Decades of Wheels, an automotive museum located on Route 66 in Baxter Springs and dedicated to conserving the highway’s history, will soon be up and running.
Showcasing a wide variety of cars and motorcycles, from some of the oldest vintage vehicles to some of the newest available on the market, the museum will feature 30 to 40 models on display at any given time. That is out of more than 200 in its total collection, ranging from a Model T to Dodge Hellcat Chargers. The rotating schedule of vehicles on display will allow visitors to come back and see something new every month or two, including some cars made famous by Hollywood, such as the Back to the Future DeLorean and the Ghostbusters car.
But there is much more to Decades of Wheels than simply a car museum. Restaurants on Military Ave. in Baxter Springs that are associated with Decades of Wheels and are already open for business include Cafe on the Route and Rita's Roost Dessert Bar.
Rita’s Roost is a bistro style eatery featuring a 1960s look, with beer, pastries and ice cream on the menu, according to Bob Gamel, general manager of Decades of Wheels.
“Mom and dad can bring the kids to get a cupcake,” Gamel said, “and dad can get a cold beer.”
Other planned attractions in the 1100 block of Military Ave. include the Spin Out Arcade and the Little Brick Inn Bed and Breakfast, an upscale but affordable place to stay for visitors who want to spend more than one day exploring the Decades of Wheels museum and its associated amenities, or simply for those stopping by on a trip along historic Route 66. “These are not your average Holiday Inn Express rooms,” Gamel said of the B&B’s accommodations.
Then there are the events planned in the coming months as the permanent features of Decades of Wheels open for business. Though Decades of Wheels originally hoped to open late last year, renovating and reconstructing a whole city block to house the museum and related attractions took longer than expected.
“The construction guys are going a thousand miles an hour,” Gamel said of the efforts to put the finishing touches on the project.
The whole complex, including the car museum, eateries and arcade is now projected to open by May, although the museum will be open during Funny Car Chaos in late April.
On April 25, the museum will host the Funny Car Chaos Cruise-in at 5 p.m. The Funny Cars of Funny Car Chaos are “the most violent, unpredictable racing machines man has yet conceived” according to the website for the funny car racing tour, which will visit Mo-Kan Dragway in Asbury, Missouri April 26 and 27.
Funny cars are a specific class of drag cars. The whole body of the car, which looks similar to a standard factory model, tilts up to reveal a custom-built chassis. The April event will be the 2nd annual Decades of Wheels Funny Car Chaos race and promises “200 mph ground shaking action!” Some of the funny cars featured in the race will likely be alcohol-fueled, though if anything is predictable about Funny Car Chaos it is its unpredictability.
“Any transmission, timing or clutch application aid, traction control device or computer aided performance controlling device is permitted,” according to the event’s website. “Any fuel is permitted including nitrous assistance. Any vehicle weight is permitted.”
While the race itself will take place at the nearby Mo-Kan Dragway, funny car drivers will be staying at the Little Brick Inn Bed and Breakfast in Baxter Springs.
The year will also mark the 2nd annual Decades of Wheels Auto Show and Festival on June 21 and 22. In addition to the cars and motorcycles on display, the event will feature an art walk exhibition, bounce houses, face painting, a dunk tank, pie eating contest, food vendors, chicken races, and a greased pig competition.
The chicken races at the Auto Show and Festival involve putting chicken feed on remote controlled cars, inducing chickens to chase them. “You can look it up on Youtube, that’s where we got the idea,” said Jocelyn Mountford, event coordinator for Decades of Wheels. “It’s pretty funny to watch.”
The greased pig competition, meanwhile, is pretty much what it sounds like, involving “a little piglet that’s greased down and kids can chase it” according to Mountford.
Mountford added that the June event is going to be something different than visitors might expect from a summer auto show and festival.
“It’s going to be a memorable event,” she said. “That’s for sure.”