Motorsports Hall begins move to Daytona Beach

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America has started the arduous task of moving its priceless collection of cars and racing artifacts from its base in Novi, Michigan, to storage in this area.

"We have started the process," Hall executive director Ron Watson said by phone from his office in Michigan.

The Hall has transported 15 race cars and numerous other archive items as it begins the prep for its 2016 opening, to coincide with the debut of Daytona Rising at Daytona International Speedway.

"The lease was running out here, and the opportunity came to us (to start moving)," Watson said.

"We said, 'Let's show our commitment to Daytona Beach and starting moving our stuff down there.' So, some of our sponsors have helped us by donating loads of vehicles, which was very helpful."

Watson would not disclose the local storage area for security reasons. The Hall’s treasures will be hidden away for more than a year as its new home takes shape.

“I know they have moved a number of their physical assets to a storage area here in Central Florida," Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said Tuesday.

“This is becoming reality, and it will be a great addition to what we have here as part of Daytona International Speedway."

Chitwood is the honorary chairman of the Hall.

The Hall of Fame of America will eventually relocate inside the building once called the Daytona 500 Experience, which is near the Speedway’s iconic, twin tunnel entrance to the infield.

Some of the prized racing machines that have shipped include the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Ford, which won the 2000 Daytona 500 from the pole position, and Peter Gregg’s No. 59 Lola Can-Am car.

Unlike other racing halls of fame, the Hall of Fame of America encompasses all forms of racing — including motorcycles, speed boats and airplanes.

Watson said at least one racing airplane has made its way here from Michigan.

“We have some boats to come," he said. “Bill Seebold has promised us a refurbished Formula One boat that is very famous. We are planning on that for the opening."

The Hall’s 26th annual induction ceremony is scheduled Aug. 6 in Detroit, and Watson said several announcements will be made about the organization’s future at that dinner.

The Class of 2014 has many ties with Daytona, including IMSA founder John Bishop and NASCAR pioneer mechanic and driver Marshall Teague, who called this area home.

Teague famously campaigned the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet," which was powered by a six-cylinder engine. He won seven NASCAR races in the Hudson, racing against other cars with V-8 power in the early 1950s.

Jim France, son of NASCAR founder William H.G. France, and Don Panoz will be presented the 2014 Heritage Award for their work unifying sports car racing.

Chitwood said the Hall of Fame of America, which is a nonprofit organization, will only add to race fans’ experience at Daytona.

“We have a connection with almost every form of racing, so this is a real nice fit for Daytona, the ‘World Center of Racing,’ " he said. Daytona Beach News Journal

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