Board Member Spotlight: Charlie Nearburg


Nearburg discovers speed, success, and philanthropy at bonneville and beyond

The Petersen Automotive Museum’s Board of Directors member Charles Nearburg has been a consummate car enthusiast since he was a small child. While growing up in New Mexico, his father took him to a race in Fort Sumner where he witnessed legends like Carroll Shelby, Jim Hall, and Hap Sharp pilot Ferraris, Porsches, and Maseratis around the track. It was there, that Nearburg found his passion for motorsport. 

After graduating from Dartmouth with a Bachelors and Masters degree in Engineering, Nearburg returned to Texas where he began working and racing. He started with success in  SCCA club racing and ultimately became a front runner in the Pro Toyota Atlantic Series.  He also had 4th and 10th overall finishes at the Sebring 12 Hours.  While working long hours and reinvesting every penny back into his companies, Nearburg’s mind was constantly drawn back to cars and racing. Through motorsport and collecting automobiles, he was introduced to Checkered Flag 200 founder, Bruce Meyer. Bonding over their shared passion, Meyer invited Nearburg to become involved with the Petersen.

“I continue to be excited about the Petersen as it breaks new ground with visionary exhibits,” said Nearburg. “We are committed to expanding the boundaries of an automotive museum by intersecting with other disciplines such as art, design, fashion and film.”  

Racing remains at the forefront of Nearburg’s life. He plans to race at the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco in his Brabham BT-11 and BT-33, as well as campaign his GTP and Group C racecars at other tracks around the world. He set the world’s fastest normally aspirated car record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2010 driving the “Spirit of Rett,” to an FIA record of 414.3 MPH.  Named after his late son, Nearburg plans to return the “Spirit of Rett” to Bonneville, if the salt conditions improve, to do one thing: go faster. 

By combining a love of automobiles with a passion for humanitarianism and hard work, Nearburg’s place on the Board of Directors offers an exciting future for the Petersen and its patrons. 

By Ben Roget