The NASCAR Hall of Fame is now fully open. Sunday, the Hall of Honor was completely unveiled with the artifacts and various memorabilia of the first class of inductees.
With Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson having been officially inducted, the Hall's enjoyed its earlier grand opening and is in the midst of having fans pour into the area for two weeks of racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Now it's down to the normal business of day-to-day operation of the facility.
So, what happens now? How does the 150,000-square foot facility manage to stay fresh and offer something new for fans after they've made their initial trip or trips through the site?
First, there's so much in the Hall - both in terms of exhibits to see and interactive things to do - that it'll take a while for anyone to take it all in. But then the real challenge begins. And those who have helped build and develop the Hall recognize that - and have a plan to keep things fresh and lively for the fans.
Buz McKim, the Hall's historian who's worked to put together many of the artifacts in place, says that when he went out to gather the array of items that are present now - there are more than 1,000 in the Heritage Speedway area alone - that people discussed other items they had that could be used in the future. Since many of the items in the Hall are on loan, those will be changed out for other items down the road.
There doesn't appear to be a set-in-stone schedule for changing out things, but expect updates to happen on a continual basis as NASCAR works to keep things fresh and give fans reasons to return to the facility. Glory Road, where cars ranging from Red Byron's to Jimmie Johnson's will be shown to the public; and the Great Hall area, where fans emerge when leaving the orientation video, will also undergo changes from time to time.
"The Great Hall area, where the two cars are now, and the two pit boxes, those are major items and will be changed with each Charlotte Motor Speedway race," McKim says of plans. "Glory Road will be changed out about every two years ... That's a pretty interesting job getting those cars there. The Heritage Speedway, the main cases, we'll be changing some of those out possibly every year."
Blake Davidson, NASCAR's managing director for licensed products, concurs.
Davidson says finding ways to keep people coming back to the Hall has been a part of the organization's plans from the beginning. The facility obviously will work to keep the flavor and mix of NASCAR's old and new influences, but that doesn't limit changes within the Hall. Racers have a series of artifacts in both their personal collections and individual museums that could be moved and traded in and out of the Hall.
That'll help the new Hall of Fame keep its luster over time.
"I think we started the process every step of the way," Davidson says of remaining viable. "One of the things that we've preached at every single meeting was sustainability and refreshing the facility ... The Hall's programming, if you will, what's here, the exhibits are going to change based on what is happening in the sport as well ... History is being created every single week."
He says exhibits will also be changed to keep up with technological changes and advancements.
Winston Kelley, the executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, is also quick to point out it'll be difficult to cover the entire Hall in a day. But once one has seen everything that's here now, be ready for some changes in specific areas relatively quickly, and in others over time.
"Unless you stay for a couple of days, you will not have done everything, but even once people have come through and have done absolutely everything, we'll keep changing exhibits out," Kelley says. "Just continuing to rotate things out and put in new exhibits and new artifacts."
Just as everyone's worked hard to get the Hall to its current status, they all also plan to keep the Hall as viable and attractive to fans as it is right now.
"We want to keep it fresh," McKim says.