Local Racing Stars Attend Opening for new Museum
In November of 2011, Ricky Craven stood alongside Dick Berggren at the front gate of New Hampshire Motor Speedway to help him announce the ambitious project of putting a motorsports-themed museum on the speedway's property. On Friday, nearly six years later, that endeavor became a reality, as Craven, NHMS vice president and general manager David McGrath and nine-time NHMS race winner Eddie MacDonald helped Berggren at the ceremonial opening to the North East Motor Sports Museum.
The museum will officially open to the public at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 12 during Motorcycle Week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"It's been a long ride, but I could not be more proud to stand here today, surrounded by like-minded people that have helped put all of this together," said Berggren, the president of the North East Motor Sports Museum. "This is not a museum that someone built to store his own racecars. This was built by people who care about motor racing in New England. It's a building that was built from the heart."
NORTH EAST MOTOR SPORTS MUSEUM TIMELINE
Nov. 15, 2011 - Announcement of North East Motor Sports Museum project; fundraising begins.
Sept. 25, 2015 - Dick Berggren, Ron Bouchard, Ricky Craven, Joey Logano, Andy Cusack, Bentley Warren, Ken Smith, Skip Matczak, Dave Frahm, Frank Manafort, Bill Manafort, and Paula Bouchard (in memory of her father, Ed Flemke) assist in the groundbreaking.
April 27, 2016 - A fleet of four flatbed trucks make the 500-mile trek from Gettysburg, Md., to the speedway's south entrance on Route 106 to deliver the pre-fabricated building.
Dec. 1, 2016 - No. 1 modified car driven to more than 50 victories by Geoff Bodine in 1978 is the first car on the floor at the North East Motor Sports Museum.
June 9, 2017 - Ceremonial opening for North East Motor Sports Museum with Dick Berggren, David McGrath, Ricky Craven, Eddie MacDonald and more.
June 12, 2017 - The North East Motor Sports Museum officially opens to the public.
Craven, a native of Newburgh, Maine, holds a special place in his heart for the museum. The 11-year NASCAR veteran who ran more than 275 races in the Cup Series between 1991-2004 was emotional as he talked about what the museum means to him as a New Englander.
"I walked in these doors this morning and my honest, first reaction was just 'Wow' ", said Craven, now a NASCAR analyst for ESPN. "Being a New England boy - I, along with numerous racers from this area, are now in a fraternity together for life. This place is that fraternity house and is the guardian of New England auto racing."
Located near the south entrance to the speedway, McGrath has watched the facility grow before his eyes.
"I take great pride in having a phenomenal facility like this on our speedway's property,' said McGrath, a native New Englander himself, having grown up in Marlborough, Mass., and currently a resident of Kennebunk, Maine. "(Dick Berggren's) passion for this building and everything it represents means everything to the speedway. To walk through these doors and see the history and the heritage of what this place means - it's absolutely spectacular."
Among the 20-plus cars on the showroom floor are Pete Von Sneidern's Granite State Auto Body Special No. 73 from 1939; George Summers's No. 21 1973 modified; the No. 20 Toyota that Joey Logano drove to a victory at NHMS in 2008 to become the youngest driver in NASCAR Cup Series history; and the No. 17 Super Late Model of Eddie MacDonald, who drove it to victory in the first-ever American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Invitational at NHMS in 2009.
"To have my car in here, among the greats from this region, is just such a huge honor," said MacDonald, a native of Rowley, Mass. "To stand here alongside Ricky (Craven), someone I've always looked up to, and Dick (Berggren) … it's such an amazing honor. I'm so excited for people to come in here to see it and be able to experience everything it represents to this area."
While he wasn't able to attend the opening, N.H. Governor Chris Sununu sent a proclamation, declaring June 9, 2017 "New Hampshire Race Fan Day." The proclamation called NHMS "the perfect place to host a museum to display the vehicles, trophies, uniforms, images, videos, and stories related to New England racing."
A grassroots project without large-scale financial backing or financing, the North East Motor Sports Museum has been funded by racers, race fans and donations. All of whom have contributed money, time and materials to build the facility.
"This building simply doesn't happen without the tremendous donations we have received - whether it's money or man-hours and supplies to complete this," said Berggren. "Thank you isn't enough for what our volunteers have done."
The North East Motor Sports Museum will also be the new home of the speedway's credential office during both Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekends in July and September. Fans will be able to visit the museum during both race weekends and the speedway will provide a dedicated tram route to it for easy access.