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Memory Lane definitely lives up to its name

July 19th, 2011 11:49 pm by Jeff Birchfield

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — The cars are the stars at the Memory Lane Museum.
In a trip last month to the Charlotte area, my father, son, nephew and I went by several of the NASCAR race shops, to the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame and finally to the Memory Lane Museum.
Located in Mooresville, which is nicknamed ‘Race City USA’ because of all its ties to the stock car racing industry, the affordable museum features 165 cars belonging to owner Alex Beam.
The majority are race cars, but there are also movie cars on display including a 1922 Buick which Oprah Winfrey rode in the “Color Purple” and another vehicle which George Clooney drove in “Leatherheads.”
Many of the cars are former Cup Series entries including one of Dale Earnhardt’s famous black No. 3 Chevys and a No. 15 Ford which he raced for Bud Moore.
Another Ford on display is Richard Petty’s 1969 Torino, a car the King drove after a falling out with Dodge. David Pearson, one of Ford’s most famous drivers, actually has a Chevrolet Monte Carlo he raced in 1986 on display.
There is a dune buggy which Buddy Baker once owned and Beam’s first car, a 1931 Ford Model A which he purchased for $115.
The cars go back as far as a 1903 Oldsmobile carriage, and there is a 1919 Ford Model T equipped with a ski accessory for winters in the Midwest.
There are items from three generations of Earnhardts, including one of Ralph Earnhardt’s cars, featured in the Dale Earnhardt Jr. show “Back in the Day” on Speed TV.
Local race cars of note include — Bill Morton’s 1951 Oldsmobile, a 1934 Ford Coupe raced by L.D. Ottinger and Toutle Estes’ 1934 Ford Sedan.
My personal favorite was Herman Beam’s 1932 Ford built by Limestone Cove natives Jess and Clyde Potter and equipped with a 100 horsepower engine. The horsepower number alone, shows how far race cars have come over the last seven decades.
In the back room of the museum is the Racers Reunion Hall of Fame whose first class included local racers Paul Lewis, G.C. Spencer, Gene Glover and Beam.
Other nostalgia includes several concert posters, an Elect Roy Acuff Governor of Tennessee poster and a 1950s Cushman golf cart.
It is an easy day trip from Johnson City, and for those interested in attending both Memory Lane and the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame on the same day, the two are located just two miles apart.
If you go across Interstate 26 to Asheville and then to Interstate 40, or go through Elizabethton and Marion or Morganton to Interstate 40, you can head on Interstate 77 South and avoid the big city traffic of Charlotte.
It was a special trip for those in my family with a trip to the Memory Lane Museum helping to create special memories.
n Nate Monteith of Blountville captured his eighth Late Model Stock victory of the season this past Friday night at Kingsport Speedway.
Daniel Pope II of Smyrna and Johnson City’s Zeke Shell earned front-row starts for the 60-lap feature, but it wasn’t long until Monteith had worked his way up from a fifth-place starting position.
He passed Shell on lap 14 and made his way past Pope for the lead on lap 26. Leading the rest of the way, he extended his lead in the track point standings and now ranks fifth overall in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings.
Pope finished second, followed by Lee Tissot of Asheville, Shell and Bryan Ortiz, a NASCAR diversity driver from Puerto Rico.
There was a 56-year age difference in winners of the preliminary races.
Paul Shull, a 70-year-old veteran from Church Hill, won the Street Stock feature, while 14-year-old Hayden Woods of Piney Flats won his seventh Legends feature of the season.
Other winners included Mark McCrary of Bristol in the Pure 4 division and Austin Crigger of Surgoinsville in Rookie Pure 4.
Kingsport Speedway will take this Friday off for FunFest and returns to action on Friday, July 29.
n The combination of track excavating work following heavy rain forced the cancellation of racing at Volunteer Speedway last Saturday night.
Racing is scheduled to return to the 4/10-mile dirt track this Friday night with the $5,300-to-win Southern Nationals Series, Super Late Model Special.
Also racing will be Pro Late Model, Hobby Stock and Road Warrior divisions.
n Bristol Dragway hosted the World Footbrake Challenge this past weekend with three different drivers taking $10,000 victories.
Ed Talbert of Woodbine, Md., won Friday night action with a 7.100 elapsed time on a 7.09 dial-in.
Seth Phillips of Montpelier, Va., denied Talbert the win in Saturday’s final round, while Bristol Dragway regular, Steve Foley of Barbourville, Ky., had a .008 reaction time and a 7.581 elapsed time on a 7.57 dial-in to win Sunday’s race.
Several big events come to Bristol Dragway over the next few weeks starting with Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness on Saturday, July 30.
Some of the notable trucks entered in the event include Grave Digger, Spiderman and the Bristol-based War Wizard.

Jeff Birchfield is a sports writer for the Johnson City Press. You may contact him at

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