Wednesday, September 2, 2020 would have been William “Bill” Harrah’s 109th birthday. However, for the first time in nine decades, there is no longer a Harrah name on an active Reno gaming establishment.
In tribute to, and in honor of, this important Nevada gaming magnate, the National Automobile Museum has created a three-month long retrospective on the man, his casinos and his obsession with fine automobiles.
The exhibit features the return to the Museum of an extremely rare 1934 Packard LeBaron Sport Dual-Cowl Phaeton. This car was one of Mr. Harrah’s favorites, until it was sold at auction following his death in 1978. It is on loan for the exhibit from the Robert M. and Anne Lee Collection.
The exhibit also features artifacts from the Reno Headliner Room, later renamed as Sammy’s Showroom, which includes entertainer showcards and an original showgirl costume used in Harrah advertising for years. There’s also a mechanical Pace slot machine from the old casino floor, along with lots more gaming trivia: Did you know that Harrah was the first to use casino carpeting; he coined the term “Gaming” instead of “Gambling” to soften the industry’s image, the first to install an automated tracking system, the first to do competitive reviews…..his list goes on and on.
You’ll also get a chance to see his first collector car (a 1911 Maxwell that taught him many lessons) and his 140-mph Jeep Wagoneer powered by a 4.4 liter Ferrari V-12. It was affectionately dubbed a “Jerrari,” and it made getting to his Lake Tahoe casino a lot more interesting.
In addition to the changing exhibit, the staff has made a significant number of changes to the Museum this year and encourages individuals and families of all ages to please visit and support the Museum.