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American racing: 'The Golden Age'


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#101 john glenn printz

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 18:20

BALLOT.

There is some Ballot history on posts nos. 108, 111, and 137 on the thread "AMERICAN RACING 1894 TO 1920".

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#102 dilettante

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 19:06

:blush: ... Thanks to you two... This explains it... ;)

Jyl

#103 john glenn printz

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 17:16

Dear Mr. Ferner;

Upon further recent inquiry I have found two LOS ANGELES TIMES articles that confirms your contention that William S. White both entered and owned the "Durant Special" piloted by Harlan Fengler at Indianapolis in 1923. The two artcles are (1.) January 6. 1924, page F2, and (2.) February 14, 1924, page B2. These are the earliest references I currently know of, about White's ownership of racing cars. Compare with post No. 65 (Ferner) and post no. 83 above (Printz).

#104 fines

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 18:45

Originally posted by john glenn printz
After retiring from racing George operated a garage and service station in Lafayette, IN.

In early 1936, Fred Moebs (or Mobes?) from Michigan won the inaugural race at the Dayton Speedway in a car whose engine was said to have been developed by George Souders. No further info so far, and it may actually mean a lot of different things, like e.g. he simply owned the car, or he had engineering input in chassis and/or engine etc. Old newspaper articles are often very vague, and rarely accurate.

There was also an entry at the 1937 Indy 500 by "Souders and Galaval" of Lafayette, Indiana. The car was possibly one of the modified Model A Duesenberg racing cars built in 1930. It was barred from competition after the accident of the similarly engined Buehrig/Duesenberg on the Friday before the race, which was caused by a breaking crankshaft, and killed two bystanders in the pits.

#105 Searching Cliff

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 21:35

I have some great images of Cliff's cars and others that I'd like to post including his early cars, aerialists, race starts, etc. Some need identification. I also found some original AAA notices and bulletins which don't appear to say anything that all of you don't know already. I've also found an original AAA notice detailing the new specifications for the 1930 cars, (but I think that information is already in circulation), an AAA 1928 identification card, some Indy fabric emblems that I'm unsure of, and some written narrative from Cliff about different strategies that he used for different races.

Is Flickr the photo posting service that is easiest to use for this bulletin board? There's a whole thread about another imaging site on the board. Any thoughts?

Thanks --

Barb

#106 fines

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 22:13

Hi Barb,

WOW! That sounds mouth watering!! :D Can't wait!!!

About the picture hosting, if you're already familiar with Flickr and/or have an account there, use it by all means! I am no expert in these things, but I have used ImageShack in the past, and it is easy to use, if somewhat excentric in performance. There is a detailed how-to thread about ImageShack at the top of the page => "Sticky" threads!!!!

#107 leestohr

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 17:19

The Collier Collection Library can be reached via email - librarian@chmotorcars dot com.
The Bruce Craig photograph collection amounts to 200,000+ photos, negs, prints of which there are 25,262 negatives, 4,688 glass negatives, and 15,752 prints on the database as of February 2007.
The collection is private, but they will research it for you.

#108 Buildy

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 06:07

Barb,

I am sold on flickr-it is easy to use,if you want me to host your photos on flickr,just say the word. Or I will help you set up your own flickr pages. You can get unlimited uploading and storage for $24.00 a year or 100MB a
month for free. I went for the unlimited deal for 24 bucks a year. In 8 mos I have had over 100,000 views of my photos....

#109 Arthur E Anderson

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 22:37

Originally posted by john glenn printz
GEORGE SOUDERS (1900-1976). THE 1927 INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER. I had many opportunities to talk to Mr. Souders, but as he actually started in only three genuine AAA Championship ranked contests, I never seemed to have much to question him about. I did however enquire as to why, after having won at Indianapolis in 1927 and placing 3rd there in 1928, he never returned to race at the Speedway again.

Souders replied that in mid-1928 he had had a very bad wreck at Detroit in a dirt track race and had been knocked unconscious for over a month. This incident had scared him so much that he never raced again. This information was entirely new to me at the time and later, when I checked the Detroit 1928 newspapers, I came up with more data. The race in question was at the Michigan State Fairgrounds and was an AAA non-Championship 100 miler held on July 15, 1928. Late in the race Souders car hurled through the inner fence and flipped over a dozen times and was demolished. George had been trying to make up for time lost in a pit stop. Souders was badly mauled and it was thought that he would not live through the night.

However by July 20, George was reported to be much improved and in a semi-conscious state. Souders' statement that he was in a coma for a whole month turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration. Although Souders never mentioned it to me, he emerged from this accident with a badly mangled arm, which appears to be the real reason he had to quit racing. Souders officially announced his retirement from racing in mid-March 1929.

Souders started racing in 1922 and came from Lafayette, IN, but seems to have done most of his racing before 1927, in or near the state of Texas. Souders is said however to have actually begun his racing career at the Tippacanoe, IN, county fairground dirt track. Before 1927 George seems to have also run occasionly at the Roby and Hawthorne tracks, located near Chicago. The only race that I am currently aware of that he ran before 1927 was at the 1/2 mile Douglas, AZ track, held on 25 December 1925. Souders was 5th in a 50 miler staged that day. Souders' pre-1927 racing activity is, at present, in complete obscurity but would be cleared up a bit no doubt, if one were to inspect the 1922-1926 Texas newspapers. George was primarily a dirt track driver and never ever competed in an AAA Championship level board track contest. In 1927, with the exception of Indianapolis, all the AAA National Championship contests were held on board tracks. Those still being used for this purpose were Altoona, Atlantic City, Charlotte, Culver City and Salem-Rockingham.

Hollywood Bill White had purchased a Duesenberg from driver Phil "Red" Shafer and put George in the cockpit for the 1927 Indianapolis 500. Both Souders and White had never entered the 500 before. As a rookie George drove well, without any relief, and scored the second totally unexpected Indy victory in a row. Frank Lockhart had won in 1926, seemingly also coming out of nowhere to win. At the time Souders won Indy, he was enrolled at Purdue University as an undergraduate, majoring in mechanical engineering. George pointed out to me that his win here in 1927, was with the smallest engined machine ever to win an Indianapolis 500, a mere 90.0 cubic inch displacement! With it he led laps 150-200 and averaged 97.545 mph for the 500 miles, which was a new record for the 91 cubic inch class racers.

{Here Phil Shafer was singularly unfortunate for two years in a row, as he sold the upcoming winning Duesenberg (Souders) to Bill White in 1927, and the upcoming winning Miller (Meyer) in 1928 to Alden Sampson II!]

Souders told me that his 1927 Indy winning Duesenberg was not DePaolo's 1925 car, and then concluded his sentence with, "because my car had a 90 cubic inch motor while DePaolo's had a 122." Nobody claims it was the same exact engine that was in both cars, all anyone ever asserted was that the Duesenberg chassis was identical. So, in my opinion, George kind of nullified his own statement.

After George won at Indianapolis, all the AAA tracks wanted him to race at their events, as an added attraction. He ran in a rather makeshift 75 miler at Roby on June 10, arranged by Jack Leech, then the president of the Roby dirt oval. Souders won, with Shorty Cantlon 2nd, John A. "Jack" Petticord 3rd, "Whiz" Sloan 4th, and Louis "Lou" F. Schneider 5th. Souders' winning time was 60 minutes and 41 seconds (c. 75 mph).

Souders was entered for the Altoona 200 of June 11, but burned a piston in practice and could not start. He was also present at Salem on July 4, but didn't compete. June 19 found Souders in a AAA 100 mile race run at Kalamzoo, MI. Fred Frame was the winner, with George finishing 2nd, more than a half a lap behind. Jack Petticord was 3rd and Wilbur Shaw 4th. Frame led all 100 laps and his time was 1 hour, 13 minutes, and 27 seconds.

Meanwhile it transpired on August 9 that George, with his Indy winning Duesenberg, would travel to Europe to compete in the 372.84 mile Italian Grand Prix at Monza (September 4); and possibly also at the 327 mile British Grand Prix on October 1, The British Grand Prix in 1927 was held at the famous Brooklands oval. Probably lucrative appearance money was promised if the 1927 winning Indianapolis car and driver would compete at these races. George failed to finish at Monza and did not start at Brooklands.

George returned to Lafayette, IN on September 27. On October 15 he participated in an AAA semi-official "Dirt Track Championship" held in Detroit. It consisted of three 50 mile heats and was decided on a point system. Cliff Woodbury won the first two heats and Souders the third. The final results posted were 1. Cliff Woodbury, 2. George Souders, 3. Wilbur Shaw, and 4. Charles "Dutch" Bauman.

George also ran in short sprint races using a Miller staged at Ascot on November 28, which were sponsored by ex-driver, Harlan Fengler. Here Souders copped the 25 mile feature. And in a scheduled 100 mile contest at Milwaukee on October 2, George went only 4 laps before motor problems put him out. Because of rain the race was flagged after 56 laps. Lou Schneider was the declared winner, with Roy Goodwin 2nd, and Shorty Cantlon 3rd.

On January 18, 1928 at Ascot, Souders engaged in a largely meaningless three heat match race against the aging Ralph DePalma. Both were using Millers and Souders won all three heats. Then in the 50 lap feature, George won again over the likes of Cliff Bergere, Ralph DePalma, Leon Duray, Fred Frame, and Lou Schneider. Souders clocking here was 24 minutes and 54 4/5 seconds. Again Fengler was the promotor.

For 1928, Souders was at Indianapolis again, still under the aegis of Bill White, but this time with a rear drive Miller. The final result was a good 3rd place finish. Outside of the 1927 and 1928 Indianapolis races, George's only other actual AAA Championship start was at Detroit (June 10, 1928) where he finished 14th, after just completing two laps, because of being hit in the mouth by a rock. Souders' AAA Championship rankings were 3rd in 1927 and 4th in 1928; in both cases all his points were obtained from just the Indianapolis event alone.

After retiring from racing George operated a garage and service station in Lafayette, IN.

Souders was an old man when I knew him and he had been ailing. He had piled up a lot of medical bills, which was a great worry to him. When Tony Hulman heard about all this, Tony said nothing to George himself, but paid them all off. Souders told me how grateful he was to Mr. Hulman for this great service.

That's about all I currently know about George Souders.


Very good history, John!

Growing up in Greater Lafayette, IN, I was told the stories of Souders long before I ever met the man. In the 1920's, my mother, then working as a secretary in the Horticulture Department at Purdue, rented an apartment across the street (North 15th, I believe) from Souders' mother, who had a large rooming house there.

I know nothing of Souders having operated a service station in Lafayette, but he did build both a garage, and the American Tavern on North 14th Street, between Heath and Greenbush streets here. My older brother and his son operated a cabinet/furniture restoration shop in the garage building for about 10 years or so. George sold, or lost, the tavern sometime in the 30's, and worked a number of jobs around the city, eventually retiring from the Grounds Department at Purdue University, sometime around 1970 or so.

Art

#110 Arthur E Anderson

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 23:20

Originally posted by fines

In early 1936, Fred Moebs (or Mobes?) from Michigan won the inaugural race at the Dayton Speedway in a car whose engine was said to have been developed by George Souders. No further info so far, and it may actually mean a lot of different things, like e.g. he simply owned the car, or he had engineering input in chassis and/or engine etc. Old newspaper articles are often very vague, and rarely accurate.

There was also an entry at the 1937 Indy 500 by "Souders and Galaval" of Lafayette, Indiana. The car was possibly one of the modified Model A Duesenberg racing cars built in 1930. It was barred from competition after the accident of the similarly engined Buehrig/Duesenberg on the Friday before the race, which was caused by a breaking crankshaft, and killed two bystanders in the pits.


fines,

Wasn't the so-called Double-Barreled Duesenberg (styled by Gordon Buehrig, a 1933 entry? I think it was. You are correct, it was banned, because of its' modified Model A Duesenberg engine, which was the same as the one which broke a crankshaft on the front stretch at Indianapolis, spinning into the pits, gathering up a couple of racers in the pits, causing a huge fire with fatalities (and a number of serious injuries).

Art

#111 john glenn printz

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 19:44

1925: DEPAOLO AND DUESENBERG DOMINATED THE BOARD AND BRICKS. THREE VIGNETTES FROM THE 1925 AAA SEASON. (Note: This article was published on September 26, 1982, in the CART Michigan 150 program. I have made some additions and modifications.)

The period of 1925 to 1927 comprises three seasons unquestionably in Borgeson's "Golden Age of American Racing". Outside of the Indianapolis 500 itself, during these three years, all AAA National Championship action was confined to the board or "bowl" type oval speedway. The era is characterized by an intense struggle for supremacy waged between the rival Duesenberg and Miller camps.

During the early and mid-20's the AAA Championship division drivers were sort of an exclusive clique or closed club in which it was almost impossible for an outsider to break into. Likewise, there was not an overabundace of cars. Almost exactly the same pilots and machinery toured the entire AAA circuit and comprised the starting lineups in the existing Championship class races.

Even at the big annual Indianapolis classic, the entries and the actual starters tended to consist of the same basic group of American drivers, which then numbered about two dozen. This explains why the starting field at Indianapolis during the early and mid-twenties often did not reach the maximum allowable limit of 33. But starting about 1926/1927, this previously prevailing system of things began to break down fast. Many new drivers, mostly from the American "outlaw" dirt track circuits, now came to the fore; while all the board-type speedways and many of it's uniquely qualified pilots, were to disappear during the years 1927 to 1931, as the board track format now quickly faded out. After 1931 the one mile dirt surfaced oval, except for bricks and asphalt at Indianapolis, became the norm for AAA National Championship Racing, right up to its complete end at Phoeniz, AZ on November 6, 1955. AAA Championship racing on dirt soon became and was by 1932, a totally different scene from the board track era of the roaring 1920's.

Most of the vehicles running during 1925-27 were, of course, either of Duesenberg or Miller design and construction. The Duesenbergs were greatly outnumbered by the Millers, sometimes by as much as 7 to 1. The Duesenberg machinery was a direct development from their 1919 straight 8 class 301 cubic inch formula car, first introduced at Indianapolis by Tommy Milton; while the Millers had evolved from the original straight 8 Miller, introduced in 1921 jointly by Milton and Ira Vail, under the 183 cubic inch formula. Harry Miller would bring the front wheel drive type of racer to the AAA circuit, beginning at Indianapolis in 1925, with two examples. All AAA Championship events in 1925 were run under a 122 cubic inch engine limit, and all the competitive equipment now used superchargers.

The AAA National Championship board track circuit, as it existed in the mid-20's, was a totally unique American phenomenon both in concept and principle. Certainly nothing quite like it will ever exist again.

1925 was perhaps the "peak" year of U.S. board track racing during the 1920's. The 1925 season consisted of eleven races in all, with nine of them being big 250 milers. The two exceptions were the Fresno 150 (April 30) and the Indianapolis 500 (May 30). Two new board speedways made their appearance in 1925, i.e. the 1 1/8 mile Baltimore-Washington (Laurel) Speedway (inaugural race July 11, 1925); and the 1 1/4 mile Rockingham (Salem) Speedway (inaugural race October 31, 1925).

#112 john glenn printz

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 15:19

1925 AAA SEASON - THREE VIGNETTES (cont.-1) 1. THE INDIANAPOLIS 500, MAY 30 (SATURDAY).

Among the 34 entries were five foreign cars; three French Guyots (for drivers Guyot, Mourre and Rouvier), one French "Schmidt Special" built by Albert Schmidt (driver unnamed), and one Italian Fiat (for Bordino). Most of the cars were either Duesenbergs or Millers. The latter make had two front drive machines at the track in the hands of Bennett Hill and Dave Lewis. These two cars attracted a great deal of attention both at the track and in the press. There were a number of somewhat quasi-two car or two driver linkups, i.e. Earl Cooper-Ralph Hepburn, Ralph DePalma-Lora L. Corum, Bennett Hill-Ray Cariens, and Tommy Milton-Bob McDonough. Harry Hartz was operating a three car team comprising himself, Fred Comer and Leon Duray. In the case of both Earl Cooper and Bennett Hill they had relinguished their former and regular mounts for something seemingly better here at Indianapolis. Cooper had just joined the Durant team and gave his old car, which finished 2nd here in 1924 and had just won the Charlotte 250, to rookie Ralph Hepburn who was at this time much more famous as a top motorcycle rider and racer. Hepburn's only previous Champ car activity was at Beverly Hills on February 24, 1924 where he had driven 167 laps. Bennett Hill abandoned his rear drive Miller, now given to rookie Ray Cariens, and Bennett himself was now piloting Harry A. Miller's own personal front drive entry.

A few of the teams put in their appearance at the track early in the month but the Speedway didn't really come to life until the arrival of the cars and drivers who had run at the Charlotte 250 on May 11. By May 12 it was known that the three Albert Guyot (1881-1947) cars from France were definitately out because they could not be completed in time and shipped to the U.S. The French pilot Antoine Mourre, who was already at the Speedway, then got a ride on the Duesenberg team.

The rules called for each car to weigh at least 1400 pounds and a minmum qualifying speed of 85 mph was required with the fastest 33 machines to start. The more important speed records at the brickyard before the 1925 action actually got underway were;

1 lap 109.45 mph, Tommy Milton, Miller May 26, 1923

4 laps 108.037 mph, Jimmy Murphy, Miller May 26, 1924

200 laps 98.23 mph, Lora L. Corum/Joe Boyer, Duesenberg May 30, 1924

Because of the recent advances in the new art of supercharging everyone expected new records to be set all across the board. The first 1925 qualifications were set for May 26.

On the first of qualifications Cooper, Hartz, DePaolo, and Duray in quick succession broke the 4 lap qualification record. The top six were Duray (113.196 mph); DePaolo (113.083), Hartz (112.433), Cooper (110.487), Lewis (109.061), and Hepburn (108.489). In all 18 entries made it into the lineup on the first day of trials, including both of the two new Miller front drives. Bennett Hill, in his, was clocked at 105.708 mph. Peter DePaolo also had upped the one lap record to 114.285 mph, set during his 4 lap qualification run.

On May 27, Ralph DePalma, Ira Vail, and L. L. Corum put their Millers into the starting lineup.

Bob McDonough (1899-1945) in a Miller, and H. J. Skelly, the latter in a souped up Fronty-Ford, qualified on the 28th. May 29 was a day of new developments and musical chairs. Phil "Red" Shafer, using the 1924 Indianapolis winning Duesenberg qualified at 103.52 mph; while L. L. Corum hit the south guard rail and wrecked his DePalma owned Miller in practice and put that already qualified car out of the starting lineup. Bennett Hill, who didn't like the way his qualified front drive Miller handled, stepped out of it also on May 29 and decided to run his older rear drive Miller instead. That car had already been qualified for the race by rookie Ray Cariens (1896-1925) at 104.16 mph and poor Cariens now found himself without a car and was now out of the race.

Ralph DePalma on May 29 briefly took over Hill's vacated front drive and now gave his own qualified car, at 108.6 mph, to Corum. But Ralph didn't care for the front drive's handling characteristics any more than Bennett Hill and Ralph quickly repossessed his rear drive machine from Corum. Corum it was decided was now to act as DePalma's relief pilot. DePalma started 18th. It was announced also that Wade Morton (1889-1935) would replace Antoine Mourre as the driver in the fourth Duesenberg team car and that Mourre instead would now be Pietro Bordino's relief in the Fiat. The only car to qualify on May 29 was Phil Shafer in a Duesenberg and he proved to be the last actual qualifier. Harry Miller withdrew his front drive car which featured outboard breaks, unlike Dave Lewis' example which was in fact the very first front driver Miller built and contained the brakes inboard. Actually the outboard brake idea on Miller's second constructed front drive car was a retrogression, which later confused historian Griffith Borgeson, into thinking it was the first Miller front drive constructed. Not so. Even in the evolutionary biological processes, atavism does occur.

(Excursus: The Miller front drives were the acknowledged leaders in U.S. racing car design, construction, and technology during 1925 to 1927. The very first front drive was originally ordered from Miller by driver Jummy Murphy in 1924, but Murphy's untimely death at Syracuse, NY on September 15, 1924, left the machine without a sponsor. Millionaire Cliff Durant, the playboy son of William Crapo Durant (the founder of General Motors in 1908), then purchased the vehicle and entered it in the inaugural contest held at Culver City (Dec. 12, 1924). There it failed to qualify, but made the 1925 Indy lineup with Dave Lewis at the wheel. Dave Lewis, whose sister Edna was married to Harry Miller, achieved the first Miller front drive victory at the Altoona 250 on June 12, 1926, by averaging 112.43 mph. A front drive car did not win at Indianapolis until 1930.)

A few of the odd-ball entries were still being given a chance to make the show on the morning of the 1925 race if they could muster the 85 mph minimum. None could and so the field remained at 22 starters; 16 Millers, 4 Duesenbergs, 1 Fiat, and 1 souped up Ford T. Skelly qualified the Ford T at 88.47 mph, but it was driven in the race itself by Milton C. Jones (1894-1932).

The 1925 "500" was the first one in which a front drive vehicle participated (Dave Lewis) and this event also saw the first use of the so-called "balloon" tires. The balloon tire was a larger and more flexible cord tire that required less air pressure, than the hitherto used standard cord tire type which was also very rigid. The drivers thought these new balloon type tires would greatly help cushion the long 500 mile ride over the rough bricks.

#113 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 13:08

1925 AAA SEASON - THREE VIGNETTES (cont.-2) 1. INDIANAPOLIS 500, MAY 30. (SATURDAY)

Just as the cars were given the signal to move from their grid positions DePaolo's No. 12 Duesenberg, stationed in the middle of the front row, stalled and Pete was given a few very anxious moments before the engine finally fired into life again. DePaolo managed however to catch the field on the pace lap and he retook his proper position. DePaolo took the lead from Duray on the first lap and led the first 53 circuits until his stablemate, Phil Shafer, passed him. Shafer had moved up from the very last starting position, i.e. the 22nd. At 50 miles, DePaolo was leading, followed by Cooper, Hartz, and Lewis, who was a surprizing 4th in the front drive Miller. Lewis was getting a consistent 102 mph average out of it.

The running order at 175 miles was DePaolo, Shafer, Hartz, Lewis, Cooper, Duray, Hepburn, Milton, and Bordino. Hill was having shock absorber problems with his mount and his Miller retired after 69 circuits with a broken rear spring. L. Herbert Jones' (1903-1926) Miller blew a rear tire, hit the wall in the north turn and caught fire. Jones sprained his ankle while jumping from the car before it had come to a complete stop but was otherwise okay (lap 70).

DePaolo regained the front position by getting by Shafer on the 63rd round. Peter stayed in front, with the exception of circuits 86 and 87 led by Hartz, until he made his first pit stop (lap 105). At 100 laps (i.e. 250 miles) the race order was DePaolo (averaging 103.45 mph), Lewis, Hepburn, Duray, Shafer, Hartz, and Milton. Norman K. Batten (1893-1928) relieved DePaolo for about 34 minutes (laps 105-131). The brick surface was rougher than previous years and many drivers needed relief to have their blistered hands attended to. DePaolo had his bleeding hands taped up by Dr. Allen in the infield hospital and got some rest. Batten however was nowhere near as fast as Pete and the cream colored No. 12 Duesenberg "Banana Wagon", dropped to 5th place before DePaolo climbed back into the car on lap 132.

After DePaolo's stop on the 104th circuit the race was led by Lewis (laps 105-107), the rookie Hepburn (laps 108-120), and Cooper (laps 121-123). Earl Cooper, who had been driving a heady race, hit the wall on the backstretch while leading (lap 124) and was thereby eliminated. That returned Dave Lewis and his front drive Miller to the lead (laps 124-173). Hepburn was out after 144 laps with a broken gas tank. But the 42 year old Lewis, who had driven up to now without relief, was nearing exhaustion. Meanwhile a fully rested and restored 27 year old DePaolo was passing the intervening cars until he was less than 16 seconds behind the tiring Lewis and gaining.

Lewis, on lap 174, slowed and signaled his pit that he was coming in and DePaolo instantly passed him. Lewis then overran his pit area, due partly to his exhaustion and partly because of the Miller's worn out brakes, and had to go around the 2 1/2 mile oval again, thereby losing much additional time. When Lewis returned Bennett Hill, the only other pilot with some front drive experience, jumped into the machine and took off in pursuit of DePaolo, who was now more than a full lap ahead.

Hill, though a lap down, started creeping up on DePaolo and on the 188th circuit, the two cars were neck and neck. And then, to the great cheers of the crowd, Hill passed the race leader and unlapped the Miller. DePaolo was now slowing down, as it was too late in the race, to gamble with an almost one lap advantage. As it turned out the DePaolo/Batten Duesenberg led laps 174-200. At the end DePaolo led Hill by a mile and a quarter, the winning margin was 1 minute and 6.32 seconds, and the average speed 101.13 mph.

All the speed records at the Indianapolis track were broken at all mile posts during the 1925 contest and the first four cars all bettered the previous 500 mile speed record of 98.23 mph, set by Corum and Boyer, in a supercharged Duesenberg the previous year. In fact, the 1925 pace, may well have proved even faster if it had not been run on such a hot and exhausing day. There was a great deal of relief work done and of the top ten finishers only Hartz, Milton, and William "Doc" Shattuc (1894-1962), ran the entire 500 mile distance without any help.

The final results were 1. DePaolo/Batten (Duesenberg); 2. Lewis/Hill (Miller); 3. Shafer/Morton (Duesenberg); 4. Hartz (Miller); and 5. Milton (Miller). The only foreign built car in the field, the Fiat, finished in 10th, piloted by both Pietro Bordino (laps 1-73 and 180-200) and Antoine Mourre (laps 74-179).

The fact that the new Miller front drive car had outrun a score of conventional rear drives and even might have won, if Lewis had not elected to stay in the car as long as he did without relief, was the great sensation of the event. But there was no gainsaying either, the fact that the 1925 "500" was a triumph for Duesenberg. With but four entries total in a field of 22, they had finished 1st (DePaolo/Batten), 3rd (Shafer/Morton), and 8th (Kreis/Batten). The fourth Duesenberg car, started by Wade Morton, had been wrecked on the backstretch (lap 157) by relief driver Jimmy Gleason (1898-1931). Relief work on the four Duesenbergs consisted of 1. Batten for DePaolo, laps 105-131 or variant 106-127; 2. Morton for Shafer, laps 160-200; 3. Batten for Kreis, laps 136-200; and 4. Gleason for Morton, laps 110-156.

The supercharging principal was again conclusively vindicated. Sixteen of the 22 starters had been so equipped and the top 15 finishers were all supercharged! The race attendance was a new high, placed at c. 145,000; DePaolo's payoff was $37,800, and the total purse amounted to $88,751.

#114 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 19:29

1925 AAA SEASON - THREE VIGNETTES (cont.-3) 2. AMERICANS AT THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPTEMBER 6, 1925.

There had been talk since late March of the Duesenberg team sending one or two cars, with DePaolo as one of the drivers, to Europe to compete in some of the major races there. By June 7th it had been decided that DePaolo with a Duesenberg would run in the Belgian Grand Prix to be held on June 28, 1925. It would mean however that DePaolo would miss the inaugural Laurel 250, to be staged on July 11.

That caused a problem because the AAA had a stringent rule that the top five leaders in the AAA Championship point standings must appear at every forthcoming Championship event. When in 1923 Jimmy Murphy had decided to compete in the Italian Grand Prix a Monza (September 9), upon the invitation of Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), thereby missing two AAA Championship contests (i.e. Altoona 200, September 4 and Fresno 150, September 29), the AAA Contest Board deprived Murphy of all his 1923 Championship points on August 23, 1923. Only a formal protest by his fellow drivers and the various speedway managers got Murphy's penalty recinded. Now DePaolo in 1925 faced a similar situation. By June 15 however, DePaolo had decided not to sacrifice his chance to win the 1925 U.S. National Driving Title by running in Belgium.

But organizers of the Italian Grand Prix, to be run on September 6, wanted American participation. The AAA finally agreed to let Peter DePaolo, Peter Kreis, and Tommy Milton go without forfeiture of their Championship point totals. DePaolo, who was just coming off three straight National Championship wins (i.e. Indianapolis 500, May 30; Altoona 250, June 13; and Laurel 250, July 11), did not want to take his Indy winning Duesenberg over to Europe. DePaolo eventually secured a ride on the powerful Alfa Romeo works Grand Prix team as the number three driver behind the Italians, Guiseppe Campari (1892-1933) and Count Gastone Brilli-Peri (1893-1930). The Italian Grand Prix consisted of 80 laps and a total distance of 497.12 miles.

Of the 15 starters in the Italian Grand Prix Giuseppe Campari, the number one driver on the Alfa Romeo team, was the pre-race favorite. An hour before the start the grounds were packed with people and all the roads to Monza carried an unending procession of cars controlled by the carabiniers and Mussolini's black shirted Facists. At 10 o'clock, 2500 pigeons were released, the various bands burst into music, which was drowned under the throaty roar of 130,000 persons and the Crown Prince Humbert II of Savoy (1904-1983) gave the starting signal. Then 15 machines accelerated away.

Campari was the first off the grid while Milton stalled his Duesenberg's engine and got away in last place, with the added disadvantage now of having to overtake all the vehicles running in the 1 1/2 litre classification as well. The running order after the completion of the first lap was Campari, Kreis, DePaolo, Brilli-Peri, Milton, and Materassi. Campari led Kreis only by a few yards.

On the second round Kreis' blue and white Duesenberg closed up on Campari's flaming red Alfa and at the end of the second circuit Kreis crossed the line with a lead of about three or four car lengths while Brilli-Peri and DePaolo, both 50 yards behind, battled for third position. Milton, after his slow and disastrous start, was 5th but just eight seconds behind the leader.

Kreis' lead did not last long. While on his third lap in the Lesmo turn he spun three times and the Duesenberg turned over on its side. Kreis, who was uninjured, jumped up and made a heroic effort to right the car but was unable to do so, and thus he was obliged to abandon the chase. Kreis later said that the accident was caused because his clutch failed to engage properly and therefore he was unable to slacken his speed sufficiently.

#115 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 21:18

1925 AAA SEASON - THREE VIGNETTES (cont.-4) 2. AMERICANS AT THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPTEMBER 6, 1925.

Kreis' retirement put the three red Alfas out in front with Milton in the 4th position. Very early in the event the right rear shock absorber broke on Milton's 2 litre Duesenberg, which made the machine difficult to hold on the road when the fuel tanks were full. After five laps the transmission countershaft broke and this necessitated Milton having to run the rest of the race using the top gear only. The Monza 6.2 mile circuit called for two gear shifts per lap. Nevertheless Milton overtook DePaolo's Alfa Romeo on the 14th lap and moved into 3rd place. At about the 32 lap mark both of the two leading Alfa's, piloted by Campari and Brilli-Peri, stopped for fuel and tires which put Milton in front!

Campari's Alfa had started misfiring soon after his stop and the pre-race favorite was forced to fall back. Milton led until he had to stop for fuel and tires (lap 40). Milton's pit time was 4 minutes and 50 seconds, whereas Brilli-Peri and DePaolo had had stops of less than a minute and a half. When Milton got underway again he had dropped to 3rd, nearly five whole minutes behind the leader, Brilli-Peri.

Two laps later Milton stopped again. This time it was to repair a broken pipe which supplied oil to the right-hand overhead camshaft. Twenty-six minutes were lost in its repair, Milton thereby dropped to 8th, and Tommy's race went down the drain. Realizing that he no longer had any chance to win, Milton took things easy from this point on and although he got ahead of all the 1 1/2 litre Bugattis again, with the one exception of one driven by Meo Constantini, Tommy did not attempt to beat the two Alfas of Brilli-Peri and Campari.

DePaolo had the lock on second place secured until just 8 laps from the finish, a piece of the intake manifold broke off which included one of the carburetors. Repairs took 28 minutes and even the luckless Milton managed to get by DePaolo.

At first Constantini led the 1 1/2 litre class cars but two or three stops for plugs put him back and allowed Jules Goux to take the front running position. Goux, the 1913 Indianapolis winner, held the lead for 450 miles but was almost forced out on the last lap with broken valve trouble. The final results were 1. Brilli-Peri, Alfa Romeo P2; 2. Campari/Minozzi, Alfa Romeo P2; 3. Constantini, Bugatti T39; 4. Milton, Duesenberg; 5. Goux, Bugatti T35; and 6. DePaolo, Alfa Romeo P2.

The race proved, if anything, that the two Duesenbergs from their constant and exclusive use in U. S. oval track racing, had developed somewhat atrophied clutches and gear boxes, no longer suitable for road racing. Anyway the trip had been worthwhile for the Duesenberg team as both of their entries had led the race and the two Duesenbergs had probably put a good scare or two into the Alfa Romeo team's manager.

#116 Searching Cliff

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 03:39

Anyone know the details of the crash that killed Fred Comer? I'm especially interested in why Cliff and Fred switched cars for that race.

And, yes, I am behind on the posting of the pictures. I apologize. Sometimes that whole earning a living thing really wrecks havoc with the more enjoyable aspects of one's life. :

#117 john glenn printz

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 15:27

1925 AAA SEASON - THREE VIGNETTES (cont.-5) 3. THE CULVER CITY 250, NOVEMBER 29 (SUNDAY).

The drivers, the AAA officials and the Los Angeles press were all anticipating higher speeds at the 1 1/4 mile Culver City bowl. The cars had been getting faster all season and Milton predicted lap speeds as high as 142 mph!

The race was at first scheduled for Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26) but was later moved up to Sunday (Nov. 29) because the entrants wanted more time to tune their cars and the original Thanksgiving date also conflicted with the big Occidental College-University of Hawaii football game to be played in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

On Nov. 17 the minimum qualifying speed allowed for the race was put at 130 mph. This was the steepest minimum ever put before the contestants in the history of AAA automobile racing. After this announcement, Norman Batten, Reggy Johnson, and Vic Spooner, all withdrew from the race and their entrance fees were returned.

The daily practice sessions began on Nov. 18. Earl Cooper turned a lap at 138 mph on the first day of practice and Leon Duray matched that speed on Nov. 23. Two days later Bennett Hill got up to 140.6 mph. The minimum qualifying speed was placed at 130 mph, as has been said, with the fastest 20 cars to start. Machines that posted a lap at 130 mph or better during the practice sessions were considered qualified.

DePaolo, Milton, and Cooper were the pre-race picks to win and a new AAA speed record for 250 miles was thought to be practically guaranteed. Earl Cooper had won the pole position by posting 141.5 mph lap.

On the third time around, starter Fred Wagner, gave the 15 car pack the flag and the race was on. Cooper shot into the lead off the pole and averaged 133 mph for 5 miles and 135 mph for 10.

Earl Cooper continued to run up front, opening a lead that varied from one to two laps. Hill was out after 55 laps with a bent intake valve. Leon Duray gave Frank Elliott a hard struggle for second place but on the 163rd circuit Leon began having engine problems and Ellott rapidly drew away from Duray now. Duray stuggled on and finally quit the contest after 187 laps. DePaolo at first hung back in 4th or 5th place and was just beginning to move up when he had to stop (lap 87) and remove a large wooden splinter from the radiator. Peter retired after 97 laps with a blown water gasket.

Jerry Wonderlich (1890-1937) on his 23rd round blew a tire in front of Grandstand B and his No. 10 Miller shot to the outer rim, turned and skidded down to the lower edge of the oval. Hepburn was running directly behind Jerry and in avoiding colliding with Wonderlich, Hepburn hit Ray Cairen's Miller. Cariens' mount spun around twice, piled into the lower rail and overturned. Ray was thrown 50 feet and was picked up unconscious. Wonderlich crashed into the lower rail about 100 yards behind Cairens but was only slightly injured while Hepburn continued on in the race. Cariens was removed to the Angelus Hospital where he rested with a basal skull fracture.

On the 185th lap on the backstretch, the leader Cooper slowed down and the crowd let out a groan. Earl pulled into the pits and just as he appeared to bring his Miller to a complete halt he fooled everyone by accelerating out again, amidst the plaudits of the interested spectators. But on the next circuit Cooper was forced back into the pits and he stopped for 10.2 second to take on fuel. Earl was under the impression that he had run out of gasoline but it was actually the fuel pressure pump that had failed. Cooper now tried the hand pump but it wouldn't work either and he had to be content to sputter home as best he could. Cooper ended up 5th. Cooper's trouble had come with but 7 minutes left in the contest.

Cooper's ill luck and his only pit stop, gave the lead to Frank Elliott who continued for the win, with a record time of 1:57:18.20 (127.87 mph) for the distance. The finishing order behind Elliott was 2. Hartz (Miller); 3. Comer (Miller); 4. McDonough (Miller); and 5. Cooper (Miller).

Raymond "Ray" L. Cairens (1896-1925), died close to midnight Dec. 1, 1925 from the injuries he received Nov. 29 in the Culver City 250, without having ever regained consciousness. Ray was born in Iowa and had made Los Angeles his home for the past seven years. Cairens was formerly a mechanic for Bennett Hill and had worked also for Harry Miller.

#118 fines

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 15:38

Originally posted by Searching Cliff
Anyone know the details of the crash that killed Fred Comer? I'm especially interested in why Cliff and Fred switched cars for that race.

And, yes, I am behind on the posting of the pictures. I apologize. Sometimes that whole earning a living thing really wrecks havoc with the more enjoyable aspects of one's life. :

Yep! Doesn't it always? :rolleyes: ;)

About the car switch, here's what Mark Dees has to say about it - I haven't heard another explanation so far:

It was arranged that team manger/No. 1 driver Woodbury should have whichever car appeared fastest on a given occasion and then he and Comer would evenly divide their winnings. (...) In October, at Salem, (...) Fred Comer's front-drive appeared to be the faster of the two and according to their plan, Woodbury and Comer switched cars for the first time. On the 25th lap, while Woodbury fought for the lead with Ralph Hepburn, Comer blew a tire and the car went into a ghastly multiple end-over-end flip. Comer was thrown out, struck by the leaping car, and killed. The flames and the smoke forced the calling of the race; Woodbury was declared the winner.

There were minor differences in the cars, especially in the intercooler design.

#119 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 13:30

1925 AAA SEASON. (cont.-6) THREE VIGNETTES. EPILOGUE.

The 1925 AAA season, in legend and myth, comes down to us as a great and glorious year in the annals of AAA racing, and a close and critical examination of those nine months, March to November, does not diminish that basic impression. Peter DePaolo (1898-1980) and Duesenberg dominated the year 1925 by winning the U.S. National Title and five Championship races, including the Indianapolis 500, with a new record speed there of 101.13 mph. DePaolo, a nephew of the 1915 Indy winner Ralph DePalma, nicknamed his cream painted 122 cubic inch supercharged straight 8 Duesenberg the "The Banana Wagon". With it he also won a 300 miler held at 1 1/4 mile Miami-Fulford board speedway on February 22, 1926 with a 129.29 mph average; i.e. before the new 91 1/2 cubic inch limit formula went into effect at Indianapolis in May 1926. DePaolo also became the 1927 AAA Driving Champion but used a front drive Miller 91 for that year. DePaolo had ten AAA Championship wins total, in his racing career as a driver (i.e. 1922-1935), all won during his glory years of 1925 to 1927. DePaolo had joined the "factory" or official Duesenberg team in mid-1924.

DePaolo's five 1925 Championship wins were 1. Fresno 150 (April 30); 2. Indianapolis 500 (May 30); 3. Altoona 250 (June 13); 4. Laurel 250 (July 11); and 5. Salem 250 (Oct. 31). Tommy Milton also provided Duesenberg with another 1925 AAA Championship win at the Charlotte 250 held on Nov. 11. The final 1925 AAA point standings (top five) were: 1. DePaolo, 3260; 2. Milton, 1735; 3. Hartz, 1640; 4. McDonogh, 1510; and 5. Cooper, 935.

Tommy Milton (1893-1962) had two Championship wins in 1925, i.e. 1. Culver City 250 (March 1); and 2. Charlotte 250 (Nov. 11), his very last victories. His Culver City win was in a Miller and the Charlotte victory in a Duesenberg. After driving a Duesenberg at Monza on September 6, 1925, Milton used a "Duesy" in three forthcoming AAA Championship races in 1925 and one at Miami-Fulford in February 1926. Milton had not piloted a complete Duesenberg car in any AAA Championship contests since he had quit the two Duesenberg brothers back in late September 1920. 1925 was Tommy's last full season in the AAA Championship ranks and he announced his retirement from all competitive driving on March 6, 1926 while in Miami, FL.

Bob McDonogh posted his only two AAA Championship victories in 1925, during a driving career lasting from 1924 to 1932. Bob won at the Altoona 250 (Sept. 7) and at the Laurel 250 (Oct. 26). McDonogh was primarily a board track pilot and never raced on dirt, so far as I can tell. In five Indianapolis starts his best finish, with a Miller/Cooper, was 6th in 1927. 1924 was Bob McDonogh's rookie year and he ran originally as Milton's protege and student. Bob was still driving for Milton in 1925.

DePaolo's uncle, Ralph DePalma (1883-1956), competed in three 1925 AAA Championship contests, i.e. 1. Culver City 250 (March 1); 2. Indianapois 500 (May 30); and 3. Laurel 250 (July 11). At Laurel after his own Miller had retired on lap 43, DePalma in a relief role for Ralph Hepburn, lost control, clipped the outer guard rail in Hepburn's Miller on its 183rd circuit, and the car overturned. The Miller righted itself and skidded to the inner rail, little damaged. Indeed it seems to have gotten back in the race! Ralph himself was shaken up a bit but emerged unhurt except for a slight limp, and clowned with a wave of his hand, that he could (quote), "now qualify as a circus driver."

Ralph DePalma after the 1925 season never drove in the Indianapolis 500 again, or after the July 11 Laurel incident, in another board track contest. DePalma continued during the period 1926-1934 to compete in dirt track events however and finally retired from all competition in late 1934. Ralph's long and largely successful racing career (1908-1934) had certainly begun a decided and gradual downward slide, after the Jesse Vincent-Ralph DePalma three car Packard team (i.e. Boyer, DePalma, & Resta), had failed at Indianapolis in May 1923. During 1925 Ralph was still supreme on dirt however, winning four major AAA non-Championship 100 mile dirt races in a Miller, i.e. 1. Dallas (April 11); 2. Salem (July 4); 3. Denver (July 18); and 4. Syracuse (Sept. 19).

1925 would prove to be the last year of any Duesenberg dominance. After that, i.e. 1926-1929, it was practically all Miller cars that won the AAA Championship ranked contests (i.e. 44 out of 47 contests!!!), and it became more and more of a problem, as the late 1920's continued on. The public wanted more variety among the competing vehicles. This was one of the factors that led to Eddie Rickenbacker's new "junk" formula program being promulgated in January 1929, and actually begun, in first half of 1930. (Consult the thread "INDIANAPOLIS 'JUNK FORMULA' ").

The new 91 1/2 cubic inch limit, to be introduced in mid-1926 at Indianapolis, would hopefully introduce a fresh and new group of cars and possibly even a few more competitive makes to the AAA Championship divison; besides just the seemingly overbearing two marques of Duesenberg and Miller. More competitors were seriously needed, as the Duesenbergs and Millers had had all the AAA Championship contests very much to themselves, during the period 1922 to 1925. Were there going be any new and serious challengers introduced in and for 1926? In any case, everyone was waiting at the end of 1925, to see just what was going to happen in May 1926.

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#120 fines

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 18:11

Originally posted by Arthur E Anderson


fines,

Wasn't the so-called Double-Barreled Duesenberg (styled by Gordon Buehrig, a 1933 entry? I think it was. You are correct, it was banned, because of its' modified Model A Duesenberg engine, which was the same as the one which broke a crankshaft on the front stretch at Indianapolis, spinning into the pits, gathering up a couple of racers in the pits, causing a huge fire with fatalities (and a number of serious injuries).

Art

Sorry, I seem to have missed this one!

The Buehrig/Duesenberg was, as far as I can tell, built in 1931, and made the starting field only once, namely in '33. By then it had already shed some of its distinctive bodywork, and had its original powerplant replaced by a Model A stock-block engine.

It is a shame so little is known about this (unsuccessful, be it admitted) racing car, as it was of a very stylish shape, and devised by a rather famous designer. The latter fact is somewhat difficult to comprehend when looking at the people involved with the car throughout its competition life: without exception, members of the "second row", the ones who lived in the shadows of the establishment.

Also mysterious, its original engine: a DOHC 3-litre with 4 valves for every of its 8 cylinders, but unlike the late 1922 prototype driven by Ralph de Palma - in fact, it appears to have been a completely new engine in '31, and as such perhaps the last ever designed by Fred Duesenberg!

So, what we have here is a brandnew car with a brandnew engine, designed by the heads of the styling and engineering staff of the (arguably) most advanced and modern car manufacturer in the world, and driven in competition by... Norske Larson! Google that name and you don't even get twenty hits, most of which lead to TNF member's homepages!!! :drunk:

#121 Arthur E Anderson

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 17:17

Originally posted by fines

Sorry, I seem to have missed this one!

The Buehrig/Duesenberg was, as far as I can tell, built in 1931, and made the starting field only once, namely in '33. By then it had already shed some of its distinctive bodywork, and had its original powerplant replaced by a Model A stock-block engine.

It is a shame so little is known about this (unsuccessful, be it admitted) racing car, as it was of a very stylish shape, and devised by a rather famous designer. The latter fact is somewhat difficult to comprehend when looking at the people involved with the car throughout its competition life: without exception, members of the "second row", the ones who lived in the shadows of the establishment.

Also mysterious, its original engine: a DOHC 3-litre with 4 valves for every of its 8 cylinders, but unlike the late 1922 prototype driven by Ralph de Palma - in fact, it appears to have been a completely new engine in '31, and as such perhaps the last ever designed by Fred Duesenberg!

So, what we have here is a brandnew car with a brandnew engine, designed by the heads of the styling and engineering staff of the (arguably) most advanced and modern car manufacturer in the world, and driven in competition by... Norske Larson! Google that name and you don't even get twenty hits, most of which lead to TNF member's homepages!!! :drunk:


fines,

Fred Duesenberg really didn't do all that much with race cars after his hiring by EL Cord to design and produce what became the Duesenberg Model J. His stuff after that was pretty much stock-block, done more as a hobby I think. August Duesenberg, on the other hand, was involved in race car design and building, until he was hired by Duesenberg Inc., to take over engineering upon the death of Fred, in 1932. It was Augie, for example, who was the mechanical and engineering brains behind that ultimate Model J engine, the one that powered Ab Jenkins' Duesenberg Special (Mormon Meteor I) at Bonneville, and the similar engines that powered the two Duesenberg SSJ's, owned by Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Art

#122 B Squared

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 22:33

"that ultimate Model J engine, the one that powered Ab Jenkins' Duesenberg Special (Mormon Meteor I) at Bonneville"

Mr.Anderson, I've enjoyed your contribution to this topic. Photos of the Mormon Meteor below are of the car at Auburn, IN in 2007, at the Auburn - Cord - Duesenberg Club annual meet, shortly after winning Pebble Beach, now owned by Terry Yeagey (sp). It's been parked in my parents driveway before when owned (for many years) by Dad's friend Knox Kershaw. Herb Newport was also involved in the body design of the car. It is, of course, an "SJ". Your assessment of the Duesenberg Brothers is correct, to my knowledge. My Dad acquired his first Model "J" in 1957 & has worked on & restored many over the years. I met Mr. Souders one year at this same show, 1967, I believe. Gordon Buehrig is also a designer of some note, with the Cord 810 - 812 "Coffin Nose" groundbreaking cars. He designed the bodywork for numerous Duesenberg's also. He also designed & patented the "T-Top" that was on his Tosca design. Thanks again.

Posted Image
photos:B2 Design

Yes, the Orange tires are reportedly correct. According to research by the restoration people, the rubber for the record runs was a special compound, which happened to cure in this color. Different, but it looked great!

Posted Image

I know I have a better picture of the engine. I'll try to locate one.

Posted Image

" the similar engines that powered the two Duesenberg SSJ's, owned by Clark Gable and Gary Cooper."

Another friend of Dad's has owned the Clark Gable "SSJ" for decades. I've been fortunate enough to have had some pretty exciting rides in this car over the years. In his youth, Al wasn't afraid to run it hard. One year in the late 1960's, he got three speeding tickets driving it to Auburn from his home in eastern Ohio!

Brian

#123 fines

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 10:22

Originally posted by Arthur E Anderson


fines,

Fred Duesenberg really didn't do all that much with race cars after his hiring by EL Cord to design and produce what became the Duesenberg Model J. His stuff after that was pretty much stock-block, done more as a hobby I think. August Duesenberg, on the other hand, was involved in race car design and building, until he was hired by Duesenberg Inc., to take over engineering upon the death of Fred, in 1932. It was Augie, for example, who was the mechanical and engineering brains behind that ultimate Model J engine, the one that powered Ab Jenkins' Duesenberg Special (Mormon Meteor I) at Bonneville, and the similar engines that powered the two Duesenberg SSJ's, owned by Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Art

Yes, I know much of that, but thanks still. Perhaps it was Augie's first attempt at a ground-up engine, and as such a failure.

Weren't we once promised the 'ultimate Duesenberg racing history' by Joe Freeman? I have to say, for a major manufacturer of racing cars, there is VERY LITTLE out there to read!!!! ):

#124 B Squared

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 11:30

"Duesenberg - Mightiest American Motor Car" by J.L. Elbert, first printing 1951
"Duesenberg - The Pursuit of Perfection" by Fred Roe, first printing 1982

Michael - These are the two books most recognized by Duesenberg passenger car experts. Unfortunately, for the racing enthusiast, the legend that has become associated with the Duesenberg marque is based on the road cars, Model "J" & "SJ", so the majority of each book is based on the passenger cars. You still may find each useful. I'm probably wasting my time with this, as they are probably already in your archives. Thought it was worth a try.

Brian

#125 fines

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 11:54

Thanks Brian, but no, they aren't, as I'm bugger all interested in road cars - that was my point: every darn Duesenberg book is about Model J and the like, but nothing on the racing cars, except for the odd sidelight that is mostly woefully light and/or wrong in content! :mad:

#126 Arthur E Anderson

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 01:09

Originally posted by B Squared
"that ultimate Model J engine, the one that powered Ab Jenkins' Duesenberg Special (Mormon Meteor I) at Bonneville"

Mr.Anderson, I've enjoyed your contribution to this topic. Photos of the Mormon Meteor below are of the car at Auburn, IN in 2007, at the Auburn - Cord - Duesenberg Club annual meet, shortly after winning Pebble Beach, now owned by Terry Yeagey (sp). It's been parked in my parents driveway before when owned (for many years) by Dad's friend Knox Kershaw. Herb Newport was also involved in the body design of the car. It is, of course, an "SJ". Your assessment of the Duesenberg Brothers is correct, to my knowledge. My Dad acquired his first Model "J" in 1957 & has worked on & restored many over the years. I met Mr. Souders one year at this same show, 1967, I believe. Gordon Buehrig is also a designer of some note, with the Cord 810 - 812 "Coffin Nose" groundbreaking cars. He designed the bodywork for numerous Duesenberg's also. He also designed & patented the "T-Top" that was on his Tosca design. Thanks again.

Posted Image
photos:B2 Design

Yes, the Orange tires are reportedly correct. According to research by the restoration people, the rubber for the record runs was a special compound, which happened to cure in this color. Different, but it looked great!

Posted Image

I know I have a better picture of the engine. I'll try to locate one.

Posted Image

" the similar engines that powered the two Duesenberg SSJ's, owned by Clark Gable and Gary Cooper."

Another friend of Dad's has owned the Clark Gable "SSJ" for decades. I've been fortunate enough to have had some pretty exciting rides in this car over the years. In his youth, Al wasn't afraid to run it hard. One year in the late 1960's, he got three speeding tickets driving it to Auburn from his home in eastern Ohio!

Brian


Ahh yes, Al Ferrara! Ferrara was so kind to spend almost an hour giving me, and a friend of mine, a guided tour of his Judkins Sport Coupe, at the Duesenberg Experience at Gilmore Museum in 1998--explaining to us both, who are dedicated model car builders, exactly what was was correct, and what wasn't on his car, as well as just about every Duesenberg J in ACD at the time. Later, (in 2003?), I had the pleasure of seeing both SSJ's on display, side by side in the ACD Museum--now that was a moment, to be sure! Oh, and to hear the Meteor run at full throttle, with that huge pipeline of an exhaust? Enough to sterilize anyone!

Art

#127 john glenn printz

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 19:56

THE 1919/1920 "WHITE SPECIAL" OR BACK TO THE GOLDEN AGE (1915-1929) PROPER.

With regard to posts numbers 65, 83, 85, and 103 above, I think I can now definitely assert that Hollywood Bill White did not own the White Special entered at Beverly Hills for the February 22 "250". Ownership is ascribed to one John White who entered two machines for the event. One was supposed to have been built by himself and the other, a Duesenberg/Delage, was piloted by Bennett Hill. White himself is stated to have been a foreign driver who going to drive in the 250, but he never attempted to qualify. All this information can be obtained from the LOS ANGELES TIMES issues February 14, 21, 22, 24, and 25, 1920; as well as Hill's machine being a Delage chassis with a Duesenberg motor (Feb. 22, part 1, page 8).

#128 fines

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 22:27

News on the de Paolo Duesenberg front, from the new Langhorne book:

According to Freddie Winnai's sister, Bertha Winnai Tyson, the de Paolo car was purchased by a "Captain Fred Smith, who worked at the Eastern Penitentiary", immediately following the 1926 Indy 500! And, to make matters even more interesting, Freddie did indeed race a second Duesenberg in 1926 (the car in this picture?), as well as at least one other car during the same season, perhaps when de Paolo commandeered his old car???

Also, there's a facsimile of an advertisement by the "Pennsylvania Duesenberg Co.", explicitly stating that "the car driven by Winnai is the same car in which Pete DePaola (sic!) won the world's (sic!) 1925 championship", detailing all of de Paolo's wins and Winnai's track records! Whatever, the most interesting clues are the pictures in the new book, at least four of which show a car that looks much, much more like the de Paolo car than the White/Souders machine!!! None of the pictures are of good enough quality to make a decisive call, but the evidence stacks up!

Tentatively, I make out the following history:

1926 #8 (same as the other Duesenberg!), driver Freddie Winnai
1927 #9, Winnai
1928 #1, Winnai
1929 #11, Al Stewart
1930 #23, Stewart

Last entry that I have, explicitly as "Captain Smith's Duesenberg", is the May 3, 1930 Langhorne 100-mile National Championship race, driver Al Stewart, accident (lost RR wheel) on lap 31!

#129 fines

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 17:57

I fear we may have lost Barb (Searching Cliff) :|, so here's a few random bits about Cliff Woodbury I was saving up for her: In the late thirties, Cliff was often engaged as starter at AAA races in the Chicago area, mostly at Roby Speedway or Cook County Fairgrounds. At least once, he was heading a veritable oldtimer's clique as officials, including Pete de Paolo and Ralph de Palma.

Another nice episode from his time as a "pensioner", in 1934 he took part in a race for historic (racing) cars at the Chicago World's Fair - fully sanctioned by the AAA! Driving a 1907 Staver, he was up against Barney Oldfield (in a 1904 Maxwell), amongst others.

As for Mike Boyle, rummaging around in Chicago newspapers I was surprised to find any number of mentions of his name, or 'Umbrella Mike', from even before the Great War! He was certainly a VERY public figure long before he got involved with racing. And infamous, too: he was indicted, convicted and "served time" at least twice, but on each occasion the sentence was commuted under dubious circumstances - once by the very same governor whose acquittal from a charge of a $2,000,000 fraud was being investigated by a grand jury to whose questions Boyle refused to answer, hence his conviction for "contempt of court" - You scratch my back and I scratch yours!

Mike Boyle would certainly make for an interesting book subject, and deserve a better author than Brock Yates! :evil:

#130 fines

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 23:49

Originally posted by john glenn printz
After George won at Indianapolis, all the AAA tracks wanted him to race at their events, as an added attraction. He ran in a rather makeshift 75 miler at Roby on June 10, arranged by Jack Leech, then the president of the Roby dirt oval. Souders won, with Shorty Cantlon 2nd, John A. "Jack" Petticord 3rd, "Whiz" Sloan 4th, and Louis "Lou" F. Schneider 5th. Souders' winning time was 60 minutes and 41 seconds (c. 75 mph).

Originally posted by fines
As for his "post-Indy" record, I have him additionally in a Detroit 100-miler on June 5, 1927, retiring with engine failure on lap 42, and I have the Roby race on June 12, a Sunday, which would also make more sense because on June 10 he must've still been at Altoona, practising for the board track race there and, incidentally, suffering another engine failure. But so far, I hadn't had any results for the Roby race, so my thanks to you for the top five! :up: That race had been advertised as a 50-miler, but the time you posted certainly points to it being lengthened to 75 miles.

A correction for the record:

The Roby 75-miler actually took place on July 10, with the results as posted by Mr. Printz. The 50-miler on June 12 was won by Dutch Baumann on a Fronty-Ford, 2nd Bruce Miller (Miller), 3rd Louie Schneider, 4th Harry Nichols, 5th Fred Frame. Time 38'46.4"

:)

#131 john glenn printz

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 20:27

Dear Mr. Ferner;

With regard to the above posts nos. 61, 65, and 77 on this thread, my source about Souders' Duesenberg at Indianapolis in 1927, having been originally owned and sold by Phil Shafer, is now located.


My citation or reference for Phil Shafer selling Bill White the winning Duesenberg car at Indy for 1927, is the OHIO EVENING INDEPENDENT, February 4, 1930, page 12. The article is entitled HIS AUTOS HAVE WON CLASSIC BUT SHAFER NEVER CASHED IN.

Sincerely

#132 fines

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 13:05

Thank you! :)

#133 Russ Snyder

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 14:15

Originally posted by fines
Mike Boyle would certainly make for an interesting book subject, and deserve a better author than Brock Yates! :evil: [/B]


I enjoy Brock Yates work(s). He is a good American read. That book might have a few errors, but it mostly tells a story of the corruption in American open wheel racing during that era of the 1930's and 40's. recommended by this racing fan!

#134 fines

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 14:53

Originally posted by john glenn printz, April 2 on the "American racing 1894 to 1920" thread
CLIFF DURANT, A BIT AFTER 1920. Cliff Durant's doings after 1920 are not so confused. William Crapo Durant, after having been tossed out of General Motors in late 1920, quickly organized an entirely new automobile company named "Durant Motors" in early 1921. Cliff soon left GM also and joined his father at the newly formed corporation. In early 1922 Cliff got right back into automobile racing big time, both as a driver and prospective sponsor. Cliff had however sat out the entire 1921 AAA season. But in 1922 once again, the younger Durant had a "free ride" with regard to his racing expences, as now Durant Motors' vast advertising fund could furnish easy money for a totally new Durant Motors racing team. W.C. Durant's huge reputation as a "money maker" among the U.S. general public, had made the selling of Durant Motors stock easy, and a large sum of working capital was quickly raised by late 1921.

In early 1922 Cliff reclaimed his 1920 Miller from Tommy Milton, which he had loaned and/or leased to Milton in late August/early September 1920. Milton in late 1920 had replaced its double overhead cam Miller 4, with a single cam Duesenberg straight 8 racing motor. Milton had been disappointed with the performance of his new hybrid Duesenberg/Miller and next installed a new double overhead cam Miller straight 8 engine in it during early 1921, making the car once again an "all Miller" constructed machine. At first its performance was poor in Milton's eyes, so Tommy elected to pilot a Louis Chevrolet 8 cylinder Frontenac at Indianapolis in May 1921. Here, at the 1921 500, he became the unexpected victor even to himself! Going into the event Milton thought that DePalma and his Ballot would be very hard to beat and that the Duesenberg cars had a lot more possibilites than L. Chevrolet's new and old Frontenacs.

Milton always maintained that the new 1921 Miller twin overhead cam straight 8 183 was originally commissioned by himself and that he was largely responsible for, and dictated, its design details. If so, Tommy here certainly utilized his experiences and knowledge obtained from the two Duesenberg brothers during 1919 and 1920, when Fred and August were developing their own 300 cubic inch and 183 cubic inch straight 8's. When the new 1921 Miller straight 8 began demonstrating it's performance mettle, now using Hall-Scott design type cams in mid-1921 and all of 1922, Milton claimed later that "he had made Harry Miller", both famous and wealthy. The Miller straight 8 motors, of various types, dominated American racing during the period 1922 to 1933.

During mid and late 1921 Tommy gradually made his now all Miller car a winner and was looking forward to using it, and winning with it at Indianapolis, in 1922. The speed potentiality of the car was first demonstrated at Tacoma on July 4, 1921 when Milton won the 250 with it, with a 98.3 mph average. But now in early 1922 Cliff wanted his old car back from Tommy, so he could run it himself, in the upcoming 1922 Indianapolis 500. Durant duly reimbursed Milton for all his vast improvements to the car, by giving Tommy a cash settlement of $6000. But Cliff's appropriation of his former 1920 Miller now forced Milton to hurriedly build an entirely new machine of largely his own design at Harry Miller's shop for the 1922 Indianapolis 500, as a replacement for his just lost and returned car. The Milton designed replacement vehicle was another "Leach Special" but the time was now short; it was much too quickly assembled, not properly tested, and fell apart in the 1922 500. The gas tank came lose after only 44 laps completed and Tommy had to quit the race. Later in 1922 Milton won the ill fated Kansas City inaugural event, a 300 miler staged on September 17, using this same Leach Special.

Cliff Durant had the now ex-Milton Miller at Indianapolis in 1922 but carburetor troubles soon intervened during the race and made the entry of just "also ran" status at the end, as it placed only 12th, and averaged only 77.75 mph for the full 500 miles. Dave Lewis did relief work for Durant during the contest. Milton always maintained that he could of won at Indianapolis in 1922 with it, if only he had been able to retain it for his own use. In any case at Kansas City on September 17, Roscoe Sarles drove this same car in substitution for Cliff, who was originally scheduled to drive it. During the race Sarles, in this borrowed Durant car crashed on its 115th lap through the outer rail, dropped 25 feet, and landed upside down, with Roscoe trapped in it. The Durant car caught on fire and poor Sarles was burned to death beyond all recognition, in it. The riding mechanic, C. V. Pickup, was thrown clear but had a fractured skull and body injuries. This was the final end also, for what had started out in early 1920, as Cliff's "baby Chevrolet" Miller.

By mid-1922 Cliff had formed plans for a new Durant Motors racing team and ordered a fleet of six new Miller 183's. The new Durant team first competed at Beverly Hills on December 3, 1922, using as pilots Earl Cooper, Eddie Hearne, Art Klein, Jimmy Murphy, and Durant himself. Jimmy Murphy was named as captain. Murphy had wrecked his highly successful hybrid "Murphy Special" (Miller/Duesenberg) at Kansas City in September 1922, so it was a convenient opportunity for Jimmy, to now join forces with Cliff Durant in late 1922. Murphy stayed with the Durant team during the 1923 AAA season, while at the same time, Eddie Hearne won the 1923 AAA Driving Title for the Durant marque. The Durant works team was a major player in the AAA National Championship division during late-1922, 1923, and 1924, but Durant Motors itself began to fade in 1924 and 1925, and Cliff had to start curtailing the situation and scaling down his racing activities once again to just one or two cars.

The Durant Motors' team never won at Indianapolis but in 1923 they placed 2nd (Hartz), 3rd (Murphy), 4th (Hearne), 6th (Elliott), and 7th (Durant himself). In 1924 they finished 4th (Hearne) and 7th (Comer). Cliff never owned a winning car at Indianapolis, but his entries had a second place final ranking in 1919 with Hearne (Stutz); 1923 with Hartz (Miller), and 1925 with Dave Lewis/Bennett Hill (Miller F.D.).

Cliff Durant was certainly the major factor, money wise, for Harry A. Miller during the years 1919, 1920, 1922, 1923, and 1924, but not in 1921. Cliff here used General Motors' money in 1919-1920 and Durant Motors' funds in 1922-1924. In both cases, it was all charged to the plush advertising money made available to him during those years at General Motors and Durant Motors by his father. For 1921 Harry Miller made an alliance with the Leach-Biltwell passenger car firm, located in Los Angeles, CA. Miller's linkup here did not work well for the Leach concerns or interests, as the six cylinder passenger car motor designed for the Leach car which emerged out of Miller's shop, was no good and helped put the Leach-Biltwell Motor Company out of business. During 1921 and 1922 most of the more potent Miller racing cars ran as "Leach Specials". Sometime in 1922 Miller was somehow able to sever all his legal connections and obligations with the Leach-Biltwell firm.



#135 fines

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 15:29

I want to discuss the cars of Harry Miller in some detail, since they were the very backbone of US racing throughout the twenties, and beyond. Relying heavily on prior research done and published by Mark Dees, these articles will nonetheless contain a lot of extra info gleaned from further research done by various parties during the last few years, as the "Dees bible" (The Miller Dynasty), brilliant though it is, does show its age (1981/2nd ed. 1994!) in places. John Glenn Printz has already enlarged on this topic in the American Racing 1894-1920 thread, and I will pick up the story with the Miller 8-cylinder cars, which truly represent a cornerstone in the history of (not only!) the American racing car! It is hoped that I will be joined by John and other experts here, since the (hi)story of these cars is far from being solved! :)

The Miller 183

This was Harry Miller's first eight-cylinder job, which was built in three distinctly different versions. The common link, its 3-litre engine, was also built in two versions, and a number of those engines ended up in non-Miller chassis, which may be discussed seperately, since it ought to be useful to follow up the history of some of these engines, as there were probably no more than twelve, and they play quite a role in the Miller 122 story, too.

To start with, I will try to tell the history of these cars up to Thanksgiving in 1923, a date which plays a pivotal role in the story of the Miller 122. I will then try to pick up the story of the 183 when we have laid out the scene for the 122, which I will approach in a slightly different fashion, I guess... Well, let's just wait and see how things will develop!;)

1) the 1921 Leach/Vail #3 car

The owner of this car is mostly given as Ira Vail, but I think the story here is slightly more complex. Vail drove this car only once, at its debut at Indy in 1921, and else continued to run his Philbrin/Duesenberg on dirt tracks all over the USofA. I would guess that he was just looking for a competitive Indy entry, and figured as a sort of sponsor for the new Miller. He had driven a 'works' Duesenberg once or twice, but must have realised that his chances of success were slim against team mates like Jimmy Murphy or Roscoe Sarles, who were well settled within the team, and (almost) as experienced as he himself.

Thus, his best option seemed to lay elsewhere, but why Miller is difficult to explain. Perhaps we shouldn't underestimate Harry Miller's considerable charmes when it comes to dealing with racing people, as every so often one finds him taking advantage of seemingly hopeless situations - he may even have approached Vail, instead of vice versa!

Whatever the case, Vail appears to have been only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle, one other being Frank Elliott, a driver well entangled with Miller's affairs over the last four or five years. Elliott's brother Clarence was on Miller's engineering staff, and Frank had driven Barney Oldfield's Miller-engined Delage S as well as a Miller-engined Special of his own. Early press preview photographs of the car show him posing with Miller and Vail, and it was Elliott who would drive the car in all but a few races, so we can safely assume he had a stake in the car as well.

The rest of the finance was provided by the short-lived Leach-Biltwell Motor Car Co., a rare L.A.-based car manufacturer to which Harry Miller had been contracted for some engineering work (see John's post above). The car was exclusively known as the "Leach Special", or "Leach 999 Special", never a Miller - it was one of those strange sponsorship deals where one car manufacturer claims a car built by another, cases of which abounded in those days!

As already related, following Ira Vail on its debut, the car was driven almost exclusively by Frank Elliott, but also by Art Klein, Roscoe Sarles and Pete de Paolo. It was heavily damaged in a December 1921 accident when its crankshaft broke, but apparently rebuilt around its original components, including the engine! On August 6 in 1922, it took the historic first win for a pur sang Miller in a AAA National Championship event, which initiated a run of thirteen consecutive Miller victories, only ending in Duesenberg's supercharged Indy win twenty-two months later.

The next Miller 183 engine replaced the Duesenberg unit in Tommy Milton's "Durant Special", which originally was also built at the Miller shop, but to a customer's specifications. Beginning with this engine, the exhaust porting and manifolding was changed from a 4-2 to an 8-1 layout, but the detachable cylinder head was, reputedly at least, retained, the same as on the next engine which went into Tommy Milton's 1922 "Leach Special" (another special built at the Miller shop).

After that, Miller introduced his famous integral head design, which was to be carried over as a salient feature of his "engine dynasty" up to the days of the turbocharged Drake-Offenhauser, where it proved especially attractive! At the same time, perhaps coincidentally, he switched the exhaust over from the left side (a Peugeot legacy?) to the right, where most American engines of the time exhausted to. It may well be that this change was at least partly inspired by Miller's latest customer, Jimmy Murphy, who wanted the fourth Miller 183 engine to go with his Grand Prix winning Duesenberg.

This new combination proved an immediate success, winning four races (including the all-important Indy 500) in succession, after which the rout continued with Elliott's win in the 1921 car and the dozen following wins for Miller chassis. The dazzling truth is, that with the introduction of this "second generation" Miller 183 engine no normally aspirated engine other than a Miller won any AAA National Championship race for almost exactly 100 months, i.e. more than eight years!

Even more astonishing: after this one defeat, and including all variations of the "engine dynasty", this streak continued for another three decades and more, only ending under USAC sanction with Jim Clark's win in a Lotus/Ford at Milwaukee in 1963, more than forty years after it began! Pedants will point out that a few Ford-based engines won Sprint Car races in 1946, or that a Lincoln won the 1955 Pikes Peak Hill Climb - all this in events that, for one reason or another, happened to carry points for the National Championship, but the purist in us has to concede the singularity of this achievement, especially when juxtaposed with the three wins of Tommy Milton's Durant/Miller of the older type!

#136 fines

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 15:54

2) the 1922 Miller/Hill #3 car

This car retained the left-hand steering of the 1921 car, but the exhaust was now permanently moved to the right, and so it conformed to the most popular pattern for American racing cars, but strangely it would be the only two-seater Miller to do so until 1930, after which it became a universal feature! Otherwise, the car had a much tidied-up appearance, and originally at least disc wheels, a fad of the time, but these were soon replaced. Occasionally, the car was entered as the "McDonald Special", but I haven't been able to determine who or what, if anything, the name stood for.

It was driven with good success by Bennie Hill, and for Indy in 1923 it was modified with a new crankshaft and block (or, possibly, linered down) to conform with the new rules. Hill qualified the car, and the Argentinian playboy and amateur driver Martin de Alzaga Unzue drove relief for a few laps before the new crankshaft broke. Hill then left to drive a Duesenberg for the rest of the year, while the car apparently remained idle until the Thanksgiving meet. De Alzaga will re-enter the story anon.

Harry Hartz got the sixth Miller 183 engine to go with his Grand Prix Duesenberg chassis in September of 1922, and this marked the halfway point in production figures. The halfway point? Sixteen months after its first race, and a mere seven months before the formula was due to expire? Yes, this is an odd scenario, and it deserves some "ink".

After building one example each of the first and second generation 183s, Miller turned out no less than six cars in its final specification, i.e. both exhaust and steering on the right, and a few detail changes, mostly apparent in the stylish front frame horns, a Miller feature for the next eight years or so. All six went to one customer only, Russell Clifford Durant, son of the industry leader William Crapo Durant. Six cars for an estimated purchase price of at least $10,000 each, eligible for only three more races with an aggregate total purse of $65,000? Does not compute.
:confused:

Various theories have been offered to explain this madcap acquisition, and for years I accepted the one put forward by Mark Dees in The Miller Dynasty as the most authoritative, if not exactly the most convincing: citing a source "close to Durant at the time", Dees explained that the millionaire playboy "felt himself to posess such influence with Carl Fisher, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that Fisher would hold back the implementation of the 122 CID formula". Recently, I found a number of sources contradicting such a scenario, and I reconstruct the genesis of the legendary Durant team differently.

First of all, we should remember that the new 2-litre formula was effective in Grand Prix racing already for 1922, even if some of the major events of that year (like the Tourist Trophy in Britain, and the American races) still ran to the old 3-litre formula. But, I don't think there was ever any question about the Indy 500 following the international rules, even if one year late, and the new rules were known to be for certain by the beginning of 1922, the latest! I have found several articles from January of that year stating exactly that, and to my surpise they also carried information about weight advantages for 2000 cc and even 1500 cc cars running in the 1922 Indianapolis race, obviously to stimulate development! So, any theories about Durant and Miller getting caught out by the formula change are thus invalid.

Another article in an Oakland paper from January of 1923 puts paid to the Dees theory of Durant gambling on a postponement of the formula change. The local son is quoted therein as saying that "these new racing cars will be as fast as the present 183 inch cars, and it is only a matter of time until the limit will be dropped to 91 cubic inches" - not exactly words of defiance! The same article mentions Durant entering two new 122 CID racers, and shortly afterwards articles appear that have him enter four new Miller single-seaters, and all six of his present cars, modified to meet the new limit.

Thus, we may assume that Harry Miller's charme was at work again, with him apparently luring Durant into a grandiose scheme that promised immediate success for both of them, with an apparent "option" for a sort of "reimbursement" at a later stage. In fact, it will soon become clear that the resale of the cars to aspiring young drivers must've been part of the plan from the start! We will eventually see that over the next three or four years, Durant would be buying and selling more than fifteen brand new Miller racing cars, with some of the transactions going back and forth between him, Miller and/or third parties - Cliff Durant for sure was the greatest patron of US Racing for his, and possibly any time!

#137 fines

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 16:20

Before we get to the car-by-car histories of the six "Durant Specials", which I'm afraid will have to remain a bit vague, let's take a look at the chronology of events, starting with the Cotati championship race in August, where of the five then existing cars with 8-cylinder Miller engines, four finished in the first four positions, and the best non-Miller was at least seven laps down at the end of an 80-lap race - total domination, in other words!

Shortly thereafter, the first articles appeared mentioning the formation of a "superteam" of four "Durant Specials", built by Harry Miller, and drivers to be Jimmy Murphy, Roscoe Sarles, Eddie Hearne and Ralph Mulford. From this perspective, the whole scheme doesn't look quite that lunatic: the only Miller not making any money at Cotati had been Durant's own, out in practice with engine maladies - to increase the number of one's entries seemed to simply better the odds for a monetary return! Also, four new cars is not quite as radical as six - we will soon see how Durant got caught in a certain dynamic of events.

The next championship event was the grand opening of the new Kansas City Speedway in September, an event that would go down in racing lore as "the Kansas City Bloodbath"! Another Miller 1-2-3 rout, marred by the fatal accident of Roscoe Sarles and injuries to nearly a dozen other drivers and mechanics, it also claimed several racing cars that were wrecked beyond immediate help.

Besides Sarles, Ralph Mulford also drove in his last ever race, but he wasn't as much as scratched - in fact, he finished the race as the leading non-Miller driver in fourth. But there is something strange in his performance: Mulford was famous for his refusal to drive on Sundays, owing to his religious beliefs, yet the KC race was postponed from the Saturday on account of rain, and run the following day! In over 100 race appearances over a span of more than fifteen years, it is only his second event on a Sunday in my records!

Amongst the disabled cars was also Jimmy Murphy's Duesenberg, which precipitated a mad rush to get the first of the new "Durant Specials" ready in time for the next championship event at Fresno a fortnight later. Durant also appears to have bought one of the Duesenberg works cars for Eddie Hearne to race, whose own Duesenberg had also bitten the dust in KC. In October articles about the "superteam", Earl Cooper and Cliff Durant himself were named as replacements for Sarles and Mulford, with Cooper's former riding mechanic, Reeves Dutton named as "technical director".

After two unsuccessful test runs by Murphy, the team finally appeared in full bloom at the Thanksgiving meet. Possibly as a consequence of an engine becoming available courtesy of the Murphy wreck at KC, the team had now grown to five cars, with another veteran driver (Art Klein) added. At this point perhaps it should be added that, during later parts of the twenties, both Jack Petticord and Gus Duray would be reported as driving the "ex-Murphy Miller" in West coast events, while Art Barthold got credited with driving the "ex-Murphy Duesenberg" on the East coast.

Notwithstanding the fact that Murphy drove more than one example of both makes, it would appear that those remarks indicate a partition of chassis and engine of the Duesenberg/Miller "Murphy Special", the famous 1922 Indy winner, as it is easily obvious from pictures of the car after its KC accident that the engine was much less (if at all!) damaged than the chassis, and drivers of the era were usually fond of their engines and the development work they put into them! Alas, whether it would have been easier for Miller to crank out a new chassis without building a new engine, is a question I cannot answer.

When Dario Resta announced his return to racing in early 1923, Durant was quick to sign him up for his team of stars, and put in another order with Miller. About the same time, he announced commencement of "construction" of two one-man Durant cars for the 2-litre formula, with Miller seperately announcing his plans to supply new cars for Tommy Milton and Bennie Hill to drive.

Pretty soon, both enterprises were mentioned in the same breath, with Miller to produce six new cars, four of which were to go to the Durant team to supplement the six two-man cars, for which Cliff was now seeking young drivers. Frank Elliott and Leon Duray were drafted to replace Resta and Klein, while Harry Hartz was nominated to drive one of the single-seaters. Milton was already testing and racing his new car, while the sixth was now "open" for whoever came up with the money!?

At this point, it will be necessary to take a look "behind the curtains", as quite obviously some of the deals didn't go through the papers, and unfortunately the historian is thus forced to resort to speculation. :( Remember the playboy from the Argentine?;)

#138 Mark Dill

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 17:45

Hi Michael.

This is more a response to your posting in the American Racing 1894 to 1920 than to your last message in this thread, but let me congratulate you for starting "The Golden Age" thread - and no, I have no problem with calling it exactly that. This era that is characterized by the high-banked wood plank tracks is very special and such a unique history.

With respect to your reflections on Miller's cars, I was only last week provided a photo of the Golden Submarine by the great-great nephew of Barney Oldfield's "favorite" wife - Bess Gooby Oldfield. This link to that photo appears below:

http://www.firstsupe...olden-submarine

The other item I thought I'd throw into the mix is an article I found about what I believe is the first wood plank track, Playa Del Rey in Los Angeles. This happened (in 1910) in advance of the era you are focused on, but I think it is relevant because it established the board track in the American racing scene.

http://www.firstsupe...cles/40sec-mile

Keep up the great work and I have subscribed to this thread.

#139 fines

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 18:16

When five Bugattis were entered for the 1923 Indy 500, the American public took that as a token for international interest in the race, but those in the know couldn't be fooled. Today, the impression is that Bugatti was a famous and successful racing marque, but the truth is that the cars were hopeless midfielders that got lucky when virtually everybody else withdrew from racing, and in 1923 it would've been flattery to even call them midfielders - they were more like an ancient equivalent of the Minardi team, around for aeons but always at the back.

In keeping with this tradition, the specially prepared Indy Bugattis were entrusted to a bunch of wealthy amateurs, who probably regarded the American expedition as a sort of adventure. It is interesting to note that the two drivers with the closest links to the factory drove the two slowest cars in qualifying, probably de-tuned for endurance, and only the slowest (barely faster than the modified Model T Ford of Slim Corum) survived the 500 miles, finishing about one hour after the winner, and more than twenty minutes behind the Tin Lizzy...

The two fastest Bugattis were driven by a couple of Argentinians, and were out of the race within minutes of the start. It is often said or written that Martin de Alzaga, one of the two drivers and, apparently, the main money man behind the whole operation, was as much impressed by the performance of the Millers as disappointed with the performance of his own car(s), so that he subsequently placed an order with Miller for two cars to be built to Grand Prix specifications, meaning two seats and two litres - remember, the "old" Miller 183 was a 3-litre two-seater, while the new Miller 122 had the right capacity, but only the one seat for the driver!

A third such "Grand Prix Miller" was to be built for Englishman (of Polish-American descent) Louis Zborowski, and opinions vary as to the question whether it was ordered before or after de Alzaga's. Zborowski's order was reported in the papers, a week before the 500 mile race, but no mention was made at the time of a similar order by de Alzaga, or any other customer for that matter, leading most historians to assume that the Argentinian came second. However, again I reconstruct events differently!

As already mentioned, de Alzaga was a rich playboy, and thus it will be well to forget about the sports pages for a moment, and delve into the gossip of the society papers instead: there, we learn that de Alzaga, who was generally known by his nickname "Macoco", was dating :love: a married :eek: American lady at the time, and thus had ample reason and opportunity to be aware of Harry Miller's fabulous speed creations. What, then, was he doing with the Bugatti at Indy? Well, having been partly educated in Europe, his racing ambitions in all probability lay on that side of the Atlantic, and in light of this his Indy foray may be seen as sort of a "business trip", with the main aim being the acquisition of a racing car - for the Grand Prix!

Some will also have noticed that, for some as of yet unspecified reasons, the Indianapolis entry of Cliff Durant had been whittled down from a proposed ten cars in January to a "mere" eight eventually, when the entry fees had to be paid in April. What had happened in the wee months of the year 1923? "Big Spender" Durant suddenly getting thrifty??? There's more chance of snow in hell, actually! My theory is that "Macoco" had already approached Harry Miller in early spring, and that Harry had arranged for Cliff to sell the cars, furnishing a couple of new engines as well since his own reputation as a manufacturer could well profit from success in the Old World = everyone's happy!
:clap:

It would also serve as an explanation for the third "Grand Prix Miller", and the extra Miller 122 chassis which appeared at Indy in addition to the six new cars already mentioned: Zborowski may have become aware of the Alzaga deal during early days of the Bugatti Indy operation, and fancied a car for himself. Thus, Miller may have rushed through another single seater in exchange for another two-seater from Durant, hence the out-of-sequence Indy starting number of the Earl Cooper car!

By the way, the starting numbers of the Durant team cars do emphatically not hint at any pecking order within the team: newspaper reports before the event claim that the drivers drew the numbers (already assigned to the team by the IMS) out of a hat! In addition to that, the initially assigned numbers (in order of entry, most likely) were later changed by the Speedway management, so that Cliff himself, who had originally drawn (and already painted on his car) #4, would eventually drive with #8! By the way, overpainted and only faintly visible former starting numbers will also be of help in determining the case histories of some of the remaining Miller 183s...;)

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#140 fines

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 18:43

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the nice words, your interest and the links! :up:

It's also good to see that you have posted those articles in PDF rather than ZIP, as I'm still unable to access the Carl Fisher and Fred Wagner biographies! :( In these days of (almost) unlimited disk space and fast internet connections, would it be too much to ask for PDF versions of those, as I seem to be unable to get around these darn :mad: ZIP files!;)

#141 brickyard

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 18:49

Well, I guess I found something to read after dinner... :lol: now, I have an excuse not to go out on this cold night. Thank you all :lol:

Regards
Luis

#142 Mark Dill

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 20:20

Hi Michael.

I'll see what I can do. It's too bad you can't get the zip files open - everything is in pdf within those folders.

Regards,

Mark

#143 fbarrett

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:12

Originally posted by fines
When five Bugattis were entered for the 1923 Indy 500, the American public took that as a token for international interest in the race, but those in the know couldn't be fooled. Today, the impression is that Bugatti was a famous and successful racing marque, but the truth is that the cars were hopeless midfielders that got lucky when virtually everybody else withdrew from racing, and in 1923 it would've been flattery to even call them midfielders - they were more like an ancient equivalent of the Minardi team, around for aeons but always at the back.

In keeping with this tradition, the specially prepared Indy Bugattis were entrusted to a bunch of wealthy amateurs...


Fines:

At least Mercedes brought professional drivers for their three cars, and even if they were mid-fielders, they did manage to beat the Bugattis. What facts and thoughts do you have on the Mercedes entries?

Thanks to all for such a good thread.

Frank

#144 Jim Dillon

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 23:09

Michael, good stuff indeed. I see that you (and John) have really done your homework and I can appreciate the time you have put into it. If I have any expertise, I would probably be wise to limit it to the 300 inch era for fear of sticking my foot in my mouth. I have collected info on the 1920s but it is woefully incomplete. I keep saying I will research it further but life's chores seem to get in the way, I suppose. In my discussions with Bill Castle who owns the Baby Chev I have tried to expand my knowledge of the Miller 183 and 122 stuff and I will chime in as I see that it is appropriate and helpful. Am presently fighting some health issues but when I get through this, I hope to pay another visit to see the progress on the Baby Chev and hopefully I will learn some more. In the meantime your post are most enjoyable, thanks-Jim

#145 fines

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 12:06

Originally posted by fbarrett
At least Mercedes brought professional drivers for their three cars, and even if they were mid-fielders, they did manage to beat the Bugattis. What facts and thoughts do you have on the Mercedes entries?

Frank, Mercedes certainly came in for a lot of flak from the German press for their "failure" at Indy, but in the US their effort earned them a lot of respect, it seems. Reading "race in progress" reports of the time, one gets the impression that Christian Werner was seen as a genuine contender throughout much of the race.

My own impression is that Mercedes should have waited for the new, Porsche-designed M218 to be ready for that sort of enterprise. The 4-cylinder, though already benefitting from supercharging, was basically still a prewar design, and not up to the latest Millers. The M218 has, in my opinion, a somewhat unwarranted reputation as a design failure, when it was quite competitive in its initial outing at Monza in 1924. A bit of development could have made it a winner, perhaps, but then the economy in Germany wasn't sympathetic towards the company's fortunes! :(

#146 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 14:25

Dear Michael; I agree that the post CLIFF DURANT, A BIT AFTER 1920 is a bit misplaced. I take it that you wish that all matters pertaining to the 1921-1929 AAA Championship era be placed here on your GOLDEN AGE thread as a sort of sequel to the AMERICAN RACING 1894 TO 1920 discussion posts.

I also think you are entirely correct that Borgeson's and Dee's work now can be further upgraded, refined, and that the whole 1921 to 1929 period can be put into a more precise and proper form. I am certainly of the opinion that the whole 1921-1929 AAA Championship era can accurately be put back together in more considerable detail than hitherto, although no one has done it yet.

The "McDonald special' was named after its actual owner and this 183 Miller was specially commissioned in mid-1922 for Bennett Hill's use by Mr. McDonald. It had a slightly more streamlined body shape than all the other Millers constructed up to this time and this feature was suppose to give it a meager advantage over all the previous 183 Miller cars built. Hill's new McDonald Special first appeared at Cotati (Santa Rosa) on August 8, 1922, and won the Raisin Day Fresno 150 of September 30, 1922 and the non-Championship invitational Cotati 100 held on October 29, 1922.

I have long been skeptical too, of Griffith Borgeson's idea that Cliff Durant thought he could get the AAA Contest Board and/or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to vitiate and/or cancel the upcoming 2 litre or 122 cubic inch formula, scheduled to go into effect in the U.S. at Indianapolis in May 1923. It seems to me rather, that Durant was just a little "over anxious" to get back into big time AAA racing in early 1922 and overdid things here, with some easy available money now immediately at hand. And perhaps too, it took much more time than expected to get the six new 183 Millers constructed and in actual running order. Certainly Cliff's buying six new 183 Millers in late 1922, when their real usefulness would run out by May 1923, makes little sense. After the staging of the Beverly Hills 250 of November 3, 1922, there remained only two more AAA Championship races run under the 183 cubic inch limit formula, i.e., the Beverly Hills 250 of February 25, and the Fresno 150 of April 26, both held in early 1923.

#147 fines

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 12:52

Originally posted by fines
2) the 1922 Miller/Hill #3 car

This car retained the left-hand steering of the 1921 car, but the exhaust was now permanently moved to the right, and so it conformed to the most popular pattern for American racing cars, but strangely it would be the only two-seater Miller to do so until 1930, after which it became a universal feature!

It pains me to say that I was (apparently) wrong when I made this statement, not so much because I don't like being wrong (and I most certainly detest it! :o), but because it throws a veritable spanner in the works as far as individual Miller 183 car histories are concerned!

Recently, I found these two pictures on the net, purportedly showing the "ex Ira Vail Miller 183" after being purchased by George Taytor, a Dodge dealer from South Salem (NY). I have no info about Taytor, but otherwise also no reason to mistrust this statement, bearing in mind that Vail owned several 3-litre Millers, and this one could very well be the one that was used by him on the dirt tracks during 1924 and '25, and subsequently by Charlie Ganung (or Genung) during the rest of the twenties. It is, however, most certainly not the one he drove at Indy in 1921 (see post #135) and, what's more, it does not seem to fit the description of any of the cars discussed so far:

Posted Image
Posted Image

Copyright sadly unknown, but posted on the H.A.M.B. forum's Vintage Sprint Car thread by the poster "The37Kid" - will remove if requested to do so!

The "funny" thing is, it has the "Mk3" style frame with the straight dumb irons and less accentuated rear axle hoop, just like the six "Durant Specials", and not unlike the later single-seaters, but a two-seater body with left-hand drive! The engine is also clearly visible and a "second generation" 183, but with only four carburettor throats, unlike the Durants. Could it be a former single-seater, widened like the early "junk era" creations? Unlikely, since there was no need for a mechanician's seat for dirt track racing, and the position of the steering slot is also different from the single-seaters.

So, another two-seater built in 1922, between the "McDonald Special" and the six Durants? Or, maybe a "spare frame" that was lying around in the Miller shop a couple years later, fitted with a surplus engine? The rest of the car may actually have been built by the customer (or subcontracted to someone else), as it doesn't have the looks of the exquisit Miller craftsmanship of the day! Be that as it may, we will have to keep this anomaly in mind when discussing the post-1923 fates of the eight (?) original cars and twelve (?) original engines of the Miller 183-type.

#148 fines

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 14:23

So, finally we now come to the individual histories of the six 1922 "Durant Specials"...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...dy/miller/1921/

Edited by fines, 11 December 2009 - 15:41.


#149 Mark Dill

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 17:42

This is a question to Michael Ferner about the trouble you are having with the zip files that contain the PDF copies of the books on www.firstsuperspeedway.com

I'm trying to figure out why you would have trouble opening the zip files. They are just compressed folders. Once you click on them, you should get a dialogue box. Just click on that and the folder opens up. You should then see another folder, just click on that and you will find a large number of PDFs. Each PDF has a couple of pages of the book.

If anyone else is experiencing difficulty, I'd like to know. And Michael, tell me more precisely what your issue is if this procedure fails. We can take this off-line if you like...just contact me through my site.

The books are wonderful, and I have a couple of more I am going to load in the next few weeks.

#150 m.tanney

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 19:42

Originally posted by fines
N.B. There's one mystery Miller appearance in August of 1923, with Paul Clancy winning a race at Roby Speedway in Indiana on a "Miller Special" - possibly one of the cars or engines listed above! Up until and including June of the same year, Clancy had been driving a #6 Duesenberg, presumably one of the ca. 1916 vintage "Roamer Special" 16-valve 300 CID four-cylinders, and this is the only appearance of him with a Miller in my incomplete records - most likely, in my opinion, a 183 engine in the old Duesenberg chassis!


Michael,

Paul Clancy won the IMCA sanctioned feature race at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on August 24, 1923. He drove what was said to be Barney Oldfield's "Golden Egg", also known as "the Golden Submarine". The Golden Sub was certainly part of Alex Sloan's stable at the time. By that point, the egg shaped bodywork was gone and it was running as an open car. The Cadwell Miller was also running on the IMCA circuit at the time. The only picture I have seen of Clancy's #2 car is an awful photocopy of a press file photo. It certainly looks like the Submarine/Cadwell type Miller. There is a 1922 photo of Ben Gotoff in what I assume is the same car (carrying the #2) on page 159 of Don Radbruch's Dirt Track Auto Racing, 1919-1941.

Speaking of Millers in the IMCA, have you seen the Sig Haugdahl photos on this webpage? There is a shot of an Oldfield/Cadwell type - not with the original engine. At the bottom of the page there are three pictures of a bobtail Miller. I suspect it was the car Fred Horey drove c.1925, which would have been inherited by Haugdahl after Horey retired. Note the wide frame. Could this be a converted 183 c.i. two-seater?

Mike