Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 2 of 6: The Year of Speed

ECTO-1!

Sure, we’ve seen the Ghostbusters’ car at numerous conventions over the years…but this was our first time seeing one in mood lighting.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

For years every State Fair had a special food theme — the Year of Popcorn! The Year of the Tomato! The Year of the Soybean! The Year of Dairy! And so on. After they ran out of major Indiana crops to spotlight, management switched to selecting inedible themes, unrelated to food and often more intangible. This year’s logline was “Fun at the Speed of Summer”, a combined celebration of the Indianapolis 500 and the various automotive companies who’ve had factories and other major presences in the Hoosier State over the past century or more. In other words: hooray for cars!

The ECTO-1 in our lead photo was one of two pop culture headliners parked at the front of the main exhibit. Longtime MCC followers will know Ghostbusters and their props are no rare sight at the comic-cons we routinely attend, but it’s cool that ordinary citizens got the chance to see one such ride up close. We were told a Batmobile was also supposed to be in the lineup, but we saw none on the day of our visit. Again, we’ve already seen one and been photographed in one, so we’re good. I just don’t like being misinformed.

Slimer!

Based on recent rush hour behavior I’ve seen, I don’t think this is Slimer’s first time behind a steering wheel.

Mystery Machine!

Also not new to us: the Mystery Machine! In fact, I saw one of these in our church parking lot a few weeks ago. I have yet to hear an explanation.

Of tremendous interest to me was a genuine movie car we’d never seen before: the 1951 Studebaker Commander driven by Fozzie the Bear himself in 1979’s The Muppet Movie, which I saw at the Westlake Drive-In when I was 7. It was specially rigged so that driver, puppeteers, and camera operator could work it all at the same time to create the magic of Muppet cinema.

Muppet Movie 1951 Studebaker Commander!

For the scene where Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem give it a psychedelic paint job, the crew used poster paints because they popped more brightly on film. Those paints aged extremely poorly.

Muppet Movie Commander controls!

The car was rigged so it could be driven from inside the trunk while filming and puppetry went on up front.

The Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, the current titleholder, is currently raising funds to have that paint job restored one day. The same museum donated other classic cars that were part of the exhibit, representing a number of now-defunct companies who used to be big deals. Studebaker, for one easy example, dates back to 1852 in that same city, though they ended production in 1966. Stutz began in 1911 in time for the inaugural Indy 500, but ended in 1935 due to the Depression. Ford opened an assembly line here in 1915, but likewise wound down post-Depression (their former building is now an apartment complex). Duesenberg was founded here in Indy in 1920, but was history by the dawn of World War II. And there was Auburn, with roots likewise reaching back to the 19th century in their eponymous town of origin. In conclusion, Indianapolis is not Detroit, though not for lack of trying.

I know next to nothing about antique autos except whatever I Google on a whim, whatever museums write on the displays we witness, and whatever little I gleaned from driving dozens of virtual vehicles in the video game L.A. Noire, which was set in 1947 and sported its own fascinating car collection. But in case you like shiny old cars, please enjoy these models and their sometimes trendsetting features.

1963 Studebaker Avanti!

The most recent of the bunch was a 1963 Studebaker Avanti featured a fiberglass body, front disk brakes, and a supercharged engine, whatever that means.

1936 Cord 810!

The 1936 Cord 810 front wheel drive, hand-cranked pop-up headlights, and louvers instead of a grill. It’s a close cousin to L.A. Noire‘s 1936 Cord Hardtop.

1935 Auburn 851 Speedster!

The 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster was tested for its potential in the burgeoning field of stock car racing, but only 143 were ever made.

1933 DV32 Stutz Hollywood!

The luxurious 1933 DV32 Stutz Hollywood had a bar in the back seat and retailed for $17,000 (a cool $360,000 in today-cash). Only 200 were sold, because the ’30s.

1930 Duesenberg Model J!

Each 1930 Duesenberg Model J had the same chassis but a unique custom build to the owner’s specs for a total price tag of $14,000 ($240,000 in today-cash). Only 481 were made and sold. It’s much cheaper than L.A. Noire‘s 1934 Duesenberg Walker Coupe, which cost $25,000 in its day and whose real-life counterpart belongs to renowned celebrity collector Jay Leno.

1923 Ford Model T Touring!

The 1923 Ford Model T Touring could reach speeds up to 42 MPH and get as much as 21 MPG running on gas, kerosene or ethanol.

Because this was an all-ages State Fair, interactive educational stations were also provided for kids who love the hands-on museum-going experience and who don’t get much pleasure watching their dads stare at shiny old cars while nattering on about horsepower or camshafts.

pit crew tire changing training!

Hey, kids! Feel what it’s like to work in an Indy 500 pit crew and change tires between laps at lightning speed or else risk being run over and yelled at, in that order!

tire weightlifting!

Or work out those arm muscles with tire barbells! Start slowly with a set of racecar tires, then work your way up to monster truck tires and tank treads.

Across the street at the Indiana Arts Building, their usual displays of arts and antiques shared in the celebration of speed and speeding accessories with a handful of mementos relevant to the occasion.

antique racing jumpsuit!

Apparently an antique racing jumpsuit, though I resent the implication because this remnant looks younger than me.

Studebaker 1487.50!

By 1950 cars weren’t priced for just the world’s only six millionaires anymore.

Studebaker drawing!

Studebaker, a proud tradition for someone’s family, I’d wager.

Oil Man!

Oil man! Oil man!

racing quilt!

A handmade racing quilt submitted from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

Stutz Packard cake!

An “at least you tried” cake for the good folks at Stutz and Packard to split among themselves.

Hawaiian car shirt!

A Hawaiian car shirt? Now you have my attention.

To be continued! Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries:

Part 1: Our Year in Food
Part 3: The Year in Canned Food Art
Part 4: The Year in Lego and Other Arts
Part 5: The Expo Hall Baby Farm Animal Takeover
Part 6: Random Acts of Fairness

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