If you frequent places like Speedville, you probably like the cars they call “Speedsters.” Over the years, this term has been applied to everything from racy roadsters with a stack of spare tires on the rear to ground-hugging Porsches that look like modern sculpture.It’s hard to define the term, since there’s little in common between the short-wheelbase speedster that Duesenberg made for actor Gary Cooper and the Studebaker President speedster that was offered as a limited-production assembly line car in the middle ’50s. But one thing you just know about any speedster is that it is going to look fast standing still.
That’s why a 1914 Stutz Bearcat Raceabout Speedster was the centerpiece when Kelsey Tire Co. of Camdenton, Mo., held an open house at the former Kelsey Antique Car Museum on May 3. Parked not far away was a streamlined 1933 Auburn V-12 boattail speedster that was originally owned by another screen idol – Clark Gable.
The Kelsey museum – which has been closed to the public since 1994 – was open for the evening to invited guests celebrating company owner John Kelsey’s 70th birthday. Visitors could walk through the section of the museum building that the Kelsey family lived in back in the early 1950s. John’s wife Jan has turned the family wing into a collection of documents, photos and clippings dating back to Paul Kelsey’s purchase of a 1909 Maxwell $5 at a 1928 auction in Iowa. Among the mementos are racing posters and pictures of a younger John Kelsey with famous speed demons like Carroll Shelby and Zora-Arkus Duntov.
Kelsey Tire is the exclusive distributor of Goodyear brand reproduction tires for collector cars. The Kelsey collection includes about 70 cars and trucks from pioneer automobiles to unrestored big-block muscle cars. John Kelsey was 12 years old when the museum opened on Easter Sunday in 1954. A few years earlier, his parents were planning to move from Minnesota to start car a museum in Florida. They stopped in the Lake of the Ozarks area and decided to stay. The antique tire business was founded in 1970 when Paul convinced Goodyear that a good market existed for antique automobile tires.
During the open house Camdenton Mayor John McNabb issued a proclaimation that recognized John Kelsey’s accomplishments and service to his country in Vietnam.