“The reaction to first time guests is pure awe,” says the museum’s Executive Director Dave Pearson. “Once people come in and see everything we’re doing, they realize we are much more than a car museum.”
World of Speed opened in April 2015 and is the only museum in the Pacific Northwest that showcases cars, motorcycles, and hydroplanes. The Museum opens several new feature exhibits each year, along with a host of other vehicles that are continually changing to offer guests something new every time they visit. “We work hard to keep things fresh and exciting,” says Curator Ron Huegli. “Sometimes we can get a special car for just a few weeks, in between car shows or races. They don’t fit into a feature exhibit, but they showcase a different part of motorsports or motorsports history and have a story that needs to be told.”
Pearson says the Museum is committed to creating exhibits of national importance or relevance, and in March they opened Mario Andretti: Racing Royalty, a look back at the five-decade career of America’s most successful race driver. “We worked closely with Mario and his family to create this exhibit and have some exclusive video we shot with them early this year that help make this exhibit something special,” says Pearson. Some of the cars include Mario’s first race car, a reproduction of the 1949 Hudson he built with twin brother Aldo, and the rare 1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV that Mario won the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race with.
The other feature exhibit on display is Harley-Davidson: America’s Motorcycle which celebrates the iconic company’s role in American culture. Highlights of the exhibit include a bike from the popular TV show Sons of Anarchy and a world-recording breaking landspeed bike from Steve Dorn.
But the Museum is much more than just cars and motorcycles. The Automotive Learning Center is home to two high-tech classrooms and an educational automotive shop with 11 bays. As part of World of Speed’s commitment to Career and Technical Education, the Museum hosts nine different high schools for automotive classes each week during the school year. This year, the program added an advanced class for second-year students which has been a big hit.
The summer months at World of Speed are filled with week-long camps for kids in grades K-12. These racing-inspired STEAM-focused camps include Racing 101 and 201, where campers race go-karts at nearby Pat’s Acres and take a spin on the three racecar simulators in the Museum.
The Start Line Kids Club is filled with interactive educational games and activities that engage children at multiple development levels, but the Super Service Center is a favorite for many kids. It’s a kid-sized, two-sided model car that replicated the experience of an actual auto repair shop, including changing tires and checking the oil!