Sunday, October 28, 2012

Preserving Kansas City's rich racing history with the CARB Hall of Fame Swap Meet and Auction

You never hear about it on the news, and the people at your office aren’t aware of it, but there is a very strong auto racing underworld here in Kansas City. The fact is, there are people that live and die by local, short track racing, and there have been for the better part of the last century.

Of course, that means there is a rich racing history here too. And for some people, preserving that history is a privilege and a duty. It would be a shame to wake up one day and have no recollection of the people, the cars, and the tracks that played such an important part in so many peoples’ lives. It would also be unfortunate if no one realized the role Kansas City played in the careers of some of the greatest racing personalities in the history of the sport.

Luckily, we have the Central Auto Racing Boosters (CARB). For more than 60 years, this club has actively worked to foster new race fans, and show respect to the area’s racing past. CARB hosts everything from blood drives to charity golf and bowling tournaments. And they work with area racetracks to, well, boost interest.

They also preserve history. Many Kansas City racing legends are current members of CARB. The club keeps detailed historic records, cares for rare racing memorabilia, and serves as a soundboard for anyone with a story to share.

For the last several years, CARB has been dragging a trailer around with a pickup that included sort of a makeshift little hall of fame. But what they are really trying to do is generate interest and raise money to build a permanent CARB Hall of Fame and Museum in a building that doesn’t have wheels.

This weekend, Lakeside Speedway hosted a CARB Hall of Fame swap meet and auction fundraiser. I’m always game for a good car parts swap meet, so I found myself in the pits bright and early Saturday morning. And while I didn’t find anything I really wanted to buy, it was still fun to browse around.

Here’s a ’53 Buick sedan that someone could have owned for somewhere south of a grand. Yeah, it needed a lot of work, but how often do you get a chance to take home a Buick from the Motorama era of Harley Earl design? Besides, people seem to go nutso over “patina” these days. This thing had so much patina, it almost didn’t have any paint. And those straight eight engines are pretty easy to change the spark plugs on.

Here’s a set of wheels for an ‘84/’85 Corvette. It might not seem like it now, but when the fourth-generation Corvette debuted in 1984, it was one of the most technologically advanced cars ever built. And these 16X8.5” wheels were part of that. The idea that these futuristic wheels were only meant to be bolted to a specific side of the car was pretty out there. But then they were mounted on unidirectional Goodyear Gatorback tires to boot. What you might not know is that some of the old catalogs showed a very attractive, but more traditional 15” wheel that was meant to be standard equipment, but that wheel never made it into actual production.

I would have liked to known the history of this old Midget racecar skeleton. It was one of several old track rats that were offered for sale in the swap meet. Who drove this? Did it win any races? Where did it race? Imagine—someone once put their heart and soul into this twisted pile of rust. Someone risked their very life to drive it. People cheered for it. Others probably booed it. There’s just so much more than what you see. But here it is, looking almost unrecognizable on this trailer. At least it was back in the pits of a racetrack, which seems fitting.

I took just under 100 pictures of the CARB Hall of Fame swap meet and auction, which you can see in the slideshow below. Or click this link for a better version of the slideshow.

And for more information about the Central Auto Racing Boosters, be sure to check out

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