Racers

Helmets have a way of taking on a grimy patina from the grind of racing on dirt.

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY — The Ransomville Speedway: History, Community, & Culture at a Dirt Track is the Castellani Art Museum’s newest Folk Arts exhibition, on view starting Saturday.

The Ransomville Speedway is one of the most storied dirt tracks in the state, and was founded in the 1950s by a group of local racers that started a club known as the Ransomville Slowpokes. Today, the Ransomville Speedway continues to be an important community space for the Buffalo-Niagara region, and a hotbed of cultural expression: from narratives and customs to foodways and skilled techniques.

Through an Archie Green Fellowship awarded by The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in 2020, Edward Millar, Curator of Folk Arts at the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, conducted interviews with workers, drivers, and race teams at the Ransomville Speedway: helping tell and preserve its story in a national archive. This exhibition is a select preview of the fieldwork materials that will become an official collection of the Library of Congress and available online through the Occupational Folklife Project at a later date.

This exhibition explores the cultural knowledge embedded in dirt track racing through interview excerpts recorded by Millar, and through video and photography by Tom Stevens, the track photographer at the Ransomville Speedway. Supplemental objects on display include a Slack kart, door panels, helmets, and a racing tire.

The museum’s public hours 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. Sundays from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Admission is always free.

The exhibition will be on view until April 8, 2022. Museum visitors are required to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status.

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