The 85th Street Museum
The 85th Street Museum houses one of the largest collections of motor racing memorabilia in the United States. Admission is by invitation only, and with good reason - the museum is also the home of its curator, Kenny Szymanski.
Szymanski has worked as an American Airlines steward since 1973, but for over 30 years he has lived a double life as a motorsport tyre technician, working in Formula 1, IndyCar and sports car racing.
The memorabilia at the museum starts before you even walk through the door. The number, 42, isn't just any old door number - it's the race number of NASCAR star Juan Pablo Montoya. When Szymanski moved around six years ago, he went to Montoya's pit crew and asked for one of the number 42 stickers from one of his tyres.
Most of the other items in the museum carry similar anecdotes - such as the framed personal letter written to Szymanski from legendary Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari that took six months to arrive in New York because Ferrari didn't put enough postage on it.
Or a photograph of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, sitting glumly on their cars, while in the background Szymanski moons to the camera.
Szymanski's most prized piece in the collection sits in a corner - a Goodyear wet tyre that only a handful of visitors to the museum have ever recognized. The late great Formula 1 Champion Ayrton Senna was one of them.
When he visited the museum in its previous location a couple of doors down on East 85th Street, Senna instantly recognized the tyre as one of those he used to win the first of his 41 race victories at Estoril, Portugal in 1985. Following the race, Szymanski clained the right front tyre as a souvenir of the Brazilian's astounding drive. He brought it back to New York as baggage on Concorde.
Szymanski became a tyre technician almost by accident. A keen motorsport fan from an early age, his job with American Airlines enabled him to catch the occasional race on his travels. In 1977 he made his first visit to the Monaco Grand Prix, and came to the realisation that just being a fan wasn't enough.
Szymanski had made the acquaintance of one Team Lotus' chief mechanic and offered his services. A year later, he became Lotus' second tyre man. The team didn't pay him or even cover his travel expenses for the first two years.
He had to rearrange his life to accomodate both his jobs, working for American Airlines 15 days a month but coordinating his flights to take him to the next race. With enticements to colleagues of F1 merchandise, he was able to ensure that no scheduling conflicts ever occurred.
Szymanski stayed at Lotus until 1988, having worked with drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet. He then worked with Jaguar in sports car racing before reuniting with his hero Mario Andretti in IndyCar for four years at the Newman-Haas team. He made a brief return to Formula 1 with Ferrari in 2001.
These days, Szymanski only works the occasional race here and there, preferring instead to spend his time off from his airline job fishing and golfing. But the clues to his dual life are still there, such as the Lotus badge on his lapel, the tie clip of Senna's green-and-yellow striped racing helmet and not least his fascinating 85th Street Museum.