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On the Road to Glory: Fred Lorenzen

February 1-May 19, 2013 On the Road to Glory: Fred Lorenzen The story of NASCAR legend and Elmhurst native Fred Lorenzen comes to life through photos, artifacts, and exciting race footage depicting a little-known local hero who etched his name in the annals of racing history. Find out how this Midwestern outsider, known as “Fearless Freddie,” got the inside track in the early days of professional NASCAR racing to become a fan favorite and winner of the 1965 Daytona 500. See the Fred Lorenzen tribute car, an exact replica of Lorenzen’s #28 1964 Ford Galaxie, on opening weekend, Feb. 1-3 from 1-5 p.m. and on Museum Day (May 19). This exhibit is supported by Chicagoland Speedway.

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Known to his fans as “Fearless Freddie,” “The Golden Boy” and “The Elmhurst Express,” Lorenzen drove his way into the hearts of racing fans with his skill on the track, movie star looks, a polished and professional demeanor, and a close connection with his cars and pit crews. As Elmhurst Historical Museum’s curator of exhibits Lance Tawzer tells it, this is a human interest story about perseverance and dreaming big as much as it is about NASCAR racing history.

“When we research subjects for our history exhibits, we look at a lot of factors,” said Tawzer. “But most of all, we look for a compelling story that hasn’t necessarily been told. Fred Lorenzen’s life is that kind of story: It has grit, heart and glamour, and it tells how a regular guy from the neighborhood made it to the pinnacle of his sport through hard work and determination. The more we found out about Fred’s life and career, the more we knew this was an important story for us to bring to the public.”

For Lorenzen’s daughter, Amanda Lorenzen Gardstrom, the extent of her father’s fame was not realized until she became an adult. “As kids growing up in Elmhurst, we had a very normal childhood,” Gardstrom said. “For us, he was our dad and other than the trophies around our house, we knew very little about his fame. It’s now quite humbling to realize the impact he had on the racing world and the people who knew and respected him. My dad still has a lot of fans out there, and we are thrilled that this exhibit is honoring his career in such a special way.”




Exhibit highlights

“On the Road to Glory” features many items on loan to the Elmhurst Historical Museum by the Lorenzen family and local collectors, as well as artifacts from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in North Carolina, the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame in Detroit. A few of the highlights include:

• Trophies from some of Lorenzen’s major wins including the ’65 Daytona 500

• Racing footage from the NASCAR Hall of Fame archives

• Exhibit text written by NASCAR sportswriter Ben White and photos courtesy of Smyle Media

• Lorenzen’s fire suit, helmet and other racing gear

• Interviews with racing greats who knew Fred, including Bobby Allison and many more

Freddie with Bobby Allison

• Many previously unpublished photographs from throughout Lorenzen’s career

• Film clips from the driver’s short-lived Hollywood adventures, including an appearance in the 1968 movie “The Speed Lovers”

Special programs and events

The Elmhurst Historical Museum is hosting a number of exhibit-related programs and special events in the coming months related to the “On the Road to Glory”:

• Exhibit opening reception, 5-7 p.m. Jan. 31. The Elmhurst Heritage Foundation presents a special evening reception to get a sneak peak at the exhibit. Guests will take curator tours in the Glos Mansion, see the authentic Fred Lorenzen No. 28 tribute car outside, and enjoy refreshments in the education center. Cost: Free for Elmhurst Heritage Foundation members/donors; $10 for nonmembers. Call (630) 833-1457 or email  to make a reservation.

• Lorenzen Tribute Car Appearance, 1-5 p.m. Feb. 1-3. On opening weekend, museum visitors can check out the Fred Lorenzen tribute car, an exact replica of Lorenzen’s 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Fastback that he raced for the Holman-Moody team. On the museum grounds.

• Build-Your-Own Race Car Workshop, 1-3 p.m. Feb. 10. Families with children ages 4+ (must be accompanied by adult) are invited to drop by the Elmhurst Historical Museum’s education center for a make-and-take workshop. Participants will snap together an awesome Lamborghini or Corvette Sting Ray. Cost: members, $3; nonmembers, $5.

• “The Business of NASCAR Racing,” 7 p.m. Feb. 28. Scott Paddock, president of the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, will discuss the fast-paced business of stock car racing and the emergence of this popular sport. Paddock, a veteran of the sports marketing industry, will discuss the economics of the racing business and the growth of the NASCAR brand in the Midwest. Part of the ongoing “It’s History” series for adults held in the education center. Free admission.

• “NASCAR, from Beaches to Billions,” 7 p.m. March 21. Award-winning writer Jerry Bonkowski, who has covered NASCAR and other sports for nearly 20 years, will be joined by Bernie Bernacki, a collector of car racing memorabilia from Chicago-area tracks. Get the inside scoop on the racing world, hear how this specialized sport has changed over the years and view rare photos of Chicago racing’s heyday. Part of the ongoing “It’s History” series for adults held in the education center. Free admission.




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