The Simeone’s collection of cars that raced at Le Mans. Photo by Michael Furman, courtesy Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum.
Being picked as a nominee for “Museum of the Year” by the Octane Awards – previously the International Historic Motoring Awards – is quite an honor, and winning the designation is generally a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, earned the Museum of the Year Award in 2011, the first year it was presented, but managed to beat out four other finalists – including the Petersen Museum and the Mullin Museum – to take top honors a second time in 2017.
In selecting the Simeone Automotive Museum, judges noted the facility’s dedication to “inspiring the car enthusiasts of tomorrow” via interactive Demo Days, which allow visitors to see historic racing and sports cars exercised in the museum’s back lot, and educational programs aimed at teachers and students. Special exhibits, such as the museum’s 2017 AC Cars retrospective, were also cited by the judges in making their selection.
The panel of judges included such luminaries as Derek Bell, a five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner; L. Scott George, vice president of the Revs Institute for Automotive Research, and associate curator, the Collier Collection; Jay Leno, comedian, car collector, and television host; Nick Mason, Pink Floyd drummer, car collector, and vintage racer; Jochen Mass, racing driver and Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador; Bruce Meyer, car collector and founding chairman of the Petersen Museum; and Peter Stevens, the designer of the McLaren F1.
“Quick Vic” Elford exercises the “Hippie” Porsche 917 LH in the museum’s back lot. Photo courtesy Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum.
Of the honor, Dr. Fred Simeone, executive director of the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, said, “Recognition by the esteemed judges of these awards is truly the highest honor to which an automotive museum can aspire. We are very proud and appreciative to be so recognized especially in the company of other illustrious institutions. Public museums such as ours strive to be relevant to the community, and to provide an experience which blends the history and excitement of motoring. This award is a great boost in helping us achieve that goal.”
In addition to its earlier Museum of the Year award, the Simeone has previously been honored with Publication of the Year, awarded to Dr. Simeone’s The Stewardship of Historically Important Automobiles in 2013, and Car of the Year, presented to the museum’s 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe in 2014.
Other 2017 Octane Award winners included the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, which earned Motor Sport Event of the Year; Mercedes-Benz Classic, which earned Industry Supporter of the Year; Jaguar Land Lover Classic Collection, which earned Manufacturer Heritage Collection of the Year; a 1954 Jaguar XK120 SE by Pinin Farina, which earned Restoration of the Year; and the 2017 Jaguar XKSS continuation, which earned Car of the Year.