‘It’s a Dirt Track Life’ makes evening premiere at museum
by BRIAN GRAVES Banner Staff Writer
Apr 18, 2014 | 924 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Museum Center at Five Points became the center of the dirt track world as it hosted the premiere of the documentary “It’s A Dirt Track Life” Thursday evening. The museum will host an exhibit on the once wildly popular sport beginning in May. Banner photo, HOWARD PIERCE
The Museum Center at Five Points became the center of the dirt track world as it hosted the premiere of the documentary “It’s A Dirt Track Life” Thursday evening. The museum will host an exhibit on the once wildly popular sport beginning in May. Banner photo, HOWARD PIERCE
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Unlike the normal movie world premieres, the one held Thursday night at the Museum Center at Five Points did not sport the tuxedos and fancy dresses.

This one was pure blue jeans and T-shirts.

The museum played host to the first showing of Ron and Debbie Moore’s new documentary, “It’s a Dirt Track Life.”

Running at a length of 80 minutes, the film took a crowded theater of viewers through the golden age of dirt track racing.

It also served as a precursor for even more of the subject to be highlighted at the museum.

“In the Dirt — The Fast and Dirty World of Dirt Track Racing” will make its exhibit opening for museum members May 29, at 6 p.m. It will open for the public the next day and run through Aug. 16.

Museum Executive Director Hassan Najjar says highlighting a subject that is such a part of the area fits in with the museum’s mission.

“Our mission here at the museum is to tell the story of the Ocoee region, and what better to tell that story than telling about the regional dirt track racing history,” Najjar said.

He said when the museum found out about the Moores’ film, representatives met with them and then decided to present an entire exhibit on the subject.

“When I first started coming to Cleveland, I’d come in and see the raceway every day and would think that’s a perfect exhibit,” Najjar said.

He said the exhibit would focus on the years from the early 1950s through the 1980s featuring the Cleveland Speedway, Boyd Speedway and other regional tracks, as well as the drivers of the era.

He said learning about the local dirt track history has been “a wild ride.”

“The stories that are coming out of this are just amazing,” Najjar said. “There are people flying out of cars because there were no safety standards. We are now going to tell those stories with some wonderful artifacts.”

For those who think the subject does not belong in a museum, Najjar strongly disagrees.

“How is this not art and culture? It is an art. If you’ve ever known anyone to race one of the cars at break-neck speeds and the physics that are involved ... it’s a skill. It’s an art to get around those oval tracks,” Najjar said.

“Taking all that highbrow stereotype and kicking it out of the water ... museums are a place of learning, and this museum’s mission is to tell the story of the region. Dirt track racing is a rich part of our history as well as Native Americans, and the stove works that were here. It’s a natural fit for us to tell that story here.”