This exhibit was born when Dan Perkins and Steve Johnson were talking one day about professional race car driver Herm Johnson. “It kind of snowballed”, said Dan Perkins. Herm had a storied career with two championships and 36 career starts between 1979 and 1985. He also drove in the Indianapolis 500 twice, placing in the top ten both times. Off the track, Herm owned a painting business, ‘Just Herm Designs’, and frequently painted the helmets of other drivers. All this talk about Herm Johnson got other racing enthusiasts from around the area to come forward to tell their stories, personal or otherwise, and after the museum received some Herm Johnson memorabilia from his family, a racing exhibit seemed the natural thing to do.
As for Dan and Steve, they’ve been in the racing scene for a long time as well, though in a more low-key fashion, taking part in amateur races around the area as drivers and support crew. They officially met at the Chippewa Valley Sports Car Club in Eau Claire, and kept in touch through other circles. While gathering stories about Herm, more and more people started sharing their own racing stories. “It just kind of expanded on its own,” Johnson said. Even with all the stories so far, Dan and Steve are still looking for more, and urge any readers to talk with Carrie if they have something to share. All in all, this exhibit is designed to focus on the racing trailblazers in the valley, as well as bring some new interest to the sport as a whole.
Racing in the Chippewa Valley, open until October 26th, highlights regional racers across multiple forms of racing. This community co-curated exhibit includes racecars, equipment and driver’s gear, a snowmobile, and more.