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Exhibit traces over 100 years of Vermont auto racing

April 30, 2018

BARRE, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Historical Society’s new exhibit celebrates more than 100 years of auto racing in Vermont.

The exhibit, “Anything for Speed: Automobile Racing in Vermont,” opened to the public Saturday. It chronicles 115 years of racing in the state and will be open until the end of March 2019.

The exhibit highlights the drivers, fans, officials, mechanics and others who make up the sport. It also focuses on technology used in auto racing and how that has changed over the decades. There is a visual timeline showing how the cars have evolved since the beginning.

A list of every racetrack that ever existed in the state includes tracks such as Thunder Road in Barre Town, East Montpelier Speedway and Dog River Speedway in Northfield.

The exhibit also features a racing simulator so visitors can get a feel for what it’s like to drive on a short track.

There is equipment used by racers and mechanics on racetracks. The vast majority of the pieces in the exhibit have been loaned from private collections.

One piece is a helmet used by Jill Jesso-White, the first female driver to compete at Thunder Road. According to the exhibit, Jesso-White discovered the racing equipment she was using was designed for men. She would suffer concussions after crashes because women have slimmer necks with less muscle mass than men so she would suffer whiplash. Jesso-White decided to buy a neck brace, a piece of equipment now required in many kinds of auto racing.

The oldest piece in the exhibit is a trophy won at a hill climb in St. Johnsbury in 1921.

The exhibit was supposed to be a part of the car show in downtown Barre before the first Thunder Road race of the year. But the race was pushed back a week due to poor ground conditions at the track.

Amanda Gustin curated the exhibit for the historical society, and said it was sad the car show was postponed, but the exhibit was packed with people Saturday morning. She said feedback from the public has been overwhelming positive.

“Which felt really good because (racing) is a really tight-knit community that really, really loves their sport,” she said.

Gustin said she knew nothing about racing before putting the exhibit together and she’s learned quite a bit by talking to those in the racing community. For example, sshe had no idea that — starting in the 1960s — people would measure the weather conditions, such as the temperature and the humidity, and alter their race cars and engines accordingly to get the best possible results.

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Online: https://bit.ly/2jjd3wF

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Information from: The Times Argus, http://www.timesargus.com/

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