“Rocket” Rick Mears
(May 2, 2021 – March 20, 2022)
Rocket Rick Mears presented by Racemaker Press takes IMS Museum guests on a personal journey, giving context to Mears’ formative years and what molded the man, the driver and humble champion. The story begins when as a child, Mears watched his father, Bill, race on Kansas short tracks until the family moved to the hot Southern California oil and agricultural town of Bakersfield. It was there that Mears and his older brother, Roger, started racing dune buggies for fun, but soon became off-road racing champions.
Rocket Rick Mears presented by Racemaker Press was brought to life through historic videos, photographs, and artifacts from the IMS Museum collection, plus items loaned by Mears, the Penske collection, and other collectors.
Granatelli: Larger than Life
(August 2020- January 2022)
Granatelli: Larger Than Life presented by Motoring Wealth Advisors of Raymond James chronicled the life and legacy of Andy Granatelli, the marketing wizard who turned STP Oil Treatment into a globally-recognized brand, brought some of the most technologically-daring and breathtaking race cars to the Indianapolis 500 as a car owner in the 1960s, and after years of heartbreak, won the “500” in 1969 with Mario Andretti.
The Granatelli brothers were a true rags-to-riches, “American dream” story. Andy, his older brother, Joe, and younger sibling, Vince, grew up in a tough Chicago neighborhood, yet the trio were automotive entrepreneurs before their teenage years, and they would eventually develop a corporate empire through their love of performance vehicles. Andy, always the promoter, rubbed elbows with A-list celebrities and personally elevated the status of the Indianapolis 500 while promoting his own brands.
“Granatelli: Larger Than Life presented by Motoring Wealth Advisors of Raymond James” occupied the North Hall and Gallery at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum from August 1, 2020- January 16, 2022.
From the Vault
From the Vault presented by Bank of America opened November 20, 2019 and featured rare and significant pieces from the IMS Museum collection. This exhibit provided a glimpse into the incredible automotive and motorsports treasures in our diverse collection, including rare or one-of-a-kind race cars, automobiles, trophies, artwork, and artifacts. Each item has a truly unique story about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or our worldwide passion for racing and automobiles.
A few From the Vault features included:
– The 1964 Ferrari 250 LM – the last Ferrari to score overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1965, and the 1966 Ford GT40 No. 4, driven by Mark Donohue and Paul Hawkins at Le Mans in 1966. The car was part of Ford Motor Company’s successful challenge to Ferrari, chronicled in the blockbuster film Ford v Ferrari.
– A host of historically significant open-wheel race cars: a 1906 FIAT, the 1957 winner of “Race of Two Worlds” at Monza, Janet Guthrie’s 1978 Wildcat Indy car, and the fastest car in Indianapolis 500 history: Arie Luyendyk’s 1996 track record-setting Reynard.
– Original paintings by renown motorsports artists, displayed in the IMS Museum Gallery.
– Pop culture artifacts and priceless trophies, such as the majestic Wheeler-Schebler Trophy and incredible works from the Rudolf Caracciola pre-World War II Grand Prix collection.
From the Vault presented by Bank of America was extended past its scheduled close date in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and closed April 22, 2021
‘Mario Andretti: ICON’ Presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+
(April 2019 – November 2019)
‘Mario Andretti: ICON’ presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline, opened to the public on May 1, 2019 – a fitting start to the long-awaited “Month of May” at the IMS Museum and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The exhibit was part of a comprehensive celebration at IMS recognizing the 50th anniversary of Andretti’s popular victory at the 1969 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. The exhibit featured a full retrospective of Andretti’s incredible career, from Sprint Car racing in the early 1960s, to four career IndyCar championships and Formula 1 World Championship glory, and his busy life today as an ambassador for the NTT IndyCar Series.
‘Mario Andretti: ICON’ presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ was anchored by 23 cars representing significant milestones in the history of auto racing and highlighted personal success and global fame for Andretti, who emigrated from Italy to Nazareth, Pa., with his family in 1955 when he was age 15.
Visitors to the IMS Museum saw a sampling of race cars that told the story of Andretti’s gift for speed, including:
- The Sprint Car that legendary driver Ted Horn drove to three championships in the 1940s and Andretti drove in his first Sprint car race in May 1961.
- The Mercury Cyclone Andretti drove to a major upset victory in the 1967 Daytona 500.
- The Brawner Hawk III replica of Andretti’s 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner.
- The John Player Special Lotus Type 79 Andretti drove to clinch the 1978 Formula 1 World Championship.
- The 1994 Lola T9400 Andretti piloted in his final IndyCar race at Laguna Seca in 1994, capping his “Arrivederci Mario” farewell season and an IndyCar career spanning 30 years.
‘Mario Andretti: ICON,’ presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ also included firesuits, helmets, exquisite photography and an audio tour. Visitors were able to use their smartphones to hear behind-the-scenes exhibit narration by Andretti, plus entertaining insight from longtime rivals A.J. Foyt, Al and Bobby Unser, and team owner Roger Penske.
The exhibit closed November 20, 2019.
Penske Mini Exhibit
“Team Penske’s First 500” honored 50 years of winning for team owner Roger Penske’s namesake racing organization. The mini-exhibit officially opened March 29, 2019 and ran through mid-November.
“Team Penske’s First 500” featured a trio of milestones: the team’s 50th anniversary at the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Team Penske’s 500th win in major racing competition and a “Penske sweep” of major NASCAR Cup Series and NTT IndyCar Series events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2018.
In May 1969, while a now-iconic driver named Mario Andretti took the checkered flag at the Indianapolis 500, Roger Penske entered a car in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time under the Team Penske banner, beginning a campaign that has rewritten North American motorsports history. Penske was inducted in the IMS Hall of Fame in 2002.
“Team Penske’s First 500” featured five cars and historic memorabilia and ran concurrently with the Museum’s major 2019 exhibit honoring Andretti. Opening May 1, 2019, “Mario Andretti: ICON” presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline celebrated his 1969 “500” triumph and incredible driving career, which included a period with Team Penske.
The Team Penske Indy cars and NASCAR Cup Series stock cars in the display included:
- The 1969 No. 66 Sunoco-Simoniz four-wheel-drive Lola T152
- The 1972 No. 66 Sunoco McLaren M16B
- No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy-powered Dallara, winner of the 2018 INDYCAR Grand Prix (2.439-mile IMS road course) and the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
- No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion driven by Brad Keselowski to victory at the 2018 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line, the first Cup Series win at IMS for Team Penske.
- No. 2 Autotrader Ford Fusion driven by Keselowski to Team Penske’s 500th major win on Sept. 16, 2018 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway NASCAR Cup Series race.
Andretti Autosport Mini Exhibit
In company with the IMS Museum’s featured exhibit, Mario Andretti: ICON presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline, Andretti Autosport teamed up with the Museum for a “mini-exhibit” featuring four of the NTT IndyCar Series team’s five Indianapolis 500-winning cars. On the floor of Museum were the cars of Dan Wheldon (2005 winner), Dario Franchitti (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014) and the 100th Indianapolis 500 winner, Alexander Rossi (2016). The 2017 winner, driven by Takuma Sato, was at Honda headquarters in Japan.
Hoosier Thunder: Indiana’s Short Track Heritage
(November 2018 – April 2019)
“Hoosier Thunder: Indiana’s Short Track Heritage,” opened on Nov. 8, 2018, receiving rave reviews from racing historians and aficionados.
Hoosier Thunder told the story of the many drivers and families who have made Indiana short-track racing a way of life: surnames such as Carter, Darland, Elliott, Kenyon, and Kinser among others. It also honors the drivers, such as three- and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, respectively, who made a name for themselves on Indiana bullrings on their journey to superstardom.
The exhibit was the largest in the IMS Museum’s 60-year history, with 41 Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown series cars along with many trophies, drivers’ suits, helmets, and artifacts. A floor-to-ceiling wall map listed the name and location of every known oval short track used for motorized competition that has existed in the state of Indiana.
Nine decades of USAC (United States Auto Club) race car development were on display, from a 1937 Dreyer Special midget, to the car that carried a young Jeff Gordon to his first USAC midget victory, to Kody Swanson’s 2018 Silver Crown Series championship-winning car.
Hoosier Thunder was made possible by exhibit sponsors Driven2SaveLives, Toyota, and Hoosier Racing Tire. The exhibit closed April 21, 2019.
Amazing Unsers: From Albuquerque to Indianapolis
(April 2018 – November 2018)
Twenty-five cars that the Unser family drove in competition were on display, including eight of the nine that took them to victory in the Indianapolis 500, starting with the Rislone Eagle that powered Bobby Unser to in 1968.
“For the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to honor my family is just tremendous. It’s really hard to put into words how much it actually means,” said Al Unser Jr., two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. “As you go through the exhibit you are going to see my dad’s career, my uncle Bobby’s career, my whole family’s career on display here, it’s just a huge honor and we’re very excited and we truly hope everyone enjoys what we’ve put our heart and soul into.”
“It’s really nice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to honor the Unser family. To showcase all the Unsers at a track where so many great names have raced is very special for us,” said Bobby Unser, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
In addition to several of the IndyCars made famous by the Unsers, many incredible machines representing their career in USAC, road racing and NASCAR were on display, some for the first time. Visitors saw rare memorabilia from the drivers, and took an audio tour featuring the voices of Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., Bobby Unser, Parnelli Jones and Roger Penske.
“Every wall and room in my house is filled with racing memorabilia – even the kitchen,” said Bobby Unser, who loaned some very special items for the exhibit from each of his three Indianapolis 500 wins, Pikes Peak, National Championships, Champ cars, sprint cars, Formula 1, and other special races. May 2018 represented the 50th anniversary of his first Indy win.
Incredible Engines of the Indy 500
(November 2017 – April 2018)
Incredible Engines of the Indy 500 was a tribute to the heroes of horsepower that have propelled drivers to victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The exhibit included the opportunity to see some of these famous engines up close and learn about the masterminds that designed these power plants, many of whom have taken their place in the Auto Racing Hall of Fame alongside the drivers they helped send to Victory Lane. Visitors heard the roar of the powerful Novi, and the “whoosh” of the turbine engine, while a “parts petting zoo” offered a chance to learn more about what made an Offenhauser go.
Camaro: 50 Years of Setting the Pace
Presented by Bill Estes Chevrolet
(November 2017 – March 2018)
This exhibit celebrated one of the most famous names in speed and style. The exhibit offered an opportunity to see Camaros that have served as official pace cars at the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 races. Ten of the 12 cars on display led the racing fields to the green flag and were driven by racing legends or Hollywood celebrities.
Featured cars included the first Camaro pace car, a 1967 SS convertible from the first model year of the new “pony car,” as well as the orange-and-white restyled 1969 SS convertible, one of the most popular pace cars in Indianapolis 500 history. Also on display was the Z28 Camaro that paced the 1982 race, as well as the SS editions that led the field for both the 100th Anniversary of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing in 2011, and the 100th Running of the World’s Greatest Race in 2016.
John Orfe Auto Racing Art Exhibit
(October 2017 – March 2018)
This specially curated exhibition highlighted the auto racing artwork of the late John Orfe. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Orfe began a life-long love affair with motor racing after seeing his first auto race at the famous circular Langhorne Speedway in 1932. Orfeo established himself as a commercial artist specializing in automotive and aircraft design for Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Boeing, and his historic auto racing paintings were seen in several publications, including Speed Age, Circle Track, and Open Wheel.
The paintings on display in the Museum’s gallery depicted auto racing legends including Mario Andretti, Mark Donohue, Parnelli Jones and Joe Leonard. Several items from Mr. Orfe’s personal collection were also on display in the Museum’s gallery.
A.J. Foyt, A Legendary Exhibition
Presented by ABC Supply Co inc.
(April 2017 – October 2017)
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of his record-setting fourth Indianapolis 500 win, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum presented a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit honoring auto racing icon A.J. Foyt, tracing the superstar’s rise from the dirt tracks of Texas to the pinnacle of auto racing history.
Nearly three dozen cars that Foyt drove in competition were on display, including all four of his Indianapolis 500 winning machines, the 1961 Bowes Seal Fast Special, 1964 & 1967 Sheraton-Thompson Specials, and the 1977 Gilmore Coyote. In addition to several of Foyt’s Indy cars, many incredible machines from his career in NASCAR, USAC and road racing, as well as rare memorabilia from his personal collection, were on display.
(December 2016 – March 2017)
In honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum presented Indiana Automobiles: Precision Over Production celebrating legendary Hoosier manufacturers like Stutz, Dusenberg, Studebaker and Marmon with a collection of more than 35 historic, Indiana-built passenger cars.
In partnership with private owners and other automotive museums around the state, the selected vehicles included some of the finest examples of each manufacturer. Several classic cars made their first appearance at the Museum (and in some cases, their first public appearance ever), making this a truly historic collection. In addition to the Hoosier passenger cars, a number of Indiana-built race cars were displayed, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl Fisher’s 1905 Premier.