Get Reeled In at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
“Lights. Camera. NASCAR.” features dozens of artifacts straight from the set
by Amanda Wynn, CRVA Intern
Before this summer, I was the furthest thing from a NASCAR fan. Even growing up in Charlotte, where NASCAR reigns supreme, I was never truly introduced to the world of racing. My knowledge of the sport did not go much further than what I saw on television or in movies. This being the case, it was quite a coincidence that the special, limited-time exhibit featured in the NASCAR Hall of Fame while I was an intern was all about the big screen. The unique exhibit, “Lights. Camera. NASCAR.,” displays how the racing industry has influenced films, how NASCAR has promoted such movies and how film has portrayed racing legends over the years. Featuring six original cars, four hoods, two driver uniforms, five decades of movie posters and more, I knew this exhibit would be a great way to spark my interest in NASCAR.
As a fan of Will Ferrell’s slapstick comedies, my instant favorite in the exhibit was Ricky Bobby’s Wonder Bread car from “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” I couldn’t believe it was the actual car Will Ferrell drove during filming. Film crews had to add extra tubing to the back of the car in order to mount cameras and other equipment to film driving sequences. The car was also wrapped with a dull finish to prevent glare, making it stand out from other racecars you typically see in the Hall. It even has a Ricky Bobby signature above the side windows. There is also a video showing some hilarious footage of Ricky Bobby references in actual NASCAR races that have occurred since the film was released. It was great having the opportunity to see the car and learn more about the movie.
Another favorite movie of mine showcased in the exhibit is Disney’s animated film, “Cars.” A life-size replica of one of the cars in the movie, Doc Hudson, is on display. You can tell it is a crowd favorite as everyone seems to recognize the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet.” This particular car was made as a tribute to Paul Newman, who is the voice of Doc in the movie. He drove it at the “Cars” movie premiere at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2006 reaching speeds of over 150 miles per hours! The Doc Hudson character was inspired by the real “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” that was driven by Herb Thomas in the early 1950s. Thomas was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013, and the real Hudson Hornet is currently on display just upstairs in the Hall of Honor.
Other cars in the exhibit include Cole Trickle’s City Chevrolet car from “Days of Thunder,” the Herbie Volkswagen Beetle from “Herbie Fully Loaded,” a 1962 Chevrolet built by Wendell Scott for “Greased Lightning,” and Jeff Gordon’s Jurassic Park car “T-Rex” promoting “Jurassic Park: The Ride.”
On a long wall behind the six cars displayed, there is an endless amount of movie posters related to racing. It was fascinating seeing the posters displayed in order of the year they were released. I enjoyed admiring posters I recognized while also learning about movies I knew nothing about. There was even a poster with Elvis on it! I had no idea he starred in a movie about racing, “Speedway,” in 1968. These posters were a great way to see the timeline of how racing has been represented on the big screen.
Having the opportunity to explore the NASCAR Hall of Fame was just one of the many things I loved about my time as an intern. After two short months, I have learned to enjoy and appreciate the sport. “Lights. Camera. NASCAR.” was the perfect way to reel in a movie-buff and “NASCAR newbie” like myself. The Hall of Fame can be a wonderful experience for a great range of people, whether you are a die-hard fan or know nothing about the sport. But if you appreciate movies as much as I do, be sure to experience “Lights. Camera. NASCAR.” before it ends!