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Firestone test cars?

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#1 mac miller

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 18:21

I am doing a new blog for my Indy roadsters website. The blog will
concern the roadsters used by Firestone as tire test cars. These cars
were used only for tire testing.
The first car was a 1952 Kurtis 500Awith a Chrysler engine.
The second car is a bit of a mystery. It was delivered in late'53/early'54 to
Ray Nichels. It also had a Chrysler engine. I have seen it refered to
as a Kurtis 500A but it appears to have a 500C body??????
The third, and last of the Firestone test roadsters, that I am aware of,
was a 1958 Kurtis "special" based on the 500H chassis. It had a Ray
Nichels Pontiac engine. This car later became the Mad Dog IV,
with a supercharged Chrysler Hemi, that broke 180 MPH at Daytona.
Do any of the esteemed historians here have any other info or stories
about these Firestone test roadsters??
My Indy roadster website is http://indyroadsters.webs.com/

mac miller in INDY

Edited by mac miller, 23 September 2009 - 18:28.


#2 Gerr

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 01:46

Not much to add as far as info or stories, but I took a couple of pics of of a Hemi-500C in the IMS basement back in 1991. The card on the windscreen reads "Firestone Tire Test Car 1953" It's white with red "Firestone" script on the side. The nose and tail were stripped back to bare aluminum. The piano hinge on the hood is way offset to the right, unlike other KK500Cs and there appears to be a brace added over the left hand cylinder head with the body work trimmed for the brace. The car has all the features of the Hemi-500C pictured in White's Kurtis-Kraft book, page 104, which is captioned as a 1955 KK500C.

Somewhere I have an article, HRM?, SCI?, MT? on the Pontiac/Nichels/Firestone Kurtis...should I dig it out?


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Posted 24 September 2009 - 19:20

Posted Image
This is the Chrysler Kurtis that was at Indy after 1953. It never qualified at Indy but was one of the test Chrysler engined KK500's. Picture was from Milwaukee two summers ago.
The guy that owned it said it was not one of the Firestone test cars. Firestone used the Chrysler powered cars for testing tires because they were pretty bullitproof (as I recall).

#4 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 23:42

Zoom do you have a shot of the complete car?


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Posted 25 September 2009 - 01:20

Peter, I don't...
I didn't think I would need one...


#6 mac miller

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 11:50

Thanks Gerr,
The '54 test car is still sitting, unrestored, in the IMS museum basement and it is, definitely, a 500C chassis, modified to offset the V8 to the left. Unlike OFFYs the V8 had to stick outside the frame requiring some frame modification.
If you can easily find the magazine article it would be interesting to see, but don't spend to much time looking. I think I have enough info to do my blog

Thanks ZOOOM,
You are correct that the '52 Walcott 500A test car was not a Firestone owned car but Firestone did sponsor the October '52 Chrysler test at the Indianapolis Speedway. At the time of the test, Firestone, rightfully, assumed that this car/engine combination was going to be the winning setup for the '53 Indy 500................. until AAA shot the engine down.
Firestone not only liked the Chrysler 331 because they were bulletproof but they were also fast. This allowed Firestone to test at higher than normal speeds to build additional safety margin into their tires.