By MARGOT SANGER-KATZ
If you saw a diner traveling down Interstate 93 last week, you weren't hallucinating. The 1930s-era Barr's Diner had just been removed from the grounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and was on its way to the Diner Museum in Rhode Island for restoration.
The diner sat on the speedway property since the mid-1950s, that is, before the speedway sat there. Diner historian Daniel Zilka believes it dates to the mid-1930s and was built by the Jerry O'Mahony Dining Car Co. of Elizabeth, N.J. Over the years, it has served as a diner, gas station, carryout deli and, most recently, an office hub for the transportation crews on race weekends. But the years have taken their toll on the structure. John Zudell, the speedway's vice president of operations and development said the building was cramped, lacked access for the disabled and had a leaky roof.
A new modular building has already moved it at the diner site, just in time for race weekend. The diner itself will be restored by a group of vocational students as part of the museum's New Hope Diner program, which matches diners in need of work with students from a local juvenile corrections facility. The speedway put up more than $13,000 for transportation costs and hired Bow's Rick Geddes to haul it. According to Zudell, Geddes has transported enough diners to have a special trailer for the purpose.
The building's future after restoration is uncertain, according to Zilka, the acting director of the museum. "Our main goal is to preserve diners and diner culture," he said.