By Bob Baker

KNOXVILLE, IOWA (April 18, 2011) – The National Sprint Car Museum comes to life this week with the “Sprint Car 101: Salute to Gil Sonner” on Thursday night, the Knoxville Raceway Practice Night on Friday, and the International Reel Wheel Film Festival on Saturday. The Thursday night Sprint Car 101 program will be held from 7 until 9 p.m. and is free and open to the public, while Knoxville Raceway offers free admission to its annual Practice Night as well. The Saturday film festival, celebrating the automobile and auto racing in film, runs from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. in the museum’s second floor theater and it is free with a paid museum admission.

According to museum executive director Bob Baker, “People often wonder what the museum staff does during the off-season, but we are always busy planning for the next racing season. Well, this week is the start of ‘that next season’. The Thursday night session with veteran sprint car owner and mechanic Gil Sonner will be held in the museum lobby and we are expecting a good crowd for the entertaining and educational program. With Friday being Practice Night, our staff will be busy making sure that our second-floor clubhouse and third- and fourth-floor suites are ready for our special guests this racing season. And, finally, we are very excited about Saturday’s line-up of seven racing-themed films, including four documentaries. Two of the filmmakers, Randy Anderson and Sean Buckley, are even making plans to be here for the screenings of their respective films.”

The International Reel Wheel Film Festival event schedule is as follows:

Saturday, April 23

10 a.m. – “Short Track” film (2008) by Marie Hopkins
– Life experiences of five-time stock car racing champion (100 minutes)

11:45 a.m. – “Racing Dreams” documentary (2009) by Marshall Curry and Bristol Baughan
– The lives of three young aspiring World Karting Association racers (96 min.)

1:30 p.m. – “Red Dirt Rising” film (2010) by James Suttles and Kathleen Bobak
– Based on a true story of three stock car racers in the 1940’s (90 minutes)

3:15 p.m. – “3 Weeks to Daytona” film (2010) by Bret Stern
– The story of a down-on-his-luck stock car racer with one dream left to hold onto: drive with the best (84 minutes)

4:45 p.m. – “Touched by an Angell: The Story of Angell Park” documentary (2010) by Bob Leff
– The story of Wisconsin’s Angell Park and its history of midget car racing (104 minutes)

6:45 p.m. – “Stateline Speedway: the First Ten Years, 1956-65” documentary (2010) by Randy Anderson
– The first ten years of Stateline Speedway in Busti, New York (90 minutes)

8:15 p.m. – “Follow the Corn” documentary (2010) by Sean Buckley
– Inside the world of Indiana sprint car racing (66 minutes)

Those seeking more information on the “Sprint Car 101” Third Thursday Series programs can visit www.sprintcarhof.com. The Thursday, April 21, “Salute to Gil Sonner” will be a prelude to Knoxville Raceway’s annual free Practice Night on Friday, April 22, and the non-profit museum’s International Reel Wheel Film Festival, which celebrates the automobile and auto racing in film, on Saturday, April 23.