A museum by its nature is intended to procure, care for, study, and display matters of interest. By definition, the Museum of American Speed lives up to its billing, but there's more, much more. Located on the corporate campus of Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Nebraska, the museum represents a lifelong dream of "Speedy" Bill Smith that began back when he was a young boy.

His early formative years were spent studying to be a teacher but his passion rested elsewhere, so it was onto racing and the beginning of what is today an immensely successful business. Joyce, his wife, loaned him the $300 to get Speedway Motors started in a 20x20 square foot building near downtown Lincoln. Bill likes to tell this story about borrowing the money and never paying it back. (Editor's note: Joyce tells us she hasn't forgotten the debt and has kept track of the interest accrued over the past nearly 60 years! Careful there Bill.)

The officially registered museum opened in 1992 in a portion of Speedway's warehouse located near the speed shop. The museum moved to its current 135,000 square foot, three-story building and opened to the public in 2001. There are several other Speedway warehouses that accommodate numerous parts and cars that someday will be restored and eventually find their way into the collection. There's so much in the current museum that a number of cars await rotation, as they all can't fit at once. We found numerous identifiable cars of fame, including a magazine project car; STREET RODDER Project SpeedRodder is waiting its turn to visit the museum floor.

Many museums have items that are faithfully restored with some that are displayed "as-is" giving a well-rounded feel. The Museum of American Speed takes this to another level. Many of the automotive and nonautomotive artifacts are literally "as-is" with their original packing material and boxes, some still bolted to their original crates, like a Tucker engine, and many displayed in dioramas made from original accessory items of the day.

The museum collection is eclectic but there's a deep-rooted cultural significance that weaves a connection between the items. For instance, you will find a collection of rock 'n' roll album covers, guitars autographed by virtually every significant artist of the past 50 years, car club jackets and plaques to go along with virtually every kind of American-bred race car-Bonneville, dry lakes, drag race, dirt track, asphalt, Indy, board track, and even Soap Box derby cars. Do you see the common thread? The denominator is "Made in America" and this cultural tie brings racers, rodders, and car lovers together to enjoy each facet of the museum. Car fans enjoy many forms of Americana and because of this the museum offers something of special significance to each. There are collections of pedal cars, childhood lunch boxes, car movie posters, and toy cars, and it's a safe bet to say car guys from every facet of racing and rodding have enjoyed most, if not all, of these endeavors during their lives. Walking (slowly is best!) through the museum is akin to going back to various times in our lives and bringing back memories of our childhood, young adulthood, and even what we might be doing today. Think of this museum as "time standing still" giving you the opportunity to catch up on what you may have missed the first time around.

How did all of this arrive? Lincoln, Nebraska, isn't exactly the cultural hub of America, so why here? Nebraska is linked to the heartland of America making it easily accessible to the early days of many forms of racing and a natural spot for the Museum of American Speed.