RACE HIS­TORY 101

REVS IN­STI­TUTE MU­SEUM IN NAPLES, FLORIDA T E A M S U P W I T H STA N F O R D U N I V E R S I T Y

Ignition - - True North: Canadian Touring Car Championship - BY GE­ORGE WEB­STER | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY COUR­TESY OF REVS IN­STI­TUTE n my first visit to Watkins Glen in 1959, I drove around the orig­i­nal through-the-streets road course which played a big role in the re­birth of sports car rac­ing in Amer­ica af­ter the war.

We stopped at a big boul­der at the side of the road bear­ing flow­ers and a plaque to com­mem­o­rate Sam Col­lier, who had died here when the Fer­rari he was driv­ing crashed in 1950. That Fer­rari 166 was the first Fer­rari im­ported into Amer­ica and it had been pre­vi­ously driven by its owner, Briggs Cunningham at the Glen and in a race on Long Is­land and later by Sam Col­lier's brother Miles at Bridge­hamp­ton.

These three, along with Cameron Ar­getsinger, were pi­o­neers in the post-war road rac­ing move­ment and to­day, the Revs In­sti­tute, a world-class car mu­seum in Naples, Florida, is a trib­ute to these three men and to their legacy.

Miles Col­lier died of po­lio in 1954, but his son, Miles, Jr., car­ried on the fam­ily legacy. While head­ing up his half of the fam­ily busi­ness, he also raced a Porsche for over ten years - and he started build­ing a col­lec­tion of cars, mostly Porsches. Mean­while, Miles' fa­ther's rac­ing com­pan­ion had made his­tory, rac­ing cars of his own make at Le Mans from 1951 to 1955 and af­ter that, he con­tin­ued to be a ma­jor player in rac­ing with Jaguars and other marques.

Cunningham kept most of his race cars and they formed the heart of a col­lec­tion which was lo­cated in Cal­i­for­nia. In 1986, Cunningham sold his col­lec­tion to Col­lier who melded them with own col­lec­tion to form the Col­lier Col­lec­tion in Naples. This mu­seum re­mained open to the pub­lic for only a few years but it con­tin­ued to grow be­hind closed doors. Then the cars were seen only by a few lucky in­vi­tees and on the oc­ca­sions when the col­lec- tion staff brought out one or more cars to put them on show at var­i­ous vin­tage car events.

This changed dra­mat­i­cally in 2004 when the mu­seum es­tab­lished the Revs In­sti­tute and work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Revs Pro­gram at Stan­ford Univer­sity es­tab­lished a new trans-dis­ci­plinary field con­nect­ing the past, present and fu­ture of the au­to­mo­bile — and they re­opened their doors to the pub­lic. As the Revs In­sti­tute, its mis­sion is to “serve as a cen­tre for schol­arly study” and, in co­op­er­a­tion with the Stan­ford pro­gram “fur­ther au­to­mo­tive re­search and pro­vide teach­ing and learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties”. That's all great stuff, but for most of us, we just want to see the cars. And there are over 100 cars in the col­lec­tion.

The cars are grouped into four col­lec­tions: Au­to­mo­bil­ity, the story of the au­to­mo­bile's im­pact on modern life; Vitesse, Sports Mo­tor­ing and Mo­tor­ing Sports; Porsche, the story of Porsche's en­gi­neer­ing evo­lu­tion and Revs, Rac­ing Cars and Rac­ing Men – the story of the rac­ing car's evo­lu­tion.

The mu­seum is open to the pub­lic three days a week – Tues­day, Thurs­day and Satur­day. They have well-in­formed do­cents who lead two-hour tours for a small ad­di­tional price- it's well worth it. An ad­vance ticket reser­va­tion is re­quired, which can be done via revsin­sti­tute.org. The Revs In­sti­tute helps ful­fill its man­date with a huge li­brary and archive which is open to stu­dents of the his­tory of the au­to­mo­bile. And, of course, there's a restora­tion shop in the back to re­fur­bish and main­tain the cars in the col­lec­tion. They try to keep all the cars in run­ning or­der and they of­ten take them out to show them off.

While this is a var­ied col­lec­tion of cars from the early days to modern times and it in­cludes many road cars as well as race cars, my fo­cus was on the race cars in the col­lec­tion – es­pe­cially the ones with his­tory that makes

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