IMRRC To Host Racing History Symposium Nov. 9-10, 2018
Buz McKim, retired historian at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will be keynote speaker
The International Motor Racing Research Center is again partnering with the Society of Automotive Historians to present “The First Turn Meets the Cultural Turn—History on the Eights,” a symposium on racing history geared to both motor racing scholars and the world of motor racing enthusiasts.
The fourth annual Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History will take place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10, 2018. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend any or all of the sessions with no charge.
The two-day event will showcase discussions on Formula Vee, Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing, the early days of NASCAR, the career of British automotive designer and engineer Reid Railton, and more.
Friday morning and afternoon sessions will be held at the Watkins Glen International Media Center inside the world-famous Watkins Glen race track. Presentations will include Tom Adamich’s analysis of the deep cultural roots and enduring success of Formula Vee, the “People’s Race Car,” from its origins in the work of Ferdinand Porsche to its birth as an American racing phenomenon in the 1960s. Francis Clax, a one-time competitor in professional motorcycle racing, will present “Americans Enter Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing,” talking of America’s late entry into the international arena of grand prix motorsports.
Friday’s presentations will also feature Kate Sullivan, an accomplished scholar who holds several regional land-speed records in Scotland, speaking on the fascinating story of the evolution of NASCAR from its humble beginnings as an accessible arena for drivers to a sophisticated big business. Sullivan will suggest ways to return the sport to its more inclusive roots. Skip McGoun, a distinguished scholar on the history of finance and culture will explain the driving forces—publications, organizations, and communities—that gave birth to and provided the force for automobile racing. Paul Baxa of the University of Toronto, a returning contributor to the Symposium, will address the horrific accident that took place in the 1928 Italian Grand Prix and the critical impact the tragedy had on the survival and redefinition of grand prix racing. Finally, Bryan Gable will explore the development of NASCAR in Charlotte, N.C. and its surrounding region and how NASCAR achieved success as a desirable and profitable industry.
An evening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at the IMRRC Visitor’s Center in downtown Watkins Glen will include a screening of the movie Cars followed by Jon Summers presenting “Differentiating Between Richard ‘The King’ Petty and Pixar’s ‘Mr. The King’.” Mr. Summers’ discussion will examine the ways that NASCAR history is received and understood while showing how its place in American history and culture is open to debatable conclusions.
The Saturday sessions will take place at the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium adjacent to the IMRRC. Karl Ludvigsen, internationally renowned motorsports historian and author, will discuss the career of Reid Anthony Railton, a Cheshire born automotive engineering genius who rose to renown in the 1930s as his great cars—powered by names like Birkin, Campbell, Straight, Cobb, Mays, and Gardner—achieved sensational and record-breaking success. Having worked as an executive with GM, Fiat, and Ford and with over four dozen books to his credit, Ludvigsen has compiled a major research collection, now housed at the Revs Institute.
The highlight of this year’s Symposium is the presentation by Buz McKim, recently retired historian at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., who will be the keynote speaker. McKim will discuss the life of Bill France, Sr. and stock car racing during his years as a driver, chronicling the events which prompted France to develop a sanctioning body for the sport and reminiscing of the colorful personalities who enlivened the early days of stock cars. McKim is the author of The NASCAR Vault: An Official History Featuring Rare Collectibles from Motorsports Images and Archives.
A detailed schedule can be seen here.