A BIG thank you and congrats to our good friend Willem Bor on his fine work of art!!!!
Pontiac, Ill. — A reception for the debut of a scale model of the Standard Oil Gas Station located on Route 66 in Odell was just the beginning of plans that Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center Director Tim Dye has for the museum during the upcoming tourism season.
With the annual events such as the Red Carpet Corridor coming up in less than a month on May 5 and 6, as well as Pontiac’s Pre-War Festival scheduled for May 25, Dye has plans to host a number of automobile clubs over the tourism season and change many of the museum’s vehicle displays. One upcoming display in particular will be a Pontiac NASCAR vehicle from the late 1980s formerly driven by Michael Waltrip.
“We are in talks with the owner and trying to coordinate with the other cars,” said Dye. “But in the first part of May, a lot of the cars are going to change out. We want people to keep coming back and I think we need to keep it interesting.”
The first of many display changes began on Saturday with a reception the museum had for a gas station model created by Netherlands artist Willem Bor, who Dye said is known for his re-creation of historic Route 66 landmarks and his donation of those models to local museums and tourist collections.
The model was commemorated with speakers who were friends of Bor — Jerry Alger of Michigan and Rich Dinkela II of St. Peters, Mo. Mayor Robert T. Russell was also on hand to say a few words.
“It was a very nice debut,” said Dye. “Being a car museum located on Route 66, we felt the gas station was a good fit for us. We are happy that he wanted to donate the model so that we can share it with people. I like to tie in with local things as much as I can, so it’s an honor to display this at the museum.”
With this being only the second tourism season for the auto museum, Dye said indications are showing this year has the potential to be bigger in terms of numbers of visitors compared to last year’s tourism season. Dye said the Red Carpet Corridor unofficially kicks off the tourism season. Not long after that, this year’s Pre-War Festival, celebrating Americana prior to World War II, is scheduled to showcase a group of Franklin motor cars — a model discontinued in the 1930s which was known for it’s air-cooled engine, a unique trait in the time period.
“For the most part, they are known for being big, luxurious cars,” said Dye. “Local collector Alan Finkenbinder has a couple of them and I am working with him to set up the tourism route. The car club will be here for three or four days.”
At this point, Dye said he is not sure how big the Pre-War Festival will be in terms of outside participation. Dye hopes the weather issues that plagued last year’s event won’t be an issue this year. After those initial festivals, Dye said the museum is planning to host a steady stream of car clubs.
“Some weekends we’ve already booked two different car clubs. In September we are hosting the GTO Association of America for their regional meet again. I foresee lots of car groups coming. If you’re a car fanatic, this will be another good summer.”
Within the next month, Dye plans to switch out many of the display cars in the museum. He is also working on a new display for the big walk-in case.
“When you are open seven-days a week, you can only do so much at one time,” said Dye. “Penny and I are so busy with the operation of the museum, the days just fly by. It’s hard to say the impact we’re having on the tourism by numbers, but it’s got to be helping.”
By Luke Smucker – Pontiac Daily Leader