On track to grow
Museum gets second county loan to preserve High Banks heritage – 6/19/2014
By Freddie Arnold
Belleville Telescope Sports
Don McChesney and the High Banks Hall of Fame are at the pole position of preservation. With a recent announcement of a $200,000 expansion to the High Banks Hall of Fame museum on US81 Highway, Don McChesney and the board of directors look to keep the 104-year old race track and its memories driving forward. The museum has been forced to hit pit road as an issue of space has stalled growth. More than 2,700 visitors come through the museum a year, and over 500 have visited since January 1 of this year. Most tour the facility on race weekends.
“We are simply out of room,” McChesney said. “We have five cars in storage we cannot display. Pictures, awards, helmets, jackets and shirts are all sitting with nowhere to showcase.” Looking for a spot to park the vintage and rebuilt cars, the museum has used $50,000 of their own funds and have just been accepted to receive a $70,000 RCD (RepublicCounty Development)
Loan to start construction.
The museum also received a loan to build the original museum, which has been paid back. The expansion will be 48’x58’ just slightly smaller than the current 50’x70’ building. Though smaller in size, the expansion will offer more storage than the current building. “This new building will not have offices, bathrooms or an entry way so it will ultimately have more room,” McChesney said.
“We are going to have the concrete poured before the fair and would ultimately like to have the building up before winter,” McChesney said.
In their efforts to preserve the history of the track, the museum has used much from its own fund. “A lot of the $50,000 came from museum memberships,” McChesney said. “A bulk comes from our midget car and gun raffl es in previous years. It won’t drain us out, but it is a sizeable chunk.”
The museum has also gotten much help from stock-car driver and owner Tony Stewart — who donated toward the original High Banks Hall of Fame building.
“Since he has donated before, last week we went to his headquarters in Indianapolis and spoke his mother runs his souvenir shop,” McChesney said. “She donated gifts and memorabilia for our auction that should bring in some good money.”
Though the museum is at $120,000, over halfway to their goal, the museum is still relying on the community for help.
“When constructing our initial building the community really helped out with donations and services,” McChesney said. “The over-head door, paint, sheetrock and labor came with help from community members. Hopefully we can get some local support this go-around.”
The High Banks Hall of Fame is currently heading their membership drive.
For only $25 a year anyone can buy a membership or for $40 the whole family can buy one. For one time visitors to the museum, the cost is simply a donation of your choosing. In their hopes to keep interest running, McChesney said they are targeting younger fans.
“One of our biggest needs, that doesn’t show up in dollars or cents, is for some young people to come get involved,” McChesney said. “Racing in general needs younger people involved. You just don’t see as many younger kids involved as you used to.” “Our main goal at the High Banks Hall of Fame is to maintain the history of Belleville and it’s racing,” McChesney said. “We really want to try to educate people.