Brian Darbys web Site Vintage Midgets from Australia and a few Americans who raced there
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Our goal at Stryker's Custom is to utilize our knowledge and experience to continue...
"Keeping the Legend Running".
by Mike Stryker
Richards Parks Corner below
Ya want a brand new VINTAGE Indy Roadster?
Or how about a VINTAGE standard Kurtis Midget or even a Kurtis Midget Roadster?
Call Pete, ph # below or click on logo for direct access to his e-mail
New and Vintage
Auto & Truck Parts
Sales and Service
Santa Clara, Ca.
Ph# (408) 982 0494
Fax (408) 982 0498
THE MASTER JUAN MANUEL FANGIO
A short article on Juan Manual Fangio that accompnied the Mercedes article (Shown below this one)
Juan Manuel Fangio dominated the first decade of Formula One racing and is one of the legends of the sport.
The Argentine won five Formula One World Drivers' Championships titles. That record was only broken by Michael Schumacher 46 years later.
Fangio took the title in 1951 and then every year between 1954 and 1957.
He is also the only Argentine driver to have won his country's Grand Prix.
In the 1954 season, he began racing for Maserati until Mercedes-Benz entered the competition in mid-season.
He won eight out of the 12 races that year, including both the German and Swiss Grand Prix in the iconic car.
Fangio requested a car - chassis '00006' - had open wheels to cope with the twisty 14.2-mile Nurburgring road circuit.
He then repeated the feat at the Swiss Grand Prix.
After his retirement, Fangio became Mercedes-Benz Argentina Honorary President for Life and sold cars.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and died in 1995 at the age of 84.
When I first saw this article it amazed Me for sure, As a 10 year old FAN Growing up in the early 50s Fangio was My first racing Hero. Now to see one of his best Mercedes rides found after all these years it sure got My Heart pumping, Hopefully maybe one day I may actualy get the oportunity to see it run?
Forgotten' Formula 1 car abandoned in warehouse for three decades
set to fetch £5MILLION at auction
By Becky Evans, from web site listed below
•The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 driven by racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio
•Stored in warehouse for almost three decades and will go on sale in July
•Iconic car has innovative features including a fuel-injected engine
•Fangio drove the car when he won both the German and Swiss Grand Prix
A Formula One car that was 'forgotten about' in a warehouse for almost three decades is expected to fetch more than £5million at auction.
The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 - described as 'one of the most significant motor cars of the 20th Century' - was driven by five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
The German-made car contains many features which were innovative at the time, including a fuel-injected engine, lightweight chassis and improved brakes.
The 2.5 litre Mercedes-Benz, being inspected by auction house chairman Robert Brooks, was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio during his 1954 World Championship winning Formula One season
The car, pictured being driven by Fangio,
contained innovative features including fuel-injected engine
Racing historian Doug Nye said: 'The first time I saw this car I needed oxygen. It's landmark technology and it was driven by a landmark driver.'
Secrecy surrounds the owner of the iconic car and auction house Bonhams would not comment on where the car was found.
It will be sold in its current condition with noticeable blemishes and dirt.
Mr Nye said: 'What's so special about it is that it has this wonderful, untouched patina.
'Some people think it looks grotty - that's not the point - the really rare cars today are the unrestored ones.
'Every car that's restored has lost a part of its history because it's been obliterated by repainting or by rebuilding. Nothing's been obliterated on this, it's just a beautiful survivor.'
He added that he did not mind if the car was bought by an individual or an institution, but he hoped it would go to 'an owner who really understands and an owner who really cares'.
Fangio won both the 1954 Swiss and German Grand Prix in the famous car
The car will be sold at the Goodwood Festival and experts say it could go for more than its £5million estimate
The car was unveiled last night by Bonhams at its New Bond Street sale room.
Auction house chairman Robert Brooks said: 'This is my fifth decade in the business and it was the most exciting discovery that I've made.
'We've had a couple of cars that have made over £5million and our thought is that this will exceed that.'
Mr Brooks would not comment on where the car was found, but said he hoped the highest bidder would take it back to Germany to enable it to be driven again.
'It's been stored in a warehouse and largely forgotten about for nearly 30 years.
'Before it went into storage it had been recently run and run well.
'It's complete, and essentially a trip back to the Mercedes-Benz works - which would be the perfect place to get the thing running again - would probably see it back on the track or on the road in demonstration.
'It's all there to be put back together.'
The car will be sold by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.
Fangio drove the 2.5 litre straight-9 Mercedes in his victories at the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races.
They were the first victories to be achieved in succession by the Mercedes-Benz factory after the war.
Mr Brooks said: 'My motoring auction career spans five decades and I have been privileged to have handled some of the world's most desirable and important motor cars.
'To handle the sale of this legendary W196 Grand Prix Car – the only one out of captivity– could well be the pinnacle.'
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
As much of this may not be of interest to some of you, however this is an all purpose effort to cover my bases. It is heavy on my Vintage race Car meets and travels from 2012 as most of you are in that groove and I hope you will find it of some interest.
I will begin by using the last paragraphs from last years edition.
I am anxiously awaiting the various clubs and organizations to come out with their 2012 schedules. I need to get back to running with the AARA in Ohio and have never run with the new Midwest Old Timers group in Illinois and Indiana. Perhaps one of their events might even dovetail with going back out to Pennsylvania which I?d like to do. I?ll also be watching the Texas, Kansas, and Colorado groups to try and put something together there.
Some of you I missed seeing at the track this year and certainly hope you are well and that our paths will cross in 2012.
Get in all the laps you can.
So now, the new 2012 year end and Holiday greetings to you. Many are my friends and acquaintances from 77 years of living and others from 22 years of Vintage Open Wheel Race car activities.
After mid December 2011 when I wrote last, I spent a lot of time writing two articles for the Inliners International car club which publishes a bi-monthly, 32 glossy paged magazine/newsletter (The 12 port NEWS), that goes to the 1400 members of this 32 year old organization.
The first article was in the January/February 2012 issue and was a 5 page story about David Seleen, updating the 6 page July 1982 cover story about his DOHC cylinder head that he cast and built up for a 261 Chevrolet in-line 6 cylinder truck engine in about 1959!
Since this is the only DOHC Chevrolet head ever successfully made and run, I wanted to bring it back to attention and verify its existence and its upcoming resurrection and installation in the 30s Big Car Dave has been building, off and on for over twenty years. Dave of course, was the main fabricator, over a 6 year period, of my resurrected 1940 Hillegass midget race car.
The editors of The 12 port NEWS asked me to also do a story on my in-line 6 cylinder powered midget, and that 6 page story appeared in the March/April issue. After those were completed I could focus on the upcoming Vintage Race meet season.
The winter was very mild and I got a head start on getting the car ready for the seasons activities.
The relined riveted brake shoes were installed. The dented nose that occurred at Webster City was pounded out and cracks in the nose and front belly pan welded. A Sam Browne belt was made up from an old 65 Cessna rear seat belt that I had on hand, to support my body from the forces trying to push my body to the right in the turns. Numerous efforts to pad my seat upholstery were in vain and a more modern wrap around containment seat not appropriate for the age of this car.
The big change of course was the new radiator with half as many tubes, three staggered rows instead of 4 non staggered, and 8 flat fins per inch rather than 15 fins per inch in a serpentine style, and an 18 pound pressure cap. This was the high cost, last gasp effort, to cure my overheating problem that existed from day one.
I determined my front spring had sagged somewhat and needed some re-arching and a long leaf added next to the main leaf to better support the whole spring pack. Since time was short, I deferred that.
The cleaned, flushed and winter-stored alcohol fuel system components were reinstalled and I was ready for a test run. April 20th on a 49 degree day, with Jake in the push vehicle, on the road in front of my house, we could not get the car to sustain running despite many attempts. Re-timed the magneto and carb cleaner blasted the injection nozzles and tried again three days later at 53 degrees with Rich pushing. The car lit up on the second attempt. Now it was time for a sustained run to see if I had solved the overheating with the new radiator.
April 26th test and tune day at Raceway Park mile paved track with Dave Seleen pushing and another 53 degree day, we ran about four ten lap sessions and with the full hood ran, at 220 degrees. I felt I was set to go with it for the season.
Left at noon Thursday May 17th to tow to the AARA vintage meet in Washington Court House (WCH), OH. Stopped at Ed Hitzes house in Lafayette, IN on Friday morning to visit and view some of his vast photo collection and other memorabilia. Eds Dad was the author of the definitive Kurtis Kraft Story in 1974. I originally met Ed while we were both staying at McGoverns Motel in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin for a race back in the 90s. He continues to be a friend and a source to share information with.
Arrived at WCH to learn my old Minneapolis friend and racing cohort, John Barlass had already arrived from his home in Michigan and was looking for me. After a good supper and nights sleep, we were at the track in the morning preparing the car to run. I got a push off on the fairground roads to make sure the car would fire up. John got in the car first on the track and had trouble with the car coming out of gear. Now I must admit that it came out of gear on me on the Raceway Park track in Minneapolis three weeks earlier but I dismissed that as my carelessness.
I got in the car to run the second heat and I had it come out of gear about twice a lap. How exciting, entering the turn not knowing if you had engine braking, trying to drop it back in gear if not, sreering with one hand and then accelerating down the straight, holding a little brake pedal to hopefully prevent the pop out and the wondering again as you let up for the turn to see if the car would slow and then trying to drop it back in gear.
The car felt fast and I wasnt that far behind the group but the day was hot and so was the engine as we were running the full hood.
We removed the hood side panel and somehow the push truck missed getting John out for the heat. He went out with the TQs and very gentlemanly, ran sedately behind them while holding the car in gear with one hand and driving with the other, all the while grease or oil was getting on his hand and on his right driving pants leg (as well as mine).
The next day we removed the hood and installed my hood which leaves both sides of the engine compartment open for air to flow out of the engine compartment. We then bungee corded the shift lever and John went out to do battle. He led most of the heat by too much and was slowed by the flagmen and was second at the end. The engine was running very hot and we had to let it cool for quite a while before we could even open the system. Thus we missed the second heat and for the third heat totally removed the hood. John was leading that one pretty much from start to finish while still running very hot. The temperature gauge was pegged. He did slow at some points and we suspect others were hot as well and needed to slow. Temperatures the two days were close to 90 degrees.
While coming in the pits at the conclusion, John could not get the car out of gear and removing the bungee didn?t help. We let the car cool for quite a while and trying to load the car on the trailer, we discovered it was still locked in gear so we had to winch it on the trailer. John then headed back to Michigan.
I spent the night at the Fairgrounds after a nice shower and altered my plans to drive south to Cincinnati in the morning. I called Dan Price to see if I could drive up to his place north of Columbus and use his garage and facilities to fix the car out of the heat. It was like de ja vieux al over again
In the mid 90s I had made my first trip to an AARA event. It was also at Washington Court House. I had met Dan previously in Davenport, IA at an event when I had delivered the Rutherford and Lyon engine patterns that I sold him. I had trouble with my V8-60 car at WCH and Dan invited me up to his place to work on it. I had a buggered rear axle bearing and housing and with Dans help and machining talent, we got it repaired and we went off together that next weekend to run a Vintage meet at IRP in Indianapolis.
A memorable happening occurred there as I was in the pits with my car and Dans 30s Leo Krasick big car with the Krasick single overhead cam engine. Grant King came by and was studying the Krasick and noted as how the unique torsion bars must have been one of the first applications of that technique.
I got to Dans and as I was unloading the car from the trailer, I was able to pull it out of gear. It was obvious; an exploratory operation was in order so I proceeded to punish my body by removing the safety wire from the bolts holding the Halibrand In/Out box to the engine plate deep in the bowels of the cockpit. Then the two top bolts could only be accessed with an open end wrench because the shifter assembly can not be removed from the box without rotating it because of the proximity of the steering box plus getting only 1/6th of a turn at a time.
After about a two hour struggle, I got the shifter handle and fork assembly out and surveyed the shifter fork which had been very hot and was bent, all probably from being out of adjustment and the force both John and I and the bungee cord had been applying. I had expected to find grease or oil in the box as the source of what was getting on our legs but it was dry. Whatever solid grease I had put in originally was gone and no oil had migrated from the engine as I had suspected.
Dan straightened the fork in his hydraulic press and measuring its width and the width of the sliding dog gear mating groove, we were OK to go back together. Dan suggested an adjustment theory and I packed a whole tube of grease into the box and reassembled, making sure the existing locking lever was effectively functioning. Reversing my previous struggle in the bowels of the cockpit, but omitting the safety wire, (virtually impossible with the body on the car) I was buttoned up. I had also found the source of the oil leaking so cured the cause and left Dan?s just before sundown.
I headed south for Cincinnati and after some sleep in a rest stop, Tuesday morning I arrived at Zakiras Garage. This is the premier Miller (and all others) restoration shop owned by Dean Butler. It is an ex Telephone Company maintenance vehicle storage garage of perhaps 25,000 square feet. My contact was off work that day but the cordial owners allowed me a self guided tour and the technicians answered any questions I had. There were two Millers, a Frontenac, a Mercer, a 1928 Cadillac, and about 10 other cars and projects in process.
I left Cincinnati and headed west to kill some time before the Thursday night ?Tony Hulman Classic ??USAC Sprint Cars and UMP Modifieds at Terre Hautes Action Track. I had made contact through the H.A.M.B. with William Wallace in Cloverdale, IN who invited me to hang out Wednesday at his place. After a night in a Morgan-Monroe State Forest campsite, I went to Cloverdale (half way between Indianapolis and Terre Haute) and met up with Bill. He builds cars and I toured his neat shop and current project. He had a family obligation in Michigan that necessitated him leaving a couple hours after I arrived so after leaving me his garage keys and an explanation of the Putnamville 5/16 mile dirt track only five miles away, and directions to Jerry Weeks shop in Indianapolis, off he went.
I went off to the self service car wash and as so often happens, the race car got seen by a passerby who pulled in and started chatting. He lives about a stones throw from the racetrack (correctly called Lincoln Park Speedway, commonly called Putnamville) and told me they ran non-caged sprints every Saturday along with UMP modifieds and two support classes. He said they normally had 20 to 35 sprinters and some first class drivers depending on what other Indiana tracks were running sprints on that particular weekend. I had planned on being in Anderson Saturday night for the Little 500, but having seen that a few years ago I was open to something new.
As suggested, I drove over to the track to check it out. I ran into a maintenance guy and he was all enthused about my car and hooked me up with the track manager who also did. He contacted the track owner and they wanted me to display the car Saturday evening. The track is neat as hell. I spent the rest of the afternoon there as a winged sprint team had rented the track and was testing and I just parked inside the track fence under a shade tree and did some maintenance on my car while on the trailer and watched.
That evening was spent camping on Bills driveway and fore noon off to Terre Haute for Thursday nights Tony Hulman Classic..USAC Sprints. Searched out the new promoter and got the OK to unload the car under the grandstand next to the entrance ramp. Had a lot of friendly visitors and talkers all afternoon and evening. Probably enjoyed that more than the racing as the track was rough and the racing not overly entertaining.
Back to Cloverdale for the night and up early Friday for an un-announced drop in 9:15AM visit to Jerry Week?s shop in Indianapolis. He saw my car and trailer in his driveway from his house and came out to find out who was there. Turns out that on Fridays before the Indy 500 he has sort of an open house, and before I left about noon, there was a full house of people including Jack Chisenhall from Texas (Vintage Air and Hollywood Spring) whom I had never met but had been communicating with on the Net for a number of years. Just goes to show that no amount of planning, will ever replace dumb luck.
The Midwest Old-timers car display outside the Indiana Fairgrounds grandstand that afternoon preceded the evening on-track exhibition during the running of the Hoosier Hundred Champ Car program. Had a guy stop by who showed a lot of interest in the car, asked a lot of questions and took a lot of pictures. Lo and behold, a few weeks later I found out why. Heres the link
http://www.openwheelracers3.com/Vintage_2.html , and then go to the May 27, 2012 chronological entry.
Also Kenny Schrader came by. He was driving his UMP modified as part of the support show that night and Im sure he got a wad of appearance money from his sponsor, Federated Auto Parts, because the win was only $2500. He finished second.
Thirty six cars on display and twenty six took to the track. We went out just after the water trucks between events. What a way to make sure you didnt go too fast. My car was hot, pegged the water temp gauge during the four or five laps on the big dirt mile track. No way was I going to get off that track. After all, this was on my bucket list.
Watched the rest of the races from the grandstand (free tickets for Vintage guys) and then after the races, packed up and headed back to Cloverdale for the night.
Noon Saturday drove the 5 miles to Putnamville and had lots of track personnel help positioning the car for display next to the concession stands on top of the bleacher area that is built on a hill.
Lots of conversation again all afternoon and evening with knowledgeable race fans. Their program is busy as hell, and run off very steadily with little or no dead time. No opportunity to run my car.
Thirty sprinters signed in including Dave Darland who won and Jon Stanbrough who was third. There is no association involved here; its like Knoxville, except when a special event might require the track to pay a sanction fee as when USAC has a date here.
Loaded up and left the track about 11:30PM and hit the road for Sun Prairie, WI to make their Sunday night midget event. I had no thought about attending the Indy 500. Made good time and with a little sleep on the way, I was at the track just after noon. Found the new promoter, Chris Wilke and got OKed to put the car behind the first turn grandstands, next to the concessions. There are understandably, more knowledgeable midget fans there (Angell Park Speedway) than any where else I have ever been with the car.
One of the fans that stopped by with his two sons and wife was Leigh Farall from the Melbourne area of Victoria, Australia who was coincidentally in the States for a friends wedding in Minneapolis. Leigh works for a Ducati motorcycle dealer but has an Indian motorcycle restoration operation functioning in his home shop. We made arrangements to meet in Minneapolis on Wednesday and I was able to arrange a tour for his family of a private 146 car collection that includes half dozen Vintage Open Wheel racing cars, and coincidentally, a restored Indian motorcycle. He is promising to return so I can get him to Lincoln Nebraska and Speedway Bills Museum of American Speed.
Loaded up and left Sun Prairie after the races and hit the road for home. After a number of short snoozes en route, I arrived Monday fore noon. I had covered 2512 miles in 10days, run on 5 different race tracks, displyed the car and was a spectator at three more, made a good Australian friend and crossed off an important item on the bucket list. How good can it get?
After a day to recuperate and a day with Leigh and family at the car collection, I was ready to delve into the midget and find out what the heck went wrong between my positive cooling experience prior to the trip, and the immediate and continuing problems during the trip.
David Ayers and I took the car back out to Raceway Park. I wanted to give him an opportunity to drive my car. Within two laps at a very slow speed with him feeling out the car, the temperature pegged. Ditto on our second try after checking things out as best we could. I took the car home convinced the new radiator certainly could not be the problem. I hoped to find a water pump problem, which I did. The 3/8 square drive to the water pump impellor shaft had failed sometime early in the AARA event and we had no water circulation from then on.
Over the next three weeks, I rebuilt the pump, replaced the driving element in the nose of the crankshaft, and devised a slightly different way to drive the pump using a 3/8 slot rather than the previous 3/8 female square. I felt the first system had no tolerance for any slight misalignment I might have in the timing cover that was modified to mount the water pump. I was confident the problem was cured, just in time for the next meet.
On early Thursday morning, June 21st I left on the 6 hour tow to Oskaloosa, IA. We ran that warm evening on the mile dirt and I progressively went from no hood, to my hood and then my fully enclosed hood, less the small side panel under the intake and the exhaust manifold for the last heat race. I finished the heat race and came off the track with the temperature holding 210-220.
Eureka! Problem apparently solved after 2 years of frustration, experimentation, and testing. Radiator core thickness reduction, tube reduction and tube placement design change, and style and number of fins obviously cured the problem, after it was discovered that the almost immediate water pump drive failure, virtually concurrent with the radiator replacement, had confused us by creating a worse problem.
What a wonderful feeling after 2 years of running the car, always with an overheating problem, to crack the code. It was wonderful to load up that night, hit the shower in the fairgrounds facilities, and with joyous anticipation for the next night, hit the road for the short 40 mile drive to Knoxville and a good nights sleep at the fairgrounds.
Friday the cars started arriving and by 4:00PM sign in time, we had the usual strong showing of all classes of the Vintage race cars. The evening went well, the car ran super and cooled great and I was somewhat euphoric. A late night hot shower and another good nights sleep and I was set. I woke up anticipating the Saturday afternoon Old-timers banquet put on by the Knoxville fair board, and a few exhibition laps that evening with a few of the Vintage cars still on hand before the regular Knoxville Saturday night winged sprint car program.
The banquet went fine but as we were departing the fairground banquet hall the rain started. It was heavy and it was over an hour long. When it finally had stopped the track was a quagmire of mud, the races were cancelled and I hit the road for home about 7:00 PM. I made a few short quick nap stops on the way and pulled up to the top of my driveway with the race car in tow at 3:30AM.
Not wanting to wake my wife, I came into the darkened house and left all the lights off.
I was heading for our bedroom up five stairs in our split level house. The down stairway is 12 stairs down immediately adjacent. I made the step up but I was lined up with the wrong stairway and there was no step.
I did a 180 degree flying flip in the dark, hit square on top of my head on one of the stone stairs half way down, completed the flip and landed on my lower back and upper buttocks on the bottom landing, breaking the wooden banister that I obviously never had a hold on.
I was quite stunned, but not lacerated, bleeding, or any apparent broken bones miraculously. My wife of course awoke to all this and after a few minutes helped me upstairs into bed. After a few hours of mainly headache pain, we got in the car and she drove me to the ER. Lots of tests and scans and a move to the neurology ICU for a few days then on to the Heart ICU. A total of 6 days in the hospital.
There is no curing stupidity.
There was significant bleeding on the brain which was finally totally re-absorbed after about 6 weeks. I was moving pretty slowly around home and having some dizziness for quite a while. I just took it very easy but with an eye on running the car July 28th for a little intermission show 45 miles away at Arlington, MN. I knew I could drive the tow car down OK but not the race car. As it turned out, I couldnt find a suitable driver amongst our small bunch that was there, so the car stayed on the trailer and I enjoyed a relaxing summer evening at the race track.
The next target date was a little over a month away for an event at Norton Kansas on Labor Day weekend. During the last week of that month I began to be headache free with no dizzy spells.
Since the car had now sat with the alcohol in the system for two months, during that last week of that month, I made an attempt to fire it up on the road in front of the house. No luck. During the next few days, I went all through draining the tank of the old fuel, cleaning of the fuel lines, filters, pump, barrel valve and nozzles and still no luck. Finally ultrasonically cleaned the nozzles and got it running.
I planned to leave for the Norton Kansas Vintage meet the next day. Unfortunately a horrendous neck spasm occurred that night and squashed my anticipated Labor Day weekend. Instead I was at the Doctor after two days of pain and still unable to turn my head. That took almost a week to subside but then I felt ready to go to the meet at Webster City, Iowa, on September 7th and 8th which is only a 3 hour tow.
9/7/2012 Left for Webster City about noon and arrived at 4:00 PM. They had heavy rain in the morning and track and pits were a quagmire. Enjoyed visiting with the others that came for the Friday activity, but went to bed knowing the rest of the weekend was a go. Saturday dawned clear and warmed up with good breeze. By late afternoon the John Deere with sheeps foot got to work and by about 6:30 the stocks and coupes were packing the track. That?s one of the benefits of open wheel cars, of which there were 12 sprinters and 4 midgets and one TQ. We don?t do that.
The program went well, heats and features for all 45 cars that were there. My midget ran super, cooled well with the full hood on, and was a lot faster than I drove it. Track was pretty rough and even some of the sprint car guys with their fat tires and low air pressures were commenting.
Since Friday night rained out, Sunday afternoon was available as a rain date for all who wanted to run which was about only eight of us. Many had to get home or had enough track time Saturday night. I believe I set a record on Sunday as David Hoska and I traded cars for one session. I believe I became the oldest person to ever drive his Luther Brewer 60?s era Chevy Sprint Car.
Again my car ran great all three sessions and it was fun to follow David while he was driving my car and watch its suspension working as I had also softened up the shocks and lowered the air pressure. Additionally it gave me some time to feel out Daves sprinter and take it easy. I finally did go around him but still drove very conservatively in a strange (to me) car. Previous big cars and sprinters I have driven were of 30s, 40s and 50 era with cross springs, narrow tires and a lot less power.
Loaded up and left Webster City for a leisurely tow home with a stop for supper on the way. Got home after dark and arrived to find that Bonnie in her humor, had all the outside lights on, the inside lights on and a large sign board in the family room, directing me to the left up stairwell.
On Wednesday the 12th, I checked the car over for the coming weekend at Oskaloosa, IA. It had used no oil, water was right up, and about 3 gallons of fuel left.
Friday the 14th, left about noon for Oskaloosa. Pulled in just before dusk and met the two visiting Aussies, Dennis Williams and Bob Newman who had come to the States specifically to attend this event. Later that week I was able to help them have a special tour in Lincoln Nebraska of Speedway Bill?s Museum of American Speed.
Saturday the 15th, Test and Tune started mid-morning and went to early/mid afternoon. I did not participate as the car was running so well the previous week. Heats and features in the evening. Car ran well and cooled well through two heats and feature until last lap, temp shot up and pegged the gauge. I suspected the water pump drive again so I put the car on the trailer and abandoned any running the next day. I headed for home mid-afternoon on Saturday after the banquet and swap meet activity.
9/18/2012 teardown confirmed a water pump drive failure. Slotted drive spud wore the corners off the impellor shaft square and also wore into the slot. Now I thought it was obvious I must have a significant axial mis-alignment of the two parallel shafts (the crankshaft and the water pump impellor shaft) from modifying the timing cover to provide the mounting flange for the water pump.
I contacted the Studebaker Museum and obtained an engineering drawing and dimensions. The subsequent measurements of the timing cover disproved my theory.
I am now in the middle of machining a new larger drive for the pump and the corresponding mating parts to rebuild the pump with. This will be completed over the winter.
Earlier I had gotten after the deferred front spring issue and had a new leaf made and the entire pack re-arched and that is back in and ready.
So now as I finish this long epistle, and e-mail it off to most of you, and print it out and mailing to a few of you who have, perhaps wisely, chosen to not get involved in this electronic madness, I will go on to finish another article for the The 12 port NEWS.
This time much shorter and many pictures, of good friend and fabulous fabricator of my resurrected midget, Dave Seleens Cummins Diesel installation in his 62 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud!
I will again be watching as the various 2013 Vintage meets get posted and plan my participation accordingly. Again I want to go on an extended Eastern trip as I have been able to do the last two years. Belleville KS is also running after a 2 year lapse in late July and I will plan on that.
My on-going cardiac re-hab on my treadmill, some upper body weight work outs and daily hand/finger exercises for tendonitis take a lot of time. I also still have my Motor Auto and Truck Repair Information sales territory but have quit the road travel as I wind down this business. House maintenance and repairs never end, just like a race car, so I'm more than busy most all of the time.
Hopefully our paths will cross in the coming year.
Art Abrahams at email@example.comDec 14 2012
Two days of vintage celebration with ample track time for testing and tuning, hot lapping and raising hell ensued.
Vintage Midgets, Sprintcars and Champ/Indycars - each had their seperate sessions and feature exhibitions on Saturday night.
Bill Rozhon's Havasu Speedway Toys For Tots Campaign.
Not just an exercise in self indulgence the participants helped raise enough money to purchase about 120 bicycles for needy kids in the area, just in time for Christmas.
Everyone followed the rules and were on the same page with the goal being a safe and exciting experience for the participants; a substantial contribution to the Toys For Tots Fund and a good, well run show for the fans.
Here is a list of all entrants that participated in our vintage event:
Adams, Barry- Mesa AZ. 1986 Indian Outlaw Special Edmunds Midget#11 White.
Alcaraz, Ray- Lake Havasu, AZ Edmunds Midget VW Power- #77 Red(Driven by Herk Alcaraz)
1959 Epperly, Indy Roadster #77 Red Somewhat Special (Driven by Ray and Herk Alcaraz)
Barringer, Bill- Rancho Mirage, CA 1938 ?George Barringer Special Indy Champ Car #26 Blue
Blacker, George- Henderson, NV Roger Back Copy- Blacker Special Sprint Car #9 Black
Diener, Del- Surprise, 1968 Don Collins Chassis-Main Street Motors Special Indy Champ Car #59 Metallic Blue
Enright, Steve- Tustin, CA 1947 Kurtis Offy Midget #22, Black
Hegg, Roger - Dewey, AZ 1974 Gene Fechters Special Stanton Midget #42 White/Black
Kiser, John Holladay, UT #3 Sprint Car, Blue
Lines, Bob Redlands, CA Chevy II Midget, #6r, orange.
Logan, Steve - El Cajon, CA 1968 CAE House Car Sprint Car #1s, Pearl
Luddon, Mike - Lake Havasu, AZ 1969 West Coast Special Trostle Chassis Midget #3, Black
Mastroleo, Bob- Monrovia, CA 1949 Kurtis Offy Midget #14 Gray
Matousek, Dennis- Phoenix, AZ 1973 Roger Bock Sprint Car #1a White(Gene Gile driver)
Quinn, Dale- Havasu, AZ 1980 Johnny Lightning Special Edmunds Midget #1, Blue
Rice, Bud- Phoenix, AZ 1972 Stanton Sprint Car #72, Orange
Robertson, Don- Jerome, AZ 1928 ?Eat My Dirt Special Studebaker Indy Car, #28, Yellow
Schrum, Mike- Buckeye, AZ 1975 Edmunds Midget #34s, White
Schulz, Carl- Indio, CA 1928 Miller Tribute Car Boyle Valve Special Indy Car, #15 White
Shuman, Bill- Phoenix, AZ 1969 Gabe and Tillies Racing Team
Ray Wilson Sprint Car, #84a, Whit Sprint Car,
Waltman, Dean Boise, ID 1975 San Jose Supermod, #70.
Waugh, Steve Barstow, CA 1958 Lasosky Indy Roadster #13 Blue/White
Williams, Jim- Georgetown, CA 1975 J&J Special Gambler Chassis Sprint Car, #4j, White
Honorable mention: Cook midget-towed in but never ran-mechanical problems-#32-no further info.
And here's a link to our Album that contains event photos. It's open to the public just open the thumbnails and you should be able to download any you want. Each photo has identifying info in title and imbedded into the photo.
Oct 15 2011
From Carl Schultz
Aug 23 2011
The Don Edmunds 4wheel Independently Suspended Offy Midget Roadster
photo by Kevin Triplett
A while back Kevin Triplett found this Edmunds 4 wheel independent suspended midget at the Legends of Ascot Gathering out west.
Excerpts from Kevins article on Oct 30 2010 are below. Go Farther down this page and to see all of Kevins article.
Excerpts by Kevin Triplett
The heavily weathered little midget race car sat at the end of the line of cars on display, and was overlooked by many attendees of the Legends of Ascot event, who failed to realize what this car could have meant to auto racing.
The little #99 car is the only Edmunds four-wheel independent suspension midget ever built, and it has a remarkable history.
Thirty-five years had passed, and Don Edmunds wondered whatever had become of the roadster, which Don describes as “the best car he ever built,” even though it had never raced. After searching, Don got in touch with George Tatnell’s son, World of Outlaws driver Brooke Tatnell, who told him that it was still in George’s barn. In 2007, George Tatnell passed away, and after a few years, Brooke let Don know the car was for sale. Don’s son, Dan Edmunds, in Australia on business, took numerous photos of the car to document its completely unmolested condition. Don reacquired the car in 2010 and proudly displayed it in its UNrestored condition at the Legends of Ascot 2010.
Now in Don Edmunds own words what transpired since that little car was built. It is a long movie so you will have to wait if your computer stuff isnt up to date.
Below is the youtube address to a short movie with Don Edmunds naration telling his story of this neat little car.
July 14 2011
Long Live spindly old racecars and rickety old men and women who drive them
photo by Randall Cook, Indianapolis
Carl Schultz at the Milwaukee Mile
Millers at Milwaukee Mile 7-8-11
The “mac miller specials” had a great weekend at the fabulous “Millers at Milwaukee” vintage meet July 8 & 9.
The Bob Dicks’ 1963 #98 “Agajanian” Watson roadster and the Carl Schulz’ 1927 #15 “Boyle Valve Spl.” Miller were on the Milwaukee Mile, virtually non stop, from the first green flag at 11 AM on Friday until the final “checker”at 4 PM on Saturday.
In addition to regular team drivers, Bob Dicks, Carl Schulz, mac miller and Randall Cook, it was the team’s pleasure to have several notable guest “wheelmen” running lap sessions, including Roy Caruthers, Andy Hurtubise, Chris Paulsen, Josh Shaw, Brad Edwards and Michael Ferner. We would like to thank these guys for helping us make the “mac miller specials” the lap leaders for the weekend.
We love the Millers at Milwaukee! and want to thank everyone involved in organizing & conducting the meet , all of the car owners, who bring their wonderful cars and all of the fans who come to be part of the scene.
ac miller in
THANK YOU ALL!!!!
May 6 2011
Taking You Back !
Jack Hinkle- Sportsman
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
Mention the name ‘Jack Hinkle’ to auto racing historians and they will invariably remember him the owner of the Indianapolis cars driven by Jack McGrath from 1950 through 1955, but there is far more to the Jack Hinkle story.
Early car ownership
Jack was an only child born in 1913 in the Kansas oil fields. His father George started the Hinkle Oil Co, a gas and oil exploration firm in 1926. By 1947, Jack was a quite wealthy, so he and a partner bought a midget car that raced at Cejay Stadium dirt track (named after track owner/promoter Carl Johnson) in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. Jack’s partner and the driver of the #30 C & H Air Service midget was Dean Case, as Jack’s father forbade him from race driving. One night, Case lost control and the car veered off track, through several barbed wire fences, finally coming to rest underneath the grandstand While Case recovered from the near decapitation, Hinkle hired experienced local midget pilot Bob McKim of Salina Kansas to drive the car. The team experienced better success, and Jack wanted to move up to the ‘big league:’ Indianapolis.
Championship car owner
At the end of 1949, Jack Hinkle offered McKim a ride with for the upcoming AAA (American Automobile Association) season in the 270 cubic inch Offenhauser-powered Kurtis-Kraft championship car being constructed in California. McKim told Hinkle that he would have to think it over, as he was not sure he wanted to be away from his family that much. While McKim was trying to make up his mind, Hinkle’s new mechanic, Jack Beckley, suggested California roadster veteran John James ‘Jack’ McGrath, who had driven four races for Beckley in 1949 in City of Tacoma car. McGrath, who had run the ‘500 twice before, quickly came to an agreement with the Kansas oilman/banker. Despite missing the champ car opportunity, McKim went on to have a long distinguished career racing with the international Motor Contest Association (IMCA) and UMCA (United Motor Contest Association), and was enshrined in the Belleville Kansas High Banks Hall of Fame in 2002.
Upon arrival at Indianapolis in May 1950 with the brand new maroon with silver trim # 49 Kurtis-Kraft 3000, the team became known in Gasoline Alley as the "Three Jacks," owing to the first names of the car owner, chief mechanic, and driver. Early in the month, the Hinkle Special established itself one of the fastest cars at the Speedway, with a best practice lap of 131 MPH. In qualifying, McGrath ran faster still, but wound up sixth, gridded on the outside of the second row. On Race Day, McGrath ran second just past the mid-point of the race when he pitted for tires and fuel. A slow pit stop dropped the Hinkle car back in the field. McGrath was caught by the sudden downpour on lap 131, spun into the outside wall in turn 3, and was credited with a 14th place finish. After Indianapolis, the Hinkle team experienced good success with the K-K 3000 during the rest of the 1950 AAA Championship trail, winning both the Langhorne 100 in June and the Syracuse 100 in September, and ended the season was three straight top ten finishes, and placed ninth in the season standings.
In 1951, the Hinkle team arrived at Indy with the same Kurtis-Kraft (K-K) 3000 now numbered #9, and McGrath placed the car on the outside of the front row for the start of the Memorial Day race, qualifying at an average speed of 134.303 MPH for the four lap run. In the ‘500,’ McGrath ran near the front of the field, all the while suffering with a severe right leg cramp caused by an awkward throttle pedal location. McGrath’s good friend Manny Ayulo relieved him at lap 100 and drove the Hinkle maroon #9 the rest of the distance, for a strong third place finish. During the month of May, the Hinkle team took delivery of their Kurtis-Kraft 4000 that they would use for the balance of the races in the 1951 season. McGrath placed the new Hinkle car on the pole at three races: Milwaukee, Langhorne and Bay Meadows, and recorded six top five finishes. The team’s consistent performance earned them a fourth place in the final season standings, albeit far behind the dominant Tony Bettenhausen.
Over the winter of 1951/52, Beckley and McGrath re-worked the Hinkle K-K 3000, equipping the car with expanded fuel and oil tanks in order to stay competitive at Indianapolis with the new-for 1952 Kurtis "roadsters".
Jacl McGrath indy 1952
McGrath qualified at an average speed of 136. 664 MPH, which again placed the maroon Hinkle Special on the outside of the front row for the 1952 500-mile classic. McGrath led the first six laps before yielding to Bill Vukovich, and ran well for the first 100 miles before he fell back to eventually finish 11th. McGrath’s average speed of 121.428 earned him a place in the coveted Champion Spark Plug "100 Mile an Hour" club. For the rest of the season, McGrath placed the trusty Hinkle KK-4000 on the pole in three races in 1952, at Syracuse, San Jose, and Phoenix, and won the Syracuse 100 in dominant fashion. The Hinkle team recorded five other top ten finishes on their way to second place in the 1952 AAA National Championship
For the 1953 Indianapolis ‘500,’ the Hinkle team retired the K-K 3000 used for the previous three races and used the familiar K-K 4000 upright, now painted cream trimmed in red and black, numbered #5.
Jack McGrath indy 1953
The first day of qualifications was rained out; on Sunday McGrath qualified third fastest again for the third straight year, behind the K-K 5000 roadsters of Vukovich and Agabashian. The race itself of course was all Vukovich; McGrath never threatened for the lead and finished fifth, and despite the brutal heat he made just two pit stops and was never relieved. McGrath and the Hinkle team won the race the following weekend at Milwaukee, and posted three other top five finishes through the rest of the season, including a fourth at the second Milwaukee race after winning the pole position. McGrath finished second in the AAA National Championship again behind Sam Hanks.
The Hinkle team opened the 1954 AAA season at Indianapolis with Jack McGrath driving a new #2 Kurtis-Kraft 500C roadster. Jack Beckley had left the Hinkle team, so McGrath was both driver and mechanic, assisted by Jack Hinkle and Chet Johnson. In qualifying, Jack McGrath set the Hinkle car on the pole with a new four lap qualifying record average of 141.033 MPH, breaking Chet Miller's 1952 record of 139.034. On race day, McGrath led the first 44 laps until he stopped for tires and fuel. On lap 89, McGrath retook the lead for two circuits, and ran second when he made his second stop just past the halfway point of the race. The car stalled and had to be restarted, dropping the #2 Hinkle Special to sixth. With Vukovich again dominating, McGrath battled back to finish third, a scant ten seconds behind Jimmy Bryan. At the newly paved Milwaukee race the next weekend, McGrath finished fourth after starting 21st and took the lead in the AAA championship. On June 16, the Hinkle KK-500 Special took part in a special ‘match race’ marking the dedication of the Chrysler Chelsea Michigan proving grounds, and set the world’s closed course speed record at 179 MPH, a record that stood until 1961. Unfortunately, a few days later at Langhorne, the aged Hinkle KK-4000 did not qualify which was followed by a dismal series of finishes broken when McGrath qualified on the pole at Sacramento and finished second in the race. The 1954 season ended with the Hinkle Special missing the field at Phoenix. Despite all the troubles, McGrath finished third in 1954 AAA championship.
Over the winter, McGrath meticulously prepared the two Hinkle Kurtis racers for the 1955 season, and the hard work paid off with new one- and four-lap qualifying records, but because it was recorded on the second day of time trials, McGrath was third on the starting grid for the fourth time in five years. The new speed record was even more remarkable considering that McGrath’s good friend Manny Ayulo had been killed the previous afternoon. At the drop of the green flag, McGrath and two-time and defending champion Bill Vukovich staged an unforgettable duel for the first 26 laps, until Vukovich took the lead on a daring move entering turn one. Interviewed later, McGrath said, "if he wanted to lead it that bad I thought I better let him go." The cream-colored Hinkle Special began trailing smoke, and fell out of the race on the 54th lap, variously reported as to due to a broken oil line or a bad magneto. McGrath remarked to a radio interviewer that he had the "lousiest chief mechanic in the business- he can’t keep a motor running", an ironic comment on his own mechanical skills. The 26th place Indianapolis finish was a harbinger of things to come in 1955 for the Hinkle team; the team suffered with poor qualifying efforts and finishes, with a second at DuQuoin on Labor Day the team’s best finish.
Coming into the final race of the 1955, the 100-miler at Phoenix Fairgrounds dirt oval, McGrath announced that it would be his last dirt race. McGrath had built a new front axle for the KK-4000, but when he learned that Jack Hinkle made a deal with George Bignotti to buy the car after the race, McGrath decided to use the old one. After leading in the early going, McGrath was battling for second on the 86th, the front axle broke entering turn three; during the four sickening flips that followed, McGrath’s new style helmet flew off and he was killed instantly. Bignotti cancelled the deal with Hinkle and the fatal car was rebuilt and sold to R. D. Whittington Sr. The ex-Hinkle K-K4000 was entered by Whittington in three races in 1957 and 1958, but was failed to qualify. The Hinkle K-K 500C Speedway car was sold to H.H. Johnson, and raced in the 1956 and 1957 ‘500’s’ as the "Helse Special". When Jack Hinkle ended his involvement in professional auto racing, he had complied an enviable record. In six seasons as a Championship car owner, Hinkle’s cars started on the front at Indy five straight times, recorded three top five finishes at Indy, four championship victories, and finished in top five in points five times.
In 1954, Jack Hinkle visited the Offutt National Sports Car Races in Omaha Nebraska with friends from Wichita and had remarked that he "didn’t believe in racing for trophies." After McGrath’s tragic death, Jack’s attitude towards professional racing changed radically. Jack joined the Wichita region of the SCCA early in 1956 to compete in SCCA F Modified racing in his Kurtis 500C sports car that he had purchased from Frank Kurtis. The 500X was a modified version of the K-K500C Indy car, designed to be fitted with an assortment of American V-8 engines, but in early 1955, Hinkle had Jack McGrath fit the car with a modified 88 CI Offenhauser engine. Jack’s first sports car race with the K-K Offy came at a regional event at Dodge City Kansas, five months after McGrath’s tragic death. The debut was inauspicious; after Jack won his class in the preliminary race, the little Offy engine broke a piston in the 100-mile feature. Jack won his first race in the Kurtis a month later at Smartt Field in St. Louis. Jack finished the 1956 season when he won a race in Coffeyville Kansas driving his Ferrari 750 Monza. In 1957, Jack scored two victories with the Kurtis-Offy before he retired it and purchased and raced a series of Maserati’s over the next two years- a 300S, a 200S and 250S, winning four events.
Typical Birdcage Maserati Tipo 61
all photos from the Kevin Triplett collection
In 1960, Hinkle purchased the car with which is most associated- a 1960 Tipo 61 Birdcage Maserati. Over the next 3 seasons with his Birdcage, Jack Hinkle recorded 9 victories, 5 second place finishes, four third place finishes, and only 2 DNF’s, racing at tracks in Texas, Kansas, Arizona, Missouri and New Mexico. Nearly fifty years later, in 2010, Jack’s restored Birdcage sold for over $3.5 million dollars.
With the tragedy he had experienced as an AAA car owner, when Jack became the SCCA chairman in 1960 and 1961, he fiercely defended the SCCA’s amateur status against those that wanted the club to turn pro. "The SCCA," Jack said in a 1961 interview with Sports Illustrated, "is, simply, a gentleman’s racing club." In 1962, the SCCA awarded Jack the prestigious Woolf Barnato Award for his outstanding long-term contributions to the SCCA.
In 1962, Jack purchased a Cooper Monaco
Then purchasing a Brabham BT8 and racing it with the same 2.7-liter engine he had used in the Cooper. As with most of Jack Hinkle’s personal race cars, the Brabham was painted red, and numbered #61. During the time he raced it, Hinkle won 38 races in the Brabham. After a crash destroyed the Brabham, Hinkle bought a new Porsche 906, which he later sold as he felt it was not fast enough. Hinkle moved up to race and win throughout the 1970’s in the wild A/Sports Racing class in several McLaren ex-Can Am cars,
Then settling on a Lola T165 with a big-block Chevrolet power plant.
In 1972, at the age of 59, when most racers are long since retired, Jack Hinkle the racer was the subject of a feature article in Road & Track magazine. A few years later when the SCCA enacted a rule limiting all cars to five-liter engines, Jack switched to a Lola S2000. Jack Hinkle retired from race driving in 1983 at age 71, having notched 71 SCCA overall victories in his long driving career. Throughout his entire racing career, he had just worked with the same full-time mechanic, his old friend Chet Johnson, who passed away in 2001. Jack Hinkle passed away on January 31, 2003.
Whether as a car owner, a driver, or racing official, Jack Hinkle truly epitomized the term "sportsman."
Apr 22 2011
Taking You Back !
Portrait of a racer - Chuck Stapleton
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
Two years ago, I found and bought this old black and white photograph on the online auction site EBay - a photo of auto racer Chuck Stapleton with a stamp on the back that reads "Dayton Pleasure Car Club, Inc."
I have been steadily researching the story behind this photo, and I finally have compiled enough information to relate the Chuck Stapleton story satisfactorily.
Charles "Chuck" Harold Stapleton, Jr. was born to Charles and Hazel Stapleton on November 15, 1928, and grew up with two brothers and two sisters in the village of Englewood, Ohio approximately 10 miles northwest of Dayton. After high school Chuck married his wife Shirley in 1947, and that same year, Chuck attended the Indianapolis ‘500,’ and was bitten by the racing bug. Chuck and his brother-in-law John Hufford regularly attended the roadster races held at Dayton Speedway. After a few years of spectating, Chuck decided that he was ready to race, so in 1950, he and John built a 1939 Ford stock car numbered #60 to race on local tracks. Chuck’s regular job was as a mechanic at Peffley Ford in Dayton, which was right next door to Frankie’s Forest Park Amusement Park, which held weekly races on a 1/5-mile dirt track located east of the park’s main attraction, the Comet roller coaster. The Dayton Pleasure Car Club, Inc. (DPCC) sanctioned the stock car races at Forest Park. Other notable members of the DPCC included Dayton area racing legends Ray Teague, Dick Dunlevy, Chick Hale, and Neal Sceva. In addition to Saturday night races at Forest Park, DPCC sanctioned Friday night races at the 3/10-mile Shady Bowl Speedway in nearby Degraff, Ohio, and Sunday afternoon races at Blevin’s Speedway in Middletown, Ohio, with occasional events at Powell Speedway in Columbus Ohio. His first night out at Forest Park in his still-unpainted new car, Chuck won his heat race and finished sixth in the feature. The second week, after painting the car, Chuck sheared an axle key at Forest Park and the ensuing crash tore all four fenders off his new racer. At the end of that first season, as a rookie, Chuck finished 11th in the DPCC season standings.
For 1951, Chuck parked his #60 car and concentrating on just driving; this move paid off, as Stapleton finished second in the 1951 DPCC season points. For 1952, Chuck built a new car, a 1951 Ford, but his DPCC results for that year have been lost to history. During the winter of 1952-1953, Chuck competed in the modified Crosley Stock Car races held indoors at the Cincinnati Gardens (1/10-mile track) and won the track championship. During this period, modified Crosley racing was popular in the Midwest, with races also held indoors in arenas in Louisville and Indianapolis. In February 1953, Chuck traveled to Florida to race on the 4.2-mile Daytona Beach course in his 1939 Ford modified stock car renumbered #160. Stapleton started 108th out of 136 cars, the largest NASCAR field ever. Chuck was running twelfth on the last lap of the 100-mile grind when his engine lost all oil pressure. Chuck’s car limped across the finish line in 33rd place, and he won $25.00. During the 1953 season, Chuck continued to race his 1951 Ford stock car, finishing seventh in a 100-mile ARCA stock car race held in May at Dayton Speedway.
For 1954, Chuck signed to race the AAA Midwest sprint car circuit driving Bill Cowgill’s red and white Offenhauser powered sprint car. The Leitenberger Brothers of Pennsylvania had formerly owned the car now known as the "Bill’s Service Center Special" #45. The 1954 season opener was held April 11 on the steeply banked Dayton Speedway; fragmented AAA sprint car records only list the top five finishers in the race won by Mike Nazurak, with no mention of Stapleton. The AAA Midwest Sprint cars next race was at the similarly high-banked 5/8-mile Fort Wayne Speedway, one of four similar tracks built by Frank Funk (the other three being Winchester, Salem and Dayton.) After being idle for several years, the Fort Wayne track had re-opened for 1954, operated by famed Eastern promoter Sam Nunis. 1954 marked the first and last time that races at all four of "the Hills" were on the AAA Midwest sprint car circuit schedule. As with the Dayton race, there are no AAA results available for Chuck Stapleton’s performance at this event, which won by Eddie Sachs in 18-year old car owner Mari Hulman’s H-O-W Special.
Winchester Speedway was the third stop on the 1954 Midwest AAA Sprint car schedule on May 2. Several days prior to the race, Chuck told brother-in-law John Hufford that he just not comfortable driving the Cowgill sprint car, and that he would step out of the car after Winchester. As events turned out, Chuck should have quit earlier. At the conclusion of the ten-lap consolation race in which he finished fourth, Chuck’s car continued at full speed and tangled with the car of Anderson, Indiana’s Curly Boyd in turn one. Chuck’s car spun, slid backwards up the banking, hit the fence, and slowly rolled over the top of the embankment, coming to rest upside down outside the track below. Rescuers up-righted the car, removed the gravely injured Stapleton from the wreckage, and loaded him into the Fraze Ambulance. Stapleton died en route to Randolph County Hospital in Winchester of severe head injuries. News reports the next day reported that race officials, citing in his inexperience in sprint cars, suspected that Chuck had not seen the checkered flag, but with four years of racing experience, this explanation seems unlikely. Stapleton’s death marked the first fatality at Winchester since the events of ‘Black Sunday’, July 29, 1951 in which Cecil Green and Bill Mackey had died on successive qualifying attempts.
Chuck Stapleton, age 25, was buried at Dayton Memorial Park a few days later, and left behind a pregnant wife and two children.
The author thanks John Hufford for his sharing his memories of Chuck Stapleton, and Rick Patterson for his research assistance.
Apr 3 2011
From Carl Schulz of The WRA BREAKING NEWS 4/1/2011
We are sorry to report the Bob Munier passed away at 2:30 AM, April 1, 2011. As many of you know, Bob had cancer and his wife died last month. He took a turn for the worse and passed peacefully. Memorial Services are pending. Check back for info.
VAN BLARGEN UP DATE 4/1/2011
Kenny is doing better and is in Rehab. He would appreciate cards from our members. Please mail to:
Kenny Van Blargen C/O Kentfield Rehab Hospital
1125 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Kentfield, CA 94904-1455
PLEASE HELP OUR FRIEND IN NEED 3/15/11
Kenny Van Blargen went upside down at Havasu Speedway
and is in the hospital. He needs your help. Donations:
F.B.O. Kenny Van Blargon
Santa Lucia Bank P.O. Box 1947 Paso Robles, CA 93447
Please send what you can.Thank you!
Feb 22 2011
An edit for the story below on the 20th
We got this e-mail from Les Stark shedding some light on the Gilmore facilities. Thanks for triggering the old memory banks.
Gilmore Stadium and Gilmore Field were two separate buildings. They
were both on the same property then called Gilmore Island. The
property owned by Earl Gilmore was not part of Los Angeles. It was
surrounded by Los Angeles. Gilmore field was a baseball park and
Gilmore Stadium was a race track and Football Stadium.
Best regards, Les
From this picture below You can see the Stadium in the foreground and the Field back further
Gilmore Stadium then named Gilmore Field( not so as they were two seperate facilities see above) as they played stick and ball games there, this photo below was an editor error
All photos from the Kevin Triplett collection
Feb 22 2011
Taking You Back!
The (Short) McLaglen Stadium Story
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
Included among the collection of news clippings I inherited from Don Radbruch, was a small article entitled
“Thirteen midget men face trial”
This article provided an update on the story of 13 midget racer drivers, announcers and officials whom had been arrested several weeks earlier, in the article, jury selection had begun. The men were charged with disturbing the peace, conducting a nuisance and failure to obtain a fire permit. So what was the real story?
As I had mentioned in a previous article ( see it belowabout Bill Betteridge, in 1936, a sanctioning dispute had broken out between, Earl Gilmore, owner of Gilmore Stadium and the N.M.A. (National Midget Racing Association).
The roots of the N.M.A. stretched back several years to the establishment of midget auto racing in the Los Angeles basin, when insurance agent D.W. “Doc” Moffat invested in the formation of the forerunner to N.M.A., the Midget Auto Racing Association (M.A.R.A.). There had been a dispute concerning the finish of the 1935 Turkey Night Grand Prix with the apparent winner Ted Sizemore first disqualified, and then reinstated, for corner cutting. Earl Gilmore blamed the N.M.A. officials for their lack of race control, which resulted in Gilmore Stadium’s prized turf infield being damaged nearly every week. In addition, Gilmore disliked the loud smoky outboard powered midgets and announced his intention to require mufflers at Gilmore Stadium. When “Doc” Moffat pressed his N.M.A. racers’ concerns regarding the mufflers, he was told by Gilmore Stadium officials that they had formed their own sanctioning body, the American Midget Association (A.M.A), and the 1936 Midget Sanctioning War was on.
Moffat responding by requesting N.M.A. racers boycott the Gilmore season opening race on April 2, 1936;, when race time arrived, Gilmore had only 8 cars in the pits and a full grandstand of fans wanting to see a full program. Gilmore’s Director of Racing Operations, Dave Koetzla capitulated on the muffler issue, and the N.M.A. racers miraculously materialized. The N.M.A. had won the first round of the War. However, the subsequent program featured wholesale corner cutting and left the infield a mess.
Gilmore officials had a surprise for the NMA racers the next week, announcing in the April 9 1936 issue of the LA Times that “there will be no more corner cutting at the Gilmore Stadium midget auto races.” This directive was enforced by placement of burlap wrapped straw bales placed in each of the turns, with the ends flush against the inside rail. Another new addition was a sound meter, which resulted in several (mostly outboard powered) cars being disqualified after hot laps for being too loud. Round two of the War went to Gilmore.
Ted Sizemore’s muffler equipped outboard powered midget won the following week at Gilmore, which silenced the muffler complaints, but the hay bales still caused grumbling among the N.M. A. competitors. In the meantime, ‘Doc” Moffat announced that the N.M.A. would soon visit two new venues; Santa Monica Municipal Stadium and Victor McLaglen Stadium near Glendale. The Gilmore straw bale issue came to head on May 28, 1936 - at the end of the first heat race, drivers and crews rushed onto to the track and dragged the bales into the infield and lit some of them on fire, while NMA officials stood by and the crowd roared its’ approval. Earl Gilmore was outraged and announced that midget auto racing would no longer be held at the Stadium. The outcome of round three of the sanctioning war would have to be called a draw.
The initial race at Santa Monica was held the Sunday three days following the last race at Gilmore ; this first Santa Monica race was a disaster, with dusty, rutted track conditions (although racing continued there until the end of the1938 season.) Come Monday following the Santa Monica event, Earl Gilmore had evidently changed his mind about never hosting racing there again, announcing the Gilmore Stadium track would be closed briefly while the track was expanded to a full ¼-mile distance. The edge had to go to Gilmore for this round.
The initial N.M.A. midget auto race for McLaglen Stadium was scheduled for June 17, 1936. Officially known as the Victor McLaglen’s Sports Center.
The facility owned by actor and sports enthusiast Victor McLaglen.
All photos from the Kevin Triplett collection
McLaglen was originally born in England, but had rose to fame as a bare knuckles boxer in Canada, including a 1909 bout in Vancouver with Jack Johnson which resulted in a “no decision.” After serving for Britain in World War 1, McLaglen moved to Hollywood in 1920 and became a leading Hollywood character actor, winning the Academy Award in 1935. McLaglen Stadium, located at the intersection of Los Feliz Boulevard & Riverside Drive near Griffith Park adjacent to the Los Angeles River, was the site of many rugby, football and soccer matches throughout the 1930’s. During 1935, McLaglen Stadium had been used as a location for filming of the world’s first midget racing move, “Ten Laps to Go,” starring cowboy actors Rex Lease and Duncan Renaldo, which perhaps opened the door for Moffat and promoter Bob McGinty to stage regular races there.
Conditions at the initial McLaglen event on June 17th was even worse that the first event at Santa Monica; those cars that didn’t break from the rough track suffered from the excessive dust. By the following week, the track had received a lot of fixes; according to a L.A. Times article, “the track has been rebuilt, the start/finish line moved to the west side, and other improvements too numerous to mention.” The June 24th 40-lap feature saw Victor McLaglen himself working in the pits, much to the delight of the capacity crowd of 6000. Weekly racing on Wednesday nights at McLaglen Stadium was a hit with fans, but trouble was brewing. In the week following the June 24 eventt, a neighbor on Valleybrink Road in Glendale (just across the Los Angeles River from the Stadium) complained to the City Council about the noise from the midget race cars and requested that “the nuisance be abated.” Four weeks later, on July 29, 1936 the Stadium was raided by more than a dozen police officers following the completion of the 40-lap feature won by Bill Betteridge. In the chaos that followed, the police arrested five N.M.A. officials: Promoter McGinty, N.M.A. President Moffatt, announcer Wally Strait, referee Earl Hasekell, and starter Everett Balmer.
Also caught in the dragnet were eight drivers: Dick Holmes, Charlie Vondera, Frank Haitman, Louis Ulbrich, Robert Ware,” PeeWee” Darstice, Eddie Davis and Danny “Poison” Oaks.
All 13 men were arraigned, plead not guilty and released on the own recognizance pending their upcoming jury trials. After several trials, only promoter Bob McGinty was convicted of the misdemeanor charge of failing to obtain a fire permit, but midget auto racing at McLaglen Stadium was finished after only seven events. There has been a persistent story that the raid was the result of the feud between Gilmore and the N.M.A, and that Gilmore had used his powerful connections to eliminate his competition. Perhaps it was just coincidence that Gilmore Stadium re-opened for midget racing the night following the raid, thus ending the 1936 Sanctioning War.
In the end, as is typical, it really didn’t matter who won the War. In early March 1938, after heavy rains for days, the east side grandstand foundation of Victor McLaglen Stadium was swept away by the massive flooding of the Los Angeles River. The Stadium site is now occupied by Interstate 5. Victor McLaglen continued to work as an actor in Hollywood until in his death in 1959; he is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, just over two miles from his Stadium.
The author welcomes the members of the openwheelracers3.com readership to come forward with any McLaglen Stadium stories, photos or memorabilia in his efforts to flesh out the McLaglen Stadium Story.
Feb 13 2011
Legends of San Jose, Kearney Bowl aka, "Airport" spdwys 2011
Vintage San Jose & Fresnos Kearney Bowl supers are running this year !
Come see Pombo, Sargent, Rescino cars and about 20 other old supers from their era still running.
Madera April 2nd,
Tulare april 16th,
Tulare April 30th after the Jim Perry Kearney Bowl reunion,
Madera May 7th ,
Tulare May 14th Tulare Pombo/Sargent Classic, Madera June 11th Vukovich classic,
Watsonville July 1st Howard kaeding Classic
Santa Maria July 23rd,
Watsonville Johnny Key Classic Aug 27th , Roseville Sept. 23, 24,
Hanford Oct. 15th Hanford Cotton Classic, Willow Springs Raceway Walt James Classic Nov. 26th, 27th
check with the track before going as Races are subject to changes
Feb 6 2011
Bill Betteridge – the first midget racing superstar
Takeing you Back
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
photo courtesy of the NMARHOF
I recently reviewed a set of early midget newspaper clippings complied by the late Don Radbruch, a truly great racing historian, and found a number of Los Angeles newspapers with front page banner headlines announcing the death of Billy Betteridge. I must profess that I knew little about this pioneering midget racer, so I started researching the life of Bill Betteridge., the details which I am pleased to share with the Openwheelracers3.com readers.
William T. “Bill” Betteridge was born April 8, 1914 in Fresno, California, and as a young man he moved to the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale. In 1933 proving his natural mechanical abilities, built his own midget race car, powered at first by a Henderson twin-cylinder motorcycle engine; after a few 8-car exhibition races (the world’s first midget races) he replaced the Henderson with a more powerful Kaley outboard engine. He then tested his creation at the Muroc dry lake and hit a top speed of just over 100 MPH; it was with this car he entered his first midget race in 1933 at the 1/5-mile track at Loyola High School Stadium on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles, run under the Midget Auto Racing Association (M.A.R.A.) sanction. Bill struggled in those first few races, but later in the season, he installed an Elto 4-60 engine in his “Little Red Racer” and became a front runner. The Elto produced by Ole Evinrude was a 4-cyclinder opposed outboard motor which displaced 60 cubic inches. Towards the end of the 1933 season, Billy set fast time at several races and won some trophy dashes, but a main event win eluded him in 1933.
Bill Betteridge was a publicist’s dream, a religious young man who lived with his parents and sister at 3001 Division Street in Glendale; his parents attended most all of his races. Betteridge did not drink, smoke, or swear, and always seemed to have a smile on his face. During the short break between the 1933 and 1934 seasons, Billy redoubled his efforts to make his car competitive and it paid off handsomely. Many sources state Betteridge won the feature on February 1, 1934 at Loyola, but a period newspaper article credits him with winning the trophy dash, and finishing the feature in second place behind Bill Smilie. This was the last race ever run at Loyola, as the Jesuits had received too many complaints from the neighbors and chose to not extend MARA’s lease. With the loss of Loyola, M.A.R.A. now concentrated its races at Moto Speedway in Long Beach and the Santa Ana Municipal Bowl, both 1/5 mile dirt ovals.
In the next few months, Billy and his red #7 “Power-Lube Special” continued to excel, racking up 10 feature race wins. In the meantime, the soon to be famous Gilmore Stadium was being built, and opened for its first race on May 31, 1934. That race and the next four Gilmore races were won by Curly Mills in his Elto-powered midget, while Bill suffered a string of mechanical problems. On August 5th Betteridge got back to his winning ways in an unusual event staged at the Greenwich Village housing development in Girard California (now known as Woodland Hills). The 75-lap race was staged on a one-mile course laid out on the unpaved streets to promote sales in the new development. Bill Betteridge won by a lap over second place Don Welch, averaging just less than 48 MPH for the grueling event.
By the end of September 1934, Betteridge had won seventeen more feature races, including six in a row at Gilmore Stadium and had built up a commanding lead in the M.A.R.A. season points. At the end of September however, two new cars debuted, powered by four cylinder, eight valve, double overhead camshaft Offenhauser engines. Bob Swanson and Curly Mills in their new cars dominated for the balance of the season, with Swanson winning the first ever “Midget Grand Prix” held on Thanksgiving night 1934. Nonetheless, Billy Betteridge held onto his points lead and was crowned the 1934 M.A.R.A. Midget National Champion, and is credited with close to 50 feature wins in the 1934 season.
Before the 1935 season, in an attempt to keep up with the Offenhauser engines Betteridge using his mechanical abilities and enlarged the Elto engine in his Little Red Racer to 100 cubic inches displacement, but he struggled with the reliability. On the sanctioning front, M.A.R.A. re-organized as the National Midget Association (N.M.A.) and expanded to begin racing at the ¼ - mile D-shaped Atlantic Boulevard Stadium in Commerce and Sports Field Stadium in San Diego. In October, Betteridge and twelve other N.M.A. midgets make the trek to race at the Utah State Fair Bob Swanson continued his previous season’s dominance in his Offenhauser midget and was crowned the 1935 N.M.A.champion.
In 1936, a sanctioning dispute broke out between Earl Gilmore at Gilmore Stadium and the N.M.A., which resulted in Gilmore starting the American Midget Association (A.M.A.), later reorganized and called the Owners and Drivers Association (O.D.A.) (the ‘Offenhauser circuit)’ which Betteridge declined to join, knowing that his Elto was not reliably competitive against the Offenhausers. Later in the season, Gilmore Stadium closed while the track was expanded to a ¼-mile in length, which left Atlantic as the only regular midget racing venue. Betteridge dominated the weak N.M.A. schedule, composed of mostly Class ‘B’ cars, and was crowned the 1936 N.M.A. champion.
By 1937, the power struggle for the control of Southern California midget racing had ended, and O.D.A. and N.M.A. merged to become the American Midget Association (A.M.A.). Earl Gilmore, never a fan of the noisy, smoky outboard powered engines, banned them from the re-opened Gilmore stadium, leaving Bill Betteridge to race his ‘Little Red Racer’ only at Atlantic Stadium.
Tragedy struck on June 8, 1937, on the second lap of the scheduled 60-lap feature racing for fourth place, when the left front wheel of Bill’s car and the right rear wheel of Pat Cummingham’s car became locked. Bill’s car swerved into the outside guardrail was struck by the car of Gil Guthrie, and rolled end over end three times, throwing Bill onto the track nearly thirty feet away. Betteridge was placed in a private car and rushed to nearby Maywood Hospital where he was pronounced dead of a fractured skull. Informed of his death, A.M.A. officials huddled and cancelled the balance of the event, declaring young Sam Hanks who was leading, as the winner.
Bill Betteridge died two months after his 23rd birthday.
He was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.
News article from the Kevin Triplett collection
An article written by Los Angeles Evening News columnist Gene Coughlin in the week following Betteridge’s death compared him to Charles Lindbergh and Wilbur Shaw, and called Bill “a right guy. He was utterly different than the average pilot who slides into a cockpit. He was God-fearing and unselfish. Like Lindbergh, he was quiet, soft-spoken and well-mannered. “ Coughlin wrote “If his career hadn’t been cut short, he might someday have done what Wilbur Shaw did this year at Indianapolis.” (Wilbur Shaw won the first of three Indianapolis ‘500s’ in 1937).
Bill Betteridge was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.
Feb 3 2011
A Norman Girtz story
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
Several weeks ago, I was given the privilege to assist the
National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame
by performing some basic research on one of the 2011 inductees,
At Balboa Stadium in the #11 Petruzzi Drake
photo from the Triplett collection
You might wonder as I did how it was that the Hall of Fame didn’t know much about one of their inductees. Several years ago, the Hall of Fame convened a small committee of great auto racing history minds to put together a list of people who participated prior to 1956, the “Historical Era,” thus preserving this group for future inductions, as the following generations would never include them, never having knowledge of their accomplishments. In this case, it was Gordon Betz who put Norm Girtz on the list for induction. With his long distinguished career, starting when he was just 17 years old as an AAA and later USAC official, Gordon Betz was certainly qualified to tell us who should be enshrined in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Now several years have passed, and some of those on the original committee including Betz have passed on leaving us without any background information. I was honored that the Hall of Fame asked me to help them with this research. Unfortunately, space was limited in the program, so most of what I uncovered about Norm Girtz was verbally presented to the attendees of Induction ceremony by host Jim Tretow. For those who were unable to attend the ceremony, here is the Norm Girtz story that I have uncovered. Hopefully, some of our knowledgeable OpenWheelRacers3.com readers can help me fill in the missing portions of the Norman Girtz story.
The first records I’ve uncovered of Norm Girtz competing dates back to April 1938 at the 1/5-mile Neptune Beach Speedway, located at the Neptune Beach Amusement Park in Alameda California; that Tuesday night Girtz placed third in Short Track Auto Racing Association (S.T.A.R.) Class B feature. Girtz’ name appears throughout the 1938 and 1939 seasons as a regular competitor at Neptune along with fellow Fresno racers Jackie Sayers and brothers Bill and Eli Vukovich.
Neptune Speedway was demolished along with the rest of the amusement park in November 1939. In 1940, Norm Girtz continued to compete regularly with the Short Track Auto Racing Association, driving LW Bennett’s #33 Drake powered midget as a teammate to Andy Guthrie. Bennett, in addition to being a car owner was also the manager of the Sportland Park race track in Bakersfield California. In 1940, S.T.A.R. presented races in San Francisco, Oakland, Stockton, and Fresno, in addition to Sportland Park in Bakersfield. In 1941, Norm Girtz placed eighth in the S.T.A.R. season-ending points standings.
In 1942, Norm Girtz piloted a red #8 Drake powered midget to two victories in a shortened racing season at Sportland Park. On May 30, 1942, Girtz finished second to Paul Swedberg in the feature at Sportland, crossing the finish line while standing up in the seat to avoid the flames after his engine caught fire on the final lap. Two weeks later, Girtz started eleventh in the 12-car feature, and was running second after only five laps. Girtz and Frank Brewer proceeded to duel for the next 15 laps, before Girtz surged ahead for the victory.
Norman Girtz holds the peculiar distinction of being the last driver to win a US automobile race before the World War 2 racing ban stopped racing for three long years. The Office of Defense Transportation had initially commanded that all auto racing must cease at midnight on July 10, 1942, but the date was later moved to midnight on July 31, 1942. Girtz won the 30-lap midget feature at Sportland Park in Bakersfield held July 31, with the feature ending at 11:20 PM local time. This marked the end for Sportland Park as the board fencing, grandstands and buildings were torn down and used as lumber to aid the war effort.
West Coast Midget car racing exploded following World War 2, with the United Racing Association running two circuits, the ‘blue’ circuit reserved for Offenhauser powered cars, and the ‘red’ for V8-60 and motorcycle engine powered racers. Norm Girtz was a regular on the tough URA ‘red’ circuit which raced seven nights a week. A typical week for the U.R.A. would start at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento on Monday, move to Modesto 99 Speedway on Tuesday, Balboa Stadium in San Diego on Wednesday, Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, then onto San Bernardino’s Orange Show Stadium on Friday, to Tulare Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday, and Bakersfield on Sunday.
Girtz’ contemporaries on the URA ‘red’ circuit included Bill Vukovich, Bill Zaring and Billy Cantrell, all who are enshrined in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
In the short three-month long 1945 season, Girtz finished 11th in points, notching one victory at Balboa driving the Petruzzi #51 Drake. In 1946, in an eight-month outdoor season, Norm scored twelve victories in the Petruzzi Drake (now numbered 11), including two victories in a row at Bakersfield during the month of June, and finished 3rd for the season in points. For 1947, Girtz won 6 features in four different cars, with three victories in the Ken Smith owned V8-60, claiming seventh place in the point standings. In 1948, Norm Girtz finished a close second to Bill Zaring in points, notching 6 feature wins, including two in a row at both Bakersfield and Tulare, driving the Messer V8-60. Girtz also won a special 62-lap “team race” between Southern California and Fresno drivers held at his hometown Fresno Airport Speedway Memorial Day weekend in 1948. In 1949, Norm Girtz won five feature races, all in the Messer V8-60 #3 and all at Bakersfield. In April 1949, the URA board created a “unified” title combining the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ circuit points, and using that scoring system, Girtz was awarded eleventh place in the combined final standings. After 1949, Norman Girtz’ name does not appear in any URA race results or points standings. A public records search indicates that Norman Girtz passed away in 1974.
Norman Girtz post-war URA statistics, 31 wins in four seasons.
Hughes Stadium- 3 wins; Balboa Stadium-3 wins;
Fresno Airport Speedway – 8 wins; Bakersfield Speedbowl – 12 wins; Tulare Fairgrounds-4 wins; and one win at Stockton Speedway.
Jan 19 2011
New web site just about snuck by Me
Click on logo it will take you to the site
This was all started out by Harry Stryker Sr.
The intro from the web site is below
here is access to thier web site http://www.strykerscustom.com/1963.html
The Stryker name has been associated with the legendary Offenhauser 110 cui Midget race car engines for over 50 years. Many Offenhauser enthusiasts have resorted to keeping their Offys in the garage or museums due to the lack of experienced resources to restore and repair their engines back to running condition. Our goal at Stryker's Custom is to utilize our knowledge and experience to continue...
"Keeping the Legend Running".
Some of the Stryker Family work is shown below. As you can see their worksmanship is #1. Nothing is left to chance it is all done expertly and shows! The inside of their Engine work also shows being done in the same respect.
The Pride of the Strykers is this Offy powered midget
Mike Stryker rebuilt this sprint car and last I heard it was still for sale?
The Stryker Family Roadster Completly done by the Family
Jan 11 2011
Another Visit With Steve Truchan & His Vintage Race cars
Contributor to OWR3
Photo Contributor to OWR3
Gary and I made our way back for a follow-up visit with Steve Truchan at his Gary, Indiana place of business recently. We had visited with Steve about a year ago to view and photograph all of his beautifully restored race cars that he has in his collection. When we left that day, he had one car sitting in the back of his place in pieces. He told us then that it would be his next project. Gary recently heard that Steve had the car done so we decided to go back and see the finished product.
The car is the Todd Gibson ‘Flintstone Flyer’ Super Modified.
Steve has done another masterful job of making it another fine specimen within his collection. When the dust cover is removed and the car is rolled out for Gary’s camera, the purple #0 is shining but Steve has his dust cloth getting it ready for the pictures that Gary is about to take. Steve tells that Todd won a ton of races and some championships with this car at tracks like Oswego N. Y. and Sandusky & Toledo, Ohio. He figures the car weighs about 1500 pounds, so with the 355 C. I. Chevy motor, it had to be a pretty potent race car. Another job well done by Steve!
We Hope You enjoyed Gary's pictures he took of this recently restored Super Modified done by the professional hands of Steve Truchan.
The view a lot of other racers saw of this car !
Dec 19 2010
The Ultimate “Fish” Story by Mac Miller
Mac Ready to Race!
By the editor aXe
If You havent heard of Mac before check out His site's and you will learn He sure knows what He is talking about. Here are the address's
"I love any race car whose last name is "Special"
I have listened to anglers tell their stories about the big one that got away. Today, I have a story as unbelievable as any of them. The big difference is that I have the pictures and documents.
My story starts last Thursday(20Aug09) when I received an anonymous e-mail from a guy, telling me of his employer selling some old race engine parts. The e-mailer also got my telephone number from my website and left a message, to call him if I was interested. I was finally able to contact him on Monday(23Aug09), and the guy told me that he works for the Michigan Dept. of Public Works and that they were clearing some space in one of their truck service garages and were putting a large amount, probably a semi load, of old race engine parts on the government surplus equipment auction website. He said that the stuff had been stored and ignored in the building for over thirty years.
He directed me to a very obscure website called the Michigan Inter-governmental Trade Network. Basically, an online auction site where all municipal and state agencies list their surplus items for public “on line” auction. This site contains hundreds of listings, including many cars and trucks, office equipment, machinery, highway barriers etc.
Buried in the middle of these listings was an item called “1964/65 NOVI SPECIAL ENGINE PARTS”. I clicked on this item and was amazed by three pages of inventory lists and four unbelievable pictures.
You are looking at a Novi Parts "GOLD MINE"
This was certainly the most incredible cache of historically significant parts, I had ever seen.
I, immediately, registered on the site, as a bidder, and made copies of the inventory sheets and the photos.
I took all this information to a trusted friend, who has insight and experience in “high end” vintage cars and parts, for his analysis of what I had found. A raised eyebrow on his part indicated, to me, that I might be onto something.
After studying the info and pix, my friend offered to get involved and made it possible to enter a bid. Also, it was his opinion that these were unknown and undiscovered parts because, in his 30 plus years of involvement, he had never heard any top level discussion or rumors of the existence of such a large quantity of NOVI parts.
Time was short, as the auction was scheduled to end at 11:15AM on Wed. 26Aug09. At the time we placed our bid, on Mon 23Aug, there was only one other bidder, whose bid was just above minimum. Our bid was the new top bid plus a substantial reserve to counter any challenge. We were in the game, the time clock was ticking and the anticipation was starting to build.
The rules of the auction stated that the winner had 7 days to pick up the “stuff” in person and must move the load without assistance from any state employees or equipment, so Tues 24Aug was spent arranging transport and local storage, in the event that we prevailed in the auction. The location of the pickup from Indy is a long one day round trip so that is not a serious problem. The shear size and weight of the numerous crates and pallets was going to present a more serious challenge, It would require a semi size truck with lift gate capabilities or multiple trips with a smaller truck and trailer. Loading was going to require some sort of forklift or pallet lift.
Throughout the day, I continued to monitor the auction and our original bid continued to be the high bid. Anticipation continued to build…… Was the other bidder capable of upping his bid??? Were there other potential bidders lurking, waiting until a final bidding flurry, close to the auction deadline??? Were our reserve funds enough to counter any last minute challengers???
Unfortunately, we will never know….
As I attempted to check the auction status at 5:00PM on Tues. 24Aug, my screen came up blank. Everything I tried resulted in a blank screen for that auction. I made a call to the auction information line and was told that the NOVI auction had been canceled without further information. As soon as I hung up I received an official e-mail informing me that the auction had been pulled.
This auction was, obviously, initiated by the people in the truck garage, who were trying to clear some more floor space. These guys had no knowledge of the significance or value of these old parts nor did they care. All they knew was that this “stuff” was taking up a lot of needed floor space and had no obvious use in the operation of their truck garage.
They contacted the appropriate, and equally unknowledgable, government bureaucrats, assigned to the disposition of such unneeded property, who placed it as an obscure listing on their auction list.
This perfect set of circumstances created a very rare opportunity for, even, a “regular guy”, with a little luck, to score a big deal.
Further inquiry revealed that the auction was canceled at the suggestion of a former city official, with some knowledge of the significance of these parts. He, somehow, found out about this auction and had it pulled for “reevaluation” He was within a few hours of being too late.
Of course , we all know what “reevaluation” means. If these parts ever show up, again, as an auction, it will be well publicized throughout the collector car world and the reserve prices and starting bids will be beyond the reach of all but a few of the titans of the business.
The other possible result of the “reevaluation” could be a private “under the table” transaction to one of the said titans, who would then be lauded for his great discovery.
Did we have a realistic shot at these parts?? Our opinion is “yes”.
As stated earlier, in 30+ years, there has absolutely never been any “buzz” or speculation, whatsoever, at any level of the collector car biz concerning the existence of these parts. They were listed on a very obscure government website as a line item in a very mundane auction. It is our opinion that this auction went unnoticed and these parts were unknown to the high level collectors. Obviously that will no longer be the case.
Make no mistake about the significance of this discovery. This could be one of the biggest automotive archaelogical finds of the last 30 or 40 years. It will be most interesting to see how, when, where and with whom these parts eventually surface,
In retrospect, losing the auction to another bidder is an acceptable conclusion, but to have the seller “chicken out” towards the end leaves kind of a bitter attitude. Even though this deal came to a very unsatisfactory conclusion and certainly not in our favor, I wouldn’t trade a minute of the excitement, anticipation and drama of the last few days, for anything. This little adventure had it all …… anonymous information, hidden treasure, secrecy, drama and a surprise ending.
Had we pulled off this deal, we would not only have had the satisfaction and value of acquiring these parts, but, there is also a certain notoriety, celebrity and credibility that everyone likes to have among their peers.
At the end of the day, about all that is left to say is “The little guys came very close to winning one!”
5 ENGINE BLOCKS, 25 CRANK SHAFTS, 10 CYL. HEADS, 24 CONNECTING RODS
5 PALLETS OF WOODEN PATTERNS PLUS, 3 LOOSE LARGE PATTERNS
1 PAXTON SUPERCHARGER COMPLEAT, 44 PAXTON SUPERCHARGER PLATES UNMACHINED
2 DUEL MAGNETOS, 1 DISTRIBUTOR HOUSING, 3 SINGLE MAGNETOS
6 IGNITION WIRE LOOMS, 4 MALLORY COIL PACKS , 2 BENDIX MAGNETO VIBRATORS
1 BOX MIXED IGNITION WIRES, 2 IGNITION BALLAST RESISTORS
1 HIGH VOLTAGE IGNITION BALLAST, 1 COMPLEAT MALLORY MAGNETO WITH BRACKET
1 STEEL FORGING DIE FOR FLYWHEELS BY PAXTON
1 SMALL BOX METAL CABLES AND SWIVEL BRACKETS
55 CYL. HEAD VALVES
21 REAR HOUSING FOR SUPERCHARGERS
2 BOXES OF SMALL GASKETS, 1 SMALL BOX WATER JACKET PLATE COVERS
1 BOX SUPERCARGER INTAKE DUCT PARTS
1 ALL WHEEL DRIVE TRANS, 1 TOP LOADER TRANS, 1 SEVEN TRANS
3 FINE TOOTHED FLYWHEELS, 1 COURSE TOOTHED FLYWHEEL
2 LARGE BOX OF ASSORTED SEALS AND ROLLER BEARINGS
2 WOODEN BOXES OF QUICK CHANGE GEARS, 1 BOX ASSORTED STEEL GEARS
61 SUPERCHARGER SLEEVES, 5 SUPERCHARGER CAPS
21 SPLINED SHAFTS WITH GEAR
USED CLUTCH DISC, 2 USED CLUTCH DISC, 1 CLUTCH PLATE
80 UNFINISHED PISTON BLANKS, 60 NEW PISTONS, 67 USED PISTONS
157 WRIST PINS, 200 CONNECTING ROD BOLTS
1 BOX USED VALVE GUIDES, 2 TRI INDUCTION INTAKE, 1 SINGLE INDUCTION INTAKE
2 CAM SHAFT CRADLES, 3 ROCKER COVERS, 8 HALF SHAFTS
1 TORSION SHAFT, 1 INPUT SHAFT, 6 AXLE SHAFTS
2 VALVE COVERS FLAT, 21 INTAKE ADAPTORS FOR AIR
1 CLUTCH SHAFT (PLUGED), 2 CV JOINT ASSY.
2 BRAKE ROTORS
9 BOXED OF ASORTED PISTON RINGS, 1 LARGE WOODEN BOX OF ASSORTED PISTON RINGS
1 BOX CAM SHAFT CAPS AND HOLD DOWNS, 16 CAM SHAFTS (NEW AND USED)
4 FUEL PUMPS, 7 FUEL RAILS, 1 HILBORN FUEL PUMP
5 KNOCK OFF SPINNERS FOR WHELLS
8 RUBBER BOOT COVERS PART # 2275514
5 YOKES, 2 PITMAN ARM ASSY
VARIOUS CUPLERS AND BRACKETS FOR SUSPENION
91 MAIN ENGINE BEARINGS
LARGE AMOUNT OF NEW AND USED ROD BEARINGS
44 SUPERCHARGER PINION BEARINGS, 3 SUPERCHARGER INPELLERS
55 BRASS ROD BUSHINGS
2 ALUMINUM CAST WATER INLETS
15 ALUMINUM SMALL IMPULSES, 11 ALUMINUM SMALL IMPULSES, 4 ALUMINUM MOUNTS
VARIOUS AMOUNTS AND TYPES OF INJECTORS, THROTTLE BODIES, FUEL FILTERS, LINES AND LINKAGE
SPARK PLUGS- 1 NT116-174 BOXES OF 10 1 NT115-85 BOXES OF 10 1 NR 153-21 BOXES OF 10 4 NT 326-59 BOXES OF 10 36 NR 170 BOXES OF 10 4 NR 154 BOXES OF 10 1 NR 164 BOXES OF 10 2 NRP 155 BOXES OF 10 3 N55T BOXES OF 10 1 N-18 BOX OF 10 2 N-T326X42 BOXES OF 10 3 L-T336 BOXES OF 10 3 N-T326-51 BOXES OF 10 2 N-R 166 BOXES OF 10 2 N-12-P150 BOXES OF 10 4 AG203 BOXES OF 10 129 W440T17
LOOSE PLUGS 200
WOODEN BOX Of ASSORTED SPARK PLUGS,PLUS ODDS AND ENDS TOOLS AND PARTS
FINAL UPDATE Dec 1, 2009 11:45 AM
Tom Malloy is the winning bidder for the NOVI parts. This is a good news! Tom is major collector in Cal. and he owns one of the few complete NOVI cars, in running condition, the original 1941 Winfield/ Miller chassis Tom also owns Ed Pink Engines so he has the capability to do something useful with these parts.
Dec 19 2010
Now you might ask just who is this Tom Malloy? and are these parts in good hands?
Well look at this short movie and you will see they are in very good hands.
Rumor has it one of those Novi engines when completed will end up in this Kurtis Novi recreation? Time will tell?
Photo from a Carl Schultz post at Track forum
By site editor aXe
Dec 7 2010
Western Racing Association, West Coast Vintage Racers
Historic Champ/Indy Car Association, Harry Miller Club.
From Carl Schulz, Indio, CA 1927 owner of the Boyle Valve Spl Miller 91 Tribute Car
This should be fun, and for those of you with vintage racecars and in particular vintage Indy Cars an opportunity to spend some time in the sunny Desert, share your car with an appreciative audience and contribute to local charities.
We will be a participant in the Concours on the 27th so stop by and say hello if you're in the area. And it's the first major Indy Centenial celebration of the year.
2011 Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance to Celebrate Indy 500's 100th Anniversary
LA QUINTA, CA, - Hailed by Der Spiegel magazine as one of the "Top Ten Classic Car Shows in the World," the Desert Classic Concours dElegance returns in 2011 with the theme "100 Years of Indy Cars," marking the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. The 4th Annual Desert Classic Concours dElegance, presented by La Quinta Resort & Club, will be held Sunday, February 27, in La Quinta, California. More than 200 rarely seen classic cars from museums and private collections will be exhibited for thousands of spectators.
"The Desert Classic Concours dElegance will be the first major car event of the year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500," said founder Paul Merrigan. "In its honor, we will display many of the significant cars that have participated in 'The greatest spectacle in racing' over the past century."
Given the enthusiastic response to its previous events, the Desert Classic has initiated two days of classic car racing with the inaugural Historic Races at the new Chuckwalla Valley Raceway located east of La Quinta. Desert Classic SPEED WEEK begins February 19 and 20. The Concours dElegance pre-event will be conducted in partnership with the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA), the largest vintage racing organization in the country dedicated to the preservation of historic and classic race cars. Cars raced during the Desert Classic Races will be on display at the Concours' main event.
Among the many other exciting events scheduled is the Desert Classic Tour, held the day before the Concours dElegance. Spectators will be invited to view more than 75 spectacular vintage automobiles as they gather for a road tour on picturesque Main Street in Old Town La Quinta, an event that is open to the public.
The extraordinary and historic cars, summer-like weather in mid-winter and the spectacular setting at the legendary La Quinta Resort & Club has brought praise and recognition to the Desert Classic Concours dElegance from Motor Trend, Auto Week, Hemmings, and many more, distinguishing it among classic car shows in California and around the world. The 2011 event will include displays of other collectible items such as jewelry, watches and art, food and wine, hospitality tents, up-scale vendors, music and entertainment.
The Desert Classic Concours is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and net proceeds are distributed to charitable organizations. Sponsors of the 2011 event include La Quinta Resort and The City of La Quinta.
For more information, please visit www.DesertConcours.com, call 760-766-1777, or email info@DesertConcours.com.
Nov 8 2010
Carl Schulz, Indio, CA - One happy novice vintage racer with the 1927 Boyle Valve Spl Tribute Car
What a terrific two days of vintage oval comraderie with the clan, on and off the track.
Have a few photos and will be adding more and request any willing to share theirs email me a copy and I'll post it in my photo bucket album for others to view.
Thanks to the Havasu 95 Speedway Promoter and Race Director (as well as vintage enthusiast) Bill Rozhon and WCVR Leadership - Billy Shuman, Ray Alcaraz, Mike and Kelly Schrum and others for setting up the two day format, As well as ensuring a safe and well run event and a hell of a Sat night party.
I was able to get in about 5 or 6 12 minute practice sessions for a total track time of an hour on Friday afternoon then Bob Mastroleo took the car out for the 6-9pm test and tune Friday night, then more practice and a hot lap session with the sprinters on Sat. Bob took the car out for the heat race and we discovered a steering problem so had to park it and miss the feature.
For those (like myself) that need track experience and enjoy a two day format with an abundance of on track practice and spirited exhibition racing you need to give this a try. We're going back in the Spring - check the schedule and join us.
85 degrees with a nice breeze off of Lake Havasu the track is clean and accomodating and located in Sara Park, just a few miles away from Havasu City. The official motel was a bargain and a nice place to stay. The fans filled the stands and enjoyed their evening's entertainment. Everyone contributed to the Toys For Tots drive and I believe the Track will meet its goal of providing a Christmas Bike for everyone on the their needy list.
A few pictures from the weekend get together.
Oct 30 2010
-From out of the past-
The Don Edmunds Fully Independent Suspended Roadster Midget
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
The heavily weathered little midget race car sat at the end of the line of cars on display, and was overlooked by many attendees of the Legends of Ascot event, who failed to realize what this car could have meant to auto racing.
The little #99 car is the only Edmunds four-wheel independent suspension midget ever built, and it has a remarkable history.
From the early days of oval tracking automobile racing, midgets, sprint cars, and championship cars have utilized solid front and rear axles still do so today. At Indianapolis, the reign of solid axle cars ended by the mid-sixties with the arrival of rear engine cars, which utilized four-wheel independent suspension. Don Edmunds recognized the impact of this trend as early as 1964, devoting a page in his catalog to a discussion of independent suspension. Don pointed out that as long as midgets and sprint car owners stuck with solid axles, this put the “young Sprint or Modified driver, with an eye towards Championship racing, in a difficult position, because he is no longer gaining any knowledge of equipment resembling the type in which he some day hopes to compete.” Don predicted that “if things do not change in this traditional Indianapolis training ground, the next generation of speedway drivers may well come from some other form of racing.” We now know that Don Edmunds saw the future quite clearly.
In 1973, Don Edmunds Autoresearch
Edmunds Autoresearch built this radical, offset four-wheel independent suspension midget for USAC car owner and Edmunds dealer H. H. “Howard” Linne. Howard Linne won the 1961 USAC midget car owner’s title, and his cars won over 69 features, run out of his farm implement dealership in Mendota Illinois. Through the years, the great drivers -A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Troy Ruttman, Tony Bettenhausen, Don Branson, Gary Bettenhausen, Bill Vukovich, Billy Engelhart, Ken Schrader and George Snider all drove Howard Linne owned machines.
Left Rear, notice sway bar not connected
For an engine for the radical new car, Howard Linne shipped Edmunds an 110 inch Offenhauser; it was not a high horsepower “Linne special;” this engine had been assembled initially for use in an antique midget Linne was restoring.
The dark blue car, trimmed in gold leaf, debuted at Phoenix International Raceway in November 1973, at a scheduled 100 lap midget race. As enthusiastic as he was about the concept, he did not want to compete head to head with his customer’s cars, so Lee Kunzman was selected to drive the radical new car, and Lee promptly broke the track record at 31.43 seconds. Immediately, protests were lodged against the radical new car. USAC officials ruled that the small panels behind the front bumper were in fact wings, and directed Edmunds to remove them. Knowing that he had an older Offy engine that might not last 100 laps, Don chose to load up the car rather that chop it up. Several days later, Don received a letter from USAC upholding the protest and nullifying the track record.
The Edmunds roadster’s next appearance was at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1974, driven by Steve Chassey. Steve recalls that the car was “a rocket ship” in warm-ups, and quite a bit faster than the other cars, but before he could qualify, Howard Linne announced that the car had been sold to Australian Kevin Fischer. Don Edmunds suspects to this day, that other USAC car owners had lobbied Linne to not race the ground-breaking machine in USAC for fear that it would make their machines obsolete.
In South Australia, the car was reportedly raced on the dirt a couple of times driven by Bill Wigzell before being sold to 4-time Australian sprintcar champion “Gorgeous” George Tatnell of Sydney Australia. George picked the roadster up from Fischer, and upon returning home, learned that the midget sanctioning body had outlawed the car, so George just put it in his barn.
Thirty-five years passed, and Don Edmunds wondered whatever had become of the roadster, which Don describes as “the best car he ever built,” even though it had never raced. After searching, Don got in touch with George Tatnell’s son, World of Outlaws driver Brooke Tatnell, who told him that it was still in George’s barn. In 2007, George Tatnell passed away, and after a few years, Brooke let Don know the car was for sale. Don’s son, Dan Edmunds, in Australia on business, took numerous photos of the car to document its completely unmolested condition. Don reacquired the car in 2010 and proudly displayed it in its UNrestored condition at the Legends of Ascot 2010.
All photos by Kevin Triplett
Oct 28 2010
LEGENDS OF ASCOT 6TH REUNION LUNCHEON
–& INDUCTION CEREMONIES AT PERRIS --
Los Angeles Ca.
Perris, CA., Oct. 23 – The 6th Legends of Ascot reunion luncheon-induction ceremonies took place Saturday, October 23 at Perris Auto Speedway. The fete attracted participants and fans of racing action at the famed Ascot Park, the legendary half-mile clay track in Gardena that operated from June, 1957 through November, 1990. Organized by former USAC Midget driver/car owner Don Weaver and Belita Michnowicz, the event had 380 persons in attendance for a buffet luncheon and induction ceremonies from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm. The luncheon site was a fairgrounds building beyond the first turn of the PAS half-mile. Chris Holt, the knowledgeable Ascot/PAS infield announcer, again emceed the affair. Honorees this year were: Evelyn Pratt, 90, a long-time pit steward; Tony Simon, 64, retired CRA and USAC sprint car and midget driver; plus a lifetime achievement award to Cary Agajanian and his brothers J. C., Jr and Chris for carrying on racing promotions of their father J. C. Sr. (deceased in May 1984). Deceased honorees this year were: Vel Miletich, car owner who had stars Allen Heath and Parnelli Jones as drivers among others, including six Indianapolis 500 drivers. – plus CRA sprint car driver Paul Jones, Parnelli's younger brother, who passed away on 5/15/02.
Each of the 380 attendees received with their $55.00 ticket a gift bag that included a Legends of Ascot 52-page official program (in color) and a LofA stick pin, name tag with a ticket for the salad, roll, beverage, beef and chicken luncheon. The printed program contained biographies and photos of each honoree, a two-page center section aerial view of the Ascot Park track, numerous Ascot action racing photos from many photographers (with a group credit for the photographers). There also was a “Passing the Torch” page that depicted racing generations (Billy Boat and son Chad, Mike Spencer, his dad Mike, and grandpa Bob, Bobby Michnowicz and FF Midget driver/son Kevin, 16, Rip Williams, 55, and his three racing sons—Cody, 21, Austin, 20, and Logan, 14). Ascot scenes and drivers in the photos brought back memories for Ascot racing veterans. The LofA luncheon ticket also included a wristband that granted attendees admission to the PAS grandstand for the evening of open-wheel racing by AMS/OIL USAC-CRA 410 cu. in. sprint cars, USAC Ford Focus Midgets and Junior FF Midgets, plus WRA Vintage Car racing by 11 cars present (6 midgets, 3 sprints and 2 CRA roadsters).
About 20 vintage racing cars were positioned in front of the luncheon building for attendees to view and discuss with the current owners. Cars included midgets, sprints, Indianapolis 500 and champ dirt cars. Some of the cars were:
> The florescent red No. 60 STP Indianapolis 500 car raced by Joe Leonard.
> The restored No. 21 HOW Spl. USAC champ dirt car raced by Elmer George that later was shortened and became the Jimmy Mayeda CRA No. 30 sprinter and the No. 36 Terry Kawell CRA sprinter.
> The No. 124 CRA sprint car raced by LofA honoree Tony Simon.
> The No. 99 roadster midget now owned by Ken Hillberg.
> The circle 8 and No. 43 CA Roadster Assn roadsters from the 1940s-early 50s.
LofA luncheon attendees included: Andy (STP-”They Call Me Mr. 500”) Granatelli, Indy 500 veterans Parnelli Jones, 1959 CRA champion Chuck Hulse and 1957 Indy 500 rookie of the year Don Edmunds, plus expert mechanics Jim Dilamarter, Smokey Alleman, and Andy Casale, and Oklahoma driver/promoter Shane Carson. Agajanian, Kazarian and Miletich families were well represented. Joyce Jones, widow of Paul, was present with her grandchildren. Other racing widows in attendance were: Anne Wilkerson, Dottie Kennedy, Sally (Sweeney)-now Hogle, plus late CRA president Walt James' daughter Wendy. Ken “Wagtimes” Wagner worked the side memorabilia booth. CRA starters Steve Vodden and Bryan Howard (the current IZOD Indy Car starter for the Indy 500 during odd number years and at other Indy Car tracks). Past CRA officials present were: NSCHofF member Louie Senter, 90, past CRA presidents Ed Hudson, 88, and Dave Vodden, Ascot track ace Rico Hawkes, racing photographers Mike Arthur and Jim Chini, El Centro promoter Mickey Dale, and racing innovator Bob Falcon.
Oct 26 2010
The Sixth annual Legends of Ascot event
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
This Perris Auto Speedway event, was a tremendous success again.
This year’s event honored long-time Ascot Pit Steward Evelyn Pratt, Ascot drivers Tony Simon and Paul Jones, and long-time track supporter Vel Miletich.
With a special lifetime achievement award to J.C. Agajanian’s three sons, J.C. Jr,, Cary, and Chris Agajanian. Sadly, Paul Jones and Vel Miletich are no longer with us, but their families stood proudly to accept the award on behalf of their fathers.
Other notable attendees (in no particular order) included:
“Loverboy” Bob Hogle
There were also a staggering number of vintage race cars on display like this one, which will be the subject of an upcoming feature.
Photo by Kevin Triplett
Howard Linne's Radical offset Edmunds, Offenhauser powered midget
After a day of bench racing, attendees took in a night of USAC/CRA sprint car racing at the “PAS” on a cool evening. Damion Gardner was the evening’s fast qualifier, and the feature was won by current point leader Mike Spencer. A special feature of the evening’s racing was a $5,000 to win four-car match race won by David Cardey.
A special thanks to Don Weaver for all his hard work in putting on this first class event.
Oct 9 2010
Harry A. Miller Club webpage updates
from, Carl Schulz Indio, CA
The Club has added some new photos from the recent 16th Annual Millers at Milwaukee Mile Event.
Link to home page, then click on photos:
Membership in The Harry A. Miller Club is open to all with an interest in helping preserve the legacy of the man and his wonderfull race cars.
Sept 23 2010
Finaly gets here this Fri & Sat
This is turning into one of if not Texas biggest gatherings for vintage Oval type race cars. This year they may have twice as many cars as last years turnout.
You will notice below one of our contributers
Kevin Triplett from Live Oak California
has a speaking Topic about Dallas International Motor Speedway.
Sept. 18, Roseville CA
All American Vintage Classic #5
To aXe at openwheelracers3.com
As you can see here this car #17 is the Art Shanoian offy Driven by Doug Shanoian, that you probably helped build.
Maybe you already know that Doug is Arts son.
Race drivers are very bad at knowing what went on at an event that they are participating in. We are so busy with what we are doing everything else is lost. I do know that they had about 16 very nice San Jose type supers. They kept driving by my pit area. There were also about 10 sprints (including roadsters). It was a two day deal.
Friday was just the vintage cars. We got so much track time that I think I was dizzy. Saturday they brought in some local sprint cars. They put on a good show. They also had about 25 legends cars.
We only got to run a heat and a main on Saturday. I am not sure how the heats came out. I do know that there were 9 midgets in the main on Saturday. Doug, Donovan and myself started in the back. So we had to pass the other 6 cars to come in 1,2,3.
There were 2 other offies one of which was the former Pestana & Lang car that Butcher and Dick Atkins drove back in the day.
#41 in back is an Edmunds car Driven by Donovan Stark
#74 is a Walt Reiff car that I have been driving since 1992.
Midget Main Event- 10 Laps
1. Doug Shanoian , Age 66 , #17 Offy
2. Donovan Stark , Age 50 , #41 Offy
3. Les Stark , Age 80 , #74 Offy
If you can make anything out of this mess please do. If not just use the photos.
Aug 30 2010
Annual Racing Expo at the Hinchliffe Stadium,
in Paterson, NJ On September 5th
Paterson, NJ - The extremely popular CARQUEST Gasoline Alley Internet Show will take a break from the studio in Allentown, PA, pack their gear and take the show on the road on September 5th as they travel to the Garden State of New Jersey to take part in the annual Racing Expo scheduled for the famous Hinchliffe Stadium located behind the Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey. The Gasoline Alley Gang of Ed and Steve Pados will tape another another fabulous edition of their show from 12 Noon until 2 PM and talk to the many racing legends who will be taking part in the show and help bring awareness of the great legacy of the famous stadium.
(NOTE:- The show will air on Monday evening, September 6th, from 6 to 8 PM on channels 103 and 137 and worldwide on the Internet. This will be a special "theme" format of their show, teamed with the ongoing efforts of the Friends of Hinchliffe and racing personalities Ronny Dennis, Jim Reilly and Keith Majka the Pados brothers are honored to play a small part in the preservation of one of the great all-purpose stadiums in the country.)
The Hinchliffe Stadium was built in the era of the Great Depression and opened in 1932 with a seating capacity for 10,000 fans. Baseball was the first sport to use the stadium as the New York Black Yankees and the New York Cubans both played their home games there and later the stadium included football with the Paterson Panthers and later the Night Hawks. With the popularity of auto racing sweeping throughout the country, the stadium hosted exciting midget auto racing. That later gave way to the early years of stock car racing. The famous stadium has also hosted many other varied events throughout it's years of existence, which included Boxing, Track and Field, and Soccer. While the stadium has remained dormant for the past few years, the rich legacy of the history of the great stadium remains and it is hoped through the efforts of the Friends Of Hinchliffe Stadium and it's racing counterparts, the stadium will once again hear the roar of throaty race cars once again competing on it's 1/4 mile asphalt oval.
For the Pados Brothers, the return to New Jersey is significant. The Gasoline Alley name for the popular show came through their father Ed Pados, Sr who was raised in nearby Garfield, New Jersey, later moved to Milford, New Jersey and eventually settled in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania. The elder Pados was a frequent visitor to Gasoline Alley, in Paterson, NJ, where the legendary racing great Ted Horn had his race shops. The elder Pados was a close friend with this racing hero. Later when the Pados Brothers began to field race cars themselves, they utilized the motor services of the great John Bohlander who by then was located in the former Horn race shops. Through those friendships and alliances, the name of the Gasoline Alley Show was born. It is devoted to providing it's large audience with many trips back to the annals of racing history; as well as providing the exposure to the current racers and the youthful racing stars of the future.
The list of celebrities and guests expected at annual event include the legendary Chris Economaki of National Speed Sport News, whose name is synonymous with the history of auto racing. Former Hinchcliffe racers Bill Claren, Ronny Kohler, Bob Krieger, Neil Cole, and Russ Meyer are scheduled to take part in the festivities. Bill Nash, who attended every racing event ever held at the stadium and was close personal friends with the famous open cockpit race driver Bill Schindler, is the recognized historian of the stadium. He will talk about the rich history of the racing action that took place there. Legendary midget & sprint car driver Jimmy Maguire plus many other open cockpit stand outs such as Johnny Mann and Billy Courtwright are expected. Many former stock car wheel twisters including Nate Strunk and Wyatt Jacobus are also anticipated to be on hand.. If she's up to it, Bette Fornoro, the wife of the late Nick Fornoro, who was a champion midget driver with the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) and a former Indy car flag man hope to attend. The American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association (ATQMRA) will take part in the show, with Blu Metz of that organization on hand for the occasion. The Flemington Speedway Historical Society and the Tri-State Memorabilia Group will be on hand, as will famed, veteran race photographer Ace Lane, Jr. and writer Tom Avenengo. DJ Joey Metro Entertainment will provide music throughout the day.
A few of the many cars expected to take part in the show include the Chuck Slate owned restored Elto outboard powered midget, the Ed Picard 1938 midget that was in the Economaki Book, the White Ghost sprint car, the Johnny Zeke midget and a variety of other both vintage and current day race cars from all divisions of racing; plus hot rods, custom cars and street cruisers. All drivers and teams are encouraged to come out and join the festivities along with their cars, as the confines of the stadium are vast and the effort to rekindle and return the speedway to it's pedestal are paramount.
The Stadium itself will have the Gates opening at 10 AM and the Show begins at 12 Noon.
The Stadium is located on Liberty and Maple Street behind the Great Falls, in Paterson, NJ..
For additional information regarding the show, contact Ronny Dennis at: 718 344 0505 or Jim Reilly at: 973 684 2763.
The website is: www.carlsign.com/hinchliffe.html
Aug 28 2010
M.O.M. ???? You willl have to check back as We dont have all the information yet?
Aug 26 2010
1947 Kurtis V8 Sixty midget
Copy of original Kurtis Kraft logo above
Built in the Van Craft shop in Indianapolis Ind. by Pete Gebhardt
The frame was built by Pete on the original Frank Kurtis midget Frame jig owned now by Van Craft.
Pete also built a complete all aluminum body for it and has found most of that era’s correct running gear for it with some new parts also built by Pete.
How would you like to take this creation to a Vintage meet and show off a new creation built in the same mold as they were built back in 1947?
Here are a few pictures of this new car,
The guy pictured with it and wishing He was driving it and winning races with it Like He did in several old Kurtis midgets in his career, is Bill Vukovich Jr.
The car only needs the finishing touches to make it one of the finest new replica midgets made lately.
By the way that Watson copy Roadster in the back ground of the picture above just might be for sale also ask Pete about it?
Well now is the time to buy it and then you get to choose what colors and have all the finishing touches done in your own ideas and handy work.
Call Pete and make Him an offer He cant refuse and get started on finishing this new beauty.
Pete is now located in the Reno Nevada area and can be reached by this
ph# 317 910 8950
Here is the broken down price list
from Van and Petes shop if all bought separately,
UNIT PRICE AMOUNT
1 Instrument Panel” Engine Turned” $75.00
1 Firewall $150.00
1 Foot Brake with Linkage & Clevis $125.00
1 Throttle Pedal $145.00
1 Brake Handle with mounting $125.00
1 Master Cylinder Mounts $45.00
1 Offy oil tank $565.00
1 Aluminum Seat $375.00
1 Fuel Tank Saddle and Mount $155.00
2 Rear Torsion Bars $550.00
2 Rear Torsion Bar Arms with Bearings $550.00
1 Roll Bar $175.00
2 Roll Bar Mounts $200.00
1 Rear Bumper Kit $375.00
1 V8-60 Header kit $450.00
2 Tail Pipes w/ Brackets/ Arm Guards $300.00
1 Fuel Tank $675.00
1 Window Cowl Flair $350.00
1 Front Axel $435.00
2 Front Radius Rods $400.00
2 Rear Radius Rods $250.00
1 Drag Link Ford Rod ends $125.00
1 Steering Arm $135.00
1 Hollywood Spring $450.00
1 Nose Aluminum $1000.00
1 Tail Aluminum $3000.00
2 Front Wheels Aluminum 12”X4” $700.00
2 Rear Wheels Aluminum 12”X5’ $700.00
2 Front Hubs W/ Bearings $1600.00
2 Rear Hubs W/Bearings $1000.00
1 Evans Steering Gear $600.00
1 Steering 4 spoke $195.00
2 Single Puck Midget Brakes Front $500.00
2 Double Puck Midget Brakes Rear $600.00
Total for above $17,000
Note, Frame and V8 sixty engine are not
included in those prices.
Aug 13 1/2 2010
Coming soon, anyone with more informationn on this vintage meet please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org This was all we could find on this get together so far.
Aug 10 2010
ORANGE SHOW SPEEDWAY with the WRA Open Wheel Vintage race cars
By Jim Short
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (August 7) – The Western Racing Association’s vintage open-wheelers opened the show.
With Donovan Stark driving an Offenhauser to victory in a 12-lap Midget race
65-year-old Jack Kersell of Santee (Ca.) Won the 12-lap Sprint Car feature.
WRA VINTAGE MIDGETS (12 laps) – 1. Donovan Stark, Riverside, Offenhauser; 2. Steve Enright, Tustin, Offenhauser; 3. Les Stark, Apple Valley, Offenhauser.
Heat race (8 laps) – 1. Enright; 2. L. Stark; 3. D. Stark.
WRA VINTAGE SPRINT CARS (12 laps) – 1. Jack Kersell, Santee, Chevrolet V-8; 2. Richard Mastroleo, Azusa, Ford V-8 Flathead; 3. Dave Sweeney, Monrovia, Chevrolet V-8.
Heat race (8 laps) – 1. Mastroleo; 2. Kersell; 3. Greg Dierks, Rancho Palos Verdes, Chevrolet V-8.
July 29 2010
The Oregon Plating Special 1974 Grant King
A-4-wheel independent suspension sprint car
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
One of the most intriguing machines at the 2010 West Coast Vintage Racers program at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon was this 1974 Grant King 4-wheel independent suspension sprint car.
photos by Kevin Triplett
Beautifully Restored Grant King sprint car
There are very few examples of independent suspension sprint cars. Bill Montagne designed and built a sprint car with front and rear double A-arm suspensions with rocker arms tied to parallel torsion bars and adjustable sway bars, and center-mounted steering. The radical car’s first outing was at the San Jose World of Outlaws event and subsequent entry in a race at Calistoga, California before disappearing from public view. In the early 1980’s the Nish family built “Frankenstein,” specifically to compete in the Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Speedway and the ‘Little 500’ at Anderson Indiana, by combining the suspension from Kenny Hamilton’s Indy car with an upright sprint car frame and a Hewland transaxle. Terry Nish still owns this car.
The history of Grant King car dates back to 1974, when the famed car builder combined two crashed chassis with the suspension parts from a crashed 1968 Laycock Mongoose Indy Car.
Left Rear suspension
Right Rear suspension
Left Front suspension
The Mongoose had had a fairly interesting history itself, having been the Wynn’s Spitfire Special with which Lloyd Ruby briefly led the 1969 Indy ‘500’ before pitting; Ruby pulled away from his pit box too soon and pulled the left side fueling nozzle out of the car. Grant King built the sprint car chassis with a 96-inch wheelbase and no offset, with a front adjustable sway bar, and a two-speed Halibrand rear end. King planned for his regular USAC sprint car pilot, Sheldon Kinser, to drive the car, but Kinser never liked the car, as he found the handling unsettling, leading to the car’s nickname of “Wobbly Wheels.” After several misadventures with other drivers, all ending in crashes, Grant King abandoned the car under a cover in the dark recesses of his shop.
Grant King Logo on side panel
Then with the addition of a wing, the car competed in the USAC Super Modified ranks, qualifying for the 1986 Copper World Classic, racing again cars designed with extreme left side weight bias. After the USAC Super Modified series ended, Seidelman restored the car to its original configuration for owners Tom Hanna and Marvin Price. During the construction, Seidelman built a unique grille, with the surround on the inside of the grill. After taking over 40 time-consuming hours to construct the grill, Bill remarked to the car owners that he understood why Grant King seldom installed grills in his cars.
Forty HRS + of work for this Grill
Unfortunately, Bill Seidelman passed away in June 2006, but the beautiful Oregon Plating Special remains as a testament to his restoration fabrication skills. The car appears at most West Coast Vintage Racer events, including a 2006 appearance at All-American Speedway at Roseville, California, driven by no less than Parnelli Jones.
July 26 2010
June 17 2010
Vintage meet at Euphrata spdwy in Eastern Washington
"Methanol Mel" Anthony
Contributor to OWR3
Photos by the Anthonys
Mel in his Offy rareing to RACE!
These shots are from last weekend at Euphrata in Eastern Wa. It was somewhat successful racing for us. Techinically I won both main events from the back. They have started me in the rear of every race now, which is OK with me.
Mel #12 lineing up at the back of the pack
I get a chance to watch the others perform, then I go to work. At the driver's meeting they decided to have a vote on creating a designated winner. Out of eight drivers, three of us voted against it, and I walked out of the meeting, and prepared to load up and go home. They finally talked me into staying, and we ran two main events. One in the afternoon, one in the evening. We were allowed to pass anyone, including the designated "whiner". However at the checkered flag I had to drop back to second both races. Fans asked me what happend, my reply: my foot slipped off the throttle. One fan said that was bull shit, as fans are not stupid. I am not going to run any more of these phony races if they continue this format.
I will quit crying here, talk to you folks later,
June 7 2010
1965 Watson RE/Ford #4
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
At the vintage tent during the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Carburetion Day display, the author spotted this really neat #4 Wynn’s sponsored 1965 Watson chassis powered by the DOHC Ford engine, shown as it was driven in the 1965 “500’ by Don Branson. The car is currently owned by William Davis of Ortonville, Michigan. Built new for the 1965 season by AJ Watson, this was his second series of rear-engine cars built for Leader Card Racing, and came at a time when rear-engine cars were still being referred to as “funny cars.” This car was assigned to 44-year old Don Branson of Rantoul (Champaign County) Illinois, the location of the Bell Helmet factory today.
Branson, who preferred dirt tracks, was aiming for his seventh Indy start in a row, and third consecutive for Leader Card Racers. Don had finished 12th in 1964 ‘500’ driving a Watson-built rear-engine Offy powered car, sponsored by Wynn’s. On May 12, 1965, Don tied rookie sensation Mario Andretti for the fastest lap in the month of May, turning a lap at 157.6 MPH. However, on May 14, the Friday before the first weekend of qualifying, Don ran too high through turn one and crashed; the car was being repaired and missed the first day of qualifying. On a windy Sunday May16th, Don was one of only two cars that qualified on a day with 40 MPH gusts, recording a four-lap average of 155.501 MPH, placing him then in the middle of row seven. The other qualifier that day was rookie Arnie Knepper who also hailed from Illinois, who Don had been coaching during the month. Meantime, Don’s teammate, two-time ‘500’ winner Rodger Ward was struggling with his Watson-Ford combination, suffering engine problems and crashing a total of three times during the month and eventually missing the starting field. However, Branson was suffering problems of his own. During practice on May 17, several Goodyear tire teams, including Branson suffered tread separation. There were several anxious days until Goodyear delivered a new batch of tires on May 20. During the second weekend of qualifying, while his teammate Ward struggled to make the field, Don’s starting position was improved by two spots, as Bob Christie and Norm Hall were bumped from the field, moving Branson up to 18th starting spot, on the outside of the sixth row. In a pre-race article, Rodger Ward rated Branson as “not a charger-steady.” Sure enough, Branson worked his way through the field to finish eighth, three laps behind winner Jimmy Clark, averaging 144 MPH for the race.
Later in the summer, this car was crashed badly during tire tests at the Speedway, and the remains were sold to Indianapolis machinist Walt Flynn, who fitted an Offenhauser engine. Flynn entered the car as #35 Enterprise Machine Flynn/Offy for the 1966 150-mile road course event at Indianapolis Raceway Park driven by Ralph Liqouri, but the car was too slow. The car appeared in 1967 at the Speedway but crashed in practice, with ‘Ralphie the Racer’ breaking his wrist. The car was then sold, and it disappeared appearing at the 1969 ‘500’ with turbocharged Ford power as the “Minnesota Serendipity” with sprint car racer Cy Fairchild handling the driving chores, but Cy was told to get more experience. Dee Jones was hired as the driver, and the team made occasional appearances over the next few years, starting out the 1971 season in Argentina, but the season ended at Indy again in 1971, where Jones crashed the car. After changing hands a few more times, the now much-modified car wound up being stored in a barn in Connecticut for 13 years. In 1992, Tom Acker restored the car and put it in his collection until a storm destroyed his shop. In 2000, The Watson/Ford was sold to its current owner, William Davis who has restored the car to its original 1965 appearance. The car was only on static display this year; Mr. Davis hopes to have the car running to participate in taking a few laps at the 2011 Indianapolis ‘500.’
Photos by Kevin Triplett
1965 Watson's Ford Engine & its Snakes
1965 Watson Rear view “Quite a few drivers saw this view during the 1965 ‘500’.”
“The familiar Leader Card Racers logo”
May 19 2010
AJ Watson Built Street Abled Midget?
Well it really isn’t a Street abled midget after all.
Its a Bike Trike!
AJ needed another Toy is My guess?
So He got this Harley and added a cockpit to it.
At Speed at ORP.
How would you like to be one of the two passengers it will carry?
Those are very little Handle bars just above the fuel tank to hold onto ?
It is a neat little package and I heard someone else wants one?
Funny but the Rider, Driver? Used a Helmet on the track, but drove it back home with out one,
My guess the Race track is a lot safer than the City streets nowadays.
Photos and story by aXe
May 18 2010
On Friday I got invited out to watch the Test and Tune session at O’Reilly Raceway Park on saturday of the,
MidWest OldTimers Vintage Race Car Club.
MOVRCC for short
Check them out at www.movrcc.webs.com
I have Been Friends with Mac Miller (Tom McGriff ) And Randall Cook for a few years now and They told Me what a great opening day Club Get together this is.
So I went on out there.
There were around 18 Cars there real Vintage & Reproduction and a New Street Midget (more later on this one) Built By AJ Watson.
AJ has a personnel collection of Reproduction cars and treats them just like His Personnel TOYS. The most used one for this session was His Ford Flat Head Indy car.
Which is a reproduction of the First Indy Car He built. It looked like His whole Family and more took shake Down runs in it?
He also had this replica of His Ford DOHC Indy Roadster.
Nothing at this meet is done at full bore speeds, None the less you should hear the comments and see the smiles on their faces as the get out of those cars.
Boy If I can get another invitation to this next year I surely would like to help out in a few test runs?
Randell cook gets His Brother ready for His test run in the Fike car.
Then you had Mac Miller there. He seems to have had His hands on quite a few of the reproduction cars out there including this one.
Doctor Robert Dicks was there who also owns two of Macs creations.
The Fike Plumbing spl
Calhoun, Parnellis Indy 500 winner
Both cars are related to Parnelli Jones history. He had Mac Build Him the AJ Watson Indy Roadster copy that Parnelli took to a Indy 500 victory, and the Fike Plumbing Spl Sprint car Parnelli won more than his share of Sprint car races in. This car was copied from an original Hank Henry Car built out west in the late 50s or early 60’s ?
The Doc was very busy this day checking out those 2 cars and bolting in Driver after Driver into them. With all those smiling faces you would have thought it was Christmas out there.
The Doc Also got in His laps here He is ready to go in the Calhoun copy
The Doc gets Mac ready for one of His test drives in Calhoun
There was even had an old RE Indy car that had been driven by Chuck Ciprich. They made a few test runs in it also.
Tight fit for Your feet! Now you see why so many hurt their feet in these cars
This Neat little TQ midget built back in 1958 took some laps also.
One of the most popular cars to get test ride was this two seater
I am Sorry But I didn’t get very much information on these cars as I was to busy taking several hundred pictures.
More on this Watson Street able Rear Engined Midget in a later story.
photos and article by aXe
May 15 2010
Bet You thought this was about that other speedway east of here.
This club held their annual Test and Tune session there today.
more on this tomorrow
May 14 2010
CANADIAN AMERICAN MODIFIED RACING ASSOCIATION
(CAMRA) at the Indianapolis ‘500’ partIII
Live Oak California
Contributor to OWR3
photo from Kevin Triplett collection
Cliff Hucul, hailing from Prince George, British Columbia, followed Tom Sneva as the driver of the rear engine supermodified which Sneva used to capture the 1970 CAMRA championship before moving up to Indy Cars. Cliff finished sixth in points in 1972, second in 1975, and fifth in 1976, before he too set his sights on the Championship trail. Cliff’s first appearance in an Indy car came at Ontario Motor Speedway on March 16, 1977, driving a two-year old McLaren M16E, powered by a turbocharged Offy, that carried Cliff’s familiar number 29. Cliff finished twelfth in the 200-mile race, five laps behind the leaders. Three weeks later, Cliff recorded a fifteenth place finish at the 150 mile race at Phoenix before moving on to the 200 miler at Texas World Speedway, where Cliff fell out after only four laps, finishing last in that race, won by fellow CAMRA graduate, Tom Sneva. In between championship starts, Cliff continued to compete with CAMRA, and eventually placed 7th in the year-end points tally. At Indianapolis, in a year in which many drivers efforts were overshadowed in the media by fellow rookie Janet Guthrie, Hucul despite mechanical problems during the month, passed his rookie test, and qualified on the last day, earning 27th starting spot with a solid run at an average speed of 187.198, bumping out Salt Walther. The 29-year old Hucul was one of five CAMRA drivers in the 1977 ‘500’ starting field; in the race, the ‘Team Canada’ McLaren/Offy suffered a broken rear end, and fell out after 72 laps. Cliff was placed 22nd in the final standings, earning $17,746.00 for the month’s efforts. Hucul returned to the Speedway with the same McLaren M16E/Offy combination, but immediately ran into some controversy over the proposed name for his car. Cliff had obtained sponsorship for the race from the Wendy’s Hamburger Chain, and had initially entered the car as the “Wendy’s Hot N’ Juicy Special,” which USAC officials deemed inappropriate, so the car appeared as the “Wendy’s Hamburger Special” instead. Cliff was the final qualifier, clocking an almost identical qualifying time as in the 1977 race, again started in 27th position, and was the only non-American in the starting field. The 1978 ‘500’ was not a good one for Cliff Hucul, however, as the car broke an oil line, and was credited with only completing four laps; Cliff earned $15,333. Cliff competed in eight other races in 1978, with a best finish of seventh at the Phoenix one-mile oval. In 1979, Cliff returned to the Speedway with his trusty McLaren M16E, and Cliff avoided the lower boost/turbocharger pop-off valve controversies and qualified 18th, on the outside of the sixth row for his third straight ‘500’ start. Unfortunately, Cliff’s car # 29 finished 29th in the 1979 ‘500,’ when it fell out after only 22 laps with a broken valve. Cliff competed in seven championship races in 1979, with a best finish of seventh at the first Milwaukee race. Hucul made a single championship appearance in 1980, at The Rex Mays 150, in the ‘O’Hanlon Racing’ McLaren/Cosworth, and finished seventh. Cliff’s final Indy Car appearances came at Michigan in 1981, driving the Metro Racing Special, a re-worked McLaren M16B owned by Jules Biguel and Jack Englehart, starting last and finishing 25th. Although Cliff never competed in Indy Cars again, his racing career was far from over; Cliff continued to compete in supermodifieds with the NSRA, drove in two NASCAR races in 1986, and competed in the Copper World Classic Supermodified race in 1995. Cliff, who still lives near Prince George, BC was seriously injured in a road accident a few years ago, but despite being confined to a wheelchair, is still is active in racing, assisting the efforts of Richie Larson, the son of four-time CAMRA champion Doug Larson.
photo from Kevin Triplett collection
Jerry, only eleven months younger than brother Tom, was a standout in West Coast Supermodifed racing for several years before staking his claim at Indianapolis. Jerry was the runner-up in CAMRA points in 1973, before claiming the CAMRA driving title in 1974, driving the family-owned Tipke built roadster. In May 1975, while working at a car dealership and racing with CAMRA, 25-year old Jerry got an Indy ride, arranged by brother Tom to in the Frank Curtis/Offy #37. The odd car, originally constructed in 1972, was the last tube-framed car built for the Speedway and nowhere near fast enough to make the field, An opportunity opened up for Jerry in a better ride, replacing Mike Hiss in the Midwest Manufacturing Special #38. The only problem was that Hiss had crashed the Grant King built Kingfish the day before, destroying the nose, and time was running out for Jerry to complete his rookie test. Tom and Jerry’s father Edsol, Sr. visiting his sons at the Speedway, jumped in to help the crew finish the rebuild, and though Jerry passed his rookie test, he was unable to bump his way into the 1975 ‘500’ starting field. After the abortive Indy attempt, Jerry returned to racing supermodifieds, finishing fourth in CAMRA points in 1975, and eighth for 1976. Jerry returned to Indy in 1977, originally scheduled to drive the ‘Spirit of America’ McLaren/Offy before jumping into the ‘21st Amendment’ sponsored McLaren M-16A owned by the Bidwell Brothers, a car originally constructed in 1971. Jerry posted an average speed of 186.616 MPH, the slowest time on the second day of qualifications, and locked himself into the sixteenth starting spot and become the 500th driver to qualify at the Speedway. On race day, while AJ Foyt was recording his fourth Indy 500 victory, Jerry Sneva, driving in his first championship car race, finished tenth and was awarded Rookie of the Year honors. Jerry went on to appear at six other races in 1977, but was only able to “make the show” at Pocono and Milwaukee. Jerry returned to the Speedway in 1978, driving a six-year old heavily modified McLaren M16B. Although Jerry was the slowest qualifier (surviving three bumping attempts), but he started the race in 32nd place, as Mario Andretti started last, replacing Mike Hiss, who had qualified Mario’s machine in his absence. On race day, while his brother Tom finished second, Jerry placed 30th after his “Smock Material Special” owned by Bill Freeman, broke a rear end on lap 18. Jerry continued with Freeman Racing for six other races in 1978, with a best finish of 14th at Michigan International Speedway. In 1979, Jerry started the season in Bruce Crower’s stock block Chevy 1972 Eagle chassis, but at the Speedway, he left Crower and replaced Neil Bonnett into the Warner Hodgson owned ‘National Engineering Special’ after Bonnett decided Indy was not for him. The car featured an experimental aluminum AMC stock block V8 engine that had suffered various maladies all month. Jerry ‘stuck it in the show’ on the second Saturday, and started in 21st position on race day. Given the problems during the month, it was not surprising when the engine burned a piston on the sixteenth lap, and Sneva was credited with a 31st place finish. In 1980, Jerry qualified a two-year old Lola T500/Cosworth in the middle of the second row, and told his reporters that he felt he had a good chance on race day. During the race, Jerry was eliminated in a single car accident in turn one on lap 130, becoming the third Sneva brother to write off a car during the month of May 1980. At Indy in 1981, Jerry was driving for fellow Northwestern Rolla Vollstedt, and appeared to have bumped his way into the field, becoming the only Offenhauser engine in the field, when Jerry Karl filed a protest. Karl alleged that Sneva’s crew had tampered with the popoff valve. The protest was upheld, and Jerry’s car was disqualified. Jerry returned in 1982, driving the same March 81C/Cosworth that brother Tom had driven the year before. Jerry practiced early in the month at over 195 MPH, but as Jerry crossed the finish line on the second Saturday to finish his qualifying run, the engine expired, but he was safely in the field, albeit in 28th spot. During the race, Jerry tangled with Chet Filip trying to avoid Danny Ongais’ crash in turn two on lap 62 and was eliminated. 1982 proved to be Jerry’s final appearance at the ‘500;’ he arrived without a ride in 1983, and took over a car initially assigned to Graham McRae, but stepped out of the car after spinning twice. In 1984, Jerry crashed his assigned March 83C on May 10 damaging it beyond repair. Jerry now lives in Indiana; his son, TJ, raced Thunder Roadsters at one time, but now runs the Ascension Snowboard Co which makes twin-tip snow skis.
link to Photo from Davey's website
By the early 1980’s, supermodified racing was changing; WRA and CAMRA were beginning to co-sanction events, and USAC would expand to the West Coast in 1985, spelling the end of CAMRA. The last CAMRA driver to make it the Indy ‘500’ is still active today; that man is Davey Hamilton. Davey is a second-generation driver, following his father, Ken’s example in supermodifieds and to Indianapolis. A highly versatile driver in many types of open-wheel machinery, Davey was the CAMRA Rookie of the Year in 1981, finished sixth in CAMRA points in 1982, is a three-time winner of the supermodified portion of the Copper World Classic, and won the NSRA title three consecutive years from 1987 to 1989. Davey first arrived at the Speedway in 1991, but crashed his assigned Lola-Buick during Rookie Orientation and bruised his leg. Davey returned to the Speedway in 1995 and successfully completed Rookie Orientation, but a broken wheel rim while he practiced on May 10 caused his Hemmelgarn Reynard Ford to crash hard in turn four. Although Davey suffered a concussion and a broken ankle, he was cleared later in the month to drive, but was unable to bump his way into the starting field. In 1996, the first year of the Indy Racing League, Davey drove for the legendary AJ Foyt and qualified for his first ‘500,’ starting on the inside of the fourth row. In a newspaper interview after he qualified, Davey revealed that he had never been hurt in a race car before he started driving Indy Cars. During the 1996 ‘500,’ a right rear hub failed, and Davey lost many laps in the pits while crew replaced the defective part. At the finish, Davey was credited with twelfth place, nineteen laps behind the winner. In both 1997 and 1998, Davey started the ‘500’ in eighth place, and in 1998, Davey finished fourth, after leading three laps during the race. In a horrific accident at Texas Motor Speedway in 2001, Davey suffered devastating leg injuries, but after multiple operations and years of physical therapy, Davey made triumphant return to the ‘500’ in 2006, qualifying 20th and finishing sixth in a rain-shortened race. Davey continues to race supermodifieds, sprint cars, and midgets when his schedule allows, as he is the primary driver of the Indy Racing Experience two-seater race car. Davey is the oldest entrant this year and the last CAMRA driver still active at the Speedway, and carries the hopes of supermodified fans for a win in the 2010 Indy ‘500.’
CAMRA Drivers who tried but did not make the ‘500’
• Ed Crombie from Williams Lake, British Columbia crashed in practice in 1976.
• Bob Gregg from Portland Oregon was unsuccessful in qualifying in 1950.
• Ken Hamilton from Boise Idaho was unsuccessful in qualification attempts in both 1981 (Riley) and 1982 (cabover Eagle Air/Riley car).
• Mike Nish from Salt Lake City, Utah tried in 1985 and 1986, but crashed both years.
• Jan Sneva was the third brother to try his hand at Indy. His Penske Offy but was not fast enough in 1982. In 1982, The Whittington Brothers became the first set of three brothers to race in the same ‘500.’
• Frank Weiss from Calgary Alberta did not pass his rookie test in 1979, and his car was qualified by Eldon Rasmussen. Weiss attempted to qualify an Eagle in 1981, but was too slow.
• Buddy Boys from Calgary, Alberta had an entry in 1980 but it never showed at the Speedway
May 13 2010
Mel Anthony wins Main Event after 54 year lay off!!!
"Methanol Mel" Anthony
Contributor to OWR3
Hey Axe, You are just a kid, I became a greatgrandfather the day after Christmas. I wonder how many greatgrandfathers at 87, have won a midget main lately.
Mel in His Family (Dennis) OFFY
Last Saturday night I won the main from the back, at Stateline Speedway in Post Falls Idaho. I had the trophy dash covered, but screwed up while leading on the last turn. Got in too hot, and the Offy on the pole got the win by a tire length. I came from the rear in the main, and our Offy was the class of the field. I have never driven a better car. It had been 54 years since I sat in a midget. They say it is like riding a bycicle. Dont you believe it. I never rode a bike that goes that quick.
THE CANADIAN AMERICAN MODIFIED RACING ASSOCIATION (CAMRA) at the Indianapolis ‘500" part II
Contributor to OWR3
I was recently reviewing the entry list for the 2010 Indianapolis ‘500’ posted here on OpenWheelRacers3.com, and I found that two Canadians, Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani, will be vying for starting spots in this year’s field. While the Speedway is celebrating its Centennial Era, it was only 45 years ago that a Canadian first qualified for the ‘500’ starting lineup. For many of these racers, CAMRA was a stepping-stone to the Speedway.
The Canadian American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) was founded in late 1962, to help unite the many modified racing associations and tracks throughout the Northwestern US and Canada with a common set of rules for what we now know as supermodified racing, and to improve safety, requiring track to have permanent concrete crash walls and uniform track lighting. The first CAMRA race was held in 1963, and CAMRA continued to sanction races through 1984.
Here is part II
See page article below this one for part I
Dick Simon, a former insurance executive with the Majestic Insurance Company in Salt Lake City Utah, is a true sportsman, having attended the University of Utah on a skiing scholarship, and is a proficient skydiver. Dick decided to his hand at racing after he made a parachute landing prior to a CAMRA event in 1962 at Fairgrounds Speedway, found that racing perked his interest, and he wound up buying an offset roadster from Terry Nish. Dick won the Fairgrounds Speedway track championship in 1965, while also doing some sports car racing in a SCCA B Production Corvette. In 1969, Dick moved into the SCCA professional road racing ranks in the Formula Continental Series, winning in only his third race is that series. Later in 1969, Dick tried his hand in the USAC series, in the two west coast road course races. Having served his apprenticeship, Dick was a rookie at Indianapolis in 1970 driving a (you guessed it) Vollstedt- turbo Ford, of which he was half owner. Dick struggled to find speed, but qualified on the last weekend at an average speed of 165.548, and started 31st, the inside of the last row, (the first of 3 times Dick would attend the last row party), becoming the Utahn to ever make the ‘500.’ On Race Day, Simon spent a lot of time in the pits with mechanical gremlins, and was the last car flagged, finishing fourteenth 32 laps behind the winner Al Unser. Dick continued to drive Vollstedt built cars at Indy through 1980, when he joined the Leader Card team and missed the show in 1981 & 1982, driving AJ Watson built cars. Dick returned in 1983 with his own team, and qualified for the ‘500’ field every year with a best Indy finish of sixth in 1987 in his Lola T8700. Dick retired from driving after the 1988 season at age 55, transitioning into his career as only a car owner, building Dick Simon Racing into one of the premier teams for pay drivers, bringing such drivers as Raul Boesel, Hiro Matsushita and Lyn St. James to the Speedway. In 1996, Dick sold the team assets to Andy Evans (Bill Gates’ personal investment banker), and served as team manager until the team shut down operations in 2001. Dick currently runs Dick Simon Yachts, Inc. based Dana Point Harbor, California.
One of five racing brothers, (Ed Jr., Blaine, Jerry, and Jan) Tom Sneva started his racing career in Spokane at the Interstate Fairgrounds Speedway. In 1970, Tom drove a 4-wheel drive rear engine supermodified to the CAMRA championship and the car was subsequently outlawed, after only one year on the circuit. In 1971 Tom, his father and CAMRA chassis builder Jim Tipke began to develop an Indy car design, while Tom tried a couple of USAC events missing the Trenton race in a Vollstedt-Ford. By the spring of 1973, the team entered the Tipke car at the Texas Motor Speedway, where the car broke a magneto and Tom placed last. At Indy, Tom passed his rookie test, but during testing, blew the team’s only four-cylinder Turbo-Offenhauser engine and was unable to make a qualifying run. After Indy, Tom hooked up with CAMRA alumnus Grant King to drive a Kingfish/Offy (Eagle copy) for the balance of the 1973 season, with a best finish of 10th in an Ontario Motor Speedway 100-mile qualifying race. In 1974, Tom returned to the Speedway Tom still with the Grant King Team, now sponsored by the Raymond Companies, and qualified for his first of 18 ‘Indy 500’s’ in eighth starting position. During the race, the ring and pinion failed, relegating Tom to a 20th place finish. Tom caught the eye of Roger Penske, who installed Tom as the driver of the McLaren Norton Spirit for 1975. During the 1975, ‘500’, Tom collided with fellow CAMRA alumni and ‘500’ rookie Eldon Rasmussen and went for a memorable wild ride in Turn 2. Tom went on to record the first 200 MPH qualifying lap at Indy in 1977, and captured the USAC season championship in both 1977 and 1978 before being released by Penske Racing. In 1979, Tom competed at Indy in the Sugaripe Prune Special, his only appearance in Indy Cars that season. During 1980, Tom competed in twelve races for the Sugarripe team, before leaving to join Bignotti-Cotter Racing in 1980. What followed were several solid seasons, with two wins each in the 1981 and 1982 season, then in 1983, Tom won the ‘500’ driving for Bignotti-Cotter Racing, one of 13 Indy Car wins in his career. After two more wins in 1984, Tom left Bignotti-Cotter Racing and moved to the Skoal Bandit team, a three-year stint sadly highlighted by Tom’s 1986 Indy crash on the warm-up lap. After running a very limited schedule in 1988, Tom joined fellow Arizonan Vince Granatelli’s team for 1989, and was eliminated from the 1989 ‘500’ with a scary pit fire. Following the 1989 season, Tom cut his racing back to Indianapolis only, and later Tom retired from driving altogether after his 31st place finish in the 1992 ‘500.’ After several years working as a TV commentator, Tom now is co-owner of the 500 Golf Course in Glendale Arizona.
Born on a farm in Edmonton, Alberta of American-born parents, Eldon raced and won in self-built supermodifieds all over Canada and the Northwest beginning in the late 1950’s, and may have been the first person to use down tubes to add strength to a race car chassis, adding them to his 1928 Ford Model A modified in 1958. Eldon was instrumental in the creation of CAMRA, and then finished in the top ten in CAMRA points in 1963, 1965 and 1966, wining the 1966 Lilac Cup and the 1966 Klondike Cup, before moving to Indianapolis to work as a fabricator and compete in USAC sprint car events. Eldon appeared in his first Championship race at Trenton in late 1971, driving the Federal Engineering Gerhardt Offy from 23rd starting position before crashing out and being credited with an 18th place finish. Unable to attract a ride from establish car owners, Eldon designed and built his own Indy Car, the Rascar, powered by a Turbocharged Foyt (Ford) engine, which debuted at the Texas World Speedway in late 1973. Eldon followed the USAC circuit in 1974, missing the show at Indianapolis, but recording a ninth place at Pocono. In 1975, Eldon after some frustration, made the Indy 500 starting field as a rookie in the 32nd spot, finishing 24th after a spectacular often-replayed accident in turn 2 with fellow CAMRA veteran Tom Sneva. After missing the 1976 ‘500’ starting field, Eldon returned to the field for the 1977 ‘500,’ starting again in the last row in his “Rent-A-Racer” Rascar- Foyt Special, Eldon soldiered on all day, finishing the race in 13th place, albeit 32 laps down. In 1978, the Foyt engine was no longer considered competitive, mostly having been replaced by the Cosworth, only Foyt and Rasmussen utilized the Foyt (formerly Ford) four-cam turbocharged engine; AJ and George Snider made the Indianapolis starting field, while Eldon was too slow and watched from grandstands again. In 1979, Eldon crashed his Rascar while trying to qualify, and jumped into Cliff Hucul’s backup car, a seven-year old Antares Manta Offy and bumped his way into the field, starting in 33rd position, but in the race, Eldon’s “Bivouac Vans” Special fell out after just 89 laps with a broken header. Early in the month of May in 1979, while struggling with the reduced turbocharger boost allowed the Foyt engine, Eldon realized that a different engine was needed to be competitive, and he set to work designing a new cylinder head for the Chevy stock-block engine, spacing out the center cylinders in the head to allow more cooling water to flow. Eldon had a lot of work to convert his Rascar chassis to accept the Chevy engine, but he was ready for the June 24, 1979 Pocono 500 miler. Eldon qualified 25th and was running well, when just past the 200 mile mark, entering turn one the rear wing appeared to collapse, and Rasmussen’s car viciously slammed into the steel outer wall. Eldon suffered multiple injuries including a broken leg and a concussion; following his extended hospitalization, Eldon returned to his fabrication shop, but never drove an Indy Car again, so the promise of his new design Chevrolet head was never fully realized. Eldon continues to fabricate an amazing variety of products for race teams at his shop in Indianapolis, and is a frequent visitor to racing history events surrounding the ‘500.’
Coming soon- part three of CAMRA at Indy!
April 23 2010
THE CANADIAN AMERICAN MODIFIED RACING ASSOCIATION
(CAMRA) at the Indianapolis ‘500’
Taking You Back
Live Oak, CA
I was recently reviewing the entry list for the 2010 Indianapolis ‘500’ posted here on OpenWheelRacers3.com, and I found that two Canadians, Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani, will be vying for starting spots in this year’s field. While the Speedway is celebrating its Centennial Era, it was only 45 years ago that a Canadian first qualified for the ‘500’ starting lineup. For many of these racers, CAMRA was a stepping-stone to the Speedway.
The Canadian American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) was founded in late 1962, to help unite the many modified racing associations and tracks throughout the Northwestern US and Canada with a common set of rules for what we now know as supermodified racing, and to improve safety, requiring track to have permanent concrete crash walls and uniform track lighting. The first CAMRA race was held in 1963, and CAMRA continued to sanction races through 1984.
Photo from Kevin Triplett collection
In 1965, two short years after the CAMRA first race, the first season champion, Billy Foster, of Victoria, British Columbia made his rookie appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway becoming the first Canadian to ever make a start in the ‘500.’ Billy at age 27, qualified his Vollstedt Offy on the outside of the second row, but fell out on lap 85 with a broken water manifold, relegating him to a 17th place finish. Billy’s friend, Mario Andretti, won the Rookie of Year Award, After his teammate Len Sutton retired following the June 1965 Langhorne race, Billy stepped into the Ford-powered Vollstedt, and scored an impressive third place finish at Atlanta. In addition to his Championship racing, Billy found time to become 1965 USAC stock car rookie of the year, driving a 1965 Dodge. Billy reunited with Rolla Vollstedt at Indy in 1966, and started 12th, but was scored 24th after being involved in the opening lap 16-car melee. Many fingers were pointed at Foster for causing the wreck, but Foster claimed to have been hit from behind. Billy’s 1966 season rebounded with two top fives finishes during June, but sadly, Billy never had a chance to return to the Speedway to show off his talents. Billy Foster lost his life January 20, 1967 in a violent stock car crash after suffering brake failure entering Riverside Speedway’s notorious Turn 9, while practicing for the NASCAR Motor Trend 500.
Photo from Kevin Triplett collection
In 1966, Rolla Vollstedt, who as a resident of Portland Oregon was familiar with the talent pool of CAMRA drivers, gave Art Pollard of nearby Medford, Oregon his shot at the Speedway. Art, at age 39, was quite a bit older than the typical Indianapolis rookie, but he had a stellar career in supermodifieds, winning the Edmonton Gold Cup back-to-back in 1961 and 1962. While Art was able to pass his rookie test, he missed the ‘500’ field in 1966, but finished out the season with some strong results, including a fourth place finish at Milwaukee. In 1967, Art easily qualified his Thermo-King Gerhardt turbo-Offy in 13th spot, and was flagged in eighth place at finish, completing 195 laps. Art stayed with the team throughout 1967, and started the 1968 season with Gerhardt, but Art’s most famous Indy ride came in 1968, only it was piloting one of STP Lotus turbines in the ‘500.’ Art started out the month in the Thermo-King Gerhardt Offy, but when Jackie Stewart injured his wrist in a Formula 2 race, Andy Granatelli went calling, and offered Art a big bonus to drive the turbine. In the race, Art looked to be poised for a great finish, when the fuel shaft failed on lap 188. Art drove the turbine for most of the rest of the 1968 USAC season, and was eliminated in the final race of the season in a bizarre crash with Mario Andretti, who had taken over for Art’s teammate Joe Leonard in the other turbine. Art continued with the STP team in 1969, notching his first two Championship victories, at Milwaukee and Dover. In the years that followed, Art was never able to reach victory circle again, and sadly, Art was killed at the Speedway in 1973, crashing in turn one while practicing on the windy first day of qualifications. Every year since his death, Douglas
County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon has hosted an Art Pollard Memorial Race for sprint cars.
Photo from All American Racers web site
In 1968, the back-to-back CAMRA champion in 1964 and 1965, Jim Malloy of Denver, Colorado took his place in the Indy ‘500’ starting lineup, driving a Vollstedt built car with a turbocharged Ford engine, qualifying in 14th place but finishing a disappointing 22nd place, completing only 64 laps. Jim Malloy had only started racing full-time in 1962, so just to reach Indy in only six years was an impressive accomplishment. Malloy had started out 1968 at Lakeside Speedway in Denver driving a race prepared 1958 Edsel built by his brother Jerry, who also built many CAMRA supermodified chassis through the years. Jim returned to Indy with the Jim Robbins/Vollstedt team in 1969, and was rewarded with much better results, finishing in 11th place, albeit 35 laps behind the winner Mario Andretti. Later in 1969, Jim landed a ride with the STP team, driving the 4-wheel drive Plymouth powered Lotus, but this pairing did not result in many strong finishes. For Malloy, Indy in 1970 was a disaster; after qualifying in ninth place in the Stearns Gerhardt turbo-Offy, Jim crashed in turn four on the pace lap when a radius rod broke. Jim started the 1971 season in the Morris/Cecil MVS turbo-Ford, but after spinning twice during May, Jim jumped to Dan Gurney’s Olsonite Eagle team for the ‘500,’ replacing Lee Roy Yarbrough. Malloy’s judgment in switching rides was proven correct, as he beat Billy Vukovich to the finish line by 1.12 seconds to claim fourth place in the 1971 ‘500,’ while the MVS team missed the show. In 1972, Jim was driving a brand-new Roman Slobodyynskyj-designed Eagle chassis no. 7206 for the Thermo-King team owned by Don Gerhardt. Malloy was the fastest man at the Speedway for the first seven days of practice, topping 190 MPH, but on May 14, Malloy lost control entering Turn 3, and hit the outer wall nearly head-on. Jim Malloy, age 37, died at Methodist Hospital five days later, never having regained consciousness. The cause of the accident was never determined despite a detailed investigation by All-American Racers technicians.
Coming soon- Part Two of CAMRA drivers at Indy
A Big Day
For Methanol Mel & Dennis Anthony
Going Racing with
Methanol "Mel" Anthony
Yesterday we hauled the Offy to a secluded airport where Dennis had gained permission to use a runway to test our car. We had it fueled, and ready to go, and the weather was perfect. In fact the whole day was perfect for us.
Mel & His son, Dennis with their newly acquired vintage Kurtis Offy midget
After we unloaded, Dennis then pushed me off on a 1,700 foot runway. The engine fired in 50 feet, I drove to near the end of the runway, pulled it out of gear as we watched it warm up. We shut it down after a minute, then hand pushed it to turn around as the runway was too narrow to attempt a driven turn.
We looked everything over, no water or oil leaks, so we made the return trip. Now as the engine was warmed somewhat we restarted, and what a beautiful feeling when we “motored” back to the hanger. Needless to say we interrupted the work force, as they all came running out to see the car. Mechanics, painters, and the boss all had cameras and were very interested. The Offy engine is healthy, did not smoke, and had a fantastic sound with that unusual exhaust header.
The only requirement we had was to be alert for any incoming air traffic. As I was going down that long straight, I had thoughts of the old Abbot and Costello movie, where Lou Costello was in a midget waving at the plane to get higher! I looked airborne for any sight of planes, none appeared. Mel
April 16 2010
I got this e-mail from Mel Anthony, He was a instrumental help in Eric buying this midget here in the states. Although it is hard seeing another one of our treasured vintage midgets leave the country, It is great seeing it has a new well intentioned home. It will also have a neat trail or record to follow for sure now.
This was in a follow up e-mail after the last one below,
The Boston Blackie Offy, after it's long journey to N.Z. Eric Beardmore, the new owner E-mailed me to say the car is even better than the photos. I am glad for him, as he was sweating it out, and all he had was my word.
I have to assume that is a reference to the old Radio show Boston Blackie? I wonder what the connection was? I will have get back to Mel for the answer to that one.
Subject: KK 20 IN NZ.
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 2010 18:32:43 +1200
Well the car has finally arrived and is just as good in the flesh as the photos. The restoration by Blackie has been just superb and its now more of a show car than a runner, however it will get its opportunities on the dirt from time to time.
We plan on pulling the engine down and checking things, and have John Stanley, an old hand with Offy’s, to do the job. I have also ordered one of the Stryker Books for a good reference, so if theres any problems with the machinery then we will be in contact.
For me, getting into it is challenging, so will make some small alterations that will not really be visible, except the wheel will have to be quick release – and of course I will stick out the top a bit!
Have to thank you again for that email to Max Rutherford that initiated this once in a lifetime opportunity and rest assured the car will get the best of everything in my custody. I put it alongside a photo I have here racing beside Bob Tattersall in the “Mattoon Imperial Motors” car, and they are identical in body style. Back in 1963 I dreamt of driving one like Bob, but did not anticipate that it would not happen for another 47 years!!
Trust the weather is improving in your area and the new Car will get an outing shortly. Let me know how it goes.
This is the car and its new owner Eric that went over or Should I say down under.
Beautifully restored Kurtis Offy. I see a reference to the Harry Stryker manuel. You have to have one of those even if you arent an Offy owner. Very interesting stuff in it.
Go to this page and scroll down to the article describing the book by Harry.
Harry is no longer with us but his Son Mike is still selling the book.
April 15 2010
2010 Racing History members First Annual Rendevous in Indianapolis
A large contingent of Racing History members attended the first annual Racing History Rendezvous in Indianapolis, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio the weekend of March 20 & 21, 2010,
This was held in association with Jack and Nan Martin’s Bench Racers Weekend. Festivities began Saturday morning with the Bench Racers bus tour visiting the race shops of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and John Force Racing. For this author, the weekend began with a visit to the open house and trade show in the banquet hall of the host hotel. On display were three beautiful Kurtis Kraft midgets: the Bardahl Offy, the Tomshe Offy, and Tuffy’s Offy. Joining the impressive midget display was the Racing Associates #3 Lujie Levosky built laydown roadster, which earned the pole position at Indy in 1959 and finished third, driven by Johnny Thomson. RH member and noted author Gordon Eliot White was manning a table at the trade show, selling copies of all of his books, including his latest book, Leader Card Racers –A Dynasty of Speed. Also on display were all of driver Leroy Warriner’s scrapbooks, and Bob McConnell’s table displayed some impressive collectibles.
Saturday evening featured the Bench Racers dinner, highlighted by the keynote speech by Howdy Bell, long-time member of the IMS radio network until 1992, who provided an insiders view of the personalities involved in the annual Indianapolis ‘500’ radio broadcast. Seated at the Racing History table were the Listmeister, Steve Hammet, Moderator Gene Ingram, Bill Blaylock, Gene Crucean, Bob and Judy Moore, and Gordon Eliot White, and the author. Following the dinner, there was plenty of time for members to bench race and watch vintage Indy 500 films before catching a good night’s sleep before the next day’s activities.
Sunday morning dawned cool and cloudy, as members gathered for a quick buffet breakfast before the 12-car caravan, led by wagon master Gene Ingram, departed the hotel parking lot at 9 AM sharp, bound for member E. Dean Butler’s Zakira’s Garage in Cincinnati, Ohio. The author was fortunate enough to be included with the group in a van driven by 3-time Indy 500 competitor Eldon Rasmussen, with Speedway Motors owner “Speedy” Bill Smith riding shotgun, along with ace fabricator Pete Gebhardt, and Bill Blaylock. “Speedy” Bill and Eldon provided many great stories to keep the conversation lively, and the 1-1/2 hour-long trip seemed to fly by, with Eldon executing a nifty outside pass of a slowing pickup truck enroute.
Zakira’s Garage, Inc. is a cathedral for Racing Historians, featuring an amazing collection of antique race cars and all the equipment needed to rebuild and restore them. E. Dean Butler initially established Zakira’s Garage in a roomy old Cincinnati Bell maintenance building to restore and maintain his collection of antique and classic cars, but the Garage has grown to accept outside one-off work, such as building the recreation of the Miller power plant for the Gar Wood Miss America race boat. Dean’s brother, Don, took a break from his business career to provide organization to the 6-employee shop’s restoration efforts. Upon arrival at the shop, each part of every car to be restored is carefully evaluated and catalogued, and the restoration process is documented with meticulous records and photographs, to aid the car’s owner in later maintaining their car.
Future Early Sprint car restoration project on the shelves
Following a short introduction, visitors were free to wander through the large shop and study all the cars and equipment hands on and up close. 6-time Indy starter Bob Harkey, a long time Cord enthusiast, immediately gravitated to a gorgeous black Cord four door on display and demonstrated his intimate knowledge of the Cord’s features. Other completed vehicles on display included a horse-drawn carriage, a 1910 Mercer Runabout, and several sports cars.
The shop contains row upon row of priceless machine tools, and shelves are stacked from floor to ceiling with original parts, refurbished parts and newly fabricated replacement parts from original Miller plans. The shop also has a sterile engine building room, and a dynamometer for testing purposes. At lunchtime, all the visitors contributed 10 dollars each towards a tasty catered lunch, with ribs, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, barbequed beef, and coleslaw, topped off with homemade cookies baked by Don Butler’s wife. After the lunch, visitors were free to continue their exploration of Zakira’s Garage. Projects currently underway in the shop included the Tommy Milton’s 1923 Indy winner.
Kevin Triplett photos below
Tommy Miltons 1923 Indy 500 winner and engine in full restoration process
Duesenberg Straight engine on the Dyno
Also seen was one of two Duesenberg Straight Eight Indy Cars, as well as a BMW sports car. The most intriguing project to this author is the restoration of the 1935 Miller-Ford which crashed while attempting a qualifying attempt in the 1948 ‘500’ driven by then-aspiring race driver Anthony Granatelli. The front office of the Garage was worth a visit, as it is a massive storehouse of priceless automotive books, magazines, posters, and collectibles, as well as a huge collection of original Miller drawings.
Mid-afternoon, all the visitors gathered for group photographs.
Kevin Triplett photo
Crowd of visitors seems to be around fifty Kevin Triplett is under the Hi in the banner
At this time, special “thank you” awards were presented to E. Dean and Don Butler for their kindness in opening up their shop on a Sunday, and to Gene Ingram for all his hard work in organizing the Rendezvous. After the photo session, the group moved on to tour the larger newer building erected behind the original building, which contains all of Zakira’s original Miller patterns, some in original condition, while some of which have been restored for use in restoration projects. The building also holds some completed cars such as a vintage Datsun 240Z, and an Allard- 331 CI Cadillac, some current projects like a Lamborghini 400 GT, and some of the employees’ personal project cars. The basement of the newer building contains more treasures: more parts, a storehouse of machine tools and the original Penske Racing dynamometer control panel. Returning to the main shop, the crowd broke up into smaller groups, trading racing stories and marveling at the treasures in the Zakiras Garage, before the Racing History members took one last look around, and headed back to the their homes, undoubtedly anxious for the next Racing History Rendezvous.
Is this kind of racing history of interest to you? Then you ought to join the Racing History Group! It’s free to join. Check it out at www.racinghistory.org
April 13 2010
Lone Star Rod & Kustom Roundup & Texas Vintage Openwheel Displays
Last Friday & Saturday I went out to the Austin Expo Center. That’s the place where most of the good, Rodeos, Motorcycle, Farm and Rod & Custom shows are held here in the Austin area. One of the biggest Motorcycle get together’s in the country is held there every Summer. I hear they have around 50k bikes show up for that one.
I went out because I heard through the internet that the, Lone Star Rod & Kustom Roundup Had invited the Vintage Texas Open Wheel group to bring out some of their restored cars.
The Lone Star Rod and Kustom show has to be one of the biggest get togethers for those type cars in the country. Some were between 4,000 & 5,000 different types of Rat Rods, Hot Rods and Custom cars and a few Race cars thrown in showed up and most were driven out there.
I went out early on Fri morning to catch some pictures before the crowds were let in. There were only 3 cars from that Texas vintage Open Wheel group there. I asked the head of that Group Pat StCricq, If there were going to be more, He said that Sat should see a couple more. Well it was a beautiful day and there were all those hot rods.
Oh yea did I mention there were quite a few Rat Rods also in attendance? You do know what a Rat Rod is don’t you? Well it’s a barn find or mostly it’s a field find old car or truck, An almost unusable rusted out car or truck some even come with their own bullet holes still in them. Hey it’s the low buck Hot Rodder in action, these guys don’t have the upwards of 50K$$$to built one of the custom beauties that were out there with them, but they still have some great hot rods and have a ball doing it. By the way they do mostly look unsafe but they do try very hard to keep up the safety aspects of those cars and trucks. All are licensed to drive on the street and do a lot of it. I was on the Salt flats and a few of those Rat rods were Driven there from the LA area. A later photo story will follow on this OWR3 site.
Now about those 5 Texas Vintage open wheel cars.
Being mainly a midget fan, the car that first Caught My Eyes was the Albert Offy.
Albert Offy & owner in blue shirt Pat StCricq.
Neat Gold Leaf name on car
History plaque of the Albert Offy
What a beauty. Owned by the Vintage Texas Open Wheel leader Pat StCricq. Offy powered and being saved for? Pat said He doesn’t want to take the chance of ruining that engine. Check out the neat little shock in the nose, Yes Shock as in one. It is mounted on the main frame cross member and only has one connecting rod to the right side of the axle.
Yes there is a shock in there! It is red
Next car was this neat little V8 60 powered car. Now owned by Pete Carlson, It is a rail framed midget of unknown building heritage?
Neat and clean little V8 sixty powered midget
I was told this car was built out west probably in California? If You recognize it let us know as the owner is looking for some of its history. He was told is has never been raced ?
Now then My eyes were caught by old Friend Don Menards Scavenger Spl #8 sprint car.
Don Menards rig loaded and ready to go racing!
It caught My eye when they showed up with that open trailer, that was the was the it was done way back, cant do it nowadays as most would get stolen off the trailer.
Don tries to get this car to all the old car meets that he can. By the way that #8 signifies the number of Sprint car builders who have parts that were used to assemble this car.
Now come 2 of the prettiest cars there. One a Sprinter and the other a Super Modified. Owned by the Murphee Bros and their Vintage motor sports group.
Team cars Nance Sprint and their Super Modified
Nance Sprint car I was told it was the first Nance car with a complete roll cage
Murphee Bros Super modified Little dash note on the Super modified
Both cars ran in the Texas Oklahoma areas back about 40 years or so ago. The Sprint car was the very first Nance Sprinter built with a complete roll cage on it.
The Surprise for Me there was this Jiggler Ford V8 Sixty converted to Jiggler heads.
It is owned by Bill Jones of San Antonio Tx . Bill an Ex Indy car mechanic for the John Zink operation out of Oklahoma, is still in the racing business only now with the idea of keeping as much vintage stuff going as He can. He is a Great Offy Mechanic, Machinest & Fabricator. There were only about 30 of these heads made. I do not know how many blocks were actualy converted to run them as they did require extensive work to make that change.
The original exhaust ports ran through the middle of the block,they had to be closed off, then holes had to be made for the lifters to push the rods up through the heads to open the new exhaust valves. The intakes stayed the same.
This was My first experience seeing this engine I would like to see it apart just to see how all that was accomplished on the block.
aXe and I took all the photos also
A Texas-Sized Weekend of Loud Pipes, Leadsleds Sleds, Live Music
And a few Vintage open wheel race cars
I just found out there will be around 15 Texas Vintage openwheel race cars at this show.
The main part of the show is for Hot rods of all kinds made before 1964 only. with a lot more thrown in.
See their web site for more information. http://www.lonestarroundup.com/
I will be there most days. I will have on My old Openwheeracers.com polo white shirt, If you see Me stop and say hello.
From their web site
What started out as a small gathering on an old football field of like-minded gearheads, artists and musicians who love traditionally-styled Hot Rods and Kustoms, has grown into annual tradition right here in Austin, Texas.
Its now a great big car show with amazing rides driven here from all over the country, its a killer live music festival, its some seriously talented artists, pinstripers & unique shopping, its great food and cold drinks, its folks and friends and families getting together -
and when its springtime in Austin,
its Round Up time, ya'll...
Now in our 9th big year, we continue to give you more to enjoy out at our home at the Travis County Expo Center - which allows us not only to comfortably and easily accomodate more cars and spectators, but we've also added more to your Round Up weekend: the swap meet (find that perfect part or project you've been looking for), the thrilling edge-of-your seat mini-bike races, plenty of shopping in the expanded artist/vendor area, and two full days to cruise in, check out tons of amazing cars while you enjoy live music onstage.
TO REGISTER YOUR CAR FOR THE ROUND UP
Pre-registration is over, but you can still register your car for the Lonestar Round Up at the show gates Friday April 9th and Saturday April 10 at the Travis County Expo Center - 7311 Decker Lane (just east of downtown Austin)
Registration is $50 for each vehicle to be registered (one vehicle and one person's wristband is included per registration)
Registration is open ONLY to 1963 and earlier traditionally-styled american hot rods and custom cars and traditionally-styled bikes. No Imports, No cars newer than 1963 - please make sure you fit these requirements - no exceptions.
Your registration provides you and your car admission inside the gates on Friday and Saturday, April 9 & 10th at the Travis County Expo Center, and gets you a registration packet with a commemorative dash plaque and other goodies.
Registration is limited to available space, and is non-transferable and non-refundable.
GENERAL ADMISSION WRISTBANDS
(good for admission all weekend)
General admission wristbands admit you to come enjoy the show both Friday and Saturday and are available to the public and for for any additional passengers for just $10 at the gate
(no advance sales)
Kids under 12 are FREE.
General Admission parking is FREE.
Mar 20 2010
Saying Goodbye to Chuck Daigh
reprinted from 06-02-08
OWR3 Photo contributor
I used to drop by the shop of Chuck Daigh with Buck Smith, Jim Kavanaugh, my brother David Parks, or sometimes just by myself. “Chuck,” I would say, “how about telling me your life’s story,” and he would always give me that look that is a common one among car builders and racers. “Who cares,” he would say and add that he was in the middle of a project. Chuck was always in the middle of a project, even in his eighties. When he went into the hospital for rather normal reasons, we simply expected to see him again soon, but his condition took a turn for the worst and we lost him on April 29, 2008.
Chuck was one of the few men that I knew that could do it all. He designed and built great race cars. He raced with the best and he was a feared competitor on the dry lakes or behind the wheel of a sports car. He was also one of the best mechanics around. Chuck could spot trouble in an instant. Nothing seemed to have rattled his nerves. He exuded a confidence unique to hot rodders that no job is impossible. Just having Chuck around settled the nerves of a racing team. He fit in so well with his steady demeanor that it made a groups racing experience more fun than it should have been. I would usually see Chuck at the Fab 50’s reunion events. Dave Kleeman and Go Go Golightly would bring him with them. They made a great team, with the younger men devoted to following the charismatic older man’s instructions. Chuck was one of those automotive pioneers who simply made everybody around him better. So I made it a priority to attend his Celebration of Life on May 31, 2008, at his shop in Costa Mesa, California and learn as much as I could about this unique man and his life. Hot rodders hate funerals and memorials, but they love Celebrations of Life. Maybe it’s the car guy’s version of a riotous Irish wake, but it suits their style.
Chuck Daigh holding trophy circa early 1950's.
The celebration for Chuck was organized by his family, with assistance from Al Arciero. The weather was great, the surrounding shop owners made us feel welcome and the upbeat attitude of everyone made us feel joyful on what should have been a somber day.
Charles George Daigh was born on November 29, 1923 in Long Beach, California. His father, Harold Dundas Daigh owned a garage, where Chuck literally grew up. His older brother, Harold Dundas Daigh II, told us that father and sons were hot rodders at heart and they spent many hours together working on cars and developing projects. One of their ideas was to meld an Alfa Romeo body to a Model A chassis. Chuck managed a Union Oil gas station while he was still attending Compton High School, at the young age of 15.
Chuck Daigh in Lance Reventlows Scrab on a road course car circa early 1950's.
Curiously, he never talked much about the other things young men like to do. His involvement from the very first was his abiding love of cars. Chuck graduated in the summer of 1941, while war raged in Europe and in the Far East and young men knew that the peace in North America could not last much longer. Chuck enlisted in the Army after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was assigned to the 517th infantry regiment. He fought in some of the bloodiest and most difficult campaigns in World War II. His unit parachuted into Sicily, then crossing over to the Italian mainland at Salerno and taking Naples. Inch by inch, foot by foot they fought their way north.
Chuck Daigh in a road course car circa early 1950's.
Chuck parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, trudged through hedgerows as the American Army pushed the Germans back across occupied France and into Germany. He was caught in the German counter-attack during the Battle of the Bulge, fought in the winter in deplorable conditions and utter savagery. Those that weren’t wounded or killed, found themselves struggling to keep frost-bite at bay. In units scattered all over northeastern France, hot rodders gave all they could to free the world of despotism. Ak Miller suffered frost-bite and almost lost his toes and feet. Nellie Taylor was severely wounded and would be crippled for life. Chuck survived the Battle of the Bulge, but was wounded three times in the fight to free Luxembourg from the German Army and his fighting days were over.
Chuck Daigh at his Costa Mesa, California garage with the newly built Bonneville Streamliner 2008.
The doctors thought that he would never regain the use of his arm, but to Chuck the war and his injuries were simply a roadblock on the way to what he really loved in his life, building, racing and designing race cars. He returned to Long Beach in 1945 and with the help of his brother Harold, built and raced a track roadster, which he raced at Carrell Speedway in Gardena. He set the track record at Carrell and impressed the legendary J.C. Agajanian Sr with his skills. Chuck built hot rods and engines, tailoring them to the needs of his customers and taking the cars to the Southern California dry lakes to test them out. Like so many other young men, he was attracted to the dry lakes to run time trials and he was good at what he did.
Celeberation of Life for Chuck Daigh at his garage in Costa Mesa, May 2008.
The dry lakes was a seed bed of activity and young hot rodders would share their experiences and ideas and then go on to other car racing experiences. Southern California hot rodders would go on into sports car and road course racing, short track and the big oval track racing, drags, rallies, hill climbs, endurance runs and even boat racing. They tried it all and so did Chuck, and he was good at whatever he tried his hand at. In the early 1950’s (’51 or ’52), he joined Clay Smith and Bill Stroppe on an All-Star team owned by Benson Ford to participate in the Carrera Panamericana road races, which we familiarly call the Mexican Road Races. Chuck helped to build and maintain the Lincolns and was the riding mechanic and navigator on this grueling road race. The Carrera Panamericana started near the southern Mexican border with Guatemala, in the town of Tuxtla Gutierrez and wound its serpentine way north on the new highway linking the United States with Latin America. It took cool nerves and hot rodding skill to drive across mountains, deserts, long straight-aways and adoring crowds of fans who lined the streets and made things dangerous.
Sometimes the natives of an area would drive their old cattle up on the roads to be hit by the cars, and then demand reimbursement from the Mexican officials. Heavy vultures lined the road eating the carcasses and causing more distractions. At night the drivers would stop at designated towns where the populace would throw lavish parties and keep the teams awake. Sometimes the drivers themselves would re-ignite the parties and rest was slight and speeds were high. Chuck was more than up to the task of being the riding mechanic and navigator. He had that steady concentration and nerves of steel, honed on the battlefields of Europe. He drove a Frazer Nash, Marion Lowe’s car at Moffett Field, in his first road racing experience as a driver. He came in fourth at Terminal Island in October of 1953, driving a Jaguar, owned by Jay Bessemyer. The Jag had previously been driven by Don Parkinson. Chuck won at Willow Springs in a Kurtis. He drove for the Troutman and Barnes team. He came in second to Ken Miles at Torrey Pines in 1955, and then beat Miles at Santa Barbara in the same year. Daigh was a ferocious competitor, but you wouldn’t know it by his baby-faced picture. He had movie star looks and a smile that could melt hearts. His eyes looked gentle and beguiling, but that only masked the tenacious spirit that lurked in his heart. Chuck was admired and respected by his peers, but he never lost his hot rod soul and image. Like Max Balchowsky, Chuck was seen as a man who could take twisted metal and junkyard parts and turn them into hard-charging and winning race cars. He ranked right at the top with Jack Brabham, Danny Oakes, Bill Stroppe, Ed Winfield and other greats who could make race cars fly and motors purr. Chuck could hear an engine and know what was wrong. He could sense what was going to happen. He was a master mechanic that others came to for help.
He had great success with the Troutman and Barnes car. It handled like a hot rod and he adjusted to it with ease. Chuck had that ability to fit a car, rather than most drivers who had the car built to fit them. Daigh would take a ride in an unknown car and would mold himself to the car. The driver and car would become one in an instant and this flexibility made him a dangerous competitor. He left Lincoln-Mercury in 1956 and went to work for Ford Racing. Ford was an active participant in the 1950’s and also hired Ak Miller and other hot rodders to show their cars and attract the new and emerging young drivers to their brand. In 1957 he drove a stock Thunderbird to a land speed record of over 200 mph. That same year he joined the Lance Reventlow team in building the famous Scarab race cars. Daigh did the suspension system and drove the cars. Troutman and Barnes worked on the chassis, while Miles did the drawings. Chuck won the 1958 Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside. Chuck also worked on the engines and brakes, along with Phil Remington. 1958 was a good year for Chuck as he won at Meadowdale, Montgomery, Laguna Seca and Nassau. He won the Sebring race three times and in one of those races his winning partner was Dan Gurney. He raced in Europe at Silverstone and LeMans and was a mechanic and trouble shooter for other drivers. In fact, his work as a mechanic was just as impressive and important as his driving performances. Bruce McLaren credited Daigh with much of his success in the races that they collaborated on. Chuck also drove Maseratis, Ferraris and other race cars. He was also involved in boat racing and was the navigator, throttleman and engine builder on the Thunderball, an off-shore racing boat that had great success. His last project was a Bonneville streamliner, built in the shape of a sleek dragster. Whenever I visited his shop he would be working on it. Sometimes he would just sit there in quiet contemplation and I would ask him what he was doing. It amused him to find a hot rodders quick comeback to a silly question. Building a race car is as much inspiration as trial and error. He was always thinking, always planning and overcoming whatever problem was thrown in his way. My father always told me that there were a great many men that came from the dry lakes racing experience that set the stage for the rapid development of automotive racing and Chuck Daigh was one of the best of that group.
As people began to assemble, I found a few people that I knew. Jim “Abo” Travis came with Bill Walden. Travis is a car restorer, racer, mechanic, fabricator, builder and all-around authority on racing. Fab 50’s non-members were out in force. The Fabulous Fifties is a group of road course racers from the 1940’s and ‘50’s who meet regularly and keep the history and heritage of road course racing alive for future generations. They refuse to organize and call themselves a club, preferring to be the rebels that they’ve always been. To belong to the non-organization as a non-member is a true honor. The non-club is led by Art Evans, Bill Pollack, John and Ginny Dixon, Ann Bothwell, Cy Yedor and Alice Hanks. Art couldn’t make it as he was battling ill health, but he sent his best wishes. Part of this story is taken from his excellent book, “Race Legends of the Fabulous Fifties.” I also gained a lot of knowledge from the Daigh family and from listening to the many speakers at the Celebration of Life for Chuck. Pollack, Hanks and the Dixons were present and very helpful with Daigh’s life story. Alice is the widow of Sam Hanks, the legendary open wheel driver and Indy 500 winner. Pollack wrote the book “Red wheels and white sidewalls,” a story of his road racing experiences. Other Fab 50’s included; Rex McAfee, Jack’s son, Ron Cummings, Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant, Jim Rowe, Phil and Alma Hill, Jack Burns, Mike Savin, Jerry Grant, Bruce Hand and Bob Barton. Approximately 200 guests showed up, including; Paul Vanderheyden, Les Nimmo, Richard Lyndhurst, Eldon Harris and Jimmy Stockberger. Vanderheyden came all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina, where he builds small displacement racing Fiats. Nimmo has a nearby machine shop and races at Willow Springs in VARA competition.
Family members came from all over to hold this event for us and included; Mark and Melanie Rasmussen, Doris Burnett, Dick and Susan Banks, Denise Daigh, Dan Daigh, Andrew Daigh, Melanie Parmer, Alex Banks, Pat and Rita Daigh, Kelly, Katy and Sandy Banks, Alexis Parmer, Harold Dundas Daigh II, and Harold Dundas Daigh III. Doris Burnett was Chuck’s former wife and a gracious hostess. Harold Daigh II was Chuck’s older brother by 18 months. Mark Conovay owned the shop next to Chuck’s shop and he opened his shop and parking spaces to the guests. Conovay is a member of the Crackerbox Racing club and he showed us his boat, The Sluice Box, which he races with his partner, Randy Haapala, owner of The Body Palace, a major repair shop for cars in Huntington Beach, California. Conovay told me that the Crackerbox club is growing and has 35 boats in their league, 20 of which show up to race. He won the San Diego race last year and his boat is always competitive. The crackers are smaller than other race boats, but the thrills and spills are just as exciting as the bigger boats. They are going to race at Burley, Idaho on June 27-28, 2008 and again on the first weekend in August, 2008 at Marine Stadium in Long Beach, California. Jerry Ross, another crackerboxer, showed up at the Celebration. Jerry is the original owner of the Cracker Jack, Pile Driver and Arizona Girls, which his daughters race. Jerry is currently driving Tom Sampson’s Enemy. Another boat guy attending was Mo Beck, Mr Stern Drive, who is now retired, but was a former tenant and neighbor of Daigh’s. John Bixler came with Mo and Terry Baldwin. Terry owns Ralph Schenck’s old land speed racing car. Schenck was a member of the Albata car club in the early days of the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and set records and won championships with his fabled car. Baldwin worked very hard on the restoration of the car, which is one of the most famous of the early streamlined dry lakes cars.
A group photograph included Ted Tanner, Don Rackeman, Warren Robbins, David Parks and Ed Iskenderian. Rackeman is well-known as a drag racing promoter and former NHRA employee. David Parks is the youngest son of Wally Parks. David wears the red hat, which entitles him to be a member of the prestigious 200 miles per hour club. He has set records over 200 mph at Muroc, El Mirage and Bonneville. Iskenderian came with his lovely wife, Elwanda. Ed is famous as the “Cam Father,” a term coined by the witty and talented CarToonist, Pete Millar. Isky cams have been setting records since the late 1940’s and Ed is still grinding cams, though the day to day operations have been turned over to his sons, Timothy and Richard. Dan Daigh spoke to the crowd in an open mike presentation and told how Chuck had once outrun the police on the way to Bonneville. “The policeman asked him why he didn’t stop when he was being chased,” and Chuck said, “Because I wasn’t out of gas then.” Another speaker said that “Chuck was a better welder and a better machinist than anyone else who ever graduated from high school.” Harold Daigh told the audience that “Chuck would build and style a car to fit the customer, long before it was the common practice to do so.” Some of the guests in attendance were Charles Rollins, Phil Remington, Gene and Alan Barbee, Bill Krueger, Joann Brock, Jane Barrett and Rod Bean. Rollins is the son-in-law of the late Ray Brock and Joann Brock and has his own website, www.benchracing.com. The Barbee Brothers are well-known land speed record holders. Phil Remington worked with Daigh on many projects and is a renowned race car fabricator. Dick Guldstrand spoke to the audience about how they ran the brakes off of their Corvette at Sebring and Chuck graciously helped them make the repairs in his shop. Dick Messer, the Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum, personally brought the Troutman and Barnes Special from the museum collection.
Another speaker told of Daigh’s wartime experiences. “When Chuck was in the army he carried a rotor with him so that no one would steal his jeep. He went 43 days without clean clothes to wear, so bad was the fighting. He was shot three times, with the most serious injury to his wrist. No matter where he was, he was always interested in technology of the car,” said the speaker. Remington told us that he knew Chuck since the dry lakes and when they were together with the Troutman and Barnes team on the Scarab racing project. “We were in Belgium, racing and Chuck didn’t fear anything and would try to do everything. He was a very generous man,” said Remington. Ron Cummings said that Chuck got a ride once in an old Scarab and was up against newer cars, but worked on the car and qualified it in seventh, with great driving skills. Chuck did quite well against newer and better cars. We had a saying,” said Cummings, “What a difference a Daigh makes.” Ron added, “We just adjusted the driver to the car and Chuck could take any car and make a race car out of it.” Additional guests that attended the event were; Jack Brady, Bill Wilkins, John and Linda Clinard, Sharon Spearing, Sandy Galbraith, Chuck Fawcett and Anne Staskawicz. Dan Gurney took the microphone and told the audience that “Chuck was part of the World War II generation that included Clay Smith, Frank Coons, Bill Stroppe, Jim Travis and many more great racers and mechanics. Chuck knew all of these people and he was a hero to me. Chuck was careful about giving out his secrets. Keith Duckworth had this saying which Chuck agreed with,” added Gurney, “The milk of human kindness doesn’t go that far,” when he didn’t want to answer any more questions.
Bill Krueger told of the time that Daigh raced on the Daytona Beach time trials and didn’t feel that he did very well. Bill France Sr was in charge and he had a rule that a driver only got one run. Maurie Rose and Zora Arkus-Duntov were arguing with France, saying that they didn’t do well and wanted another try. “Daigh walked up to them and asked for another run, whereupon France told Rose and Arkus-Duntov that Daigh just set a record and do you want me to give him another try?” Another speaker told us that “Daigh was a good boat racer and held the Newport Beach to Catalina record of 12 minutes. We lost one of the props and Chuck tells me to go onto the side of the boat, almost into the water and pull the cotter pin and change the prop. I asked him if he was going to stop the boat and he told me ‘no, we’re going to keep racing,’ and I had a hell of a time getting that prop off and a new one on,” he told us to roaring laughter. More guests who were at the party included; Ed Ward, Bob Stockwell, David Wells, Rick Hayden, John Bjorkman, Tim Bamford, Tony DeRosa, Gary Fortner, Bill and Bet Watkins and Don Taylor. Rackeman told us that Daigh “was one of the most talented guys around and told us about the time Lou Baney got Chuck to build a car and got Johnny Parsons to drive it.” Peter Rothschild told us about his experiences with Chuck. Rothschild was the National Offshore racing champion in 1966. Al Arciero provided some of his family’s award winning wines from their vineyard in Central California. The Arciero family got their start in the Paso Robles area, and is still producing fine wines.
Other guests who attended the Celebration included; Norm Grant, Jerry Austin, Gary Croan, Rolland Soll, Carrie, Lucy, Noel and Tate Berg, Barry Walker, Walter Gibson and Gary Donahue. Doug Stokes dropped by and told us about the times he spent with Daigh. Stokes has spent most of his life promoting the car scene, from Go-Kart racing to the times he was the PR man at Perris Auto Speedway and Irwindale Speedway. Doug’s favorite saying is “Great party, shitty reason.” A few more guests at the event were; David Sterling, Dan Gonzalez, Bob Schmitt, Gene Ellis, Michael Phillips, Susan Carpenter and Steve Cleary.
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM. Special thanks go to John and Ginny Dixon, Art Evans and to the Daigh family for their help in compiling information for this story.
Feb 28 2010 The two Winfield carbs sticking up through the hood on those early race cars, provided an easy target to sabotage.
Going Racing with
Methanol "Mel" Anthony
A Fuel problem or Sabotage?
Just before WWII, the Northwest had a good field of big cars that raced up and down the coast, and a weekly race in Canada.
This true fuel story deals with a Canadian trip.
The story was told to me on one of my trips to Canada’s Langford Speedway, with my former Cragar big car, the new owner Dick Barber, and his driver my friend Claude Walling.
The story goes that a front running rocker arm big car made the trip, along with several others on the six hour ferry ride to Canada. When they all arrived at the speedway, cars were pulled to warm up and hot lap. This rocker arm job was pulled around lap after lap, and it failed to fire. Returning to the pits, they checked the mag, the air pressure in the fuel tank, and everything. Returning to the track again it still would not fire, and they began checking the fuel at the Winfield carbs. Zero, not one drop was getting into the engine, but a strong stream was arriving at the Winfields. By this time, not only did they miss practice, time trials, and the heats, the main event was coming up.
As the cars were lining up for the main, one alert mechanic pulled the cover off the carbs to expose the floats and their needle and seats. Now under each float was a short cigar butt wedged to keep them closed. The owner was hot, they got to start on the rear, and cigar smokers were not popular on the ferry trips after that.
Feb 21 2010
Going Racing with
"Methanol Mel" Anthony
"Methanol Mel" Anthony
A Fund Raiser
The Ballard district of North Seattle, planned a new Hospital in 1952. Our midget club was invited to assist in a fund raising parade with our race cars.
The two Winfield carbs sticking up through the hood on those early race cars, provided an easy target to sabotage.
( Some of us were already acquainted with the Hospital staff !. )
The route was to cover about 5 miles over city streets with 2 Police escort patrol cars, a sound truck with signage and an auto dealer's pick up to provide help for any cars with problems. At the briefing the two Police officers explained we were to keep it under 40 MPH.. This was fine with us, as it had been raining all morning.
Four of us turned up -
Mel Anthony in the Homer Norman # 55 Kurtis Offy.
Mel Anthony ( bending ) prepares the Homer Norman # 55 Offy for the North Seattle Fund Raiser Run. Note the slick tyres and Mel tells me the man with the hat was his "personal" x-ray Technician !
Clark "Shorty" Templeman in the Jack Whalen # 1 Bardahl Kurtis Offy.
Clark "Shorty" Templeman above in the Jack Whalen Bardahl Kurtis Offy #1, one of the other "runners" in the Ballard charity street parade. The banner in the background says it all.
Also running in the fund raiser were.
Dick Deahl in his own # 22 Kurtis V8 60
Kenny Gardiner in the Don Budwick # 3 rail V8 60.
We were push started with difficulty, especially the two Offys. Now moving the 2 miles down the "wet" street , I was wondering if I had heard the WRONG speed quoted by the Police officer !. Those two officers must have been having a ball !, escorting us with sirens, lights and I swear, a hefty 70 mph or better speed. The turns were gradual up until we approached Freemont Ave. Now we had to make a quick 90 degree left onto a wet brick road. "Shorty" was leading, then Dick, Kenny and myself. I backed off, but not enough as I could see the others pushing and sliding. Half way through the turn I lost it into the Curb, killed the Offy engine, and there I sat while the group went on up the hill to Woodland Park.
This was in front of a Tavern and a guy standing there with a beer in his hand remarked ,
" you guys are gonna need the new Hospital before it's built !"
The escort patrolman made the guy put his beer down and help push the car onto the street so we could re start. The patrol man push started the Offy using the bumper of the Patrol car then raced ahead escorting me up the mile or so hill.
Now if I thought we were going fast before, this next mile was UNREAL !
EVERY BUSINESS AND HOME EMPTIED OUT TO SEE AN OFFY, ( with 1/4 mile gears)
WIDE OPEN ON A MILE STRAIGHT.!
We finally caught the group , what a relief !, as I didn't want to bend the Homer Norman Offy again.
This was the same car I got end over end with in 1950 at the Del Fanning benefit race held at Aurora Speedway. Incidently the car was the former Edlebrock # 27, the sister car to the "Offy Killer" Rodger Ward whipped the Offies with at Gilmore one night.
Mel sits in the # 27 V860, the former Edelbrock car driven by Perry Grimm at Gilmore. This is at the Del Fanning benefit meeting 1950. It wasn't to be Mel's day !
The car has been immaculately restored by Harry Stryker Sr. and is now owned by Bob Ware of Long Beach, Ca. Bob is the son of Bath-Tub Bob, who raced at Gilmore in the Offy hey days. Bob still keeps the car bright red with "The Norman Offy" title and runs it at Vintage Meets.
2010 starts here
Jan 18 2010
Have you ever wanted to go out to the garage Jump into your very own replica indy Roadster fire it up and take it for a ride down the street? Or better yet drive it up onto a trailer then take it to a vintage or replica get together at one of this countries finer race tracks, get in it there and turn some laps over 100mph in it? Well if you dream like that Mac Miller (Tom McGriff) can get it done for you either way you would like it.
I have seen his Boyle Valve spl turn some laps on the 2 mile high banked Texas World speedway last fall at close to it with that little Ford engine.
Mac in the Boyal Valve replicar at Texas World spdwy on the banks.
So if you want a dream come true just give Mac a call maybe you could be the new owner of the Laydown roadster He is contemplating building right now.
The Mac Miller Specials
by Tom McGriff, proprietor of Mac Miller¹s Garage INDY
Over the last three years, I have had the opportunity to build new versions
of three of my favorite race cars of all time, a 1920s Miller style Speedway
car, a 1960s style USAC sprint car and an early 60s Watson style Indy
#1 Fike Plumbing Special
These projects began when I was contacted by Dr. Robert Dicks of Greenwood
IN, about building a new replica of Parnelli Jones¹ 1960, 1961 and 1962
championship winning USAC sprint car, the Fike Plumbing Spl.
During our planning meeting, I laid out specs for a car that would be the
most practical and enjoyable vintage style racecar possible.
This car features a 2.8 litre V6 engine, 3 spd automatic transmission and
differential rear axle, all out of the same Ford Mustang. Advantages of this
power train are self starting capability, gasoline fuel and repair &
maintenance parts are available from any local auto parts store.
The car is built, using a select combination of production car parts, race
parts, and hot rod parts installed on a custom designed tube frame with
newly designed fiberglass bodywork.
Suspension features a front cross leaf spring, parallel mounted rear
torsion bars and tubular shocks, just like the original, Hank Henry built,
The car is finished off with a set of, 60s style, Firestone ³ribs and
diamonds² dirt track tires mounted on Halibrand style wheels, original style
upholstery and, finally, the classic blue and white ³Fike Plumbing Spl.²
#98 Agajanian/Willard Battery Special
Following a season of great results and experiences with the ³Fike³ sprint
car, Dr. Dicks commissioned me to build a new Parnelli Jones, 1963 Indy 500
winning, Agajanian/ Willard Battery Spl. #98 Watson roadster.
During our planning session, we had to make a choice between building a
³recreation², using real vintage suspension, steering, brakes, driveline.
etc, or a ³replica², using all new modern components and systems. We,
wisely, chose to go all new and avoided the time and hassle of sorting up
scarce and expensive original vintage parts.
The concept of this roadster was different from the sprint car. It was to
be built as close to the design and ²look² of Parnelli¹s original 1963 ²Ol¹
Calhoun², as possible, including a standard ³Watson blueprint² frame and
extensive bodywork modifications to include the custom shape windscreen
fairing, large recessed nose air scoop and front suspension fairings.
The suspension is a standard Watson cross torsion bar, Watts linkage setup
with front and rear Panhard bars. It is equipped with Watson standard, four
front shocks and two rear shocks.
This car was, also, to be built, using the best race quality components
and systems available, including brakes, steering, suspension and fluid
This car features a 2 litre, 4 cyl Alfa Romeo engine and 5 spd. Alfa
manual transmission. The engine is equipped with side draft Weber carbs and,
of course, that spectacular, OFFY style, exhaust system.
The radical offset rear axle was custom built to my specs, using a ³midget²
QC center section, ³stock car² style side bells and 3 ³ axle tubes. This
type of axle was chosen so that we could use a ³differential² and, from a
handling and installation standpoint, it has been a very good decision.
As with the sprint car, the advantages of this powertrain choice is self
starting capability and gasoline fuel??. Oh! And it is far less expensive to
buy and maintain than an OFFY.
The ³look² is complete with a set of custom built Halibrand style ³kidney
bean² wheels and three eared ³knock offs², dimensionally correct Firestone
³Indy 500² tires, original style upholstery and, what was, probably, the
most spectacular roadster paint job ever. Pearl white, red and blue scallops
and gold leaf lettering.
#15 Boyle Valve Special
The Boyle Valve Spl. #15, 1928 Miller replica was commissioned by Carl
Schulz of Indio CA.
As with the ³Fike² car, the ³Boyle² was designed to be as practical,
enjoyable and reliable, as possible, by using selected street, race and
hotrod components combined with a custom designed rail frame and Miller
Also, like the ³Fike², the Boyle uses a Mustang based powertrain,
including a 2.3 litre, 4 cyl SOHC engine, 3 spd automatic transmission and
stock differential rear axle.
The 2.3 SOHC Ford engine is, actually, quite a close relative to the Ford
engines used in race cars throughout the 30s. Many of them were Ford 4 cyl.
A and B blocks with ³after market² SOHC racing heads.
The suspension is a refinement of the original 1920s Miller FWD design,
using four, parallel mounted, half leaf springs and custom made aluminum
rotary ³friction² shocks.
The car is finished with 4² wide wire wheels and vintage Firestone Deluxe
Champions, burgundy upholstery, a Miller style exhaust header and a very
colorful white, red and blue paint job.
The culmination of these three projects came on September 28 2008, when all
three cars participated in a spectacular vintage meet on the high banks of
the incomparable Winchester Speedway in Indiana. This event marked the only
time that these three cars will ever be at the same track at the same time
and all three did considerable track time.
The Bob Dicks team saw Dr. Dicks driving the #98 Agajanian roadster and
Randall Cook at the wheel of the #1 Fike sprint car, while ³mac miller,
hisself², was wheeling the new Carl Schulz #15 Boyle Valve Spl.
The Bob Dicks cars run, regularly, at vintage meets throughout the summer.
Over the last three years, they have participated in meets in Indiana, Ohio,
Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. The #1 Fike Plumbing Spl. made an
appearance at the 2008 Amelia Island Florida Concourse, in honor of Parnelli
In addition to the experience of owning and running these cars, Dr. Dicks
has become personal friends with Parnelli.
The #15 Boyle Valve Spl. participated in a number of Indiana shows and meets
including Mt. Lawn Speedway and Winchester Speedway, before being delivered
to owner Carl Schulz in Indio, California. Its first West Coast ³on track²
appearance should be at the big Fontana ³California Speedway² meet in March
A few final comments on the Mac Miller Specials.
* These cars are brand new, built from the ground up from a pile of tubing
and a roll of fiberglass and are never misrepresented as the real cars. They
are replicas designed and built for maximum reliability, ease of operation,
minimum operating, maintenance & repair cost and maximum enjoyment.
* These cars are built with all new parts and systems. No vintage parts are
used because, it is my policy that all real vintage parts should be reserved
for the restoration of real vintage cars.
* These cars are designed and built to run. While many cars that show up
at vintage meets, including some real cars, sit quietly and motionless on
display, the Mac Miller Specials are ³in motion² and ³making noise², on the
track. Over the past three seasons, these cars have completed close to 100%
of all lap time available to them.
The next Mac Miller Spl, based on the ?56/¹57 Kurtis 500 Indy roadsters, is
well along in construction and could make Indiana appearances next summer.
Design drawings, parts & material lists, part number & parts source lists
and design consultation are available for all of the Mac Miller Specials.
Also available is complete fiberglass bodywork for all Mac Miller cars.
E-mail for information and costs.
Proprietor of Mac Miller¹s Garage INDY
Indianapolis IN 46222
Tel: 317 738 6405
e mail: email@example.com
Jan 10 2010
Contributor to OWR3
Photo Contributor to OWR3
Another Visit With Steve Truchan
story by Racer Rich photos by Gary Gasper
Just about five years ago I was fortunate to make a visit to Steve Truchan’s machine shop in Gary where he restores race cars in his spare time. Steve was most gracious with his time that day and showed me the cars he was currently working on. When I left him then he had told me to come back anytime. I really didn’t think it would take this long for a return visit to Steve’s shop but unfortunately our busy life has kept us from making a second trip to see what Steve has been doing …..Until today.
I mentioned doing this adventure with our RaceStar photographer, Gary Gasper and he was in total agreement to making the trip with me. We contacted our popular Shadyhill Speedway flagman, Steve Parkes who is a very close friend of Steve’s and he arranged our visit.
On our arrival we were greeted by both Steve’s, along with some other guys that would become new friends. Meeting Roger Goodan, Jim Tauber and Rene Vasquez for the first time and during short conversations with them they told us they were “Steve’s Pit Crew.” We also met Paul Mollick who told about his racing days a number of years ago. Paul drove stock cars at numerous tracks throughout the Midwest and did some ASA racing.
We were delighted to see a friend of Gary’s at the shop this day. Gary had recently done a story and photo session with Chuck Alm. Chuck is known as ‘The Patch Man’ since he has a collection of racing patches and decals that are now nearing 1600 in number. Since Gary knew Chuck, they had some good conversation time together. It was my pleasure to get in a good visit with Chuck and we agreed that we should get together in the near future so that I could see his collection in person. Please remember it took me five years to get this return visit in Chuck, but hopefully we can work out something soon.
Our flagman’s way of introducing the final guy we were meeting, was to say that he was one of the best drivers ever at the Crown Point Speedway. He was talking about John Nimetz, who I had watched race on a few occasions but had never met before. Actually John knew more about me since two of his close friends, Mike Kingma and Rich Rish have driven our I-MOD during the past few years. This fact sort of glued our relationship together and we had some great conversation during the time we spent together.
Well, we were here to see what Steve had been doing with his restoration hobby. He definitely has been busy as he has many more cars now than he did during my first visit. While some of the guys were removing dust covers and rolling them around for Gary’s camera, Steve started telling about his prized possessions.
His latest addition is a former Super Modified #21 that he recently finalized with his paint job. This car was originally built by Wally Meskowsky and Paul Leffler.
Next we see a #54 Champ Dirt Car formerly owned by Ronnie Ward, Rodger Wards brother.
Then we are told about the #2 Indy Car Roadster that was owned and built by Steve's dad, Steve, Sr. The car has the first 16 valve 220 C.I. Miller engine in it's front compartment. While driving for another owner, Steve Sr. passed his Rookie's Test at the Speedway in 1946. Some of his best finishes were a 3rd place at Springfield, a second place at Atlanta and a 4th place finish at Langhorne.
Sitting close by is another #2 that was owned by Shorty Cantlin and built by Clyde Adams. This car has the same type engine in it as Sr.'s car has. This motor finished 2nd in the 1932 Indy 500. Steve, Sr. drove this car to a Sprint Car win at the famous Jungle Park 1/2 mile track in 1941. Along side is the #1 Boyle Products Special that was built in 1931
The guys had rolled out a #14 Foyt rear engine Indy Car that Steve was working on during my first visit to his shop. A very neat race car and the only rear engine vehicle he has in his collection. The guys in picture L to R Roger Goodan, John Nimetz, Steve Parkes and Chuck Alm
Steve still has his #94 Silver Crown Car that he entered in some of the Silver Crown races in 1988 and 1989. Our flagman, Mr. Parkes drove this car in the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fair Grounds one mile dirt track in ’88. By now Steve, who is also a mechanic, had excused himself to go get a friend’s car started on this very cold morning in northwest Indiana. Mr. John Nimetz drove the car at the Hoosier Hundred and at the one mile Springfield dirt track in ’89. He was very happy to have Gary take his picture with the car. Other drivers that drove the car for Steve were Ed Lynch, Jeff Bloom, Rich Vogler, Steve Kinser, Jim Keeker, Danny Milburn and Tony Elliott.
As we were touring the cars, of course different ones were telling racing stories. Steve told a good one that I really liked. He had Whitey Gerkin driving his stock car at Illiana and he told that the car was equipped with some pretty competent brake pads. When Whitey came in from hot laps, one wheel was smoking badly and when they checked for the problem they found the brake pad completely destroyed. Whitey told them to just clamp off the brake line and he’d run with three wheel brakes.
After the heat race, which he won, they found another brake pad totally wore out. Again they decided to clamp the brake line for that wheel so now he only had two wheel brakes to run the feature. Whitey won the feature and when he returned to the pits he had no brakes at all. Steve asked him, what are you doing to wear out these big brake pads we had? Whitey told them he wasn’t backing off the throttle entering the turns so he had to really stand on the brakes to get it slowed down. They all had a big laugh over this, just as our group did after hearing this colorful story.
As we continued to admire the cars on display, Steve tells about one of George Walther’s Dayton Steel Wheel Specials. The #77 Indy Roadster was originally built by Gordon Schroeder and like all of Steve’s cars, he has done a beautiful job of restoring it. The car raced in the Indy 500 in 1951 and 1954. Elmer George was the last driver for this car as he raced it in some of the 1955 races.
As we moved along we see a #1 Boyle Products Special that was built in 1931. Bill Cummins drove the car to the 1934 National Championship. Russ Snowberger owned the car for about ten years starting in 1937. During this time Louie Unser won the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1939-40 and 41 in this car. Later the car was bought by Lou Rasse who had Frank Werne drive it and the car was last raced in 1947. Steve eventually bought the car from John Snowberger, Russ’ Son.
Next we see a #94 Indy type roadster that had been raced as a Super Modified around 1964. Beside it is a #1 Sheraton Thompson Special Foyt Dirt Car from 1968. A.J. won a lot of races with this car.
Last in line is Steve’s next challenge. It’s the #0 Todd Gibson ‘Flintstone Flyer.’ Steve will soon be working on this car to make it the newest restored vehicle in his collection.
After returning the cars back to their original spots and putting the dust covers back on them we enjoyed some more conversations.
Gary and I were preparing to leave since Steve is busy running a business and we didn’t want to wear out our welcome. Like my last visit, Steve shared a lot of time with us and we really appreciate his hospitality.
Getting to meet our new friends from this day and spending some time with our friends, the two Steve’s mentioned throughout this article, made it an even better adventure than we had anticipated. I’ll always believe that racing is the ‘Greatest Sport in the World’ and one of the best parts of it is the friends we make along the way.
This was a fun morning that both Gary and I enjoyed. There is no way we can do justice to Steve’s hard labor of love on restoring these race cars. However, we both hope that we can give a glimpse to our racing friends, through our words and pictures, From the enjoyable visit we had at Steve Truchan’s machine shop.
2010 Starts Here
Dec 27 2009 California is one of those strange geographical areas of the world where time, people and opportunity come together to form the events that change our lives and destinies forever. Beautiful weather, a large population, the availability of racing tracks and talented racers, mechanics and owners has made the Golden State a mecca for all forms of motorized racing. In rural and industrial centers, hidden away in alleys and side streets of every city throughout the state are machine shops and garages that form the core of our racing heritage.
Gone Racin’…To the Conze Machine Shop
It is from these centers that the local mechanics turn out the cars, boats and motorcycles that vie for trophies, prizes and championships on local and national tracks. Perhaps you’ve heard of Keith Black, Ed Pink, Jim Deist, Iskenderian Cams, Vic Edelbrock, Arias Engineering, Blair Speed Shop, Bell Auto Parts, Ak Miller, Taylor and Ryan, Tony Capanna, Carrillo Rods, Dave Zeuschel, the Chrisman Brothers, Holly Hedrich, Casale Engineering, the Winfield Brothers, Andy Granatelli, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Justice Brothers, Jerry Kugel, Frank and Arlen Kurtis, Earl Mansell, the Meyer Family, Barney Navarro, Earl Evans, Danny Oakes, Joe Reath, the Pierson Brothers, Rich Hallett, Rudy Ramos, Louie Senter, Jim Travis, Al Teague, Mickey Thompson, Fritz Voigt, Alex Xydias and many more. These people and many more made great contributions to the racing scene here on the West Coast and throughout the nation.
They built cars, boats and motorcycles, parts and products that were vital to the racing world. Some sponsored drivers and events and even did a little racing as well.
One machine shop that has had a great impact on the automotive scene in California was the Conze Machine Shop, formed just after World War II by Andy, Elaine and Vince Conze, and their close friend, C.B. Philips. Andy was born in San Francisco in 1911 and Vince followed two years later.
Their father immigrated from Germany and their mother from Luxembourg. The family settled among the German community of craftsmen in the South Los Angeles area on 127th street, and Mr. Conze was a master wood cabinetmaker, imparting his skills, work ethic, pacifism and garage to his sons.
Elaine was born in Morris, Illinois, in 1911, and her parents were immigrants from Norway. She came to California in 1934 and married Andy in 1937. Invited to a party to celebrate the completion of a boat for a race at Marine Stadium in Long Beach, California, in 1937, she saw Andy working under the boat and said hello. Andy called the next day to ask Elaine to accompany him to the race to watch, as Andy was the riding mechanic on the race boat.
Andy loved to draw and took drafting and architectural classes in school, earning commissions, doing odd jobs, as well as being a mechanic through the dark days of the depression in the 1930’s. With equipment at his dad’s shop, Andy earned some military contracts for designing and making parts for the war effort during World War II, but would never discuss with anyone what kind of parts they were. Andy raced at the dry lakes (Muroc) in the 1930’s, driving a ’32 Ford four-banger and had a top speed of 86 mph, a very good speed for that time, and won an award from the McMillan Oil Company.
Vince Conze took a slightly different path than his brother. He preferred to build and tune cars rather than drive them. Trading a piano for a car body and adapting a Clyde Adams car, Vince built and rebuilt a sprint car into a race car that campaigned on local and eastern race tracks during the 1930’s. Known as the #26 car, the body was purple and was powered by a Cragar overhead Twin Cam. Driven by George Robson at Oakland, Winston-Salem and other tracks throughout the country. Robson gained some notoriety in this car, and left soon after to race in the Indy 500, under another car and owner. Frank McGurk replaced Robson in the #26 car and raced at Carrell Speedway, El Centro, Legion Ascot, and on the eastern circuit at Winchester, Williams Grove (PA), Thompson (CT), and many other tracks around the country. Some of the other racers who drove this car were: Joie Chitwood, Ted Horn, Chuck Stevenson, Sam Hanks and Pierre Bertrand. Bertrand was also famous for grinding cams and for training Clay Smith. Vince
Conze and his boyhood friend, C.B. Philips, attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High School and took night classes in machining during the Great Depression. They worked at various garages and machine shops in the 1930’s, as good machinists and mechanics were highly valued, but work was never steady in those uncertain times. C.B. and Vince finally found permanent employment at Douglas Aircraft as the nation teetered toward war in the late 1930’s. Vince was quick to point out that his skills were honed to a fine point by the experience he gained working with metals, alloys and the critical clearances demanded by the aviation industry.
Andy was working for the Harvell Corporation, which made zinc diecasting parts and alloys. After the war ended in 1945 and the government cancelled or failed to renew war contracts,
The Conze Brothers and C.B. Phillips took a gamble and formed Conze Machine Shop, pooling their savings and buying up lathes and other machinery at war surplus bargains as many machining companies downsized or left the business. Work continued to come in, as a nation at now at peace, demanded a return to the motorsports racing that they loved. No matter how busy they were, there was still time to go racing, although the rule in the shop required one of the brothers to stay home, so they alternated, allowing Andy and Elaine, or Vince to go to the races, especially the Indy 500. Conze quick change rear ends and other parts were popular at the tracks and their attention to detail and to design specifications put them in demand. The demands of the business required them to attend the races and especially the Indy 500 and to represent their products.
They were often asked to look at parts designs and to make recommendations or changes. Vince was a crewmember on the Novi car and built the front wheel drive, spindles and other components, and did the machining on the engine. He also built parts for other sprint cars and quarter midgets.
Elaine tells the story of the time they were at the Phoenix 100 and she noticed the crew struggling to shift their bodies to remove the wheel lock wing nuts (knock off nuts) and sometimes loosening the lock when they meant to tighten it as they replaced worn tires. She mentioned this to Andy and he designed a three pronged, angled wing lock nut on a cocktail napkin at a restaurant later that evening. Elaine took the napkin to Jorgensen Steel and had a casting made. The new design improved the efficiency and the time it took to change tires during a race. It also ended mistakes, for if the crew hammered in the wrong direction, the Plomb hammer would slip off causing no harm. According to Elaine, they never patented this design change and freely shared this new discovery with others.
According to Rod Larmer, a former employee of the Conze Machine Shop, the Conze’s were very generous with their ideas and resources and the one thing that irritated them the most was a greedy nature in people.
After the war, Vince continued to modify the #26 car and changed nearly every part except the grill. He replaced the Cragar with a Miller, and the color scheme to white and it became known as the #5 car. This car was raced throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s, and according to Larmer, was painted by McGurk, as Vince was unconcerned about the exterior appearance of the car, preferring to concentrate on the engine. The #5 car ran at the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb and on local tracks on the West Coast circuit. Drivers who raced this car included AJ Foyt, Johnny Poueleson, Allen Heath, Rex Mays, Walt Faulkner and Frank McGurk. It was later donated to the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb Museum in parts and used to restore other cars.
Vince designed the Down Tube car, which he adapted from designs on off road racing cars and had Eddie Kuzma build at Kuzma’s shop in Gardena. Al Unser Sr won the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb with the Down Tube car in 1964, but no one could figure out how to make it run well on oval tracks. Slim Roberts also raced this car at Pike’s Peak and it was later donated to the museum there.
Vince owned a Watson roadster, which was driven by George Benson at Hanford. This car was donated to the Indy 500 Museum and used to restore other roadsters.
Vince did the machining for the Novi and continued to provide parts for it as late as 1951, but won only once at Indy, when he was awarded a ring for being on the crew of JC Agajanian’s 98 Special, driven by Parnelli Jones in the 1963 race.
Vince never married, and Andy and Elaine never had any children of their own, though they always made their employees feel like family.
Andy and Elaine created some memorable trips together. They loved primitive camping. They explored Mexican jungles to see the ancient ruins and stayed with the native Indians in their villages. They visited the Pribaloff Islands to live with Aleut Eskimos and watch the seals, walruses and exotic birdlife. They have hiked, backpacked and camped in every state in the USA and all of the Provinces of Canada, except one. Conze Machine Shop closed in 1993.
Elaine kept a sign-in book of all the customers that visited their shop since it first opened in 1946, and hopefully this log will find its way to one of our automotive museums. A fitting tribute to one of the finest and most innovative of the many machine shops that existed during the golden age of California auto racing. Many thanks go to Rod Larmer, C.B. Phillips, Andy and Elaine Conze, Bud Meyer, Ed Iskenderian and Robert Schilling for their help in preparing this article.
Dec 27 2009
California is one of those strange geographical areas of the world where time, people and opportunity come together to form the events that change our lives and destinies forever. Beautiful weather, a large population, the availability of racing tracks and talented racers, mechanics and owners has made the Golden State a mecca for all forms of motorized racing. In rural and industrial centers, hidden away in alleys and side streets of every city throughout the state are machine shops and garages that form the core of our racing heritage.
Dec 17 2009 The Champion Building
"Methanol Mel" Anthony
The Champion Building
Much has been written about champion drivers, cars, and owners. Little or nothing has been mentioned about a champion building. Ok now that I have your attention, the building I write about was, and still is named the “Champion Building” in downtown Seattle, Washington
The great Seattle fire in the later part of the 1880’s created a building boom of fire proof construction, and this building so named by the owner’s last name, was built of massive steel and concrete. It has survived earthquakes, fires, and time over 100 years, and is located across the street from the famous Seattle Public Market, also called the Pike Place Market. The building once housed a meat packing company, a tire shop, and a variety of specialized shops. The second floor, reached by a steep ramp, was an auto repair and body shop when I knew it in the late 1930’s. Fred Heath, the father of racing legend Allen Heath, ran the shop, and also the parking garage which was located on the roof. My first connection to the building as a teenager, I would visit the shop on my way to a swing shift job, to view the race cars that were either being repaired, or groomed for the next race. I remember the wild antics of Allen as he would smoke the tires on customer’s cars while taking them to the roof top parking area. My wheels then were a nearly new, 1940 Harley-Davidson model 45 motorcycle that came with a “thick payment book”. One day Allen talked me into letting him take a lap around the block on the bike. I gave him instructions, and he whizzed down the ramp, jumped the curb across the street, and traveling down the sidewalk, he headed for the market. He rode into the market, went the full two block length of the market between the rows of vendor’s stalls, got turned around and rode back. Many were furious, but some were not surprised, however in later visits I would park the Harley a block away from the market.
Allen and I would often walk the length of the market en-route to a coffee shop. On the way back, Allen, always the clown, would grab an apple here, an orange there, or any fruit he could pilfer. Most of the vendors knew him and expected his pranks.
Fred Heath was most generous to all the racers, especially those that arrived from out of town. Some were from Portland, Spokane, and Canada. They would stop in and make use of the facilities. On one visit an out of town driver pulled in with his race car, and out stepped a young lady. Someone asked: “Hey Jim (not the real name), where is your wife?” Jim’s reply: “She wanted to stay home this trip, but this is Mary, she’s nice.”
Chick Barbo and Allen Heath were intense rivals on the track. Neither was very friendly with each other. However Allen’s dad would not tolerate any friction in or near the shop, so they had to behave. Chick in addition to being a very good midget and big car driver was an expert sign painter also. He did many midgets, one in particular was a nice new little four cylinder Star powered midget from Spokane. I watched Chick paint the number 72 on the purple and white car, and no fan ever saw it race. The car was lost when trailer and all broke loose from the tow vehicle while going over the steep two lane Snoqualmie Pass on the trip back to Spokane. It went to the bottom of a deep ravine, and was impossible to salvage. Someone did reach the car, and found it rolled up into a ball without any tires left. The trailer was never sighted, and both may still be there.
I began racing in 1946, and we often raced seven days a week. I did this for two weeks straight, but finally it proved too ambitious for the car and I. To make travel easier, I would often park the race car and trailer in Fred’s shop. I will never know how my 1936 Ford roadster could pull the trailer, race car, and all the tools up that steep ramp. And more amazing I don’t know how I ever got stopped coming down the ramp with the less than efficient Ford mechanical brakes! After parking the car I would then drop off Barbara, my new girlfriend at her home, and I would head for my home. One night while backing into the parking spot, I came up with an idea, and asked Barbara if she would consider marriage. She accepted and the rest is a 62 year history.
Fast forward 60 years from that memorable night. Over the years we had told family of the “Champion Building.” They knew it almost as we remembered it. Two years ago the family made arrangements to take us to dinner on our 60th Anniversary. Grandson Andy was to pick us up at 5:00 and we were ready. When I went to the door, there was the family, but no car in sight. Across the street was the longest limo I had ever seen. We all climbed aboard, they opened champagne, (legal in limos here), and we set out for other family members. We finally arrived downtown Seattle, near the popular Seattle market. The limo driver let us out on the steep Virginia Street at Post Alley. Grandson Andy instructed him to return at 7:00 p.m. Now I am confused as we walked the alley to the first roll up electric door. It rolled up as we arrived and a gentleman invited us in. There are always new restaurants opening, so I figured this to be another. As we walked the long carpeted hallway, the man mentioned “You must be the racer.” Now I am really confused, and the whole family except Barbara, knew where we were headed. As we neared the front of the building, I was asked: “Do you know where you are?” We were now at the West end of the building looking out over beautiful Elliot Bay on Puget Sound. Instantly I recognized my old parking corner in the Champion Building and it was emotional for a moment or so. We were gifted with champagne, cheeses, and a beautiful vase of flowers. Andy had arranged this great surprise when he had been in the area figuring on internet wiring for his company. He met with Mr. and Mrs. Martin who own the building. In fact Cheryl Martin is a third generation Champion family member. Dave Martin allowed he “married the boss’s daughter.”
The little office where we celebrated was the exact spot I kept my first race car in. Now I will mention another champion. That same little office still has the original sign with the logo of a famous coffee co. Starbucks! It was the starting office where Howard Shultz began his famous company
Dec 13 2009 A Steam Racing Primer At the dawn of the twentieth century, all forms of automotive power were being developed- gasoline, diesel, electric and steam- without a clear cut favorite. The Stanley Brothers used racing extensively to promote their Stanley Steamer vehicles. In 1906, Fred Marriott in the stream-lined Stanley ‘Rocket’ set the automotive land speed record at Daytona Beach at 127 MPH, beating out four other competitors, and was awarded the Dewar Trophy. The Rocket’s boiler was 30? in diameter and 18? deep, with a steam pressure between 800 to 900 pounds contained in a car weighing 1600 lbs. The 1906 Stanley Rocket A second attempt in 1907 with an improved ‘Rocket,’ met with disaster when the car crashed at over 130 MPH. The Stanley Rocket’s absolute LSR record stood for three years until it was surpassed by a gasoline powered 200 HP Benz, but the ‘Rocket’ continued to hold the steam powered land speed record. Added by the editor The 2009 British Steam car Back to Kevins “Steam Racing Primer “ Based on the interest from three steam car manufacturers, in December 1910 the AAA Contest Board announced plans to allow steam powered cars to compete equally against gasoline powered cars in the inaugural International Sweepstakes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or at least compete in their own race. A.C. Newby, one of the four founders of the Speedway, noted in an interview in The New York Times that “the gasoline car has been given every opportunity for development and “that racing has done more than one other thing to bring about the present perfection” and that “the steam car could be developed greatly by racing.” However, as we all know, the gasoline powered cars eclipsed all others as the source of automotive power. During his October 1947 speech at the L. Strauss trophy presentation, Speedway President Wilbur Shaw surprised many by revealing that a steam powered car was being developed as a 1948 entry by David Osborne and Paul Kuehl of South Bend Indiana. The men who were Studebaker engineers, proposed to convert the Studebaker power plant of their 1947 entry to steam power, similar to a planned truck engine conversion. Mr. Shaw revealed that he had conferred with the technical committee and found no restrictions to a steam entry. However, the steam powered Osborne/Kuehl Special never materialized. Then, on April 12, 1948, Lawrence D. ‘Don’ Suttle of Detroit Michigan filed the 34th entry for 1948 ‘500.’ The “Suttle Steamer Special” was described as a two-cylinder front-wheel drive creation with a piston displacement of 226 cubic inches. Suttle’s supplemental entry information claimed that the power plant had only 16 moving parts and the car was direct drive. Mr. Suttle estimated straightaway speeds of 200 MPH because he claimed the car weighed but 1,270 pounds. Mr. Suttle later notified the Speedway that his entry would not be ready in time due to problems with the efficiency of the condenser to recover water. The ‘Suttle Steamer Special’ never arrived at the Speedway – did it ever exist? There was a no further steam race car development until the late 1960’s with Bill Lear’s short-lived Indy car dream, which is the subject of a future article. After the closing of the Lear Steam Indy Car operation, various assets were liquidated in the late 1970’s. Jim Crank of Redwood City CA bought one of the working steam engines, rated at 250 HP, and installed it in a modified Fiberfab Aztec 7 kit car, with the intention to break the world land speed record for steam powered cars. Crank was unable to break 100 mph, and he sold the car to the Robert Barber, who after rebuilding the car was able to reach 110 MPH in 1984 at Bonneville. During a subsequent attempt in 1985, the car reportedly reached 145 MPH, but caught fire during the run. The car is currently on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno Nevada. Finally, on August 25th, of this year, at Edward's Air Force Base in California, the British Steam Car, weighing over 6600 pounds with an LPG fueled boiler producing 580 psi of steam, and driven by Charles Burnett III, set a new record with an average speed of 139.843 mph over two consecutive runs over a measured mile. The Stanley Brothers’ “Rocket” steam LSR record had fallen after an astonishing 103 years! Our first trip to I will take You right to the dock and return to the sprinter later. We were waiting to board the Tawassawan ferry for They must not have been very environmental in those days. Bob had his helper Randy roll the barrel to the edge of the dock, where he was to siphon the methanol over the side. Randy rolled the barrel right next to a water faucet and hose. He then installed the siphon hose into the barrel, made like he was starting the flow, then turned on the water. He held the two hoses together so it appeared that the barrel was being drained. The official bought it and left. After a few minutes Randy turned off the water and we all helped roll the full barrel onto Bob’s trailer. A dragster machinist had talked him into o-ringed heads instead of head gaskets. I decided to leave the radiator cap ajar, so if we could find a hose, we could run. No luck, there were no spare hoses that size in the whole pit area. Western had just installed a new restroom in the pit area. I spotted a length of ¾ inch galvanized pipe holding up a partition between the stalls. I unscrewed it, cut 2 short hoses, from the blown one, clamped the pipe in the middle, and Dennis went the entire main event with no problem. I returned the pipe to the infield restroom after the race, and later we had the heads filled and milled to use Fel-pro gaskets. Mel Anthony
Taking you Back with
Walnut Creek, CA
Here is the record holder now, Impressive? I don’t think so. A million dollars of ingenuity later and could only beat the old mark by 12 mph? Lets hope there is more to this car than that?
In August 2009, the British Steam Car, driven by Charles Burnett III, smashed a record that had stood for over a century: the land-speed record for a steam-powered car. Burnett drove his vehicle on a track at Edwards Air Force Base at an average of 139.843 mph, breaking a record set in 1906 by Fred Marriott, who drove his Stanley Steamer Rocket at 127.659 mph.
Read more here: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1934740_1981016,00.html#ixzz0ZUllocEt
By Kevin Triplett
Dec 11 2009
"Methanol Mel" Anthony
The Methanol Caper
Bob was a veteran CAMRA racer, and was president of the new WRA club. (both CAMRA and WRA are gone now)
They would allow Bob to board if he dumped the fuel over the side into the bay.
Since Dennis was a rookie, I wanted him to start with a smaller 302 Cheve engine.
While hot lapping with a group of fast cars, a small Gates Green Stripe hose blew.
Bob Gregg was right behind and did a fantastic job of missing everyone that spun out. The new o-ring set-up allowed high compression into the cooling system.
A Steam Racing Primer At the dawn of the twentieth century, all forms of automotive power were being developed- gasoline, diesel, electric and steam- without a clear cut favorite. The Stanley Brothers used racing extensively to promote their Stanley Steamer vehicles. In 1906, Fred Marriott in the stream-lined Stanley ‘Rocket’ set the automotive land speed record at Daytona Beach at 127 MPH, beating out four other competitors, and was awarded the Dewar Trophy. The Rocket’s boiler was 30? in diameter and 18? deep, with a steam pressure between 800 to 900 pounds contained in a car weighing 1600 lbs. The 1906 Stanley Rocket A second attempt in 1907 with an improved ‘Rocket,’ met with disaster when the car crashed at over 130 MPH. The Stanley Rocket’s absolute LSR record stood for three years until it was surpassed by a gasoline powered 200 HP Benz, but the ‘Rocket’ continued to hold the steam powered land speed record.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, all forms of automotive power were being developed- gasoline, diesel, electric and steam- without a clear cut favorite. The Stanley Brothers used racing extensively to promote their Stanley Steamer vehicles. In 1906, Fred Marriott in the stream-lined Stanley ‘Rocket’ set the automotive land speed record at Daytona Beach at 127 MPH, beating out four other competitors, and was awarded the Dewar Trophy. The Rocket’s boiler was 30? in diameter and 18? deep, with a steam pressure between 800 to 900 pounds contained in a car weighing 1600 lbs.
The 1906 Stanley Rocket
A second attempt in 1907 with an improved ‘Rocket,’ met with disaster when the car crashed at over 130 MPH. The Stanley Rocket’s absolute LSR record stood for three years until it was surpassed by a gasoline powered 200 HP Benz, but the ‘Rocket’ continued to hold the steam powered land speed record.
Added by the editor
The 2009 British Steam car Back to Kevins “Steam Racing Primer “ Based on the interest from three steam car manufacturers, in December 1910 the AAA Contest Board announced plans to allow steam powered cars to compete equally against gasoline powered cars in the inaugural International Sweepstakes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or at least compete in their own race. A.C. Newby, one of the four founders of the Speedway, noted in an interview in The New York Times that “the gasoline car has been given every opportunity for development and “that racing has done more than one other thing to bring about the present perfection” and that “the steam car could be developed greatly by racing.” However, as we all know, the gasoline powered cars eclipsed all others as the source of automotive power. During his October 1947 speech at the L. Strauss trophy presentation, Speedway President Wilbur Shaw surprised many by revealing that a steam powered car was being developed as a 1948 entry by David Osborne and Paul Kuehl of South Bend Indiana. The men who were Studebaker engineers, proposed to convert the Studebaker power plant of their 1947 entry to steam power, similar to a planned truck engine conversion. Mr. Shaw revealed that he had conferred with the technical committee and found no restrictions to a steam entry. However, the steam powered Osborne/Kuehl Special never materialized. Then, on April 12, 1948, Lawrence D. ‘Don’ Suttle of Detroit Michigan filed the 34th entry for 1948 ‘500.’ The “Suttle Steamer Special” was described as a two-cylinder front-wheel drive creation with a piston displacement of 226 cubic inches. Suttle’s supplemental entry information claimed that the power plant had only 16 moving parts and the car was direct drive. Mr. Suttle estimated straightaway speeds of 200 MPH because he claimed the car weighed but 1,270 pounds. Mr. Suttle later notified the Speedway that his entry would not be ready in time due to problems with the efficiency of the condenser to recover water. The ‘Suttle Steamer Special’ never arrived at the Speedway – did it ever exist? There was a no further steam race car development until the late 1960’s with Bill Lear’s short-lived Indy car dream, which is the subject of a future article. After the closing of the Lear Steam Indy Car operation, various assets were liquidated in the late 1970’s. Jim Crank of Redwood City CA bought one of the working steam engines, rated at 250 HP, and installed it in a modified Fiberfab Aztec 7 kit car, with the intention to break the world land speed record for steam powered cars. Crank was unable to break 100 mph, and he sold the car to the Robert Barber, who after rebuilding the car was able to reach 110 MPH in 1984 at Bonneville. During a subsequent attempt in 1985, the car reportedly reached 145 MPH, but caught fire during the run. The car is currently on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno Nevada. Finally, on August 25th, of this year, at Edward's Air Force Base in California, the British Steam Car, weighing over 6600 pounds with an LPG fueled boiler producing 580 psi of steam, and driven by Charles Burnett III, set a new record with an average speed of 139.843 mph over two consecutive runs over a measured mile. The Stanley Brothers’ “Rocket” steam LSR record had fallen after an astonishing 103 years! Our first trip to I will take You right to the dock and return to the sprinter later. We were waiting to board the Tawassawan ferry for They must not have been very environmental in those days. Bob had his helper Randy roll the barrel to the edge of the dock, where he was to siphon the methanol over the side. Randy rolled the barrel right next to a water faucet and hose. He then installed the siphon hose into the barrel, made like he was starting the flow, then turned on the water. He held the two hoses together so it appeared that the barrel was being drained. The official bought it and left. After a few minutes Randy turned off the water and we all helped roll the full barrel onto Bob’s trailer. A dragster machinist had talked him into o-ringed heads instead of head gaskets. I decided to leave the radiator cap ajar, so if we could find a hose, we could run. No luck, there were no spare hoses that size in the whole pit area. Western had just installed a new restroom in the pit area. I spotted a length of ¾ inch galvanized pipe holding up a partition between the stalls. I unscrewed it, cut 2 short hoses, from the blown one, clamped the pipe in the middle, and Dennis went the entire main event with no problem. I returned the pipe to the infield restroom after the race, and later we had the heads filled and milled to use Fel-pro gaskets. Mel Anthony
Back to Kevins “Steam Racing Primer “
Based on the interest from three steam car manufacturers, in December 1910 the AAA Contest Board announced plans to allow steam powered cars to compete equally against gasoline powered cars in the inaugural International Sweepstakes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or at least compete in their own race. A.C. Newby, one of the four founders of the Speedway, noted in an interview in The New York Times that “the gasoline car has been given every opportunity for development and “that racing has done more than one other thing to bring about the present perfection” and that “the steam car could be developed greatly by racing.” However, as we all know, the gasoline powered cars eclipsed all others as the source of automotive power.
During his October 1947 speech at the L. Strauss trophy presentation, Speedway President Wilbur Shaw surprised many by revealing that a steam powered car was being developed as a 1948 entry by David Osborne and Paul Kuehl of South Bend Indiana. The men who were Studebaker engineers, proposed to convert the Studebaker power plant of their 1947 entry to steam power, similar to a planned truck engine conversion. Mr. Shaw revealed that he had conferred with the technical committee and found no restrictions to a steam entry. However, the steam powered Osborne/Kuehl Special never materialized.
Then, on April 12, 1948, Lawrence D. ‘Don’ Suttle of Detroit Michigan filed the 34th entry for 1948 ‘500.’ The “Suttle Steamer Special” was described as a two-cylinder front-wheel drive creation with a piston displacement of 226 cubic inches. Suttle’s supplemental entry information claimed that the power plant had only 16 moving parts and the car was direct drive. Mr. Suttle estimated straightaway speeds of 200 MPH because he claimed the car weighed but 1,270 pounds. Mr. Suttle later notified the Speedway that his entry would not be ready in time due to problems with the efficiency of the condenser to recover water. The ‘Suttle Steamer Special’ never arrived at the Speedway – did it ever exist?
There was a no further steam race car development until the late 1960’s with Bill Lear’s short-lived Indy car dream, which is the subject of a future article. After the closing of the Lear Steam Indy Car operation, various assets were liquidated in the late 1970’s. Jim Crank of Redwood City CA bought one of the working steam engines, rated at 250 HP, and installed it in a modified Fiberfab Aztec 7 kit car, with the intention to break the world land speed record for steam powered cars. Crank was unable to break 100 mph, and he sold the car to the Robert Barber, who after rebuilding the car was able to reach 110 MPH in 1984 at Bonneville. During a subsequent attempt in 1985, the car reportedly reached 145 MPH, but caught fire during the run. The car is currently on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno Nevada.
Finally, on August 25th, of this year, at Edward's Air Force Base in California, the British Steam Car, weighing over 6600 pounds with an LPG fueled boiler producing 580 psi of steam, and driven by Charles Burnett III, set a new record with an average speed of 139.843 mph over two consecutive runs over a measured mile.
The Stanley Brothers’ “Rocket” steam LSR record had fallen after an astonishing 103 years!
Our first trip to
I will take You right to the dock and return to the sprinter later.
We were waiting to board the Tawassawan ferry for
They must not have been very environmental in those days. Bob had his helper Randy roll the barrel to the edge of the dock, where he was to siphon the methanol over the side.
Randy rolled the barrel right next to a water faucet and hose. He then installed the siphon hose into the barrel, made like he was starting the flow, then turned on the water. He held the two hoses together so it appeared that the barrel was being drained. The official bought it and left. After a few minutes Randy turned off the water and we all helped roll the full barrel onto Bob’s trailer.
A dragster machinist had talked him into o-ringed heads instead of head gaskets.
I decided to leave the radiator cap ajar, so if we could find a hose, we could run. No luck, there were no spare hoses that size in the whole pit area. Western had just installed a new restroom in the pit area. I spotted a length of ¾ inch galvanized pipe holding up a partition between the stalls. I unscrewed it, cut 2 short hoses, from the blown one, clamped the pipe in the middle, and Dennis went the entire main event with no problem. I returned the pipe to the infield restroom after the race, and later we had the heads filled and milled to use Fel-pro gaskets.
Dec 4 2009
The 1955 Sumar Indy 500 car Reproduction
A full-service restoration and fabrication shop on Gasoline Alley just outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Denny Jamison and his team perform fabrication and restoration work on vintage race cars, hot rods and sports cars.
A few years ago going by the Van Craft midget restoration and building shop I discovered right next door this place that does remarkable restorations and creations.seem lore on the Day
Just over a year ago going by there they had this copy of the 1955 Sumar streamliner built for the Indianapolis 500 under construction. The original car didn’t fare to well in its streamlined livery. But after tossing aside the fenders and Driver bubble. It did manage to make the race with Jimmy Daywalt driving it and have a very creditable 9th finish in 1955.
See more on the Daywalt chapter of this car here, http://www.angelfire.com/in4/jimmydaywalt/1955.htm
This was the car in which Marshall Teague crashed to his death while attempting to break the closed course speed record at Daytona in 1959. In 1959 USAC announced that it would run an Indy race at the new Daytona speedway. With Marshall as his test driver, Chapman Root entered the Sumar Special. The goal was to attain a speed of 180 mph.
On February 10, Marshall ran 171 mph.
So now at HammerArt who was commissioned By Don Smith it is being recreated. Shown here, in its 12-4-2009 state of reconstruction.
Drawing on the wall of the Sumar indy 500 streamliner at Hammerart
Sumar chassis and the Body on the wooden bucks with a reproduction Kurtis Roadster midget.
Front view with its big Offy Engine and lots of tubing there.
Drivers office check out how close the driver is to the drive shaft Torque tube.
Front view of the Aluminum body
Back view of the wooden bucks and the all aluminum body as it takes shape.
It is now just a matter of time to see the completed car and it will be out at the Don Smith collection in Terra Haute. Oh by the way that Kurtis Midget Roadster in the third picture which was commissioned by Don also to Van Craft who did most of the recreation from Kurtis drawings. Hammerart now has it to finish up as Van has some health issues to take care of.
1935 Gilmore Stadium
The very first Turkey night Grand Prix
Bob Swanson driving the Ware Midget ,
wins the 75 lap main event driving the "Flying Bathtub". This was one of only two of the races ran at 75 laps. The other was in 1945, it was won by Danny Oakes.
Danny Oaks in the car in later years
Now 75 years later they run 98 laps and on November 26 2009 Bryan Clauson came home the winner of a 98 lap race. 98 laps are now run in honor of JC Agajanian who promoted this race for years at Ascot park in southern California.
I first went to the GP in 1966. I saw Parnelli Jones put on a masterful display of driving to win that one.
Around this time I was a stooge for Ollie Johnson and George Benson. They had been going to that race for a few years, getting closer to winning it every year. It was a 150 lap race then and it seems every time they got close to a win they would run out of fuel near the end and fade. They finished 4th in 1968 running out of fuel the last 5 laps. In 1969 with the race shortened to 100 laps they came through and won it!
But before that unknown to Me back up north indoors at the Oakland Exposition building in 1958 I saw this antiquated rail midget brought out to race, Driven by an unknown driver Jan Tresner,(not sure how to spell his name?). Needless to say it wasn’t a very competitive car. Being at the time over 25 years old!
The owner now in background Bob Ware
It was owned by a racing photographer writer named Jack Fox then. Now 51 years later as I walked through the fan area of Toyota speedway there was a vintage car display, and I spot this old midget that looked surprisingly like the one I had seen back in 58?
So I asked the guy closest to it if there were more like that car? He said no that was the only one and it had won the opening Midget Grand Prix back in 1935! And now the first GP winner here at So Cals Toyota speedway!
The guy it turns out was the son of the original owner builder.
Bob Ware is now the owner and head restorer of the car. He told Me after Jack Fox ran into some problems and lost control of the car. It sat in an orchard up north in California’s San Jose area for years. It was then rescued by him in about 1980 and restored by this dedicated crew.
Wow in the last month I have seen a fully restored midget picture of the first midget to win a sanctioned midget race at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento California in the early 1930’s. Funny but it is located in a Motorcycle museum in Clovis, California .
Click on the logo below to visit the Rouit museum
Dan Rouit and the midget on display at his Museum
Wow it sure seems Vintage enthusiasts are getting the old cars out of their burial places so to speak and reviving them to close to their original specs all over this country.
Vintage race car restoring and Reproduction is an ongoing industry from coast to coast. And it keeps on getting bigger!
If you get the chance to see some vintage exposure at Your local track don’t pass it up there is a virtual museum on wheels in very part of this country with cars from close to 100 years old on display and even running exhibition races going on all summer long.
And now the first GP winner here at So Cals Toyota speedway!
On the TWS Hills, The Offy’s were Singing!
TWS Vintage meet Day 2. Well I doubt the walls at TWS ever heard the song of those mighty old 250cui Offy’s sing?
What a thrill it would be to hear thirty three of those big Roadsters with their Offy engines just Rumbling around this speedway! But it will never happen.
Sad for me to say but, I never got the chance to hear those engines in a full field running at full tilt in a race on pavement. Closest thing for Me were the dirt cars at Sacramento on that dirt Mi. in the late fifties and sixties.
So the next closest thing for Me would just have to be here at TWS where 7 of them, a few of the real cars and a few replicas. That would just have to do.
There were 2 that go up on the walls here on Sat and got those big engines just roaring for several laps ! You would have thought their was big purse for the winner?
But no it was just for old times sake and the personnel thrill of it. Ant to show those wanting to see how it was done in the old days.
All these folks that do this Vintage thing whether it be original car restoration or just getting a replica car going should be thanked for without them those who never saw them before would never get the chance to see them and find out some of what it was all about. Not that us old guys don’t need to see them. Well this old guy was just thrilled to see those two cars going at it! The sound of those offy engines just pushing the cars as fast as the drivers wanted them to go. Was great to hear and see.
Well now this weekend was mainly for the sports car groups and there were some great vintage sports cars. One that caught My interest was this Bugatti F1 car. Now you really had to be a strong person to drive this thing with its No power steering and cable operated brakes. What a brute compared to today’s cars.
The car on the left below is the Bugatti on the right is a Talbot.
The Static displays of Midgets and the Sprint car of Don Menards was great also to look at.
Oh Yes there was one Sprint car allowed to run with the roadsters on the big track it was even a Roadster Buick V8 powered, built way back and driven then by Don Thomas, Now owned and driven by Steve Bonesteel.
Then this little Abarth car of John Furlow's caught My eye. The two side draft Weber carburetors were just about as big as the engine. Specialy after John Told Me, "121 cubic inches, the carburators I mean!"
I had to leave on sat evening so didn’t catch any of Sundays runs and if You didn’t get there You should watch for next years edition and try to get to see this ? Hey I almost forgot there were over 100 SCCA cars racing hard on a 3plus mi road course also in those 3 days!
Pictures and Stort by
CVAR 18th Annual Vintage Festival at the Texas World Speedway.
Texas World Speedway "NEEDS" A Sugar Daddy or a few of them!!
The last time I was at TWS was around 1993, it was for a Winston West ARCA stock car race. Not many fans braved the weather to go there and the crowd was around 8 thousand.
After that race there were fireworks and none were in the skies! A couple of law suits and one of the owners going back to Japan, I am not sure about that one though.
Now a couple of owners, managers or? later it is but a ghost of that track from back then. Weeds cover most of the property and none of the access roads lead up to the main grandstands any more. The track surface is in dire need of repaving. Just about every where you look is a deteriorating facility! Sad but a facility so close to a couple of major population areas and not haveing any races for race fans is very sad.
They do run sports cars for private testing
(No fans allowed) and a few other training events for private enterprises.
The main part of a major speedway is already in place, All grading needed is in, All Water, Electricty is there, Access roads outside the facility are there. The stands are there but have some minor problems. The Timing and scoreing towers with some suites below them are in. They were new around 1990 so didnt get much use.
The whole thing needs to be upgraded for the racers and fans both or in a few years it will go the way of most race tracks, It will be sold for redevelopment the would justify owning acreage of this size. Surely they cant be making a very good return on what goes on here? compared to what selling the place for developing would bring them.
Anyway today with great weather I got to see some Real Vintage and Reproduction Indy Roadsters try those very high banks. And a slew of sports cars I know absolutley nothing about that kept dissapearing behind the back stretch walls up that hill, I have no idea were they went but that track was listed at over 3 mi long and the big oval is only 2 mi long so they were out there for an extra mi plus..
There are also a few vintage midgets and a Sprint car on hand. that I was saddened to learn was not the Hank Henry car the owner Don Menard had last time I talked with Him 18 years ago. It was a put together car with parts from Henry, Edmunds, Beck and five other sprint car builders from back in the fifties,sixties and seventies. Don told Me his old Hank Henry car now resides in either New Zeland or Australia?
If You like old Midgets Indy Roadsters or Sports cars mostly small bore and one great looking sprint car. get on out here tomorrow or sunday they will be going at it all day both days.
pictures and article by aXe
Schmidt Spl and the Boyle Valve spl
Bill Jones and His Checkboard midget
Bills Checkboard car #3 history
Don Menard and His car of many builders 8 to be exact
#15 Boyal Valve Reproduction and #2 Watson Roadster
Mobile Flying Red horse
Historic Indy Cars, Racing Legends Celebrate America's Racing Heritage
By PAM SHATRAW
Victory Lane Magazine
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, November 9, 2009 - This weekend fans will enjoy over 60 years of America's Racing Heritage as Historic Indy Cars and Road Racing Cars roar toward the green flag during the CVAR 18th Annual Vintage Festival at the Texas World Speedway. November 13 through 15, racing fans will enjoy the unique sights and sounds of sleek Indy Roadsters and earlier Indy up-right cars running on the banked oval for the Victory Lane Historic Indy Car Showcase presented by Vintage Oval Racing Magazine.
This traditional event will feature the Indy Cars, and Indy legend Bill Jones, whose 60 plus years of Indy Racing History will be shared during the weekend. Also featured on-track are 150 vintage racing cars competing on the Texas World Speedway 2.9 mile road course.
Car owners and drivers enjoy the thrill of on-track action and the opportunity to participate in the competition and pageantry with the legends of America's Racing Heritage. Between on-track sessions, the Historic Indy Cars, Sports Cars, and Sports Racers will be on display in the paddock. Owners and drivers will eagerly discuss each race car's history and answer questions from the fans.
Partial Indy Car Entry List
1927 Miller Boyle Valve Special
1959 Simonize Special
1960 Watson Roadster
1960 Meskowski Indy Roadster
1962 Sprint Roadster
1963 Searly Motor Freight Special
1964 Watson Roadster
1965 Watson Roadster
The Historic Champ/Indy Car Association promotes preservation, restoration and education of Historic Championship and Indy cars. It salutes the significant contribution to American Racing Heritage by registering, promoting and organizing displays at on-track events and historic races. Hundreds of cars are currently on the register and more are being added.
The Historic Champ/Indy Car Association has been organizing and promoting Historic Championship and Indy car on-track showcases for nine years. These events are made possible with assistance from Victory Lane Magazine, Vintage and Historic Racing News Magazine, Vintage Oval Racing Magazine, and Victory Lane Motorsports Marketing.
For more information call Pam Shatraw, HCICA Events Manager 650-321-1411, CVAR 817-228-2140, or Texas World Speedway 979-690-2500.
Taking you Back
Another race track closes Bay Meadows California
Contributor to OWR3
On May 11, 2007, the Bay Meadows Race course in San Mateo, California entered the homestretch, presenting its last regularly scheduled horse racing program. The Bay Meadows facility, built during 1933 and 1934 on land formerly used as a Curtiss-Wright airfield, was conceived, and operated by William P. Kyne. Bay Meadows, so named because it’s location in a meadow close to San Francisco Bay, opened to the public on November 3, 1934, and was credited with many innovations, including the Daily Double, Puett electric starting gate and the photo finish. The famous thoroughbred Seabiscuit won the Bay Meadows Handicap in 1937 and 1938, and noted jockey Bill Shoemaker began his career at Bay Meadows.
The tradition of motor racing at Bay Meadows was largely overlooked in the massive local media coverage of the track’s closing. During the decade of the 1950’s, Bill Kyne and J. C. Agaganian promoted motorcycle, AAA midget and AAA championship car at the 83.5-acre facility, which also staged late model stock car races. The front straightaway of the 1-mile dirt track is 85 feet wide, and the backstretch 75 feet wide. The grandstand, featuring Art Deco architecture, has a published seating capacity of 12, 000. Unlike the preparations at the similar track at the California State Fairgrounds, at Bay Meadows, race cars ran directly on the horse racing surface, built of sandy loam, which often resulted in a rough and dusty track.
The first AAA championship car race at Bay Meadows was held on November 26, 1950, the day after the last race at Gilmore Stadium. This was the last Western race of the 1950 season, and featured a strong field of the Championship cars and stars of the day, including Bill Schindler, and Sam Hanks, who was starting his first ever dirt track race in the Russo-Nichels entry, filling in for an injured Paul Russo. A total of 12 cars failed to qualify for the starting field. Jimmy Davies led the 18-car field into turn one, with the action captured in a photograph later used as the cover photograph for the April 1951 issue of Speed Age magazine. Davies could not hold the lead through the first lap, which was led by Tony Bettenhausen in the Belanger 99 Kurtis. Bettenhausen led the rest of the way. The checkered flag flew on lap 149 of the scheduled distance of 150 laps, and after taking the flag, the Belanger 99 ran out of fuel. This added to the later controversy regarding the scoring of the race. Hours after the event, AAA officials decreed Tony Bettenhausen was the winner, so many of the fans in attendance had to consult their newspaper next morning to find out who had won the race.
At the 1951 championship car race, held on November 11, 1951, there were fewer entrants than the previous year; however notable entrants included the previous week’s winner at Phoenix, 1950 Indy winner, Johnnie Parsons, Tony Bettenhausen and Henry Banks. Missing the show was Bill Vukovich, who was too slow in the former City of Tacoma car, one of four cars that failed to make the 18-car starting field. Jack McGrath in the Hinkle Offy led the field from the pole for the first 23 circuits before retiring with a burnt piston. Continuing his performance from the previous, Tony Bettenhausen in the Belanger 99, grabbed the lead from Jim Rigsby, driving for Bob Estes, on lap 32 and led until he was forced to pit for tires on the 129th lap. Johnnie Parsons led the rest of the way in the Wynn’s Friction Proofing Kurtis 4000, scoring his second straight victory and second win in 1951. As it was the final race of the 1951 season, fans saw Henry Banks crowned the 1951 National Driving Champion. The morning following the race, it was announced that drivers Mack Hellings and Bob Barker, together with photographer Lee Harvey, had perished in a plane crash along with the pilot, near Bakersfield on a charter flight bound for the Bay Meadows event. The AAA Championship cars never were to return to Bay Meadows after 1951, perhaps due to the poor attendance at this event, reportedly only 8,858 fans were in the stands.
Beginning in 1954, NASCAR presented three late model stock car races at Bay Meadows. Bay Area promoter Bob ‘Barky’ Barkhimer, former midget driver for Howard Keck, and BCRA champion, had combined his California Stock Car Racing Association with NASCAR, creating the NASCAR Pacific Division. In addition to Bay Meadows, the NASCAR Pacific Division circuit visited the Oakland Speedway, Balboa Stadium, Hughes Stadium in Sacramento, Stockton 99 Speedway, and Carrell Speedway.
The August 22, 1954 inaugural NASCAR Bay Meadows 250–lap event featured such period stock car stars as Lee Petty, Marvin Panch, Buck Baker and AAA star Sam Hanks. The race was won by Herschel McGriff in a 1954 Oldsmobile over 40 other competitors. The reported attendance was 14,000, suggesting a standing room only crowd.
The July 31, 1955 NASCAR event was won by Tim Flock driving a Chrysler 300 owned by industrialist Carl Kiekhafer; the car and team which dominated NASCAR in 1955, winning the season championship. This race was marred by not one but two scoring controversies; first, the checkered flag was not given to the field until 252 laps of a 250 lap scheduled distance had been completed, and John Kieper announced as the winner; Flock was not declared the winner until hours after the event. This race was significant in that it marked the first time an African-American started a NASCAR race. Elias Bowie, a Bay Area taxi cab company owner, finished 28th out of 34 entries in a 1953 Cadillac. The reported attendance was reported as 13,927.
The final NASCAR event at Bay Meadows was held August 9, 1956, included California short track legend Al Pombo, and a young Rufus ‘Parnelli' Jones,’ who drove his Vel Miletich 1956 Ford to second place behind winner Eddie Ragan’s similar machine. The race was marred by a tragedy; on the leader’s 241st lap, a serious crash occurred entering turn one involving a back marker. As the crowd surged onto the track towards the scene, Steve Clark a reserve police officer working security attempted to cross the track to control the crowd. Clark was struck first by the car of Scotty Cain, then following cars, and was killed instantly. The race was stopped and declared complete at 241 laps. Subsequent investigations revealed that most drivers could not see through the dust and dirt caked on their windshields. The 1956 Bay Meadows event marked the final NASCAR Grand National race contested on a one-mile dirt track.
Bay Meadows also regularly staged AMA dirt track national events from 1950 through 1956, featuring such legendary riders as Kenny Eggers, Larry Headrick, and 1971 and 1972 USAC National Champion Joe Leonard. All three were from nearby San Jose and all rode Harley-Davidsons provided by legendary tuner Tom Sifton of San Jose.
The 1956 passing of Bill Kyne, whose drive and ambition dominated Bay Meadows, caused a change in the management, and the subsequent cessation of motorsports at Bay Meadows. The track has passed through several owners through the years, most recently it was purchased in 2000 by the Swiss investment bank USB, which announced its intention to close the track in 2002 and develop the grounds into a housing/shopping complex. Demolition of the Bay Meadows facility may begin as soon as September 2008, thus adding another track to ever-growing list of lost race tracks.
Taking You Back
By Kevin Triplett
Contributing OWR3 Staff
California’s Black Sunday
The 1970 Open Competition Super-Modified & Caged Sprint Car Championship
Many articles have been written throughout the years about the events of ‘Black Sunday,’ July 29, 1951, a day when three talented and brave race drivers lost their lives. Less well known in the racing history community are the tragic events of October 25, 1970,
The 1970 Open Competition Super-Modified and Caged Sprint Car Championship, held at the old California State Fairgrounds on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento, California, was to be J.C. Agaganian’s last promotion at the famed oval, as the old Fairgrounds had been replaced by the new ‘CalExpo’ facility as the site of the State Fair; this was to be the final event at the track.
A reported crowd of 5,433 filled the old Fairgrounds grandstand on Sunday October 25, 1971 to watch a program culminating with a 100-lap feature race with an entry list of over 50 sprint cars and super modifieds from
Time trials to set the first 13 rows for the feature had been held on Saturday, with Joe Saldana claiming the pole position, as the only driver to record a sub- 37-second lap time. Starting alongside Saldana would be Bob Evans of
Two 10-lap semi-main races were next on the program, with the top three finishers in each to bring up the rear of the scheduled 33-car feature field. Drivers found the track to be rutted as a result of intermittent rains during the week, and trouble began early. The first semi-main was halted after nine laps after Opperman’s car flipped after he spun into the infield. The young “Opp” was transported to the
The crowd was just settling back into their seats after the start of the second semi-main, when the #82 supermodified owned by Jack McCabe and driven by Ernie Purssell, swerved into the outside fence as he slowed entering turn one and set off the terrifying series of events. Purssell, from
As the accident was unfolding, the flagman displayed the yellow flag to the field. However, the sanctioning body, California Racing Association, rules at that time allowed racing back to the flag stand, a policy which many blamed for what happened next. Many people had rushed from the pits on to the track to assist Thomas and Purssell, while others headed on to the track to warn following drivers to slow down. Walter Reiff, a former
Next door at the
With heavy hearts, the competitors started the 33-car 100 mile feature race. Joe Saldana led the opening lap, but was soon passed by Jerry Blundy and Bob Evans. Local hero, Jimmy Gordon, known to his fans as ’The Capitol Comet,’ driving the beautiful #96 Don Edmunds Autoresearch Special caged sprint car owned by Hayden Harris with Leonard Faas, Sr. as the chief mechanic, was forced to stop early with a flat front tire, much to the disappointment of the crowd. In an article published the day before in the Sacramento Union newspaper, Gordon had revealed that he had been signed by J.C. Agaganian to drive sprint cars and midgets for the Agaganian-Faas team in 1971. In the article, Gordon had stated that it was his dream to one day drive in the
After replacing the flat tire and receiving new goggles, Gordon returned to the track a lap down, driving with a vengeance, and was clearly the fastest car on the track, passing numerous cars in his quest to return to the front. On the 35th lap, as Gordon was exiting turn two and moved to the inside of Bud Gilbert’s car to pass, and ran out of racing room between Gilbert and the inside earthen berm. Gordon’s car rode over the wheels of Gilbert’s sprint car, flipping end over end at least three times before coming to rest ¾ of the way down the back straightaway, near the center of the track. Before the yellow could be displayed, the horrified crowd watched as Ron Rea’s car smashed into the Gordon wreckage, tearing off the fuel tank. Both cars exploded into flames; Rea was able to climb from the wreckage of his car and jump over the low outside fence to safety. Jimmy Gordon was not as fortunate; he was trapped in his car and could not escape. Despite heroic efforts by the track safety crew to put out the fire and extricate him, Jimmy Gordon, age 25, whom many considered a future star, was pronounced dead upon arrival at the
J.C. Agaganian faced with the knowledge that three lives had been lost, and after hearing the shouted pleas of the wives of some of the drivers, had no choice but to halt the race. Photos from that day clearly show a shocked “Aggie” as he addressed the crowd. Jerry Blundy was declared the winner; in his interview he heavily criticized the CRA policy of racing back to the flag stand under the yellow flag, but stopped short of placing blame for the deaths.
Not long after that tragic day, the old fairgrounds track and grandstands were demolished. The water tank located near turn four still remains, but most of the site is now occupied by the UC Davis Medical Center complex; the area off turn two was the site of the infamous Greenfair housing development complex. Although the Old Fairgrounds track is gone, nothing can erase the events of that tragic day,
This article could not have been possible without the assistance of Bob Burke, Dennis “aXe” Sylvia, Marty Kobata, Victor Mencarini, and Gary Haight.
Bob Bogan Race Cars
I remember in the mid sixties seeing a Bob Bogan offy powered midget at most USAC west coast midget
races. It was a superbly built car and usualy stood out from all the others
Bob another not heard much from constructor from back then.
Click picture below of Bob to read about Him and what He built.
OCT 28 2009
This was taken in 1958 at San Jose spdwy Uncle Dudly (Bob Hewitt) Driver
Roy (Curly ) Gardner and Chet Taylor one of the owners in pic also.
note right rear mag wheel with the hunks out of it!! and He drove that car at allmost 100mph on that big paved high banked track
#95 Dave Imrie 1958 Oakland indoor B race Championship driver and car
#2 is Johnny Baldwin in the Stan Brooks ford Stan in back on left Moe Goff I think it is.
1959 Okland Ca Exposition bldg indoor midget races, Below First Roadster midget in BCRA driven Clark Shorty Templeman. Clark was the winner of all those races in one night at the night before the 500 at sixteenth st spdwy in 1956 driving for Ashley Wright. He is right up there with Mel Kenyon, Jimmy Davies, Rich Vogler and Sleepy Tripp as the best of the best midget drivers.
Sept 2 2009
“TRIBUTE TO DON SMITH”
DRAWS “AMERICAN HEROES”
American racing heroes were in abundance on Thursday, August 27, when the inaugural “Tribute to Don Smith” was held in Terre Haute, Ind. Honoring the motorsports contributions of the Terre Haute businessman, the day included a luncheon at the Holiday Inn, followed by tours of Smith’s collection of race cars and memorabilia.
Enough drivers to fill a feature field at the Terre Haute Action Track paid homage to Smith, who has served in numerous capacities during his long motorsports career, including race organizer, car owner, sponsor, etc.
The Terre Haute First Financial Bank president was surprised at the turnout of drivers who posed for a group photo before touring his extensive collection.
Drivers in attendance included some of the most prolific Sprint and Midget racers of all time. Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, Ken Schrader, Gary Bettenhausen, Larry Dickson, Pancho Carter, Tom Bigelow, Jack Hewitt, Bill Vukovich, Bruce Walkup, Charlie Masters, Johnny Parsons, Bill Engelhart, Steve Chassey, Ralph Liguori, Mel Kenyon, Steve Stapp, Rich Leavell, Joe Saldana, Steve Lotshaw, Gary Irvin, Jim Mills, Brad Marvel and event organizer Duke Cook were all there, sharing stories from the past.
Racing notables also in attendance included Robin Miller, Dave Argabright, Bob Higman, Bill Marvel and “Speedy Bill” Smith, who came from Lincoln, Neb. to show his support.
Photos courtesy of Joe DeFabis
Story courtesy of Dick Jordan
Front row (l-r): Jack Hewitt, Bill Vukovich, Gary Bettenhausen, Johnny Parsons, Mel Kenyon, Bill Engelhart, Bill Smith, Ralph Liguori, Pancho Carter.
Center row (l-r): Bruce Walkup, Larry Dickson, Charlie Masters, Steve Lotshaw, Tom Bigelow, Ken Schrader, Johnny Rutherford, Brad Marvel.
Back row (l-r): Duke Cook, Steve Chassey, Jim Mills, Rich Leavell, Joe Saldana, Gary Irvin, Steve Stapp.
Above just one of the Don Smith buildings insides
Our Tour of the Don Smith collection
Back in May of this year I had the pleasure of meeting Don Smith in Gasoline ally, The one with all the vintage car builders there. I was in Pete Gephardt & the Van Craft shops. Don was there checking on the Kurtis OFFY Midget roadster Pete &Van were finishing up recreating for Him.
Don was very kind enough to extend an invitation To Me aXe, My son Lee and Grandson Tyler to go out to view His Collection. We got there a little early and found out we were going to be given a private personly guided tour by Don. I cant say enough abouy how gracious a Man He was to us. We throughly enjoyed our tour, Not enough time to see it all but We sure tried to! A few pictures I took are below.
Don and his latest acquisition the day it arrived.
My Son Lee, Grandson Tyler and Don
aXe, Tyler and Don
Probably the first VW powered midget. I first saw it driven at San Jose by Bobby Olivero back in the late sixties.
The Jet Rod driven to a few wins by Steve Chassey.
This is but a very small sample of what Don has collected through out the years. I sure hope to receive another invite to go back and check out what we missed on the first visit.