Gene Theissen was a motorcycle racer from Eugene, OR who raced in the 1950s for the motorcycle company BSA, including the Daytona 200 and Nationals, along with multiple regional races, and stacked up land speed records. Flipping through the pages of this recently digitized binder includes the story of BSA, motorcycle racing into the 1950s, the burgeoning of brand teams, and technological advances are all found in Gene’s story.
Mario Andretti and Andy Granatelli are two names not forgotten in professional racing. And while there time racing together may have been a small blip in their long careers, their friendship lasted a lifetime. A kid from New Jersey, Andretti, and another from Texas, Granatelli, who would come to tackle numerous racing types, over multiple terrain, build their teams, and businesses, made a friendship that would last decades.
The World of Speed Archive receives many photos into its collection. While some may include partial information, many do not include names, locations and/or dates. With the help of viewers near and far, we may be able to add to these images, building the stories that these images capture. So scroll the images and if anything or anyone looks familiar, add your knowledge into the submission forms and we will add it to the image captions here and into our collection catalog.
Salem’s Hollywood Bowl, like many local tracks across the country and the world, brought amateur racers to the track, forging friendships along the way. Some names would become more well-known over the years. Some became lifelong friends. Some, a hard pulled memory. Each of these racers are responsible for the ever-evolving world of racing, and examples of racing during the 1950s in the Pacific Northwest.
In 2019, the World of Speed Archive is offering more ways to bring the collection to you. We will be hosting quarterly Archives in the Gallery and two Archives Behind-the-Scenes Experiences. In the coming months, expect to see more of the museum’s photo collections uploaded online including over 50 photo profiles and array of photo collections. Offsite, we will be sharing the collection at the Portland International Airport and the Holiday Inn, Wilsonville.
Toys have the capacity to flood our brain with memories long after they are playthings of our youth. We all have memories of playing with toy cars, dolls, puzzles, games, and coloring books. They mark a time and place both personal and communal. World of Speed’s toy collection is just that, intertwining our collective memories of motorsports from our youth, while being preserved and celebrated as part of the World of Speed Archive Collection.
Race car designs influenced not only 1930s passenger cars but architecture, advertisements, and home appliances as well. Check out local building examples, ads from our Indy 500 programs, and other items from the museum's collection with robust curves and sleek lines as examples of the Streamline Moderne design.
In preparation for the upcoming Harley-Davidson exhibit at World of Speed, we unpacked and processed a collection of items donated by a past local Harley dealer as well as items on loan from our friends in Washington. Some will make it into the gallery display cases, other will be showcased in the Archive Room, while even more will be available in our online collection catalog. But for now, here’s a teaser of some quick pics along with some quick facts about Harley, its engines, racers and a few other surprising facts for Hog lovers, motorcycle fans, and Americana hobbyists.
The scrapbook of local racing fan Gary Larson focuses on racing in the Pacific Northwest, specifically in western Oregon during the late 1940s. Articles focus on the fatal accidents of Les Anderson, Mike Moore, and Rex Mays among others, the near fatal accident of Allen Hobson, stories of Bob Gregg and other local racers, and the return of Big Car and Indy-style racing at Portland Speedway. The scrapbook also includes member cards, pit passes and photos.
For one weekend only as part of American Archive Month, the World of Speed Archive shared images, papers, artwork and artifacts never before on display before in the museum gallery. Take a peak at the items on display from cartoons to photos, programs and personal letters, and examples of Streamliner Modern design, along with race car and parts cutaway illustrations, and track design drawings. Check out photos or play the walk-through video at the end for a more detailed viewing experience.
Whether you’ve got a specific question or want to go down the rabbit hole, our over 400 magazines titles are available. Research Packages are a great way to dive into the wealth of materials within their pages. Over 45 titles covering the 1950s; 60 for the 1960s; nearly 100 for the 1970s; over 125 each for the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s; along with over 50 titles into 2010s. Titles cover those specific to the Northwest, national titles over multiple decades, and unique specialty or niche titles, along with those specific to vehicle brands as well as those relating to specific racing types.
In celebration of American Archive Month, our staff participated in a series of videos, each choosing a favorite item from our collection.
S1:E1: World of Speed Education Director Lewis Ferguson discusses the racing flags owned by Ed Rose, a racer at Portland Speedway in the 1940s who became an official, starter, and referee.
If you have racing or motorsports-related photos or papers that you’d like scanned, this is for you! Preserve them digitally for free while also helping us preserve the rich history of motorsports. October 27-28, the Archive staff will scan as many of your photos as possible on multiple high-resolution scanners and send you home with a USB flash drive filled with your photos or papers along with your returned original prints. The digital copies will then be added into our permanent collection in order to build, preserve and share the story of motorsports.
Oregon has so many motorsport milestones found within the World of Speed Archive Collection that it was hard to pick just one for every decade but we did. From the first transcontinental race across America ending in Oregon in 1905 to the return of Indy car championship racing at PIR in 2018, Oregon has had some great racing moments. Portland was home to the Dutchess, the only female race team manager of her time. Willy T. Ribbs became the first racer of color to win the Rose Cup; and a soon-to-be President Jimmy Carter waved a race flag at PIR.
During the 1930s and ‘40s, the enigmatic “Duchess” was the only woman race car owner, manager or promoter. Most knew her in racing only as the Duchess, but Portland’s Dorothy Hylah Gruman raced midgets and big cars under her Duchess Racing Team throughout the west coast, mostly Oregon and California. The digitized scrapbook of articles, correspondences, photographs, publicity and papers relates primarily to the Duchess, her drivers, and her part in racing; there are a few photos relating to her husband and boxing as well as a singular photo print of Art Pollard.
Each decade has its quintessential car culture movies but it was the 1950s that would first solidify the relationship between cars and movies, and the culture they shaped and was shaped by them, from teen culture to racing culture, dating culture, counter culture, and club/gang culture, all of which continue to find there way into car (and motorcycle) movies and television show to this day.
The World of Speed Archive in making its way to Collins Gallery at the Multnomah Central Library in downtown Portland for the month of September and October, celebrating the history, technology and culture of racing during the 1950s, '60s and '70s, with a focus on local racing, motorsports in pop culture, and the evolution of technology. Images include only a taste of the breadth of items that will be on display, as well as the content included in each of the twelve display cases.
New digital videos from the Archive are now available online including the first Rose Cup Races, the first time Indy car CART racing came to PIR in 1984, and the 1963 Portland Grand Prix as well as clips of 1950s-1980s jalopy, stock, motorcycles and sidecar racing, and film of Barney Oldfield. Enjoy! For more racing films from our collection, visit https://vimeo.com/worldofspeed.
It has been just over three years since World of Speed opened its doors to the public. And since then, we have been supported by individuals and organizations who have generously given images and artifacts to the Museum’s Archive Collection. The World of Speed Archive is continuously finding ways to share the items donors and lenders have so generously brought into the World of Speed Collection. As we continue to preserve the history, technology and culture of motorsports to celebrate and educate for generations to come, we want to say thank you to the individuals and organizations that have contributed to the World of Speed Collection.
During the early 1900s, car race tracks were yet to be an option. Instead, races happened on unpaved streets, later evolving in road race courses. In 1909, a few quiet Portland streets were turned into a race track, complete with crash and first aid car. While most of the streets named in the photo notes are no longer on a modern day Portland map, these photos are a peek into not only early racing but the early layout of Portland's city streets.