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One of the cars on display at Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile.

May 31, 2012, Salt Lake City – Racing into town this summer, Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile will be on display at the University of Utah on the first-floor galleries of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building from June 2– September 16. The exhibition comprises 19 of the world’s finest automobiles and was organized by automotive historian, museum consultant and guest curator Ken Gross.

Speed will showcase a century of automobiles that exemplify premier aerodynamics, engineering, art and design of their eras. The cars range from the menacing 1952 “Beast III” Bonneville racer (pictured above) to the ultra-cool 1957 Jaguar XK-SS Roadster, once owned by Steve McQueen. The cars are on loan from some of the country’s top automobile collections, including the Price Museum of Speed; National Automobile Museum; Petersen Automotive Museum; Bruce Meyer; Peter and Merle Mullin; Jon and Mary Shirley; and the Larry H. Miller Family.

“We are delighted to be presenting Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile and are confident that our visitors will be amazed at the beauty, engineering, and amazing stories of these incredible cars,” says Gretchen Dietrich, executive director of the UMFA. “We hope many first-time visitors will come to see the exhibition and be introduced to our wonderful museum and collection.”

A number of art museums in America and Europe recently presented popular exhibitions of cars, including Curves of Steel at the Phoenix Art Museum (2007), Allure of the Automobile at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (2010) and the Portland Art Museum (2011), as well as and L’Art de L’Automobile: Chef d’Oeuvres de la Collection Ralph Lauren at the Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris (2011). The first art exhibition of cars was Eight Automobiles, mounted sixty years ago at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (1951).

The UMFA’s automobile exhibition, however, is the first of its kind. Speed will examine automobiles not only as works of art and design, but as objects of rich racing history. The featured cars were created by legendary engineers, distinguished designers, and storied automobile companies; many are speed record-setters that were owned and raced by famous drivers and other notable people of their time. This is the first and only time these 19 cars have been seen together in one venue.

Many of the cars in Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile have a special connection to Utah’s famed Bonneville Salt Flats, where racers from all over the world traveled, and continue to travel, in attempts to break land speed records.

The “Mormon Meteor III” is perhaps the most famous Bonneville racecar. Designed and driven by legendary racer and former Salt Lake City Mayor David Abbott “Ab” Jenkins (1883-1956), the “Mormon Meteor III” set more long distance land speed records than any other automobile in history, and it still holds 12 of them today.

Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile is a special ticketed exhibition and museum visits are organized in time slots. Tickets are available for purchase through Smithstix at

  • Adults (18-64): $18
  • Youth (14-17), seniors (65+), and University of Utah faculty and staff: $13
  • University of Utah students: $9
  • Children (3-13): $3
  • Infants (0-2): Free
  • UMFA members: Complimentary admission based on level of membership

A variety of public programming has been scheduled to enhance the museum visitor’s experience, including a free lecture series, a free film series co-presented by the Utah Film Center, auto-inspired seminars and more. The UMFA will also present Photo Finish, a companion exhibition of photographs from the museum’s collection, in the last gallery of Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile.

“These 19 special automobiles comprise a remarkable selection of historic racers and high-performance cars, spanning more than a century,” notes guest curator Ken Gross. “Unlikely to be repeated, this exhibition represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and study these legends on wheels.”

The UMFA thanks the John and Marcia Price Family Foundation for generously serving as the title sponsor of Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile. The UMFA also thanks additional sponsors and partners, including the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, Zions Bank, the Stephen G. & Susan E. Denkers Family Foundation, Stephen E. Denkers, Lynn and Tom Fey, Larry H. Miller Group, Mary and Tom McCarthey, Merit Medical, Kathie and Mark Miller, Shari and David Quinney, Diane and Sam Stewart, Susan and Jim Swartz, Naoma Tate, University of Utah College of Fine Arts, Marva and John Warnock, Toni and John Bloomberg, Sue and Al Landon, Kurt B. Larsen and Tyrene Christopolus, Elyce and Bill Mouskondis, Sue and David Razor, Bob Rose, Wells Fargo Bank, Lisa and William Wirthlin, the Price Museum of Speed, U & the Arts Program, Richter7, Xfinity, and Claudia Skaggs Luttrell. A full list is available at

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The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is located on the University of Utah campus in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building at 410 Campus Center Drive. The UMFA’s mission is to engage visitors in making meaningful connections with the world of art. Museum hours are Tue– Fri: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wed 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sat & Sun 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays. Info at (801) 581-7332 or