We had a chance to visit the historic Pronyne Motorsports Museum in Pawtucket, Rhode Island this summer. It took some doing but we managed to find this gem of a place tucked into a dense residential neighborhood and took the proverbial tour. I instantly felt myself going back in time to when I had a passion for tinkering with cars and late-night racing. But these guys weren’t tinkerers by any stretch. Seeing how vintage race cars were built is an awesome experience. It’s an honor and I felt a shiver or two when I imagined myself going 90 miles per hour in one of these jalopies, with barely a floorboard and a driveshaft churning just inches away. As an appraiser who has seen my fair share of NASCAR equipment, collectibles, memorabilia and late-model racers, viewing the earliest precursors to the sport and how they built it up from nothing is remarkable. Owners Ric Mariscal and R.A. Silvia have assembled an incredible array of the race cars of yesteryear, trophies, articles, banners and other historical items that allow us to actually feel what it was like back in the earliest days of thunder. Have a vintage car or other pre-NASCAR items of interest you’d like to donate? Pronyne Motorsports Museum is also a 501 (c)3 Non-profit organization so your contributions go to worthy causes and are tax-deductible. Although it is hard to imagine where they could fit another car because as I hope you’ll see for yourself, the entire museum is packed with one amazing display after another. They even had a few to-die-for die cast cars.
Another gratifying thing about our visit was the fact that my wife had a great time too, especially with Robert Silvia vividly describing how things really were in the earliest days of motorsports. The historical significance of this museum can’t be overestimated. It’s a shame that Pronyne is neither supported or featured by The City of Pawtucket or the State of Rhode Island in their promotional brochures or lists of museums and attractions. NASCAR fans of today consider Richard Petty an old timer but he was just a youngster when some of these cars were tearing up the dirt tracks of New England.
Speaking of Days of Thunder, one of the actual cars from the movie – the one that finished third in the last scene – happens to reside at Pronyne Motorsports Museum.
There is also a Facebook Page for Pronyne Motorsports Museum where they frequently post updates and other items of vintage auto racing history. Check out their tribute to the world-renown racing duo John Holman and Ralph Moody who partnered to develop the innovative and highly successful Holman Moody Racing Factory.
Ever hear the name Carl “Bugs” Stevens? Carl Bergman aka, Bugs Stevens started his racing career while he was serving in the military using the name “Bugs” Stevens, as the military frowned upon racing. Bugs won championships at Norwood, Seekonk, Stafford, Thompson and Malta, New York. He won races at tracks throughout the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida. View an excellent display of his photos, trophies, racing suits and other mementos. Bugs won the NASCAR Modified Championships in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
As mentioned, Pronyne Motorsports Museum accepts all donations of racing memorabilia such as film, photographs, magazines, programs, race car parts, tools and the like. All artifacts will be preserved for all future racing fans to see and enjoy auto racing’s past.
It was almost as much of a pleasure reminiscing and remembering our most pleasant visit to the Pronyne Motorsports Museum at 8 Cleveland Street, Pawtucket, RI 02862 as it was actually experiencing it. Call them at 401-447-4202 to arrange for a visit to this hallowed ground of vintage automobile racing. Just around the corner is an eatery housed in an old trolley car. The line was pretty long so I’ll bet that the food is good. Road trip anyone?
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