The cars are bellowing, curve-devouring monsters whose trim options are basically limited to the color of the roll cage netting. The tracks are banked muddy ovals scarred ragged by a never-ending series of powerslides. Historically, the pay for intentionally flipping a car from time to time has been worth more than actually winnning the race.
It's an ugly sport with a decades-old history full of grit and mayhem, but man alive, do East Tennesseans like it. And this summer, the Museum Center at
"We talk about tracks in the area from
"They can come in and ... learn that it's not just about driving in a circle. It's how the sport developed out of nothing."
The exhibit includes excerpts from interviews with local team owners, mechanics and drivers, who spent their weekends spraying mud at circuits in a corridor stretching from
Museum administrators decided to exhibit the deep local roots in dirt track racing after
"They were very interested in what we were doing and were very helpful in loaning their items and sharing their stories," she says.
In all, the exhibit comprises about 100 objects, about half of which are photographs. The other half include relics such a pristine fire suit from the 1970s and a number of trophies, which were surprising finds considering that drivers thought so little of them, they often handed the trophies back after races, Chastain says.
But the piece de resistance, she says, is the centerpiece of the exhibit: a cherry red 1934 Ford coupe. The car, which threw up plenty of dirt on the
"That was a real coup. I wasn't sure I could fit one in here," Chastain says, laughing. "The summer season is when these cars come out to be used in drives and parades and shows. To have one for the entire run was a real great addition."
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