Family, friends and racing fans of all ages showed up for the dedication ceremony that reunited members of the Ranier family, a family that stepped outside of its native Prestonsburg and gained fame in both auto racing and horse racing.
In auto racing, the Ranier family formed Ranier Racing and won three Daytona 500s. Ranier Racing had 20-plus NASCAR wins with legendary drivers Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker and the father-son duo of Bobby and Davy Allison all turning laps behind family-owned stock cars.
Trophies, including the 1983 Daytona 500 (25th anniversary) championship trophy, were on display during Saturday's dedication ceremony. The Ranier family donated many of the relics.
“The Ranier family is a wonderful family,” said Prestonsburg Mayor Jerry Fannin, who, before the night's festivities concluded, presented the Ranier family with a key to the city. “It's amazing that a family like this could come out of a town of 4,500 and accomplish what they were able to accomplish.”
Ranier Racing was instrumental in getting the career of current NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart going. In 1996, a young upstart Stewart ran nine NASCAR Busch Series races for Ranier/Walsh Racing. He has since won two NASCAR Nextel Cup championships and has made a name for himself as one of the sport's top drivers.
In horse racing, the Ranier family owned and operated Shadolawn Farm.
The Ranier name is alive and well today in NASCAR. Loren Ranier, the son of the late Harry Hale Ranier, heads driver development for Chip Ganassi Racing. Loren Ranier has made the most of his early days spent around his family's race team.
“My dad allowed me to be around the best people in racing; as did my grandpa” Loren Ranier said, addressing Saturday's dedication ceremony crowd. “That's allowed me to have a career in racing.”
Brent Graden, director of economic development for the city of Prestonsburg, put together a film composed of Ranier Racing images and aired it in front of family members, guests and others.
For the time being, Ranier Racing memorabilia will be displayed at the Prestonsburg Tourism building in downtown Prestonsburg. Mayor Fannin has said the city is currently looking at two different pieces of property as possible building sites.
The museum itself will not open until a later date, at which time a grand opening ceremony will be held. Once up and running, the racing museum is expected to draw several race fans into Prestonsburg and Floyd County, and serve as a boost to the local economy.
Anyone that has Ranier Racing memorabilia and would like to donate it to the museum, or allow it to be displayed for an amount of time, is urged to do so.