Rare, vintage cars are centerpiece of second annual Festival of Machines at Conner Prairie


    Duane Brodt
    Director of Public Relations
    Conner Prairie
    (800) 966-1836

    FISHERS, Ind. (Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015/Conner Prairie) – John Gambs remembers exactly when his passion for collecting rare automobiles was ignited.

    When he was 8, his grandmother took him to visit her friend who lived in the country near Lancaster, Ohio. As he explored the farm, he found a forgotten old car inside a barn. It was dusty and covered with chicken excrement and hay.

    “But I’d sit in that car for hours until they drug me out of it,” said Gambs of the 1914 Saxon Roadster. “I found that car 40 years later and bought it.”

    >> Video: John Gambs shares his story on why he is an automobile collector: http://bit.ly/1KqWEP8

    The Lafayette, Ind., man is one of several vintage car collectors who will be sharing automotive history with thousands attending the second annual Festival of Machines at Conner Prairie on Sept. 12-13. Gambs will display his 1914 American Underslung 666, a rare car once manufactured in Indiana.

    “Being a collector is like being an artist. An original automobile restored to its original glory is like a fine painting,” he said. “The most fun to me is finding a great car, working on it and bringing it to life again. Most of the cars in my collection had not run in more than 30 years.”

    Among this year’s collectors joining Gambs and showcasing their vintage automobiles at Festival of Machines will be John Elliot of Noblesville, Ind.; Donn Wray of Carmel, Ind.; Russell Cameron of Westfield, Ind.; Richard Clapper, John Klein and Andy Wolf of Indianapolis; Steve Ortman of Kokomo, Ind.; Larry Pumphrey of Greensburg, Ind.; Dennis Sobieski of Downers Grove, Ill.; and Allen Strong of Urbana, Ill.

    The collectors will be honored at an exclusive reception and media sneak peek Sept. 11 hosted by the Voice of the Indianapolis 500, Paul Page.

    Festival of Machines will feature hundreds of vintage machines, including steam engines, aircraft, military vehicles, rescue vehicles, tractors and more. The festival focuses on sharing how curiosity, technology, human ingenuity and innovation have shaped the evolution of transportation. Throughout the weekend, family friendly activities, including pedal and Soap Box Derby car courses for young children, hay rides, food, games and more will be popular among attendees. Attendees can also experience a ride in a two-seat Dallara IndyCar through a portion of Conner Prairie’s grounds for an additional charge.

    Admission to Festival of Machines is $16 for adults, $15 for seniors age 65 and older and $11 for children ages 2-12. The festival is free for museum members. Conner Prairie is extending its Blue Star Museum program through Sept. 13 and will be granting free admission to active military members, veterans and up to five immediate family members.

    Festival of Machines is sponsored by Blakley's Flooring, Reynolds Farm Equipment, USA Funds and Hagerman Construction.

    Spanning 850 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes more than 360,000 guests of all ages annually. As Indiana’s only Smithsonian Institute Affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.

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    Conner Prairie is a nationally acclaimed interactive history park. Its mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. Created by Eli Lilly in 1934, Conner Prairie combines history with science, technology, engineering and math and encourages visitors to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiencing. Inspiring visitors of all ages to discover more about the events, discoveries and forces that shaped the American Midwest, Conner Prairie offers various historically themed, indoor and outdoor experience areas throughout its 800 acres of wooded property in Fishers, Ind. Indiana’s only Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from corporations and individuals for sustainability and growth. Visit connerprairie.org or call 317.776.6000 or 800.966.1836 for admission dates, hours, ticket prices and opportunities to donate. Connect with Conner Prairie on Facebook at facebook.com/connerprairie, Flickr at flickr.com/people/connerprairie, YouTube at youtube.com/user/ConnerPrairie and Twitter at twitter.com/connerprairie.