Riverside Raceway International Automotive Museum
Note: After our visit to the Riverside International Automotive Museum they have continued to improve and expand on the Museum. Although we have not yet had an opportunity to re-visit we have received a very nice update from Doug Magnon, President of the Museum. You can find his update at the end of our description. Thank you Mr. Magnon for visiting our web site and providing the most current information on the Museum. I will be visiting again at my first opportunity!
This decal covered refrigerator may be the last remaining part of the old Riverside International Raceway. It almost brought a tear to my eye. When I moved to Southern California the first thing I did was get season tickets to Riverside. It was a shrine for me. I grew up seeing it in movies and reading about it in magazines and watching races on TV. There was no place like it and some brilliant politicians and developers plowed it up for another stupid shopping mall. I hope someday we as a society learn our lesson about what is important and what isn’t.
Things may be looking up. The Riverside International Automotive Museum just recently opened in Riverside, CA. It is temporarily housed in an industrial park but hopes to soon move to its own building near the site of the old Riverside International Raceway.
I had my expectations up for what I might find at the museum and I was somewhat disappointed. There are a number of impressive race cars on display and some old track memorabilia but not enough to get the heart pumping. I also must state that the museum was somewhat in disarray due to preparations for a large event that was soon to take place on-site. However, Museum Director Bruce Ward (no relation to Roger) was extremely pleasant and even escorted me through the collection pointing out many unique historical facts about the more significant cars. How many times does the Director at other museums come out and actually talk with visitors and even guide a one person tour?
There was a notable shortage of vehicles that would have raced at the famous road course. There was not one single old NASCAR or GTP car present and only a very small number of sorts cars. The two biggest races of the year at Riverside International Raceway were the NASCAR boys and the Sports Car races. I hope as the museum grows these valuable assets will be found and placed into the collection.
There is a good representation of Indy Cars, especially from local hero Dan Gurney and his All American Eagle race cars but. Only a few of the Indy Car open wheel races were run at Riverside. Winners and dates;
Dan Gurney – Rex Mays 300 1967
Dan Gurney – Rex Mays 300 1968
Mario Andretti – Rex Mays 300 1969
Rick Mears – L.A. Times 500 1981
Rick Mears – AirCal 500 1982
Bobby Rahal – Times Budweiser 500 1983
The 1960 United States Grand Prix was won by Stirling Moss
For me, it was hard to understand why Maserati autos make up nearly half the cars in the museum. I enjoy all kinds of cars but can not make the connection between Riverside International Raceway and Maserati. I wanted to see the cars that made Riverside famous, I wanted to see lots of photos of races at the Raceway not a collection of Maserati. If this is to be a Maserati museum, change the name.
This is the layout for the first sports car race held at the March Air Force Base in 1953.
Entry and gift shop at the museum.
Corvette race car.
There are a lot of cars in a little space.
Early Lotus racer.
You won’t see one of these everyday, a Vector.
1966 Eagle #201; Indy-USAC car chassis 201, All American Racers Works Car. This was the first of a long line of AAR Indy Cars.
Check out the Eagle beak on this All American Eagle.
All American Racers was formed by Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby in 1964 with the backing of Goodyear tires. The four-cam Ford Indy V8 made about 475 horsepower from the 75 gallon of methanol on board in both the integral tanks and an add-on tank grafted tot he left (inside) flank.
The aggressive hooked raptor’s beak shape of the nose is one of the finest design elements of any single-seat racing car in history.
This car was driven in the 1966 Indy 500 by Dan Gurney but was sidelined on the first lap in an accident with MacDonald/Sachs. This chassis continued to be raced by privateers well into the early 70s.
1969 Eagle “Formula A” car chassis #510.
This is a 1969 Formula A (later Formula 5000) customer chassis built by AAR.
1961 Maserati 3500 GT Touring.
This is the model car the turned Maserati into a serious producer of GT cars. 1,983 were built over a seven year period.
A restoration shop is built right into the museum.
It is very interesting to see a restoration taking place right amongst the museum autos. However, I think for the protection of the display vehicles a glass wall would be appropriate. Although, it is nice to be able for visitors to walk right up next to the restoration projects.
2005 Maserati MC12
This is Maserati’s new road going Grand Tourer known as the MC12. A GT racing version has also been developed. A total of 50 road going versions of the MC12 were completed in 2004 and 2005. It has a removable hard top and is powered by a six-liter V12 engine. The body is completely carbon fiber while the chassis is made from a carbon fiber and Nomex honeycomb sandwich.
Note the sculptured vents in the front hood.
For the real Riverside International Raceway fan this will be a little bit of a disappointment but it is a museum with a bright future. I hope when it reaches its final home there will be more photos of the old raceway, a variety of vintage NASCAR and GTP cars on display and maybe even some of the off road vehicles that once raced there. I would also recommend some clips from movies filmed at the raceway as well as some age appropriate vintage sports cars.
Recommendations? I would suggest an area devoted to the history of the Riverside International Raceway; an area devoted to the race vehicles of the Raceway and a third area for other notable cars. Another small corner of the museum could also make mention of the now long gone Ontario Motor Speedway. I hear the Ontario Speedway victory lane bricks that once were part of the Indianapolis Speedway track may still exist in a former City Council persons possession; wouldn’t that make a great addition to the museum?
Will I go back? Yes, I believe in a few years this museum could well be on the must do list but for now it is just a disjointed collection of interesting cars.
Dear Legendary Collector Cars,
The museum does have several race cars that competed at Riverside. The 1966 #31 Eagle is the car that Dan Gurney won the 1967 Rex Mays 300 race at RIR. The ’69 Formula 5000 Eagle placed 3rd at RIR driven by Tony “a2z” Adamowicz in 1969. The 1960 Scarab Formula 1 raced the USGP at RIR, the second F1 ever held in the U.S. The Lotus Super 7 raced RIR back in the early 60′s. We have a ’59 Corvette that raced numerous times at RIR. These cars are displayed in the photos above. Currently we have over 20 race cars on display.
We have a section of the museum with Ontario Motor Speedway items along with several Indy cars that raced there. Since your visit, we’ve added an ’83 NASCAR stock car raced by Hershel McGriff. On loan for display are several Nissan race cars with RIR history, including an ’86 Trans Am driven by Paul Newman. We also have enlarged our photographic display and have featured photos from famed racing photographers Pete Lyons and Dave Friedman.
Much of the work that goes on at the museum by dedicated employees and volunteers is the creation of a digital library of historic documents, photos, race programs and videos. The items are being made available at: http://www.riversideinternational.org.
In 2008 we inagurated Legends of Riverside Gala and Film Festival which is held the last week of March each year. Legends I guest of honor was noneother than Dan Gurney, Legends II – Carroll Shelby, and Legends III – Parnelli Jones. Over 50 veteran drivers attend this event each year. The list is a Who’s Who of RIR veterans. You can find the details at: http://www.legendsofriverside.com/
Also, the race cars are more than static pieces. As outreach for the museum, we have run race cars at Monterey, Pocono, Sear’s Point, Phoenix, Road America, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, Mid Ohio and this year we are adding Mt. Tremblant and Goodwood.
As for the Maserati collection, RIR was a mainstay for Maserati race cars in the late 50s and early 60s. At the Times Grand Prix in 1960, no less than 13 Maseratis entered the race (a record field for such), and was won by Bill Krause in a Tipo 61 Maserati Birdcage. Unfortunately, Maserati race cars values have skyrocketed into the millions of dollars. Perhaps someday we will be able to add one. For now, we have the Maserati street cars and MC12 on display.
The museum is growing both in its display and collections. I welcome you back for another visit in the future.
Riverside International Automotive Museum