New Hampshire (WWLP) – The North East Motor Sports Museum moved from the planning stage to the happening stage with an afternoon groundbreaking ceremony at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
The museum will be built on speedway land near the NHMS south entrance. It will feature the history of motorsports in the Northeast area including displays of racing vehicles and historical memorabilia.
Jerry Gappens, NHMS Executive Vice President and General Manager, told 22News, “It’s really going to cover from A to Z, the history of racing in New England. You’re going to see some fabulous old race cars. That’s what really bothered Dick (Berggren) the most was the fact that there was a lot of these old race cars in barns and garages or out in fields. Then when a family member would pass on, the rest of the family, they really don’t know what to do with it or have an interest in it, maybe like the previous generation did. So to be able to have a place to bring those cars and let the public enjoy them and from the speedway stand point I am all about anything that can be a year round attraction to bring people to New Hampshire Motor Speedway so that’s a nice benefit to have it here on our property. But then especially for race time, those two big NASCAR weekends a year that we do, what better attraction than to have a museum to kind of look at history from our past to really appreciate where we are today in the present.”
Gappens praised North East Motor Sports Museum President Dick Berggren’s efforts to take the museum from an idea to reality. He told 22News, “I am very excited because it’s been a labor of love for Dick Berggren. He approached me about 7 years ago with the concept to do a museum for New England and he thought the perfect place would be New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He’s done a lot of work behind the scenes. He’s literally traveled across the country to look at museums and to try to get an idea of how to make this work. On top of that he was trying to raise funds and the economy took a bad dip in 2008. He’s raising funds during a difficult time in our economy and yet he has persevered. Today’s groundbreaking is just really a lot of satisfaction to see that perseverance pay off.”
Speedway Motorsports Inc. Executive Chairman Bruton Smith and Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith were part of the gathering of 250 for the event. Others included Joey Logano, Ricky Craven, Ron Bouchard, and Pete Hamilton, all New England winners in NASCAR’s Cup Series.
The museum will be 10,000 square feet in size when it opens. Plans call for an additional 10,000 square feet to be built in the future. NHMS chose to do the groundbreaking on their NASCAR Sprint Cup Weekend. The target opening is next September’s NASCAR weekend.