Jump to content


Photo

The origins of Sprint Car racing


  • Please log in to reply
207 replies to this topic

#51 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,175 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 26 May 2008 - 20:51

To catch up a bit...

I always heard that about Rescino too, but it's always "He beat the Outlaws at Capital". Like fines, I also checked the WoO records and I checked another on line source and it indicates Rescino's win was not in a WoO sanctioned event. Warren's however was.

Syracuse is very hard packed, so it's not surprising to me that a pavement car won. It literally runs like dusty pavement. There are some "dirt" tracks like that. One in Northern California, drivers used pavement chassis and pavement tires on the "dirt" track (later clay was added and later still, it was blacktopped).

fines, after a wonderful period of experimentation (much like other forms of racing), pavement Supers settled into offset "roadster" style. The main difference was between organizations and how much offset they allowed.

I know I have a race report of Rescino's win at WCR. When I get the chance, I'll dig it out.

I watched Rescino, Howard Kaeding and so many others on a regular basis when I would make an hour drive to San Jose for the weekly Super Modified races at the 1/4 mile dirt oval at the fairgrounds. Great racing and great atmosphere (BTW, I drove past a track running Sprints :) ).

Advertisement

#52 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 26 May 2008 - 21:34

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
To catch up a bit...

I always heard that about Rescino too, but it's always "He beat the Outlaws at Capital". Like fines, I also checked the WoO records and I checked another on line source and it indicates Rescino's win was not in a WoO sanctioned event. Warren's however was.


Well , I'd have to ask , why were the Outlaws there if it wasn't an Outlaw event ? I'm not saying your wrong , mind you , just still unsure .

I believe fines was correct in that the Outlaws didn't sanction events in 78 , but merely paid points for certain races .

#53 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 26 May 2008 - 21:45

"Outlaws" was a general name for drivers competing in Open Comp events during the mid-seventies, like Opperman, Ferkel, Wolfgang and Kenny Weld. They would also sometimes appear at sanctioned events, but as a loosely-knit group they were simply known and refered to as "Outlaws".

I did a NewspaperArchive search for Rescino the other day, and it showed several dozen hits all through the seventies, stopping abruptly at the end of 1977, then beginning again in 2000-something with Rescino junior. Is it possible he retired in '77, and that the race you are thinking of was earlier than WoO, just an event with "Outlaws" participating?

#54 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 26 May 2008 - 22:38

If you go to this link

http://www.worldofou...nt/history.aspx

There's a list of all WOO feature winners from over the years . Bently Warren is on it , but Nick Rescino isn't .

I think that answers that question . Rescino beat the " outlaws " but it wasn't a WOO race .

#55 Peter Leversedge

Peter Leversedge
  • Member

  • 616 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 26 May 2008 - 23:21

Jim and I seem to both agree that Syracuse is more like a pavement track than most of the tracks that up right dirt sprint cars race on so a pavement super modified may have had an advantage. In saying this I do not wish to suggest the Warren Bentley only won because he had a more suited car.
I remember enjoying watching the dirt super modified racing at WCR Fourth of July weekend 1977
Although my favourite race car is a sprint car I did like the dirt super modifieds having built and raced one myself before moving on to sprint cars

#56 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,175 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 27 May 2008 - 02:26

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA
If you go to this link

http://www.worldofou...nt/history.aspx

There's a list of all WOO feature winners from over the years . Bently Warren is on it , but Nick Rescino isn't .

I think that answers that question . Rescino beat the " outlaws " but it wasn't a WOO race .


Correct. I never said it was a WoO race, actually I attempted to point out otherwise :) I even posted that Warren is on the career WoO win list and Rescino isn't.

Originally posted by fines
"Outlaws" was a general name for drivers competing in Open Comp events during the mid-seventies, like Opperman, Ferkel, Wolfgang and Kenny Weld. They would also sometimes appear at sanctioned events, but as a loosely-knit group they were simply known and refered to as "Outlaws".

I did a NewspaperArchive search for Rescino the other day, and it showed several dozen hits all through the seventies, stopping abruptly at the end of 1977, then beginning again in 2000-something with Rescino junior. Is it possible he retired in '77, and that the race you are thinking of was earlier than WoO, just an event with "Outlaws" participating?


Again, we're getting lost in semantics. You explain it nicely, as I did! Yes, it was an "open competition" event that featured at least some of the "outlaw" drivers/regulars. I can assure you fines, that Nick Rescino was quite active into the 90's, winning 4 Super Modified track championships at San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway in the 80's. Rescino began his career as an in SCCA club racing and then moved over to the Sportsman division at the near 1/2 mile dirt Champion Speedway oval, which was literally diagonally across Highway 101 from Candlestick Park (San Francisco). Rescino moved up to the pavement Supers at San Jose Speedway, raced Midgets and Sprints as well, and then to dirt and WCR when there was a dispute over tire rules at the old San Jose Speedway. When West Capital closed, he raced with the NASCAR sanctioned Supers on dirt at the San Jose Fairgrounds.

And the first year of WoO as a sanctioning body was 1978. Jimmy Boyd won the first race at Devil's Bowl in Mesquite, Texas...and folks, that's without even looking :lol:

The event in question was apparently a late 1978. Again, I have the regional racing paper with an account of the event, which I will get to ASAP. 'Til then, there's this site: http://www.hammerdow...com/1978cap.htm

#57 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 27 May 2008 - 02:47

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
[B]

Correct. I never said it was a WoO race, actually I attempted to point out otherwise :) I even posted that Warren is on the career WoO win list and Rescino isn't.

I read your post , I really did . Why that didn't register with me , I don't know . :o





And the first year of WoO as a sanctioning body was 1978. Jimmy Boyd won the first race at Devil's Bowl in Mesquite, Texas...and folks, that's without even looking :lol:

I know that one too , I was there . At least I think I was ...Let me think...Yes , I was there , for sure .

#58 paulhooft

paulhooft
  • Member

  • 873 posts
  • Joined: January 01

Posted 27 May 2008 - 13:10

I did some research on the wheelbase sizes of Midget, Sprint, Champ or Big cars and cars that drove the Indianapolis 500….
and found out some things in the books my Library…
Gordon White’s Kurtis book says that Kurtis Midgets were between 66 and 72, according to what the customer wanted…
I found that Sprint cars where 84 (or 86 inch)...
The wheelbase size for a Big Car was 96 inch.
It seems that during the Junk Era, cars could be up to a 114 inch wheelbase,
But other sources say that it was in fact unlimited…
The minimum wheelbase size for an Indianapolis Car during the 40’s – 60’s? was 96 inch.

I found some info about the wheelbase sizes of famous Indianapolis cars:
1911 Marmon Wasp 116
1912 Peugeot 109
1914 Peugeot 3 litre 112
1914 Mercedes Benz 112
1919 Monroe Frontenac 98
1919 Ballot 104,5
1921 Duesenberg 105,5
Miller FWD and RWD: 100
1923 Duesenberg 100
1927 Delage 1 ½ litre 98
37 Shaw indy winner: 100
1939 Shaw Maserati 106,75
1939 Mercedes Benz 3 litre 107,25
1947 Novi FWD 105 ¾
1948 Blue Crown Specials 96
1956 Novi KK500F 98
1962 Novi 62 KK500K 96
1952 Cummins Diesel 103
1954 Dean van Lines Kuzma 98 (Champ car)
1957 Belond 96
Watson Roadsters 96
1963 Lotus 29 96 (as this was the minimum wheelbase)
1967 STP Turbine 96.2? (car seems much bigger..)
1968 Lotus Turbine 102

#59 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 27 May 2008 - 15:46

Originally posted by paulhooft
I did some research on the wheelbase sizes of Midget, Sprint, Champ or Big cars and cars that drove the Indianapolis 500….
and found out some things in the books my Library…
Gordon White’s Kurtis book says that Kurtis Midgets were between 66 and 72, according to what the customer wanted…
I found that Sprint cars where 84 (or 86 inch)...
The wheelbase size for a Big Car was 96 inch.
It seems that during the Junk Era, cars could be up to a 114 inch wheelbase,
But other sources say that it was in fact unlimited…
The minimum wheelbase size for an Indianapolis Car during the 40’s – 60’s? was 96 inch.

Could you be more specific about the years? I always read that Sprint Cars had a different wheelbase than Champ Cars, but that is apparently only true for the fifties and following decades. Also, different sanctioning bodies may have had different regulations, and I guess most organisations had few if any at all!

Until the mid-to-late thirties, there wasn't a minimum wheelbase for Big Cars, not for the "Sprint" and not for the "Championship" type. At this point (some time between 1936 and '38), a new rule demanded a minimum of 90 inches, for both types. Not sure about Indianapolis, though...

Advertisement

#60 Bob Riebe

Bob Riebe
  • Member

  • 1,677 posts
  • Joined: January 05

Posted 27 May 2008 - 16:23

Originally posted by fines
[B]
Could you be more specific about the years? I always read that Sprint Cars had a different wheelbase than Champ Cars, but that is apparently only true for the fifties and following decades. Also, different sanctioning bodies may have had different regulations, and I guess most organisations had few if any at all!

The last statement there rings most true.
As sprint cars switched fairly freely between circuits, with the well known sanction difficulties, wheelbase rules for sprint cars must have been near free, to floating, i.e. "we'll let you run today but..."

I wonder what the wheel-base was on the Weld roadster sprint cars?

I know in the seventies there were some santions running "midgets" with the BOP V-8 that by simple appearence one could not tell was not a sprint car.

#61 paulhooft

paulhooft
  • Member

  • 873 posts
  • Joined: January 01

Posted 27 May 2008 - 16:31

In fact I cannot,
there is not to much information on the matter,
that I have access too..

Next, shall we call the experts at the Racing History forum?
They seem to know (almost) everything about American Racing
I know not-thing,
I am from Europe..
PcH

Quote...

Could you be more specific about the years? I always read that Sprint Cars had a different wheelbase than Champ Cars, but that is apparently only true for the fifties and following decades. Also, different sanctioning bodies may have had different regulations, and I guess most organisations had few if any at all!

Until the mid-to-late thirties, there wasn't a minimum wheelbase for Big Cars, not for the "Sprint" and not for the "Championship" type. At this point (some time between 1936 and '38), a new rule demanded a minimum of 90 inches, for both types. Not sure about Indianapolis, though...

#62 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 27 May 2008 - 16:42

That's some good info, paulhooft. Just because something was not defined "in stone" doesn't mean it didn't exist. Tendencies can go a long way toward defining something, and sprint cars apparentely tended to have significantly shorter wheelbases than big cars.

#63 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 27 May 2008 - 16:58

Originally posted by fines
At this point (some time between 1936 and '38), a new rule demanded a minimum of 90 inches, for both types. Not sure about Indianapolis, though...


I would think that was the result of midget cars becoming popular and there the need arose to diferentiate between the classes . That would probably be a good time period to start looking for info .

#64 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 27 May 2008 - 17:50

Yes, you're right, Red! :up:

Of course, why didn't I think of it earlier: there was one famous Big Car race at Oakland (Nov 8, 1936 - I looked it up), where three Midgets appeared out of the blue to compete with the big 'uns over 100 miles, and wouldn't you know, they finished 1-2-4 (Pat Cunningham, Mel Hansen and Ray Gustafson driving)! Although this was an ARA race, and the Midgets had the only modern Offenhauser engines competing against largely "Class B" Sprint Cars, it could very well have led to AAA introducing the minimum wheelbase for 1937!

Johnny Gerber had it also "during the winter of 1936-37, if my memory serves me right"! He continues, "I heard by the grapevine it was instigated on the west coast, by whom I don't know." Suddenly it all makes sense! :)

EDIT: forgot to add, of course we should remember the brilliant performance of the two Midgets at the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup in October - despite this, there were none entered the following year! I think the evidence is quite clear: 1937 was the first year for the minimum wheelbase for Big Cars!

#65 martyk

martyk
  • Member

  • 33 posts
  • Joined: May 07

Posted 28 May 2008 - 00:51

The Race Nick Rescino won in his Super Modified was on June 8, 1979. It was the opening night of a two-day World of Outlaws show, the "Mini Gold Cup" at West Capital Raceway. I believe the Outlaws do not count preliminary night features in thier official lists. The article's author is the same Gary Gerould who does NHRA races for ESPN, he was for many years the track announcer at WCR. His son Bobby does the WoO shoes on Speed.

Posted Image

The car was essentially a Sprint car with a 2x4 bottom rail:
Posted Image

#66 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 28 May 2008 - 08:25

Thnx for the article and picture, Marty! :up:

Originally posted by martyk
The Race Nick Rescino won in his Super Modified was on June 8, 1979. It was the opening night of a two-day World of Outlaws show, the "Mini Gold Cup" at West Capital Raceway. I believe the Outlaws do not count preliminary night features in thier official lists.

That is, in fact, a general problem with Sprint Car "statistics", and especially WoO! Many have posted in this thread that Jimmy Boyd was the first WoO feature winner at Devil's Bowl, March 18, and that's also the way I see it. But Phil Harms, for one, lists in his WoO summaries at motorsport.com two other features on March 16 and 17, respectively, also at Devil's Bowl, and won by Norm Martin (the then-track champion) and Doug Wolfgang! Those were, in fact, "qualifying features", and in "European practice" would be called "heats", but since each of these "features" was preceded by the usual number of heats, semis and consies, it becomes quite confusing for the uninitiated, and frankly for everyone else, too! :D

The point is: this format of dividing a huge field into two halfs, then let each half have its own "full event" with heats and a feature, with the best qualifying for a "final feature", has become quite common, having been pioneered at the Knoxville Nationals, I'd guess. BUT - WoO (amongst others) have been traditionally inconsistent with the handling of these events for statistical purposes!

Best example, perhaps: in its first year, WoO ran two events in the first half of August, Eldora Speedway on August 5 and the Knoxville Nationals a week later. Both Saturday "finals" were preceded by "qualifying features", Thursday and Friday at Eldora, and the traditional Wednesday and Thursday at Knoxville (in order to run additional "mystery features" or whatever on the Friday, but that's another story again...). The "official" WoO end-of-season statistics show all three Eldora events, but only the final Nationals feature! E.g., Rick Ferkel's season total of eight feature wins includes his "qualifying feature" at Eldora, but Steve Kinser's total of eleven wins excludes his qualifying win at Knoxville a week later!! Confusing? You bet!

#67 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,175 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 28 May 2008 - 18:59

Marty, thanks for posting the article and picture :up: Especially that it saves me from digging through mine :D

Hmmm, ok, my memory was again better than going by other sources. I thought it was '79, and towards the end of WCR ('79 was it's last full season, it closed for good after a special final race in 1980). And I had always thought it was a WoO preliminary night. But, when I checked on line, I only found the 1978 reference, which, curiously enough is Bobby Gerould's site. Granted, Bobby is rather busy with other things and I'm sure hasn't had a lot of time to do more (the page notes it is "under construction").

Now, briefly on to the Super Modified pictured there. As Marty notes, very little separated dirt Supers from Sprint Cars by then. Basically, Supers were required to have box frame rail construction versus tube frame and (at most tracks) were not allowed to run Sprint type tail tanks (note the little square boxy tail). Eventually, some tracks allowed Sprint type tail tanks as well. That and engine rules. At San Jose, the Super Mods max engine was 377 c.i.

#68 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 28 May 2008 - 19:32

At the track in my hometown where I grew up watching sprint cars in the 70s, we called those supermodifieds "B-modifieds." And they ran with the sprints. Not sure if there was any difference between supermods and B-mods.

#69 martyk

martyk
  • Member

  • 33 posts
  • Joined: May 07

Posted 28 May 2008 - 22:29

Actually, Jim, I also looked on Bobby's site (www.hammerdownusa.com) and even though he has a picture on his 1978 page, it's also in the 1979 text. That's what keyed me into looking in my 1979 stuff.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the first year of the WoO, wasn't the only criteria that a race had to pay at least $2,000 to win to be a offical points race? Maybe that's why the prelim night's aren't considered "official"?? For example, there was a race at Calistoga (California) on Sept 23, followed by Williams Grove (Pennsylvania) on Sept 24. And the Sept 29 West Capital race wasn't the Gold Cup (it ran the next night), but rather an "invitational".

Posted Image

OT, but would you (or anyone else) happen to know or have a copy of the rules for the NASCAR Super Modifieds that ran at the old San Jose Speedway? I'm trying to build a model and want to at least get it partially right.

#70 Peter Leversedge

Peter Leversedge
  • Member

  • 616 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 28 May 2008 - 22:29

Like I said most Dirt Super Modifieds evoloved into into Sprint Cars untill there was only Sprint Cars and correct me if I am wrong there was no Dirt Super Modified left as happened in New Zealand. I did see Dirt Supers racing at Riverside Speedway Ark in 1981
Sprint Car wheel base rule in NZ has always been 84" to 96" and as we any have only 1/4 mile tracks except one 1/3 mile most cars here are close to 84". We always tried to keep our rules as close as possible to US rules as we have drivers from the US and Australia racing here from time to time.
Most of our own cars are US built. [ my last car was a Lee Osborne built Ozcar ]

#71 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:14

Must require one helluva purse to justify shipping driver, crew and car from NZ to the US or vice versa. With current travel expenses, the financial outlay would be downright ungodly.

#72 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:42

Originally posted by Flat Black
Must require one helluva purse to justify shipping driver, crew and car from NZ to the US or vice versa. With current travel expenses, the financial outlay would be downright ungodly.


Peter Leversedge might could speak to this better , but they don't usually ship the cars , if ever , they run one that's already there , or here . And they don't USUALLY go to either country for just one race . The Americans run downunder when it's winter here , and the Aussies come here for a full season or seasons , guys like Gary Rush and Skip Jackson have pretty much moved here . About the only thing that gets shipped is the driver and sometimes crew .

#73 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:31

Well, that makes a lot more sense, Red. Thanks.

#74 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 29 May 2008 - 03:42

Originally posted by Peter Leversedge
Like I said most Dirt Super Modifieds evoloved into into Sprint Cars untill there was only Sprint Cars and correct me if I am wrong there was no Dirt Super Modified left as happened in New Zealand. I did see Dirt Supers racing at Riverside Speedway Ark in 1981
Sprint Car wheel base rule in NZ has always been 84" to 96" and as we any have only 1/4 mile tracks except one 1/3 mile most cars here are close to 84". We always tried to keep our rules as close as possible to US rules as we have drivers from the US and Australia racing here from time to time.
Most of our own cars are US built. [ my last car was a Lee Osborne built Ozcar ]


If there are any Dirt Supermodifieds still going I'm not aware of them .

If you go to this site , you can pretty much see the evolution of SuperMods . They kinda went the way of the old big cars , evolving into Champ cars .

http://www.racingfro...lap1index9.html

http://www.racingfro...ap1index10.html

#75 Bob Riebe

Bob Riebe
  • Member

  • 1,677 posts
  • Joined: January 05

Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:07

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA


Peter Leversedge might could speak to this better , but they don't usually ship the cars , if ever , they run one that's already there , or here . And they don't USUALLY go to either country for just one race . The Americans run downunder when it's winter here , and the Aussies come here for a full season or seasons , guys like Gary Rush and Skip Jackson have pretty much moved here . About the only thing that gets shipped is the driver and sometimes crew .

I spoke with a gentleman, Joe Chamberlain who did road racing down under and he did ship his car there and back, although he did sell one down there.
I almost bought a car in Australia six years ago, and, at least, at that time, shipping costs were not very high.
NOW, in this day, things might be different.

Bob

#76 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 29 May 2008 - 06:29

The road racing situation was quite different from the dirt scene in this regard. Americans (and Australians) invariably took their own cars to NZ in the F5000 era

#77 dbw

dbw
  • Member

  • 993 posts
  • Joined: October 00

Posted 29 May 2008 - 06:41

interesting trivia....a fairly standard wheelbase for an early single seater [say, miller 91] was 100"..the same as a ford T-1909 thru 1927.

six pin knockoff drive pattern [used till fairly recently] is the same as the carriage thru-bolt circle for a ford T wood wheel ...

the [in]famous "big five" wheel bolt circle [still in use] was standardized by ford on their 1939 passenger cars...

"eight spline" driveshafts and hubs were a '30s ford standard...

early quick change rear center sections were[and some still are] made to fit early ford rear axle housings.

altho one could say this was an easy call as ford parts were cheap and plentiful, it's interesting how some specs outlived the era.

#78 Peter Leversedge

Peter Leversedge
  • Member

  • 616 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:09

Regarding US drivers racing in New Zealand some drivers come alone and drive local cars, some bring there own engines and drop them in local cars, some bring complete cars and on sell them when they finish racing here and some take them back to the US. Mostly if they come down they race at several tracks, the cost is split between the different tracks and even may involve Australia. They are a big drawcard here and always fill up the stands.Over the years we have had many US drivers racing here, AJ Foyt, Mel Kenyon, Gary Patterson, Sleepy Tripp, in Midgets, Larry Rice, Steve Kinser, Jimmy Sills, Jeff Gordon, Tim Green in Sprint Cars and many many more

#79 Bob Riebe

Bob Riebe
  • Member

  • 1,677 posts
  • Joined: January 05

Posted 29 May 2008 - 23:35

Does anyone have an idea of who was the first one to use a V-8 in a sprint car, and I do not mean a mouse engine unless that is it.
Bob

Advertisement

#80 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 30 May 2008 - 00:39

Originally posted by Bob Riebe
Does anyone have an idea of who was the first one to use a V-8 in a sprint car, and I do not mean a mouse engine unless that is it.
Bob


Well , Cadillac was the first to mass produce V-8's here in the state , way back in 1914 , so probably somewhere around that time .

But since they were'nt called Sprint cars until after the war , it was probably a Flathead ford that was first used when they were finally called Sprint Cars . There was even a guy that used an inverted Ranger Aircraft V-8 in the late 40's .

And a "Mouse" motor is a small block engine , as opposed to a big block , which is a "Rat". At least here in the US . And I've always heard those terms used strictly in reference to Chevy motors .

#81 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,175 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 30 May 2008 - 00:47

Originally posted by martyk
Actually, Jim, I also looked on Bobby's site (www.hammerdownusa.com) and even though he has a picture on his 1978 page, it's also in the 1979 text. That's what keyed me into looking in my 1979 stuff.

For example, there was a race at Calistoga (California) on Sept 23

Ahh, thanks :up: A Google search took me to 1978, so I went by that instead of my first instinct.

I think you might be right about why prelims didn't count...and I was at that Calistoga race.

OT, but would you (or anyone else) happen to know or have a copy of the rules for the NASCAR Super Modifieds that ran at the old San Jose Speedway? I'm trying to build a model and want to at least get it partially right.

I seriously toyed with the idea of racing, so I got rules for San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway and Stockton 99 in 1985, but not the old San Jose Speedway.

#82 McGuire

McGuire
  • Member

  • 9,218 posts
  • Joined: October 03

Posted 30 May 2008 - 11:27

Originally posted by Bob Riebe
Does anyone have an idea of who was the first one to use a V-8 in a sprint car, and I do not mean a mouse engine unless that is it.
Bob


In the "sprint car era," credit for that is typically given to Chet Wilson from Omaha with his SB Chevy-powered Offy Killer.

But like most firsts, this is probably one of those onion-peeling questions. Before that, Wilson ran a stretched V8-60 midget as a sprint car, as did others. And there were plenty of flathead Ford V8-powered dirt or "sprint" cars before the war. Rea Lentz won the first Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1915 in a car powered by a Curtiss V8... so I guess how far back you want to push it depends on what V8s you would include, what is a "sprint car," etc and so forth.

There were also OHV-V8 "big cars" that ran down south in the early '50s in their own circuit. Really didn't get anywhere.

#83 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,085 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 30 May 2008 - 11:58

Somewhere I have a photo of a midget with a V8 in it during WW...

The V8 is a Scripps Booth engine. Surely that's a rare one.

#84 Bob Riebe

Bob Riebe
  • Member

  • 1,677 posts
  • Joined: January 05

Posted 30 May 2008 - 15:33

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Somewhere I have a photo of a midget with a V8 in it during WW...

The V8 is a Scripps Booth engine. Surely that's a rare one.

To a post above yours Ray, yes "mouse" is a small block Chevy and that is the engine unseated Offenhausers.

Ray:
This is what I am looking for (I thought of the flat-head Ford after I posted this and was not going to get out of bed and change it)


I suppose one could divide it to, before WW II and after the war.

I know Andretti drove Ted Horn's old car with a Caddy but was wonder if any pre-war V-8s may have been used after the war.
On a second note; when was the last straight 8 engine used in a sprint car, or big car? (I realize it is most likely a Buick, but looking through a history book on Indy last night, I had forgotten how many various types of engines were used at Indy [and probably other races,] at one time,)

#85 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 30 May 2008 - 17:22

Originally posted by McGuire


In the "sprint car era," credit for that is typically given to Chet Wilson from Omaha with his SB Chevy-powered Offy Killer.

But like most firsts, this is probably one of those onion-peeling questions. Before that, Wilson ran a stretched V8-60 midget as a sprint car, as did others. And there were plenty of flathead Ford V8-powered dirt or "sprint" cars before the war.


What with them not being refered to as Sprint Cars until the late 40's , is hard to actually say when the first V-8 was used . But Flat Head Fords (and Mercs) were popular before and after WWII .

Chet Millers car was actually a stretched midget , and that Chevy small block didn't just kill the Offy's , it pretty much killed everything else . Mopar and Ford have had some success , but a drop in the bucket compared to Chevy .

Here's a link to a story on the " Offy killer" .


http://www.thevintag...chet_wilson.htm

#86 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 30 May 2008 - 17:25

Originally posted by Bob Riebe
Does anyone have an idea of who was the first one to use a V-8 in a sprint car, and I do not mean a mouse engine unless that is it.
Bob

Difficult question! As for the "mouse engine" (never heard that before!), it was first used by Al Kitts from Arizona and Joe Barzda from New Jersey in 1957. I have never seen it properly explained why and how exactly those two guys got hold of the special hardware, but they both became winners almost overnight. Kitts had earlier been using a Hal, and Barzda a supercharged V8-60! Joe's car was a "stretched Midget" job, and he'd been running the Ford in his Midget before, keeping it for Sprint Car use from October 1950, and later supercharging it.

V8-60s were very popular as Midget engines in the late forties, and a few were used in Sprint Cars. The earliest I have note of was Frank Cook's in 1948, but I'm sure there were others before. And, of course, there was the "big brother" V8 flathead, which was available from 1932 onwards, though it was never too popular with the Big Car folk. Impossible to say who it was that used one for the first time, and where.

Also keep in mind that many of the "lesser" organisations ran mostly stock engines anyway, some banning the more exotic powerplants outright, e.g. NASCAR during its brief Sprint Car adventure. Cadillacs, Chrysler and de Soto hemis as well as Ford and Mercury flatheads were the dominant choice here. Those engines were also choice amongst the many Track Roadster organisations making a switch to Sprint Cars.

One early bird (and not stock derived!) was Carl Green's "Green Engineering Special" from 1927, which has the distinction of having been the first V8 to race at Indy the following year. It was also a rare example of an American track car with a Roots-type supercharger. So far I haven't been able to find more definite info on its race appearances, and it must be presumed that most Green Specials before and after 1927/8 were Ford-based fours, but they must have tried the V8 on the dirt also, I'd wager!

#87 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 30 May 2008 - 17:35

Imho the Chet Wilson "Offy Killer" is not much more than a hillbilly legend. True, he may have been the first one to build up a Chevy V8 for racing use, but apparently it was a lemon in its first year, and the next year Kitts and Barzda were winning in USAC and CRA against much tougher opposition. Wilson only ever ran UMCA and IMCA and the sort, by the late fifties pretty much third- or fourth-division stuff.

#88 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 30 May 2008 - 17:42

Originally posted by Bob Riebe
On a second note; when was the last straight 8 engine used in a sprint car, or big car? (I realize it is most likely a Buick, but looking through a history book on Indy last night, I had forgotten how many various types of engines were used at Indy [and probably other races,] at one time,)

The last straight 8? Mercedes-Benz W196, of course! :D As for Big Car straight 8s, my money would be on the Bowes 8 (often misidentified as Winfield), as in the Louie Meyer/Rex Mays Bowes Seal Fast Special.

#89 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 30 May 2008 - 19:38

Originally posted by fines
Imho the Chet Wilson "Offy Killer" is not much more than a hillbilly legend. True, he may have been the first one to build up a Chevy V8 for racing use, but apparently it was a lemon in its first year, and the next year Kitts and Barzda were winning in USAC and CRA against much tougher opposition. Wilson only ever ran UMCA and IMCA and the sort, by the late fifties pretty much third- or fourth-division stuff.


I wouldn't call drivers like Jud Larson , Cotton Musick , Johnny Rutherford , Jan Opperman and Gordon Wooley 3rd or 4th division stuff , all of whom ran IMCA/UMCA around these years . USAC has always been the "spit and polish" brigade , with the most money and shiney cars , but it was that type of elitist thinking on their part that allowed the WOO to drive them from the top rung of the Sprint car world .

Wilsons car was dubbed the "Fastest Ford in the country" by none other than NSSN , and was known as the "Offy killer" well before he ever put a Chevy motor in . It was not very good it's first year with the Chevy , the motor was too much for the stretched frame midget . But when a proper sprint car was built for it the second year , it more than earned it's reputation , and certainly wasn't a "hillbilly legend" .

#90 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 30 May 2008 - 20:28

Jud Larson only ever drove IMCA when he was trying to restart his career. After failing to get anywhere in AAA up until 1953, he switched to the "outlaws" and was with the leaders from the word go, then after two-and-a-half years got his chance to prove himself as a substitute for Pat Flaherty. After his aleged heart attack he started all over again with IMCA in 1963, but only as a warm-up. As soon as he was fit enough he was racing with USAC again. When he began to apply his considerable skills, Larson's frame was too big for IMCA, he was only loafing about there.

Cotton Musick??? - you must be joking! I've never heard of him outside UMCA, what has he ever done except winning that amateur flivver championship? You're not, per chance, rolling all of the Texas Musick's success into Cotton's port folio, are you? Even then, none of them (Ben, Morris, Len, Lyn and Rabbit) were really first division stuff, mind you.

Johnny Rutherford didn't even run two full years of IMCA, and changed to USAC while leading IMCA points. No, he certainly wasn't third or fourth division stuff, that's why he outgrew them so fast.

Jan Opperman an IMCA driver? Op raced and won everywhere, but he was never an IMCA regular, just like he never was a USAC regular.

Gordon Woolley - now here you are onto something, just like Jerry Blundy he should have been running USAC, instead of preying on the defenceless in IMCA, CRA and what-have-you. One of the failings of the US motor sports "system" is the absence of a clear structure outside of AAA and USAC's hierarchy. It allowed talents like those to get virtually "lost" - in my mind, they didn't have the guts to prove themselves with the best or, like Jerry Richert, packed in as soon as the going got tough. Not a sign of a first division driver, I'm afraid.

Your telling off of USAC as "elitist" is typical of the US racing fan used to and dulled by the continuous hype by all those sanctioning bodies that grazed the nation. Only in the US... can a racing driver, tired of ever making the big breakthrough, virtually retire to become a fairground attraction alongside The Freak Show and Gargantua the Great Gorilla, and still be regarded as the Greatest Sprint Car Driver Ever - Gus Schrader, anyone?

Journals like NSSN did their best by reporting every event as if it were the race-to-end-all-races, with every puny county jalopy contest getting the same coverage as a National Championship round. Not WoO killed the "Path to Indy", nor let USAC it slip away, nor Tony George or someone else, it was the jaded US motor sport fan, plain and simple. You've got the mess you deserved, imnsho.

#91 HDonaldCapps

HDonaldCapps
  • Member

  • 2,482 posts
  • Joined: April 05

Posted 30 May 2008 - 20:31

Originally posted by fines
You've got the mess you deserved, imnsho.


Please, Michael, Please! Please tell us how you REALLY feel!

#92 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 30 May 2008 - 20:35

Cotton Musick! :lol: That'd be like ranking Gerry Marshall with Jim Clark and Juan Fangio. Actually, that is an insult to Gerry Marshall... :rolleyes: :lol:

#93 MPea3

MPea3
  • Member

  • 2,144 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 30 May 2008 - 21:09

Interesting webpage here. I've also crossposted it to the Elisian thread.

http://www.autoracin...emHighBanks.asp

#94 Bob Riebe

Bob Riebe
  • Member

  • 1,677 posts
  • Joined: January 05

Posted 30 May 2008 - 21:19

Originally posted by fines

The last straight 8? Mercedes-Benz W196, of course! :D As for Big Car straight 8s, my money would be on the Bowes 8 (often misidentified as Winfield), as in the Louie Meyer/Rex Mays Bowes Seal Fast Special.

I doubt that as I have seen super mods from the early sixties with straight eight Buicks, but I do not know if they were ever put in sprint cars.

#95 Bob Riebe

Bob Riebe
  • Member

  • 1,677 posts
  • Joined: January 05

Posted 30 May 2008 - 21:23

Originally posted by fines
Cotton Musick! :lol: That'd be like ranking Gerry Marshall with Jim Clark and Juan Fangio. Actually, that is an insult to Gerry Marshall... :rolleyes: :lol:

It would be nice if just once you could post in a thread without trashing drivers, live or dead.
IF like Buford, you may have driven against them, then you are speaking first hand and I defer. but if not, what is it, some inferiority complex you cannot control?

Bob
PS--You have never heard of the Chevy Rat and Mouse engines, what be you some furry little furrin devil?

#96 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 30 May 2008 - 22:10

So, fines, was it the multiplicity of sanctioning bodies or the fans themselves who were to blame for killing off the "path to Indy." I'm a bit confused.

#97 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 30 May 2008 - 22:30

Originally posted by fines
Jud Larson only ever drove IMCA when he was trying to restart his career. After failing to get anywhere in AAA up until 1953, he switched to the "outlaws" and was with the leaders from the word go, then after two-and-a-half years got his chance to prove himself as a substitute for Pat Flaherty. After his aleged heart attack he started all over again with IMCA in 1963, but only as a warm-up. As soon as he was fit enough he was racing with USAC again. When he began to apply his considerable skills, Larson's frame was too big for IMCA, he was only loafing about there.

Cotton Musick??? - you must be joking! I've never heard of him outside UMCA, what has he ever done except winning that amateur flivver championship? You're not, per chance, rolling all of the Texas Musick's success into Cotton's port folio, are you? Even then, none of them (Ben, Morris, Len, Lyn and Rabbit) were really first division stuff, mind you.

Johnny Rutherford didn't even run two full years of IMCA, and changed to USAC while leading IMCA points. No, he certainly wasn't third or fourth division stuff, that's why he outgrew them so fast.

Jan Opperman an IMCA driver? Op raced and won everywhere, but he was never an IMCA regular, just like he never was a USAC regular.

Gordon Woolley - now here you are onto something, just like Jerry Blundy he should have been running USAC, instead of preying on the defenceless in IMCA, CRA and what-have-you. One of the failings of the US motor sports "system" is the absence of a clear structure outside of AAA and USAC's hierarchy. It allowed talents like those to get virtually "lost" - in my mind, they didn't have the guts to prove themselves with the best or, like Jerry Richert, packed in as soon as the going got tough. Not a sign of a first division driver, I'm afraid.

Your telling off of USAC as "elitist" is typical of the US racing fan used to and dulled by the continuous hype by all those sanctioning bodies that grazed the nation. Only in the US... can a racing driver, tired of ever making the big breakthrough, virtually retire to become a fairground attraction alongside The Freak Show and Gargantua the Great Gorilla, and still be regarded as the Greatest Sprint Car Driver Ever - Gus Schrader, anyone?

Journals like NSSN did their best by reporting every event as if it were the race-to-end-all-races, with every puny county jalopy contest getting the same coverage as a National Championship round. Not WoO killed the "Path to Indy", nor let USAC it slip away, nor Tony George or someone else, it was the jaded US motor sport fan, plain and simple. You've got the mess you deserved, imnsho.



I would say the contempt is evident in your post , and you can poo-poo these drivers all you want , but they had as much talent as many of the USAC guys . I never said UMCA or IMCA during that time was totally on par with USAC , but you seem to be offended at even a slight innuendo that it might have been . They were both stepping stones to USAC and Indy , but many a great driver competed there , and started their careers there .

Johnny Rutherford got his start in IMCA and I never said Jan Opperman was a regular , but they did compete there . Jud Larson hated all sanctioning bodies and was never a true "regular" anywhere , unless he had to be . Just as the ASCS or All-Stars today can lead a driver to the WOO or USAC and unfortunatly to NASCAR now , UMCA and IMCA was a path in their day . But their drivers are every bit as good as any sanctioning body , and race just as hard and with equal enthusiasm .

If you go to the Sprint Car Hall of Fame , the list there is full of UMCA and IMCA regulars . But anyone who knows Sprint Cars knows these drivers have always been gypsies , moving about from one sanctioning body to another regularly . That's how Steve Kinser won so many WOO titles , he stayed there . If Doug Wolfgang or Sammy Swindell had stayed and ran all the races for all the years as Kinser , Steve wouldn't have won as many .

And to say drivers like Gordon Wooley or Jerry Blundy didn't have the guts to "prove themselves" against the best just shows a lack of understanding of the sport and certainly doesn't indicate that they are not "first division drivers" . Cherry pickers are still common in Sprint Car racing and they still have their detractors , but many drivers can make as good a living running regionally without all the travel and other headaches involved with pursuing a path to Indy or where ever . Gary Wright still runs the ASCS , and see if you can find anyone worth their salt who will poo-poo his ability in a Sprint Car . And he is much more than a "fairgrounds attraction."

You never truly know , unless you are privy to inside info , why a driver doesn't try to make it to the top in the sport , there can be a variety of personal situations , or proffesional , that affects their decisions . It could be as simple as the wife saying , " don't do that " . A fellow I went to school with became a regular with in the Sprint car world and even held his own against the WOO , but his wife got pregnant , and that was the end of his racing career . He said he now had more important issues . It takes more than talent and fortitude to make it to the top in auto racing , particularly Sprint Cars .

And it was the advent of rear-engined cars that killed the "Path to Indy" and short track promotors , such as USAC , that never came up with a rear-engined class as a stepping stone . Nothing more , nothing less . It certainly wasn't the "jaded US motorsports fans" . That's rather a contemptous statement , I'd say . :down:

#98 McGuire

McGuire
  • Member

  • 9,218 posts
  • Joined: October 03

Posted 30 May 2008 - 22:32

Originally posted by fines

As for the "mouse engine" (never heard that before!)


You poor deprived creature. The term is practically atmospheric to American gearheads. As I saw and heard it unfold the etymology goes like this: when the Chevolet Mark IV V8 was introduced in 1965, due to its its canted-valve heads, with the valve covers removed the top of the engine looked a little like a porcupine's back. So the big-block V8 picked up the name "porcupine engine." (Another name, "semi-hemi", never got legs.) "Porcupine" was soon slang-ified further into "rat," and so by way of contrast the small block V8 became the "mouse." So in the vernacular, a big-block Chevy is a "rat motor" and a small block Chevy is a "mouse motor."

#99 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 31 May 2008 - 07:14

Originally posted by McGuire


You poor deprived creature. The term is practically atmospheric to American gearheads. As I saw and heard it unfold the etymology goes like this: when the Chevolet Mark IV V8 was introduced in 1965, due to its its canted-valve heads, with the valve covers removed the top of the engine looked a little like a porcupine's back. So the big-block V8 picked up the name "porcupine engine." (Another name, "semi-hemi", never got legs.) "Porcupine" was soon slang-ified further into "rat," and so by way of contrast the small block V8 became the "mouse." So in the vernacular, a big-block Chevy is a "rat motor" and a small block Chevy is a "mouse motor."

Hm, interesting! I was already thinking it had to do with Chet Wilson painting a "Mighty Mouse" caricature on his Sprinter, but that would've been ten years earlier. It's a nice moniker, definitely - I wonder if I heard or read about it before without making the connection...

Advertisement

#100 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:18

Originally posted by Flat Black
So, fines, was it the multiplicity of sanctioning bodies or the fans themselves who were to blame for killing off the "path to Indy." I'm a bit confused.

It is all interlinked - I simplified the matter a bit, as you do when you spiral into some sort of a rant and get carried away :lol: :blush:

There are, of course, a multitude of reasons for it, not least the greed of the championship auto racing team owners, but what I meant is basically this: compared to Europe (and/or the "Rest of the World"), autoracing in the USofA was always a very intricate business. This, of course, has its benefits (e.g. great variety), but also some downsides (e.g. confusion), and it all contributed to the aforementioned mess. Whether it's a good thing or not depends on your preferences, and one thing that can be said in favour of today's motor sport in the USofA is that it is truely unique in many ways. But the whining and complaining that these days seems almost intrinsically linked to US Open Wheel racing is a bit hard to take with a view to the history of the sport, and especially the way that history is treated in the States! Just an observation.