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Ronald Reagan Museum  

William Rast (98) 2011


100th Anniversary of Indianapolis 500 Race Won by Car Honoring the 100th Birthday of America's 40th President, Ronald Reagan

Reagan Centennial Seal Affixed to Nose of Dan Wheldon's Winning Car Replica Car on display NOW at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA

"Congratulations to driver Dan Wheldon on winning the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500 at Motor Speedway," said Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration Stewart McLaurin. "What a historic and poetic moment -- that on the 100th anniversary of America's most famous race, this car and team observed the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth by affixing the seal of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Centennial Celebration on its nose -- and won!"

As presidential candidate, Reagan drove the pace car in the 1976 Indianapolis 500. Ronald Reagan was a fan of auto racing, and established strong relationships with several major racing series. In 1984, he became the first sitting president to attend a NASCAR race. From aboard Air Force One, Reagan gave the "Gentlemen, start your engines" command for the Firecracker 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla. After landing at Daytona International Airport, Reagan joined the television broadcasters calling the race, harkening back to his days as a sports radio announcer.

A replica of the winning Indy car is now on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif, through Oct. 23, 2011, as part of the exhibit "Start Your Engines: American Race Cars at the Ronald Reagan Library." The exhibit and sponsorships have been made possible by the generous support of driver Lyn St. James, Hendrick Motorsports, Auto Club of Southern California (AAA) and Mike Curb, owner of Curb Records - and former Lt. Governor of California. Lt. Governor Curb owned the car Richard Petty drove to his 200th victory in the 1984 Firecracker 400, which Reagan attended.

"Congratulations to Dan and the entire team," Former CA Lt. Governor Mike Curb said. "I'm proud to have been a part of Ronald Reagan's racing legacy ever since he was involved in the Firecracker 400."


Reagan Museum Display

Reagan Museum Display

Reagan Museum Display

Reagan Museum Display

Reagan Museum Display

Reagan Museum Display

Reagan Museum Display

May 27 - October 23, 2011

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan became the first sitting U.S. President to attend a NASCAR race. That July, he started the Firecracker 400 at Daytona where he gave the command, "Gentlemen, start your engines!" from aboard Air Force One. Later that day, Air Force One landed at Daytona International Airport behind the speedway in full view of the fans. It was at that race that Richard Petty captured his historic 200th victory.

In honor of President Reagan's relationship and fascination with race car driving, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation presents Start Your Engines: American Race Cars at the Reagan Library, on view from May 27 through October 23, 2011. The exhibit features a wide array of storied vehicles from the history of American auto racing from the 1930s to today, including those from NASCAR and INDY. Visitors will view historic cars driven by legends such as Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Richard Petty, as well as current cars by racers Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Austin Dillon, who will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut later this year. A few exhibit highlights include:
  • Richard Petty's winning Firecracker 400 Pontiac from the race Ronald Reagan officially started in 1984

  • Dale Earnhardt, Sr.'s #2 Chevy – the car in which he won the 1980 Winston Cup Championship

  • Kurt Busch's 2011 #22 Auto Club Dodge Charger (show car) which he recently raced in the Auto Club 400 in California, March 2011

  • Jimmie Johnson's 2007 #48 Lowe's Chevrolet that he drove at Homestead to clinch his 2nd Championship

  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s 2010 #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet Impala

  • Austin Dillon's 2011 #98 Chevrolet Impala, co-sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Centennial, which will be raced later this year

  • Dan Wheldon's 2011 #98 INDY car, which will be raced later this year

  • Lyn St. James' 1989 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe which broke a record for the fastest lap ever driven by a woman on an oval track
In addition to the cars, personal items from drivers like trophies, fire suits, helmets and other artifacts, photos and video will also be on display.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Auto Club of Southern California. Special thanks to Mike Curb, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Woodland of the Estrella Warbirds Museum and Lyn St. James.

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