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