ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A long-time local car museum is closing in ten days and packing up shop for the midwest. The Unser Racing Museum is moving to join a larger collection in Nebraska.
Open for roughly 18 years, the museum sits along Montaño Road in Los Ranchos, east of the Rio Grande. Associates with the museum and the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed announced a “merger” of the two entities in a news release Friday.
The Unser Racing Museum has preserved the legend of Bobby Unser and his family through a collection of memorabilia including cars, photos, video, trophies, racing gear and more. With multiple Indianapolis 500 wins and backed by a family of gearheads, Bobby Unser in considered a true local legend.
The entire collection is now headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, according to Bob Brown, the spokesperson for the Unser Racing Museum. There, the Unser collection will become part of the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed.
“In motorsports, the Unser name is recognized worldwide, and we believe merging with the #1 nationally ranked Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed will provide not only a larger national, but also international, platform for this collection of the Unser’s iconic racing legacy,” Susan Unser, speaking on behalf of the Board of the Unser Racing Museum, said in a press release. “We look forward to collaborating with the Museum of American Speed to create exciting, historical, and educational exhibits to highlight the Unser Collection.”
The Nebraska museum does already have some ties to the Unser legacy. Several cars driven by Unser family members, such as the ‘Johnny Lightning Special’ car driven by Al Unser in the 1970 racing season, already live in the Nebraska museum.
Albuquerque’s Unser Racing Museum will close its doors on May 29, 2023, according to its new Speedway Motors partners. If you have a Unser Racing Museum Membership (and happen to be in Nebraska) your pass will still be valid at the new location.
“Some race fans are going to be sad because it’s a great place. The Unser Racing Museum has been a fantastic venue for years. You get to see all of these beautiful race cars, all the trophies, the history of the Unser’s. Now it’s going to be carried on to a higher degree. It’s going to be taken to another level,” said Brown.
Earlier this year, Albuquerque city councilors moved to secure millions of dollars for a possible future museum in a different Albuquerque location. At one point, councilors discussed the possibility of moving the Unser Racing Museum as part of a plan to revitalize Route 66.
“They put New Mexico on the map. It’s just such a legacy. I’m happy for them, but I am sad to see the collection leave the state,” said Albuquerque City Councilor, Klarissa Peña.
Westside Councilor Peña made a $15-million capital outlay request to state lawmakers, seeking funds to move the museum to Central Ave. Lawmakers approved $450,000 for the possible museum relocation.
In April of this year, City Councilors approved a general obligation bond question containing $4 million in funding for the museum. That question will go to the voters this fall. If voters pass the bond, it’s unclear what would happen to the cash if the museum is already gone.