The Neon Museum

The Bright Lights of Las Vegas Never Dim at its Neon Museum

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and with its collection of more than 200 iconic neon signs, the Las Vegas Neon Museum is no doubt a beautiful sight to see. Housing over 80 years of Las Vegas signage dating back to the 1930s, a visit to the museum’s six acre Neon Boneyard can be likened to a unique and illuminating history lesson of the Vegas strip.

A stop at the museum’s campus is quite a spectacle, and that is exactly the point. The Neon Museum works toward one goal – “to ensure that not a single piece of Las Vegas signage is ever lost.” Founded in 1996, the Neon Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission statement says they are dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment.

Las Vegas has always been known for its neon signs, they served as a “status symbol” — the bigger and better the sign, the bigger and better the casino.

All signs are donated, many of them by the Young Electric Company Sign Co. (YESCO), and there is a shared belief amongst the museum’s members, volunteers and sponsors that not only are the signs important pieces of art, they each tell a unique story.  A story best told by seeing the signs in all their neon glory.

Visitors to the museum are able to visually take in all that it has to offer through guided day and night tours. Tours that have recently been enhanced by the use of projection mapping. Many of the signs in the collection do not light up as they once did, and restoring them is no easy feat. Projection mapping allows digital animation and images to be displayed by projectors on the signs giving them the feel as if they were restored.

The power of projection mapping is best experienced in the museum’s special 30-minute show titled “Brilliant!” Set to music, “Brilliant!” is designed not only to entertain but to captivate visitors who are surrounded by displayed signs.

While the organization was founded in 1996, the Neon Boneyard officially opened in 2012. In the six years since, the campus has grown to include a visitor’s center that is housed in the original lobby of the La Concha Motel, designed by Paul Revere Williams, and a second Neon Boneyard (the North Gallery). The North Gallery has become a unique site for special events such as photo shoots, educational programs and even weddings.

The Neon Museum’s reach stretches beyond its campus walls. The museum works with the community to preserve old signs currently on display as an alternative to having them replaced. They also work with current venues to ensure that if the decision is made to remove its signage, that those signs are donated to the museum.

One recent effort is a campaign to preserve the distinct guitar sign from the now closed Hard Rock Café. While the sign has been donated by YESCO, acquiring the sign is only part of the journey to bring the sign back to life. Relocating a huge neon sign is not easy and it is not cheap—the Neon Museum is currently collecting contributions to cover the transportation, installation, and future maintenance of the familiar guitar sign.

The Neon Museum is also a part of the Las Vegas Signs Project–an initiative that works to put historic signs back in downtown Las Vegas. Working with the City of Las Vegas, an area of Las Vegas Boulevard was deemed a Federal Scenic Byway allowing restored signs to be displayed as public art. Currently, there are nine restored signs that are part of the project, including the Silver Slipper, the Lucky Cuss Hotel and the 5th Street Liquor Sign.

If you’re looking to experience the sparkle and beauty of Las Vegas in a unique way, set your sights on a visit to the Neon Museum and take a moment to embrace the Workshop Hero motto “Less Work, More Play.”

To learn more about the Neon Museum and their preservation of Las Vegas Neon signs, visit: http://www.neonmuseum.org

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Gilmore Car Museum

Don’t be Fooled by the Name, this Place Offers Much More than Just a Pretty Face

With 90 acres of land and 189,000 square feet of displays, automotive history comes to life in the little town of Hickory Corners, Michigan. That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to highlighting the many offerings that are a part of the Gilmore Car Museum.

When we say history “comes to life” at the Gilmore Car Museum we mean it. Take, for example, its onsite old fashioned Shell Gas Station, or its display of a 1930 Rolls-Royce that was the actual car used in the Disney® movie “The Gnome Mobile,” then there is a full-service restaurant the Blue Moon Diner, and of course of greatest draw is the museum’s collection of more than 400 vintage automobiles and motorcycles.

As the Gilmore Car Museum puts it “It’s the ultimate experience for everyone, including the young and the young at heart.”

How does North America’s largest auto museum end up in Hickory Corners, Michigan? Flash back to the 1960s when Donald Gilmore began collecting vintage automobiles. Genevieve, Gilmore’s wife, is credited for buying him his first restoration car, a 1920 Pierce Arrow. Gilmore restored the car in his own garage in Gull Lake, Michigan, and it is said to have been what “ignited his passion” for car collecting.

The Mission of the Gilmore Car Museum is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the history of transportation in America; to connect people with the heritage and social impact of the automobile; and to provide an understanding of the past, embrace the present, and imagine the future.

As his collection grew, Gilmore acquired his 90 acres in Hickory Corners to accommodate his many cars. Once again, Gilmore’s wife Genevieve is credited for proposing the idea of turning her husband’s coveted and hand-built collection into a museum. They established a non-profit foundation and on July 31st, 1966, the Gilmore Car Museum officially opened its doors.

“The museum has undergone amazing growth during the last 15 years — Donald Gilmore left a lasting legacy but even he never could have anticipated the impact his impact could have,” said Jay Follis, Director of Marketing for the Gilmore Car Museum

Don’t let the name “museum” fool you, this is not your typical quiet, stuffy, dull experience reminiscent of an old school field trip. What started as a museum has now become a full-blown “campus.” Campus highlights include 12 historic buildings; six partner museums such as the Model A Ford and Lincoln Motorcar Heritage Museums; an extensive automotive research library and archives; a motorcycle gallery, and even a Model T driving school.

With all that going for it, the coolest part of the museum campus according to Follis is “the cars are very accessible – we have very few ropes or barriers so guests can get ‘right up close to history.’”

This place has a “cool factor” that is unrivaled, but don’t take our word for it, make a visit, if not in person then at least a visit to their website or check out this video feature that celebrates the museum’s 2016 50-year anniversary.

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Concorso Bizarro Shines a Spotlight on the Crazy, the Tasteless, the Quirky

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The Elegance at Hershey is an annual event (hosted in Hershey, Pennsylvania) that brings the finest of race cars and show-quality collector cars of the World War II era together for a weekend in celebration of the automobile. Words such as elegance – grandeur — luxury are spoken frequently by show attendees as they gaze upon cars from days gone by that were not only about performance, but also about artistic design and opulence. Look to the Elegance at Hershey to see cars that were not just about transportation; they were a statement.

And then there is the Concorso Bizarro (insert the sound of screeching breaks); these cars are making a statement of quite a different sort. Added to the Elegance at Hershey schedule just last year, this new event could be described as the antithesis of everything the Elegance at Hershey stands for.

The Concorso Bizarro was named to reflect those cars that are a part of the event. Words such as mechanical misfits – automotive abhorrences – just plain tacky are used even by the Concorso Bizarro website in description of itself. This is a showcase open to production cars like the Ford Pinto or Chevy Vega, one-off creations, and other motored misfits. With a tagline “If it’s strange, we want it,” you know you’re in for an eyeful.

“I fully appreciate and revere the great machines such as the Duesenbergs and Ferraris that grace our show fields, but for some reason I’ve always gravitated towards these weird and wacky cars” said Mark Lizewskie, a board member for Elegance at Hershey. “People may not say ‘Wow!’ when they view a Yugo, a Gremlin, or someone’s art car creation, but they certainly smile and chuckle”.

We shall say no more, when it comes to this event a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Want to learn or see more? Visit the Concorso Bizzaro Facebook page or visit the Elegance at Hershey event website.

Have you got a favorite place to log some good-weather miles? Send us your suggestions, we would love to share them with other Workshop Hero Nation members.

What happened in Vegas? you have to “SEMA” to believe it

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What happened at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas was too cool to keep quiet, so in a break from the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas tradition” we’re here to spill the beans.

Last November, Workshop Hero™ joined the ranks of more than 6,300 other members of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) at its annual automotive specialty products tradeshow held in Las Vegas. The SEMA show is the crème-de-la-crème of tradeshows and the 4-day automotive fiesta reports attendance of more than145,000 this year.

If you’re looking for row-upon-row of displays, exhibits and demonstrations all with an automotive focus and flare SEMA will have you drooling. It is known for its collection of crazy, cool, eccentric and out-of-this-world customized and modified autos — lifted trucks, muscle cars, tricked-out motorcycles—you want it? Somebody at SEMA has got it.

The event isn’t open to the public so we did you a favor and put it on video. Check it out, it will give you just a taste – it’s 90 seconds and calorie free.

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Have you got a favorite place to log some good-weather miles? Send us your suggestions, we would love to share them with other Workshop Hero Nation members.

Twist and turns Sturgis-style

Sturgis 75th Twists and Turn by Minibike?!

Chop-In Block, housed right here in the Workshop Hero NATION’s home state of Michigan, is our story teller from this year’s Sturgis. And as is the case with all trips to Sturgis, there are plenty of stories to be told. For those select few out there who aren’t familiar with the annual event, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one of the world’s oldest and largest motorcycle gatherings. It offers riding, motorcycle shows, racing, and concerts to hundreds of thousands of attendees. It also offers outlandish parties, outrageous clothing, and equally matched behavior and that is where the stories come to life.

The Chop-In Block is a loosely-banded group of motorcycle builders, pinstripers, custom seat designers, parts and apparel vendors or as one of the group describes it “we are a motorcycle-oriented group of everything you could and should have done to your motorcycle.” The group sets up at bike events around the country to bring their custom motorcycle products and services to the riding public and this year’s Sturgis was no exception.

The Chop-In Block crew and their traveling road show (with their custom 53 foot stacker semi-trailer) claimed Glencoe Camp Resort as their home base. The campground, one of the top locations in the Sturgis area, housed more the 42,000 during the 2015 Sturgis Bike Rally.

Glencoe is not your everyday Yogi Bear campground. This place covers more than 300 acres of campsites includes food venues, and features an extensive musical line up each year.

With the help and assistance of Glencoe’s “master of ceremonies” and “mayor of fun,” (a gent named Bean’re), Chop-In Block secured a vending spot right at the campground’s entrance. It was from this location that the Chop-In Block folks set up shop and served as residents, participants, and sometimes deviants during their 10-day stay.

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“There is only one thing I can tell you and that is there are quite a few things I can’t tell you from our time at Sturgis,” said Gary Maurer of Kustoms, Inc., and one of the leaders of Chop-In Block. “Glencoe Camp Resort was the perfect location for our group to exhibit and to participate in the 2015 Sturgis Rally.”

One unplanned part of the Chop-In Block’s role while at Glencoe was helping to keep the campground bands busy and occupied during their “down time.” “In other words, we helped to keep them from getting into trouble when they weren’t on stage,” Maurer added. “We spent time with musicians and crews from the Kentucky Headhunters, Saving Abel and Saliva. In fact, John from Saliva (pictured below – middle) restores vintage guitars and makes jewelry from reclaimed bullet casings, he took home some Metal Rescue and will be using it a lot.”

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In addition to displaying the products and services provided by the members of Chop-In Block, the group was a co-sponsor of a special event – the Coleman Mini Bike Build Off. Working with other co-sponsors that included the Glencoe Camp Resort, ten of the country’s best custom bike builders were shipped a stock Coleman Powersports mini bike and were given 30 days to transform it into a full custom machine. Participant bike builders from Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina and other locations shipped and transported their competition mini bikes to their final resting place at Glencoe for display judging and biker-style rodeo action games.

“Thirty days is not a lot of time for a custom build project like this, some of our builders were literally finishing up and assembling onsite at Glencoe, “ Maurer added. Once the mini bikes were set, they were displayed and ridden in Glencoe’s ring leader Bean’res rodeo games. “Our competition selection process was pretty informal, winners were determined by those mini bikes that were the most “desired” or asked about by campground guests and the bands.”

The winner of the “prestigious” event was Steve’s Garage from Kentucky. A secondary part of the biker build off was the opportunity for Glencoe Camp Resort campers to ride the customized submissions.

Maurer explained, “Glencoe was great about it, they provided other Coleman mini bikes for their campers and staff to use and in fact they are working with the mini bike manufacturer to put together their own Glencoe Camp Resort model of a mini bike for next year.” Chop-In Block is also talking with Glencoe about adding go kart racing and drift trikes in 2016 – just to keep the spirit of Sturgis alive!

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All in all, the build off event was a huge success for the Chop-In Block and the other co-sponsors and it made for a memorable twist on the motorcycle-themed activities that have made Sturgis famous.

“The Chop-In Block’s time at Sturgis was just the right blend of business and ‘pleasure’ for us,“ Maurer added. “We were able to really expose people to what our group has to offer in a place where you can expose just about anything and get away with it! All kidding aside, Sturgis is a hotbed of business opportunities made for what Chop-In Block has to offer and we wouldn’t miss it.”

Moto your way to Barber

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Have you been to Barber? No, we aren’t talking about the place where you get your “mopped cropped,” we’re talking about Barber as in Barber Vintage Festival as in held at the Barber Motorsports Park as in home of the renowned Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama – whew that is a mouthful. If you haven’t been and you are a fan of motorsports of any kind, this is a place you have got to see.

Built by business executive George Barber, the Barber Motorsports park hosts a museum, a proving grounds, and a road racing track – all of which draw auto and motorcycle races, conventions and festivals throughout the year. Barber, who raced Porches in his early days, began collecting and restoring classic cars and motorcycles more than 25 years ago. He started the museum in a warehouse before the current five-story glass, steel and concrete structure was constructed. The Barber museum is known for its design and its eye-catching displays of motorcycle towers and machines suspended from walls. Some would call it a motorcycle Disneyland!!

Don’t take our word for it, check out this YouTube video highlight reel– we can’t take credit for the filming — we leave that to MotorWeek who posted the video on YouTube.

Barber — Fast Facts:

  • Barber Motorsports Park is a 830-acre multi-purpose racing facility/park
  • Park grounds contain a 16-turn, 2.38-mile (3.83 km) road race track open to the public
  • The Barber track is home to the Porsche Sport Driving School
  • Also onsite is the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which houses more than 1450 vintage and modern motorcycles and racing cars
  • Recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest motorcycle museum in the world
  • Museum features the world’s most extensive Lotus collection, anchored by the Lotus 21

Looking for more information or want to make the trip? Barber has that covered, visit the Barber Motorsports website to plan your route. Want to checkout their biggest event? October 9-11 Barber host its Annual Barber Vintage Festival. The Workshop Hero team will be there in both the Fan Zone and at B3 and B4 of the Swap Meet, in fact we’re a major sponsor!!

Drive ’em, ride ’em and weep

Are you taking to the open road in the coming summer months? We conducted a highly unscientific and unofficial query and came up with these destinations. Provided in no particular order, these routes are renowned for their twists, turns and scenic highways and byways. Have you got a favorite road trip or ride? We want to hear about it, click hereto send us an email and give us the scoop, send a photo and we will reward you handsomely with a Workshop Hero shop rag, toolbox decal or whatever else we may have sitting around.

Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana

Fifty miles of road – the only road that runs across Glacier National Park — Going to the Sun Road is considered an engineering marvel. Winding roads tour past the park’s interior; lakes, mountains and landscape-filled views.

Take me there

Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming

This route will take travelers to new heights as they make their way over the highest highway in the Northern Rockies. Beartooth Highway acsends its way up to 10,947 feet at Beartooth Pass in Wyoming offering sights of glacier-laden peaks, alpine plateus, lakes, streams and unforgettable outlooks.

Take me there

Tail of the Dragon — U.S. Route 129 on the North Carolina-Tennessee border

Found at the state line of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Tail of the Dragon was given its name for the 318 snaking and twisting curves found in this short 11 miles. This ride is ideal for those who are skilled at the helm.

Take me there

California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway (or PCH) runs from Southern California’s Orange County to Northern California’s Mendocino County, but its most famous stretch is the Big Sur section between San Simeon and Carmel. This coastline-hugging highway is one of the most scenically beautiful rides in the world, let alone the U.S.

Take me there

Route 66, Eight-State Travels

One of America’s original highways, Route 66, is called the “Mother Road.” A full 2,400 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California, where travelers pass through a total of eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Route 66 is the perfect place to log some miles and get your kicks!

Take me there

Tunnel of Trees, Harbor Springs, Michigan

Just like Abe Lincoln, we cannot tell a lie — the Workshop Hero corporate headquarters are housed in Michigan so we are partial to this particular 27.5-mile route and for good reason. Located on M-119 between Harbor Springs and Petoskey, the Tunnel of Trees (as the name suggests) is a scenic road canopied by heavy foliage. Most popular in autumn when the leaves change color and openings in the trees offer glimpses of Lake Michigan.

Take me there

SHOUT IT OUT!

Have you got a favorite place to log some good-weather miles? Send us your suggestions, we would love to share them with other Workshop Hero nation members. Feel free to share your favorite road/show/pic or video by clicking right…”here” and link to anything you’d like to share.

To inspire you, take a look at one of our all-time favorite motorcycle riding videos.