum a haven for race fans.
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