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The Texas Speed Museum

By: jwilder

Cars, racing, music, and living your dreams.

texas car museum austin
Texas Speed Museum official van. Circa 1969.

Live Your Dreams

To dream is to be human.

To make dreams become reality is life.

If we have the opportunity, then we should do it.

A man named Rod Kennedy had dreams.

He loved cars, racing, and music.

And lived his dreams.

How I Discovered Rod Kennedy

Wonderful stories exist in dark rooms, dusty boxes, and in the memories of the living.

Unless people spend the time digging, searching, and assembling the pieces, stories stay hidden, and even disappear.

Years ago, I took a trip to the Austin History Center. I wanted to explore the process of historical research.

I explained my goal to the administrator, "I'm looking for Austin automobile history." He pondered for a moment, then disappeared into a maze of file cabinets.

A few minutes later he returned with a folder. It didn't contain much. Just a few faded news clippings and images.

Exploring history is like looking for gold. You know where to find gold. But you have to dig.

Digging for history is fueled by curiosity.

Sometimes you find a nugget. And I did.

It was a TEXAS SPEED MUSEUM catalog.

And a man named Rod Kennedy.

Rod Kennedy

Rod Kennedy was born in 1930. He spent his childhood in upstate New York.

At 21 he joined the Marine Corps.

In 1954, he came back to Texas and studied Radio and Television at the University of Texas.

After graduating, he purchased a radio station, KHFI-FM. The station played classical music and he also had folk music radio show. He owned the station intil 1968.

Next he purchased a TV station, and learned he didn't like it.

He got out of TV and then started the Kerrville Music Festival in 1972.

Somehow, in the midst of all this, he raced cars.

Rod Kennedy was certainly a car guy, but clearly music was his purpose.

He also payed tribute to his love for racing and music by opening a little folk music music venue called the Chequered Flag.

The Chequered Flag Club

The Chequered Flag club was a showcase for established and emerging songwriters.

It was open from 1967 to 1970.

Rod Kennedy heard Allen Wayne Damron sing at a venue called the 11th Door Club. Damron was a folk singer, a "cowboy poet storyteller." Kennedy offered to set him up as manager of the The Chequered Flag.

A lot of good music came through the Chequered Flag for three years.

The vision for the Kerrville Music Festival came from this little folk music club.

As you probably know, the music festival continues to thrive and is one of the biggest events Kerrville Texas.

Now, back to the Speed Museum.

Texas Speed Museum

Lancia Rod Kennedy
Rod Kennedy Lancia

Rod Kennedy was the owner and operator of the Texas Speed Museum in Austin. The museum was located near 15th and Lavaca streets.

Kennedy had a collection of vintage sports cars and the museum was a perfect way to display them. Many of the cars were raced at the Austin Aquafest - a multi-day event with music and many other attractions.

A former Marine and amateur auto racer, Kennedy had forty wins in amateur SCCA racing. In 1970, he and his Lancia racing team won the International 12 Hours of Sebring in the under 2-litre touring class.

Kennedy ran the museum from 1967 to 1970.

The Famous Racing Texans

speed museum famous racing texans
The 'Famous Racing Texans' wall at the Texas Speed Museum honors A. J. Foyt, Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby as well as Johnny Rutherford, Jim MacElreath and Lloyd Ruby.

On one of the walls in the Texas Speed Museum was a tribute to the "Famous Racing Texans."

It was a wall of honor for A. J. Foyt, Jim Hall, and Carroll Shelby, as well as Johnny Rutherford, Jim MacElreath and Lloyd Ruby.

Cars at the Texas Speed Museum

Thankfully, Rod Kennedy documented the cars at the Texas Speed Museum. The list of cars includes:

  • 1935 Maserati 4CL "Baby Grand Prix" car (Ethiopia)
  • 1960 Maserati Long-Tail Camoradi Birdcage Type 61 (#2461)
  • Type 750 Monza Ferrari – Ex – Gonzales/ Trintignant
  • 1958 V-12 Type 250 Pontoon-Fendered Testa Rosa Ferrari (LeMans)
  • 1961 Scaglietti "California" Type 250 SWB Ferrari Ex-Newman/Grossman/ Hays
  • 1959 RSK Porsche
  • 1958 Stanguellini Formula Junior-Ex-Count von Tripps
  • 1956 D-Jaguar
  • 1938 MG-TA Roadster
  • 1951 Lester MG Endurance Car
  • 1967 2-F Chaparral-Ex-Phil Hill/Mike Spencer (on loan Jim Hall)
  • 1967 Ford MK IV GT –Ex- A.J. Foyt – Dan Gurney (on loan from Ford)

There is some interesting documentation on the web, an Italian website in specific, about some of Rod's cars.

I'm so thankful that the Texas Speed Museum catalog had photos of some of his cars.

1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa

1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa Rod Kennedy
1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa

1935 Maserati 4CL

1935 Maserati 4CL Rod Kennedy
1935 Maserati 4CL

1958 Stanguellini

1958 Stanguellini Wolfgang von Trips Rod Kennedy
1958 Stanguellini

The 1958 Stanguellini is listed with the name "von Tripps."

I assume that "von Tripps" is "Wolfgang von Trips."

Wolfgang von Trips was a German racer and he did drive a Stanguellini.

Von Trips died while racing in the 1961 Italian Grand Prix on September 10. His Ferrari tangled with Jim Clark's Lotus and went airborne. He crashed into a side barrier, von Trips was thrown from the car. Fifteen spectators also lost their lives.

Follow Your Dreams

I'm very grateful that there was a lot of history in that 1969 Texas Speed Museum catalog.

I have a few more questions, such as, where are the cars today? Maybe I will have the time to explore this deeper.

Rod Kennedy penned his memoirs in a book titled "Music From the Heart," published in 1998.

Follow your dreams.

Rod Kennedy did.

He passed away on April 14, 2014, at age 84.

He lived a rich life, and he left an amazing legacy.

Finally

The point of the story is not about the accomplishments of Rod Kennedy or the history of folk music in Austin and Kerrville.

The point of the story is that each of us have an impact on our life and on others.

We can strive to create the life we want for ourselves.

Rod Kennedy used his skills to drive race cars, create businesses, promote people, and promote music.

In a nutshell, Rod Kennedy created his own world. A world where he could thrive.

And when we thrive, we are at our best at helping others to thrive.

That's how it works.

Create your world. Help others to thrive.

Turn your Dreams into Reality

If you have a dream, why not pursue it? Here's a great article (and website) on How to be Successful.

James Wilder

James Wilder is the owner, writer, photographer, designer, and developer for MOTOR Texas, as well as companion sites CarPhotography.Life and CarMovies.Info.

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