With the NHRA US Nationals wrapped up on Monday afternoon we still had some time and energy left to do some sightseeing in the Indianapolis area. Our first stop on Monday afternoon was the legendary grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Many of us had visited the Speedway before but it is always an amazing feeling when you drive through the tunnel and pull into the infield area. The place is HUGE and you can almost hear the whine of an Indy car engine even in the dead silence of this temple of speed. Inside the Museum and Hall of Fame there are cars that competed and cars that won from all eras of the 100 years of competition. There is plenty of memorabilia to go along with the cars on display. Some of us even took a lap around the track in one of the buses. Even in a bus, pulling out of turn four and looking down the front straight gets your heart pumping. The Indianapolis Speedway and Museum is a visit that never gets old. There is always something new to see.
From the Speedway it was a 30 minute drive to Greenwood, Indiana the home of Ray Skillman Classic Cars. To say that Ray Skillman has a car collection is a huge understatement. We were met at the collection by Donnie Gardner and his son Trey. Donnie is the man who oversees the collection and takes a very active role in the restoration and maintenance of all the vehicles. When Donnie heard that we had some time on Monday to visit he volunteered to come in on Labor Day to let us take a look. That is dedication to your job and we certainly appreciated the time he spent with us. It is obvious that Ray Skillman is a Chevy fan and it is not because he owns a number of Chevrolet dealerships. He owns some Ford dealerships also and yes there are some Fords in the collection. That said, it is the Corvettes and early 60’s Chevys that stand tall in the room. I haven’t even mentioned the vintage signs and automobilia that complement the collection. The pictures speak for themselves. It was a great way to spend Labor Day afternoon and many thanks go out to Donnie Gardner for taking time out of his Holiday to share Ray Skillman’s fantastic collection with the Road Tourians.
Tuesday morning we had the pleasure of visiting another fantastic collection that is incorporated into one of the coolest displays most of us had ever seen. Bruce Litton has been involved in automobiles his entire life. He is a successful drag racer and an even more successful businessman with his company Bruce Litton Trailer Sales which is located directly across from the Indianapolis Raceway drag strip on Route 136 in Clermont. Bruce took a different approach than most to display his collection of vehicles, signs and automobilia. He decided to recreate the small town in Tennessee where he grew up. I do not mean that he had the store fronts painted on the walls. That is not the way Bruce does anything. In Bruce’s collection you can walk into the diner, the barbershop, and the Sheriff’s office. Of all of the areas of the recreated village the most important to Bruce is the Church. Bruce is a man of faith who lives a Christian life in both his business and his personal affairs. It was a real privilege to spend time with Bruce and we truly appreciate the opportunity to enjoy his private collection of vehicles and memorabilia in such a unique setting.
By Tuesday about noon our time in Indianapolis had come to an end but the Shades of the Past Road Tour has plenty of stops in store as we make our way to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the Hot Rod Round-up. Stay tuned. We are heading south.