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Rear-engined Sprint cars?


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#1 Lemans

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 01:25

Buford and other TNFs, I have never heard of rear engined sprinters. Do you know anything about this? And was USAC that bad regarding its drivers? The question is from Robin Miller's colomn.

Robin, do you think if USAC were to build rear engined sprint cars like the few that were made back in the 70s it would help these young guys and gals become better in the Indy ranks? I for one do.I've been working on sprinters since I was five years old (Shorty Watson's 79 car) and I remember the car Paul Leffler manufactured. I think it was a copy an eagle Indy car only smaller with a roll cage. My grandfather said, "You see that car there, it's what sprint cars are coming to." I think about two weeks later USAC banned it and all cars like it. I for one would love to see someone start a new series of this nature. How about you? If not, then what's it going to take?

Randy Schuller
Indianapolis

Robin Miller: USAC did several things to cut its own drivers' path to Indy. Taking the dirt cars out of the Champ Car sked was the first and worst move because suddenly you didn't have to be versatile. Outlawing rear-engined sprinters after Tom Sneva won a few features was the second bad move because that kind of experience could have been valuable -- even today. All that horsepower behind the driver at Winchester ... USAC has always been a disaster as a sanctioning body and those two things certainly crippled the path to Indy. Could USAC change it's thinking today? Who knows. I think Rollie Helmling is pretty sharp but his hands could be tied over a major change. I just can't believe none of the IRL owners will hire JJ Yeley so he'll probably end up in NASCAR like Gordon, Stewart, Leffler, Newman, etc.



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#2 Allen Brown

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 12:49

I know there were rear-engined sprint cars because at least one of them (more likely three or four) were converted F5000 cars. The timeframe seems to have been 1972-1974 but I really don't have much more than this. There are a couple of good web sites on sprint cars about this time. I'll dig out the URLs when I get home.

Allen

#3 Jim Thurman

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 22:49

I believe this is the one, Allen...


http://www.netaxs.co...1/race/resc.htm

There were several other rear engined Sprint Cars in USAC and other Sprint organizations. Some were converted Indy Cars, a couple were converted F5000. I even remember a guy running a converted F/F in CRA (!).

I've got some of my own comments, but they'll have to wait a bit...

And there was a thread on this late last November, but I don't know how to post individual post URLs (someone?)

BTW, Allen, I haven't forgotten about your request about Earl Kelley and the F5000 racing in Super Modified races at San Jose Speedway...and it's at the top of my list. It's just that the very day after you made your query...I received 60 some issues of the regional short track paper from a long time columnist, and since then I've been scanning, scanning, scanning...

I'm almost finished (finally!). I can't even recall what my estimate was for number of scans - well over 1,600.


Jim Thurman

#4 Allen Brown

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 09:11

I was also thinking of Super Modifieds (my apologies if that isn't quite the same thing but they all look the same to an Englishman!)

Retro Rockets: http://www.retrorockets.org/
Super Modified Racing in the NW - http://www.srv.net/~kc7esb/index.html

Allen

#5 bpratt

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Posted 23 March 2003 - 22:43

1973 seems to be the year of the rear-engined sprint car in USAC. Tom Sneva won 6 features out of the 17 races he entered. Jerry Hansen also won a feature in a Lola at the Minnesota State Fair. (Source the 25th anniversary book on USAC sprint car racing by Carl Hungness. Out of print?)

There were earlier examples, and attempts, in USAC but this was the break through year.

Sneva ran a four-wheel drive rear-engine sprint in the Pacific Northwest, part of the Canadian American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) in about 1969-70. Super modifieds (which oftentimes were just sprint cars with full roll cages).

Looking at the eastern U.S., Oswego Speedway, hot bed of super modifieds, various rear-engined cars made their appearances with varying degress of success and were finally outlawed in 1979 when the late Jimmy Shampine came up with a radically offset rear-engined car that was going to make all the front-engined offsets obsolete. (There is a major book on Oswego Speedway, try their website, which I don't have at my fingertips right now.)

#6 Allen Brown

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Posted 23 March 2003 - 23:22

Originally posted by bpratt
Jerry Hansen also won a feature in a Lola at the Minnesota State Fair. (Source the 25th anniversary book on USAC sprint car racing by Carl Hungness. Out of print?)

Hansen used a Lola T192 in SCCA racing in 1973 but didn't appear in the professional F5000 series. This may be the car he used in sprint car racing.

Originally posted by bpratt
Sneva ran a four-wheel drive rear-engine sprint in the Pacific Northwest, part of the Canadian American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) in about 1969-70.

I think this may have been the Tipke. I've tried getting in touch with James Tipke but with no luck. He now makes those cycle-taxis which are in use in London!

Originally posted by bpratt
Looking at the eastern U.S., Oswego Speedway, hot bed of super modifieds, various rear-engined cars made their appearances with varying degress of success and were finally outlawed in 1979 when the late Jimmy Shampine came up with a radically offset rear-engined car that was going to make all the front-engined offsets obsolete. (There is a major book on Oswego Speedway, try their website, which I don't have at my fingertips right now.)

I'll love to learn more about those!

Allen

#7 Gerr

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 21:02

Regarding Jim's link "The Lost Rear-Engined Sprint Cars". The second picture down is not Leffler's car as captioned (the number 4 car). It is Carl Gelhausen's car that Sneva drove in 1973 in USAC.
It is/was a 1966 Huffacker monocoque chassis with BMC hydrolastic suspension and a horizontal radiator.
The Sneva CAMRA 4wd, RE super-modified was built by Tipke in Spokane and later driven in the same series by Cliff Hucul. It used recycled Oldsmobile Toronado components. Tipke also built roadster style supers and an Turbo-Offy powered Champ car.

#8 Allen Brown

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 22:14

Gerr

Good to see you here on this thread. Would you like to speculate what the "Tipke - Chevrolet V8" might have been that appeared at the USAC Road Racing Championshop event at Seattle on 7 August 1971? It was presumably the RE car but I don't think it would have been the Sneva car. The USAC car?

Race results for the two races here and here.

Allen

#9 bpratt

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 00:09

The 1971 car is probably the one Norm Ellefson drove. I have pictures of it but unfortunately I'm living in scanner hell right now.

I'd be remiss not to mention a couple old rear-engined sprint cars built in Canada. Jack Smith, of Victoria, BC, built two rear-engined cars in the late 1940s to run at Langford Speedway, a 3/8ths mile paved oval that ran "big cars" (sprint cars of old). The second car was featured in Hot Rod magazine in about 1951.

Smith was a driver in the 1920s, builder and organizer in the 1930s through the 1950s. Whatever Victoria, BC, produced in the way of racers (and there are quite a number of them over the years) it can all be traced back to him.

#10 Lemans

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 02:32

thanks guys for all the information. TNF is the place to ferret out facts. The quality of posters here and the civility is very refreshing. Well-done :clap:

#11 Gerr

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 17:18

The Tipke at Seafair may have been the car at this link,
http://www.srv.net/~...website9042.htm

Maybe bpratt can confirm?

#12 bpratt

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 22:04

That no. 27 is the Tipke that Ellefson drove that I was referring to. I guess they took it back to Minnesota for the annual state fair race. Norm didn't have too many nice things to say about the way they were dealt with. Back in 1969, with the front engined roadster, they won the race and I guess the organizers didn't want a repeat.

#13 Allen Brown

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 22:53

Thanks guys. That's got to make it one of the oddest cars to ever appear in a F5000/Indycar race.

Allen

#14 Jim Thurman

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 23:44

Originally posted by bpratt
That no. 27 is the Tipke that Ellefson drove that I was referring to. I guess they took it back to Minnesota for the annual state fair race. Norm didn't have too many nice things to say about the way they were dealt with. Back in 1969, with the front engined roadster, they won the race and I guess the organizers didn't want a repeat.


Yes...Norm Ellefson and Tom Sneva both ran their rear engined Supers in the Minnesota State Fair annual Labor Day IMCA Sprint Car races, and dominated until problems arose.

It was a preview of what would happen at the same track a few years later with Jerry Hansen.

Allen, I told you my post on the differences between Sprint Cars and Super Modifieds would probably confuse more than enlighten :)


Jim Thurman

#15 Jim Thurman

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 06:13

Well, I finally (key word being finally) got around to looking up the 1973 Golden State Classic reports, and not a single mention of Earl Kelley driving a rear engined car.

I still think this photo must have been from the "Open Competition" race at San Jose, which I still haven't found.


Jim Thurman

#16 Allen Brown

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 13:10

Hi Jim

Eight months is nothing - I'm regularly taking far longer to follow through on some of my offers!

I suspect the Kelley car was a Lola T140, as one of those heads off into supermodfieds via Canada quite early on. Still really hard to tell anything from that picture.

Allen

#17 Megatron

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 00:04

What surely ranks right up there with the Ferrari Austria incident and NASCAR's medical services as the worst moves in PR history, Tony George, after YEARS of quoting the "sprint car dirt track" thing in both interviews and print, was quoted in RACER as saying that he didn't say those things at all.

I remember reading an interview with someone (not TG) from the IRL where it was asked what hope the midget racers still had in the atmo CART version of the IRL and the answer was something along the lines of "Well they can go to the Infiniti Pro Series". The icing on the cake was when a Sprint car driver was denied the chance to race by the officals about a year ago.

Sorry to venture slightly off topic, but I do wish there was an avenue for American short track racers besides NASCAR.

#18 T54

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 00:43

The Cooper-Climax "Indy" car that Jack Brabham used at the 1961 "500" was used as a rear-engine sprint car, fitted with a Chevrolet small-block V8 between 1967 and 1977 when the ban on rear-engined sprint cars took effect. It ran and won many races in the Seattle area. :eek:

T54

#19 Allen Brown

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 20:43

Originally posted by bpratt
1973 seems to be the year of the rear-engined sprint car in USAC. Tom Sneva won 6 features out of the 17 races he entered. Jerry Hansen also won a feature in a Lola at the Minnesota State Fair. (Source the 25th anniversary book on USAC sprint car racing by Carl Hungness. Out of print?)

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Hansen used a Lola T192 in SCCA racing in 1973 but didn't appear in the professional F5000 series. This may be the car he used in sprint car racing.

Bill Peters, who was Hansen's mechanic in 1973, confirms that it was Hansen's Lola T192 that won at Minnesota. He even supplied these amazing pictures:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

In this final picture, Hansen is coming up to lap the field for the second time.

All pictures copyright Bill Peters.

Does anyone know the actual date of this race?

Allen

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#20 Buford

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 21:10

I didn't see this before. To answer the part about was USAC bad to the drivers, USAC was a bunch of assholes to everybody, the drivers, the car owners, the fans, everybody. The original bunch were all board track racers from the 1930s and WWII veterans. Very tough guys. They were little Gods in a world of their own creation. They were true racers in every sense of the word and in case you don't now, true racers are not necessarily nice guys.

#21 ensign14

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 21:41

There was a car called the Tipke-Offy entered for Tom Sneva at Indy in 1973 but it was 10mph off the pace. Could this have been the one that raced in 1971? It does not look like a sprinter but a wedge with gaping fron radiator nose and triangular side flip-ups in front of the rear wheels. Sneva and his father reportedly worked on it. There are pics in the 1986 Hungness yearbook.

#22 Jim Thurman

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 00:05

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Bill Peters, who was Hansen's mechanic in 1973, confirms that it was Hansen's Lola T192 that won at Minnesota.

Does anyone know the actual date of this race?


August 26, 1973

The aforementioned Hungness USAC Sprint History book has a picture of Hansen standing beside the car at Indianapolis Raceway Park, where, according to the book, it debuted.

#23 Gerr

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 00:27

Below is a link to a cover of the 1973 Minnesota State Fair program with Hansen's #44 on the cover.

http://www.carguyart...air_program.cfm

According to the www, Hansen won three (at least) races at the fairgrounds, Sept. 3rd 1972, August 31st and Sept. 1st 1973. I think these were IMCA sanctioned.

I would guess the program cover is a photo from 1972

#24 Jim Thurman

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 03:20

Originally posted by Gerr
Below is a link to a cover of the 1973 Minnesota State Fair program with Hansen's #44 on the cover.

http://www.carguyart...air_program.cfm

According to the www, Hansen won three (at least) races at the fairgrounds, Sept. 3rd 1972, August 31st and Sept. 1st 1973. I think these were IMCA sanctioned.

I would guess the program cover is a photo from 1972


Gerr, thanks for the link.

Yes, the other races were IMCA sanctioned. I mentioned that in the other thread. It's difficult to get dates and info on IMCA races.

I think I have a race report, or at least a mention of those races, around here...somewhere :confused:

#25 Allen Brown

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 09:20

Originally posted by Gerr
Below is a link to a cover of the 1973 Minnesota State Fair program with Hansen's #44 on the cover.

...

I would guess the program cover is a photo from 1972

Hi guys

That program cover photo looks like a different car to me. I'd say that was the T300 that he raced in F5000 events in 1972. Hansen sold the T300 at the end of 1972 and used an older T192 for 1973 (as he wasn't competing in the main 'pro' F5000 championship that year).

So I wonder if he could have raced the T300 in an IMCA event in 1972 and then converted a T192 to USAC rules to take a more serious pop at USAC events in 1973. Would the car need to have been built differently for a USAC event? Bill said it had been "retubbed".

Was the IRP race a USAC event? Do either of you know the date of that one and how Hansen did?

Thanks

Allen

#26 Allen Brown

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 09:27

Hah! Just spotted the zoom button. Yes, that's a T300:

Posted Image

I've checked and actually I don't know what happened to Hansen's T300 after 1972. Maybe he wrecked it somewhere?

Allen

#27 Jim Thurman

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 10:16

Originally posted by Allen Brown

So I wonder if he could have raced the T300 in an IMCA event in 1972 and then converted a T192 to USAC rules to take a more serious pop at USAC events in 1973. Would the car need to have been built differently for a USAC event? Bill said it had been "retubbed".

Was the IRP race a USAC event? Do either of you know the date of that one and how Hansen did?


Allen,

I think that is exactly what happened. To be a photo on the cover of the 1973 program, it had to be a photo from earlier, likely 1972 (though perhaps from the IMCA race from the week before?).

Now, about finding info on the 1972 and 1973 IMCA races at the Minnesota State Fair...I might have something on those, but I'm not certain.

The IRP race was a USAC Sprint round on May 12, 1973

Hansen is only listed as making one start in the final 1973 USAC Sprint points, but that would only be feature races (main events). So that likely tells us that he didn't make the feature in the IRP race...unless he didn't yet have a USAC license, making him ineligible for points (though I believe that was a requirement by '73).

These things are never simple :D

#28 Mike Argetsinger

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 13:36

Originally posted by bpratt

Looking at the eastern U.S., Oswego Speedway, hot bed of super modifieds, various rear-engined cars made their appearances with varying degress of success and were finally outlawed in 1979 when the late Jimmy Shampine came up with a radically offset rear-engined car that was going to make all the front-engined offsets obsolete. (There is a major book on Oswego Speedway, try their website, which I don't have at my fingertips right now.)


Sorry I hadn't spotted this thread until now. The book is "Oswego Speedway: The First Fifty Years," by George Caruso, Jr. It was published in March 1999. Printed and published by:

Speedway Press, Inc.
1 Burkle Street
P.O. Box 2006
Oswego, New York 13126
312/342-1363
www.speedwaypress.com
rspeedw1@twcny.rr.com

This book is well worth having if you are interested in Supermodifieds. Very extensive statistical data - photos - text. Very comprehensive.

#29 Allen Brown

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 15:06

Thanks Jim

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
... Hansen is only listed as making one start in the final 1973 USAC Sprint points, but that would only be feature races (main events). So that likely tells us that he didn't make the feature in the IRP race...unless he didn't yet have a USAC license, making him ineligible for points (though I believe that was a requirement by '73).


Does the points table showing him winning that round at MSF? Any sign of him in the table for any other seasons?

Allen

#30 Gerr

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 00:36

Hansen is listed in the 1974 USAC Media Guide as the winner of the first of the fifty lap races at MSF, August 26th 1973. Tom Bigelow and Tom Sneva are listed as the winners of the two races there, the next day.

#31 Bob Riebe

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:52

Originally posted by Gerr
Hansen is listed in the 1974 USAC Media Guide as the winner of the first of the fifty lap races at MSF, August 26th 1973. Tom Bigelow and Tom Sneva are listed as the winners of the two races there, the next day.

Sneva also had a rear engined car.

#32 275 GTB-4

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 01:24

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
I believe this is the one, Allen...


http://www.netaxs.co...1/race/resc.htm

There were several other rear engined Sprint Cars in USAC and other Sprint organizations. Some were converted Indy Cars, a couple were converted F5000. I even remember a guy running a converted F/F in CRA (!).

I've got some of my own comments, but they'll have to wait a bit...

And there was a thread on this late last November, but I don't know how to post individual post URLs (someone?)

BTW, Allen, I haven't forgotten about your request about Earl Kelley and the F5000 racing in Super Modified races at San Jose Speedway...and it's at the top of my list. It's just that the very day after you made your query...I received 60 some issues of the regional short track paper from a long time columnist, and since then I've been scanning, scanning, scanning...

I'm almost finished (finally!). I can't even recall what my estimate was for number of scans - well over 1,600.


Jim Thurman


CUT AND PASTE EACH ONE JIM???? LIKE SO....??

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I believe this is the one, Allen...


http://www.netaxs.co...1/race/resc.htm

There were several other rear engined Sprint Cars in USAC and other Sprint organizations. Some were converted Indy Cars, a couple were converted F5000. I even remember a guy running a converted F/F in CRA (!).

I've got some of my own comments, but they'll have to wait a bit...

And there was a thread on this late last November, but I don't know how to post individual post URLs (someone?)

BTW, Allen, I haven't forgotten about your request about Earl Kelley and the F5000 racing in Super Modified races at San Jose Speedway...and it's at the top of my list. It's just that the very day after you made your query...I received 60 some issues of the regional short track paper from a long time columnist, and since then I've been scanning, scanning, scanning...

I'm almost finished (finally!). I can't even recall what my estimate was for number of scans - well over 1,600.


Jim Thurman

#33 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 09:45

Where the engine should be in a sprint car, are we talking about dirt sprint cars, pavement sprint cars or both?

#34 Jim Thurman

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 06:31

Originally posted by Peter Leversedge
Where the engine should be in a sprint car, are we talking about dirt sprint cars, pavement sprint cars or both?


It's primarily about rear engined Sprint Cars short run in the U.S. - which overwhelmingly was on pavement, though a few attempted running rear engined cars on dirt as well.

#35 Jim Thurman

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 06:50

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Thanks Jim



Does the points table showing him winning that round at MSF? Any sign of him in the table for any other seasons?

Allen


Allen, sorry to take so long to get this thread back :blush: I have a great knack for getting ill right after queries have been made.

I think I e-mailed you, but no, Hansen would not turn up afterwards, since 1973 was the last year for rear engined cars being allowed in the USAC Sprint Car series. In 1974, Hansen moved over to run a few races in NASCAR's top series.

Though I finally finished the scans, and I dug around, I could not find the event that likely is the one Earl Kelley drove the Lola in at San Jose. Though I believe I also e-mailed you on that as well. I'll try checking again when I have an opportunity to do so.

Or is this all deja vu?

#36 Allen Brown

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 08:34

Hi Jim

I believe we did talk offline about Hansen but I don't recall where we got to on Kelley's car. I can't even find the photo of Kelly's car now.

Allen

#37 bpratt

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 09:37

Here's a link to a photo of the Earl Kelley rear-engine circa 1973.
http://www.westcapit...m/102073-02.jpg
Going through some of those Golden State programmes you can find good photos of rear-engined short track pavement cars.

#38 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 14:12

I've got some of my own comments, but they'll have to wait a bit...
Jim Thurman

Your comments may have to wait but mine do not!!

Of all the dumb idiotic decisions of the triple A and USAC etc the decision to force mid engine and many other configuration of cars from the lineups has to remain in the annals of history as a Waterloo and many other disasters, the Crimea, Stalingrad, are other ones, as a central focal point of decisions made in complete contempt of the future considerations. It isn’t any wonder that Indy racing and what ever that other race group is are in trouble and will be for many years hence.

Of course dirt track racers will have their day but I am talking about long term considerations not short sighted views and the problem of filling the tracks with contenders. Does anyone think that NASCAR gives a tinkers damn about any more than 43 entrants at any race track? I don’t think so, what do you think? We have had some 10 years of racing going downhill open wheel that is, sports car racing down, down, and going down even more.
M. L. Anderson :)

#39 Allen Brown

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 14:38

Originally posted by bpratt
Here's a link to a photo of the Earl Kelley rear-engine circa 1973.
http://www.westcapit...m/102073-02.jpg
Going through some of those Golden State programmes you can find good photos of rear-engined short track pavement cars.

Thanks for digging this out. I've taken the liberty of cleaning it up and reposting it so we can comment on it.

Posted Image

If it is a Lola, then it's closer to being a T140 or T142. If it was a T190 or later, we wouldn't be able to see those suspension arms. However, the angle of those arms and the position of the pickups on the chassis isn't right for a T140 or T142. The bodywork could be modified T140 but it's not quite right.

The lack of chassis pontoons rules out Eagle, McLaren, Surtees and a host of other monocoque cars. It's not a McKee, Vulcan or Caldwell. I don't know what it is.

Allen

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#40 David McKinney

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 15:15

Did you rule out a Lotus 70 (or even a 68)?

#41 Allen Brown

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 15:31

Interesting possibility. The wedge shape is right for a 70 but the suspension pickups front and rear aren't right. Could be heavily modified of course...

The suspension is about right for a mid-1960s Brabham and that was copied widely of course. It's not far off the setup of the 1968 LeGrand F5000 car.

#42 stevewf1

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 15:50

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Bill Peters, who was Hansen's mechanic in 1973, confirms that it was Hansen's Lola T192 that won at Minnesota. He even supplied these amazing pictures:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

In this final picture, Hansen is coming up to lap the field for the second time.

All pictures copyright Bill Peters.

Does anyone know the actual date of this race?

Allen


In that final picture, it looks like someone is about to clobber the wall... Trying too hard to get out of the way?

#43 Jim Thurman

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 18:40

275 GTB-4, thanks for the tip. Despite others help, I freely admit I can't seem to come to grips with that. I simply haven't had the time to apply the suggestions.

M.L. :up: While I can see where the owners and officials were coming from at the time, with concerns of obsoleting almost an entire entry, USAC's ban on rear engined Sprint Cars proved to be one of the most shortsighted, counterproductive moves in history, and when applying that to USAC, that is truly saying something. If they'd allowed rear engined cars, there might have only been 6-8 car fields with everyone else leaving to race their front engined uprights elsewhere.

steve, you noticed that too?, the car near the wall is seriously out of shape.

The next post will focus more on Kelley's car.

#44 Jim Thurman

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 18:58

Brian, thanks for finding and posting the photo :up:

Allen, two or three years ago, I tried contacting some folks in efforts to track down Earl Kelley, but to no avail. As I mentioned in one of the Sprint Car threads, Kelley was a pilot with Pan-Am Airlines and primarily raced Super Modifieds at San Jose Speedway, though he also raced a conventional front engined Sprint Car in Northern California.

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I curiously found not a single mention of Kelley campaigning the rear engined car in the Golden State Classic series. I have to dig more deeply. Columnists covering the Golden State Classic series usually were quite good about detailing the more interesting and unique cars. That's why I'm surprised to have not run across any mention of the Kelley car.

Those GSC races were truly among the biggest Super Modifieds events ever as cars and drivers from across the country made the trek to Central/Northern California to compete. A great mix of every type of open wheel car being run at the time - rear engined, ex-Indy roadsters, uprights, Sprints, homebuilt specials.

And I had no luck at all in finding San Jose Speedway's "Run What Ya Brung" type event. A one off race open to any type of car that passed safety inspection. I recall a "Formula car" being mentioned.

Keep in mind that Kelley's car might possibly have been a pure homebuilt special with no F5000 lineage. Of course, with such modified bodywork, who knows what was underneath? There were rear engined chassis purposely built for Super Modified racing. The early creations by Ed Sneva, Tom's dad, come to mind.

#45 David Pozzi

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 17:43

Originally posted by bpratt
1973 seems to be the year of the rear-engined sprint car in USAC. Tom Sneva won 6 features out of the 17 races he entered. Jerry Hansen also won a feature in a Lola at the Minnesota State Fair. (Source the 25th anniversary book on USAC sprint car racing by Carl Hungness. Out of print?)

There were earlier examples, and attempts, in USAC but this was the break through year.

Sneva ran a four-wheel drive rear-engine sprint in the Pacific Northwest, part of the Canadian American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) in about 1969-70. Super modifieds (which oftentimes were just sprint cars with full roll cages).

Looking at the eastern U.S., Oswego Speedway, hot bed of super modifieds, various rear-engined cars made their appearances with varying degress of success and were finally outlawed in 1979 when the late Jimmy Shampine came up with a radically offset rear-engined car that was going to make all the front-engined offsets obsolete. (There is a major book on Oswego Speedway, try their website, which I don't have at my fingertips right now.)


In the 70's I met Tom Sneva's dad (Ed?) in Spokane Washington and saw the 4 wheel drive sprint car. He was the nicest guy you'd ever meet, and very resourceful in his car construction methods. He made most of the parts or adapted from used parts he could get ahold of. A super nice man, lots of fun to talk to. I think he said he had four sons and so even with Tom and his other son gone racing, there were one or two sons home racing the mid engine sprint car.

The rules were that they had to use street legal tires and no fancy high traction DOT rubber was available in those days. With hard rubber, 4WD was a big help. The car used a simple dog ring connector direct from the crank snout that engaged a driveshaft to the front axle. He commented that these cars taught throttle control.

I don't recall if I got any photos of this car but I'll take a look.
David

#46 bpratt

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 17:23

Here's a bit of a Mark Mooney story on the four-wheel drive Tipke.

Posted Image

#47 bpratt

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 17:28

And while I'm at it here's something old from Victoria, BC, Canada. With Howard Stanley at the wheel Jack Smith's rear-engine big car (sprint car) from 1947. It ran at Langford Speedway near Victoria.

Posted Image

#48 martyk

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 15:20

I have a feeling that Earl Kelley did not run the rear engine car in the Golden West Classic series. From looking at race results from the 1973 series, I think he raced his usual "Kelley Green" conventional super modified.
1973 also was the year his brother-in-law Dick Cinelli, who was promoter of the series, was killed in a plane crash midway through the series. Kelley and an associate then picked up promotional duties for the rest of the series.
The picture in the earlier post (which is from one of my old programs, BTW), was taken at San Jose, you can see the backstretch grandstands in the photo. I'm almost positive I did see this car run in person (it's hard to be totally sure after 34 years), and I did attend the $5,000 to win "Open competition" show at San Jose that year. I'll dig a little deeper though my old copies of "Racing Wheels" to see if I can find out more.

I did happen to find a scan of Tom Sneva in a rear-engine car at Winchester, from 1973:
Posted Image
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#49 Bryce Armstrong

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 06:59

What about rear-engined Midgets?

#50 David McKinney

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 09:06

If you think they justify a new thread, why don't you start one?