Story By: SHANNON STEPHENS / NHMS – LOUDON, NH – As it approaches the first anniversary of the North East Motor Sports Museum, the region’s newest tourist attraction can already call itself an award-winning museum.
Created by racers, fans and enthusiasts, the museum caught the eye of business leaders as The Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce recently awarded North East Motor Sports Museum with a Golden Hammer Award.
The team leading the museum effort has announced an expansion plan with more space and new exhibits for 2018, and a second phase of construction to begin in the near future.
“I was one of those kids in high school with a car book inside his history book. Friends of mine had been talking about some sort of museum, hall of fame, whatever, for drag racing specifically, probably for 25 years, but there was just never enough of the right people, right influence to make it happen.” said Gil Coraine, operations director of the museum. “When Dick Berggren retired from FOX Sports, he decided he was going to spearhead this thing, and with his notoriety and contacts, he made it happen. You’ll see a list of names on the wall of people who made major contributions of time, money, parts, services, and without them, it would still probably happen, but we wouldn’t be sitting in it right now.”
The museum’s leadership intends to rotate through its significant inventory of memorabilia every year to guarantee a fresh visit for fans annually.
Some of the 20 new museum exhibits fans can check out include:
- 1915 Duesenberg “Benedict Special” – one of five racing cars built by the Duesenberg brothers between 1913-1915
- Ray Boissoneau’s #54 Leader Car Midget from 1947, which was driven by Joe Sostilio, who was one of the most successful drivers during the peak age of midget popularity from 1932-1950
Ollie Silva’s Magnificent Supermodified from 1968-69, in which he won more races than in any other car
- Joe Bolger’s BLT OSSA, which reflects the state-of-the-art rear suspension that was evolving in the early 1970s motocross motorcycles
- King and Marshall AA/Fuel Dragster, which is one of the few New England based Fuel Dragsters to campaign throughout the country and win national events in both NHRA and AHRA competition tracks.
- The Two Winner’s Trophy from 1973 – Bugs Stevens thought he had won the Coca Cola 250, and Richie Evans thought he had won it too. The track decided Evans had won, and Bugs was scored as finishing 14th. Bugs disagreed, and strongly so.
- The restored car that Geoff Bodine drove in 1978, winning 55 feature events in 84 starts that year
- 6,000 horsepower Funny Car engine from 1980
- One of two remaining V-6 Supermodifieds
Located on Route 106 North in Loudon, the building is about 10,000 square feet and is the first phase of what will grow to additional space as funding allows. All forms of motor sports are represented in the museum, including cars and motorcycles, drag-racing, road courses, hill climbs, soap box derby cars, and even a snowmobile on display. Racers, fans, and their families have donated countless hours of labor, skills, materials, artifacts, and, most importantly, history and personal stories that date back to 1915.
“We are thrilled by the success of the inaugural year of the museum; it has exceeded our expectations and created a destination site for visitors to the capitol region of New Hampshire,” says NHMS Executive Vice President and General Manager, David McGrath. “We have room to grow and more items than we ever dreamed we could collect to display for race fans and visitors.”
Currently, the museum is open on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $10 for the general public, $7 for seniors 65 and over, and free for seniors 75 and over, children under 12, active military, and first responders. Charter members and exhibitors are free with one guest.