Memory Lane Museum
When you walk thru Memory Lane Museum, it’s impossible not to see something that brings back a special memory. For car lovers it may be their favorite NASCAR racer from a previous era. Grandparents may find their first car, like a beautifully restored Model A Ford. And for those who are too young to remember much of what’s so lovingly preserved here, they get that rare opportunity to experience a special piece of American history that is rapidly disappearing.
Memory Lane is the baby of local Mooresville, NC native Alex Beam. A graduate of Davidson College, Beam has been collecting cars and memorabilia since he was in high school when he restored his first antique car, a 1931 Model A Ford. In college, he found that the vintage auto parts store he operated from a small building in his mother’s backyard, was a great way to find more cars to buy and restore. By the time he graduated in 1973, he was well on his way to becoming a serious collector.
As Beam’s collection began to grow to legendary proportions, people all over the country began to take notice – including Hollywood movie producers. If you were planning a “period” or race film, Alex Beam became the guy to call for your automobile prop needs.
Cars from Alex’s collection have appeared in dozens of movies. He had 23 cars in the race movie, “Days of Thunder,” starring Tom Cruise, that was filmed in part, in Mooresville. The old barn off Hwy. 150 near Morrison Plantation was a major set location. In the film “Driving Miss Daisy,” he supplied the first car that chauffeured Jessica Tandy, and Oprah Winfrey rode in his 1922 Buick in the “The Color Purple”. “Talladega Nights” the #26 Wonder Bread car was from Alex’s collection as well as the car that opens the program in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s, “Back in the Day”. Alex has supplied over 20 vintage 1920’s vehicles for George Clooney’s “Leatherheads” movie that was filmed in Statesville, NC. Memory Lane actually has movie set displays set up inside to help filmmakers find what they need, but Alex will tell you that the movie business is just a sideline. His true love is the collecting and preserving the past.
A Dream Come True!
Several years ago Beam finally realized a life-long dream of building a museum that would allow him to consolidate much of his collection in a single location where people could actually come and enjoy them.
Memory Lane Museum now includes over 150 exhibits of racecars, restored antique autos, more vintage toys that you can count, go-carts, pedal cars, and even antique tractors. At the front of the display you can see one of Mooresville’s original fire trucks as well as a milk truck like the one Alex Beam drove on his route in college. Surrounding many of the antique cars, there are amazing displays of memorabilia matching the time period of the cars including old-fashioned gas pumps, service station signs, and period advertisements.
Every one of the cars you see has a story, but one of Alex’s favorites concerns a Model T Ford that he found in a man’s attic. The man had taken the car apart and put it there when hard times had made it too expensive to drive. Years later Beam had to remove the end of the house and use a block-and-tackle to get it out!
In front of the museum there is also a large gift shop where you can browse thru race souvenirs and memorabilia, die-cast cars, apparel, and even NASCAR pedal cars for the kids!
Racing fans will find 15 different types of racecars to enjoy, from Soap Box Derby cars and go-cars, to antique roadsters and NASCAR racers. You can trace the history of Stock car racing from the earliest moonshine runner to the modern machines of today’s NEXTEL Cup series. A recent Subway commercial actually features NEXTEL Cup driver, Greg Biffle, driving one of Alex’s moonshine runners. Alex’s NASCAR collection includes cars that were driven by legends of the sport from just about every era. There are cars here that were driven by Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, A.J. Foyt, Harry Gant, Alan Kulwichi, Cale Yarborough, Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliot, Rusty Wallace, and more! You can even see the only Ford that Richard Petty ever drove; a Petty Blue #43 Torino Cobra that he competed in for one year in the late ‘60’s.
You will also find a few racecars inside that aren’t quite as pristine. The museum displays a few racecars involved in infamous crashes, including those driven by Rusty Wallace and Michael Waltrip.
If you love cars, racing, or history, Memory Lane Museum is a must see when visiting the Lake Norman region. The museum is located just west of Exit 36 on Hwy. 150 in Mooresville, NC. Open Monday thru Saturday 10am to 5pm.
For more information, call 704-662-3673 or visit our website www.memorylaneautomuseum.com
Tags: 1920's vehicles, 1922 Buick, 1931 Model A Ford, Alex Beam, antique tractors, Auto Round-Up, car lovers, Days of Thunder, Driving Miss Daisy, Memory Lane Museum, Model T Ford, Mooresville NC, NASCAR racer, old-fashioned gas pumps, racecars, restored antique autos, restored Model A Ford, Talladega Nights Wonder Bread car, The Color Purple
Originally posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 at 2:05 pm
Category: Auto Round-Up News