Portland’s World of Speed Motorsports Museum is closing permanently

This makes me sad, one less great car museum in the world.  Like most, World of Speed recently went on what it intended as temporary shutdown due to Co-19.  Instead I rec’d word last night that it is shuttering its doors for good, dispersing its assets, and calling it a day.

This is a crime on many levels, because it’s a great property (a large, airy, former car dealership), there for all the right reasons, was staffed by lovely people, and had a brilliant youth technical education program going, with cooperation with and the support of several OEM carmakers, training transportation technicians and engineers of the future.

I visited this place just last summer, and enjoyed every minute and square inch of the experience.  It was my particular privilege to host and emcee An Evening with Mario Andretti; the museum put on a lovely fund raiser dinner, and I did a live, near two hour, Q and A and story telling session with Mario for what seemed to be a very appreciative room of 300 plus enthusiasts and supporters.

The museum also had on show at that time a memorable exhibit of Mario’s most significant race and championship winning cars, plus the usual history photos, ephemera, books and the like celebrating the life and career of The Great Man.  See the video here:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/9qhf63lv3u41rnx/An%20Evening%20with%20Mario%20Andretti_Full%20Interview.mov?dl=0

I don’t know the entire story of why the museum elected to call it quits at this moment, although it’s my impression that many such institutions run on a very slim margin to begin with, and of course rely heavily on donations and sponsorship for survival.  Perhaps they didn’t see a clear way forward and/or didn’t think they could weather the Co-19 storm until such public properties could fully and vigorously reopen.  I’ve posted their announcement just below.

World of Speed had it all, great exhibits and museumcraft, a damn good gift shop, a snack shop on site, meeting rooms, board rooms, car shows, carsncoffee days, kids’ exhibits, you name it and this place did it right

My thanks to everyone at WOS for their every effort to create a great institution, and their support of me.  There aren’t enough great places like this in the world, and to lose one so close to home — my heart really hurts.   I wish every one of their management and staff the very best as they find new careers as they certainly gave it a good try, and succeeeded for as long as it lasted, and none of this is their fault or doing.  And my thanks to the museum and Kirk Gerbracht for these photos.

With a heavy heart, today World of Speed’s Board of Directors has announced their decision to close the museum permanently. They wanted you to be among the first to know this news, as you are an important part of our community.

Deciding to close the museum was an extremely difficult decision. As with other Oregon establishments, World of Speed has been temporarily closed since March 16 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As currently outlined, the museum would fall into Phase Two or Three of Oregon’s reopening plan, pushing our ability to open potentially into 2021. After much deliberation, the board has determined that they are unable to maintain the facility for such an extended closure period. 

As you know, World of Speed opened five years ago and, thanks to members like you, served as a place for enthusiasts from all walks of life to come together and share their mutual love of all things motorsports. You should be very proud of the museum you helped support as it has provided so much joy for visitors from across the country and around the world.

In addition to being a world class motorsports museum, perhaps our greatest accomplishment was our work with local high schools in conjunction with Clackamas Community College to provide a space for accredited automotive classes. Here, our students had the opportunity to learn skills needed in the automotive industry while receiving dual credit for high school and college. We are proud of all the hard work that was put into that program and hope we were able to ignite a spark in each of the students as they explore ongoing education opportunities. 

All of the museum’s assets and remaining funds will be distributed to 501(c)(3) museums and schools over the next three to eight months, as required by Oregon law, allowing World of Speed’s collection to live on for future generations to enjoy. 

If you joined or renewed your membership within the last six months and would like a refund, please let me know. Otherwise we will donate those funds with the remainder of the museum’s assets. 

We are grateful to you for helping to make World of Speed such a success throughout the past five years. 


Rebecca Lerback

Development Director