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Indy car constructors - do they deserve to be remembered?


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#1 roger_valentine

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 11:21

The names Kurtis and Watson probably ring a few (faint) bells, even to the most Euro-centric motor racing enthusiasts. But what about Del Roy, Pankratz, Rounds and Silnes? Who were Lesovsky and Meskowski? Snowberger sound like they built some of Villeneuve's early vehicles, and are Sherman the same people who built tanks?

The deplorable habit of disguising constructors names under those of sponsors means that a great many constructors have either vanished into obscurity, or never emurged from it in the first place. For years I thought that Belond were a constructor, and only recently have I discovered that Sam Hanks drove a Salih.

We know a great deal about even the most peripheral F1 constructors. Thanks to the efforts of Barry Boor, we know as much about Connew as about Lotus or McLaren. But very often some important Indy constructors (Indy 500 winners, for heaven's sake!) don't even get their names mentioned in the results.

What is my point?

First of all, does any of this make sense to American readers, or are the names I've mentioned 'household names' over there, and the fault lies with us on this side of the Atlantic for being unfamiliar with them?

And is there a source (equivalent to, say, Hodges' A-Z of Formula Racing Cars) which gives potted histories of all the Indy car constructors? Is there a website? And, if not, shouldn't someone set about creating one?

Do these names deserve to be remembered, or should we stick to the familiar Belonds and Leader Cards?

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#2 petefenelon

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 11:29

Originally posted by roger_valentine
And, if not, shouldn't someone set about creating one?

Do these names deserve to be remembered, or should we stick to the familiar Belonds and Leader Cards?


I agree Roger - it's an area that on this side of the Atlantic is very hard to find out about.

I would love to know more about the people and technology involved in building the cars of "Roadster years" in US racing - really from the end of the "junkyard formula" to the Cooper/Lotus/Mickey Thompson rear-engined revolution. There doesn't seem to be anything of the depth of (say) Borgeson's Golden Age of the American Racing Car about this era, yet to me the big roadsters are just as evocative as those exquisite little Millers etc.

Very few names stand out from behind the commercialism - apart from Offenhauser on the engine side, Watson and Kurtis-Kraft on the chassis front I can only really think of oddities like the Fageol, or the Gulf-Miller, or the Novis... and the odd European invader like Mercedes or Maserati. it'd be great to know more of the stories behind some of the more special "specials".

#3 David Beard

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 11:56

I would certainly like to understand the Indianapolis roadster era better. What we saw of them , or could read about them in the UK in the fifties was minimal. When the Monza races took place and were reported in Motor Sport I was a very confused 10 year old lad. I couldn't understand what it was all about. An Eldorado Special??? A bit later I caught a few glimpses of Indy on TV, but it was always the same footage of awful accidents. It seemed to me that someone got killed every other lap. Then when Cooper, closely followed by Lotus, went to the brickyard, we were encouraged to regard the roadsters as dinosaurs. Was that fair?

How long would the roadster configration have continued without the European influence ?

#4 Don Capps

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 14:12

The Roadster that won in 1957 was actually a Quinn Epperly chassis which George Salih, as the chief mechanic, tweaked into a winning proposition. There has always been some discussion as to where the Epperly part ended and the Sahil part began.

There really isn't an "Indy Cars A-Z" floating around out there. Much of that information is scattered all over the place in books, articles, and in the minds of such folks as Phil Harms and several others who visit this forum.

It is an endlessly fascinating story and you can't leave out Halibrand, Gerhardt, Brawner, Gurney, Foyt, and others who produced cars in the post-Roadster era.

Gordon White has done an outstanding job in tracking down the Kurtis cars and their appearances at Indy and Gary Wayne has produced the best accounting of the Watson Roadsters, one that has proved invaluable.

#5 Henri Greuter

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 14:24

I agree. But keep in mind that duing the 50's and early part of the sixties there were not so many cponstructors out. When the Roadster concept finally hit with everybody they swept away a number of old cars still running. Watson and Kurtis combined made up for a lot of the fields, more that 75 % or thereabout I estimate.
Even the Novis were in fact `nothing else but ` Kurtis Krafts chassis but instead of Offy Powered they had a Novi V8 and that made them something apart under the many Kurtisses. But basicly, they were just another variant within the range of Kurts-Kraft models.

Much more variety within brands came after the introduction of the rear engined cars. And indeed, it would be nice to have that being documented better.
I for one would love to read more about the 70's: the years with the Eagles, Mclarens, Coyote and the Wildcats, Grant King's machines, the Lightnings. Granted, some of those care were used for a long period of time in basic desing but nevertheless, the '70's were not bad in Indy history at all. Not as wild and varied as the 60's but still good copy.

Yep: Give the American Indycar constructors the credit they deserve. For example, they also worked with big boost turbocharged engines when Europeans didn't bother to even consider a turbo. F1 fans ooze about the 1200 hp turbo's in F1 during 1986, the best Offies reached that level of performance 13 years before...


Henri Greuter

#6 paulhooft

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 14:53

What about Miller, Chevrolet..
Paul

#7 doc540

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 15:25

For those interested in not only constructors but all subjects related to the history of American open wheel racing, I suggest you visit this friendly and information-rich forum.

Trackforum's "Nostalgia" Forum

Many of the members have been involved in over a half century of American OW racing in capacities ranging from fan to driver to car owner.

Though a little rough around the edges for the most part they're a fine bunch. ;)

#8 theunions

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 15:27

Originally posted by roger_valentine
And is there a source (equivalent to, say, Hodges' A-Z of Formula Racing Cars) which gives potted histories of all the Indy car constructors? Is there a website? And, if not, shouldn't someone set about creating one?



No, there is no such hard copy source. And North American publishers have little or no interest right now in publishing anything having to do with open wheel racing TODAY, let alone 40+ years ago (i.e., the rejection letter I received from David Bull). One primary reason for that is because the reading/buying public wants/demands NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR and more NASCAR (doesn't matter how good - or bad - the writing or photography is - it's the subject matter that counts most). So there's plenty of blame to go around.

#9 fines

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 16:38

Originally posted by roger_valentine
And is there a source (equivalent to, say, Hodges' A-Z of Formula Racing Cars) which gives potted histories of all the Indy car constructors? Is there a website? And, if not, shouldn't someone set about creating one?

I'd like to say, "watch this space!" ;)

Part of my new website will include an A-Z of Formula Racing Cars, very similar to the Hodges book, but including the years 1894-1993, and F1, Indy Cars, F5000 and so on. Of course, it will be a never-ending construction site, but I still hope to get it started later this year, with a number of famous and not-so-famous entries in this section.

Originally posted by roger_valentine
But what about Del Roy, Pankratz, Rounds and Silnes? Who were Lesovsky and Meskowski? Snowberger sound like they built some of Villeneuve's early vehicles, and are Sherman the same people who built tanks?

To answer a few of your questions here: Frankie DelRoy, Bob Pankratz, Ned J. Rounds (Engineering Company) and George Silnes, Lujie Lesovsky and Wally Meskowski, Russ Snowberger and Roy Sherman deserve quite a bit of ink for their creations - or maybe a few bits and bytes...

#10 m.tanney

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 23:45

Originally posted by roger_valentine
And is there a source (equivalent to, say, Hodges' A-Z of Formula Racing Cars) which gives potted histories of all the Indy car constructors? Is there a website? And, if not, shouldn't someone set about creating one?


  I'd love to have a book like that. But the further back it went, the more difficult it would be to write. The constructors of the '40s, '50s and '60s would be tough enough - imagine trying to find information on Chalmers Detroit, Pope Hartford and Palmer Singer.

#11 Don Capps

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 02:20

Here is my draft of 1952 and you can see even in the midst of all those Kurtis' some variety:


National Championship Trail

Round One



Indianapolis International 500 Mile Sweepstakes

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis, Indiana

30 May 1952



Distance: 200 laps of 2.5-mile speedway for 500.0 miles

Promoter: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

AAA Sanction No. 1R52

Purse: Speedway $169,300.00, Total $230,100.00

Average Qualifying Speed: 135.504 mph

Pace car: Studebaker Commander, driven by P. O. Peterson.





Starting Grid

First Row

1st	138.010 mph	Freddie Agabashian, Kurtis Cummins

2nd	137.002 mph	Andy Linden, Kurtis Offenhauser

3rd	136.664 mph	Jack McGrath, Kurtis Offenhauser

Second Row

4th	136.188 mph	Duke Nalon, Kurtis Novi

5th	135.736 mph	Sam Hanks, Kurtis Offenhauser

6th	135.522 mph	Duane Carter, Kurtis Offenhauser

Third Row

7th	135.364 mph	Troy Ruttman, Kuzma Offenhauser

8th	138.212 mph	Bill Vukovich, Kurtis Offenhauser

9th	136.617 mph	Cliff Griffith, Kurtis Offenhauser

Fourth Row

10th	136.343 mph	Jim Rathmann, Kurtis Offenhauser

11th	136.142 mph	Chuck Stevenson, Kurtis Offenhauser

12th	135.962 mph	Henry Banks, Lesovsky Offenhauser

Fifth Row

13th	135.947 mph	George Fonder, Silnes/Sherman Offenhauser

14th	135.609 mph	George Conner, Kurtis Offenhauser

15th	134.988 mph	Bill Schindler, Stevens Offenhauser

Sixth Row

16th	134.953 mph	Joe James, Kurtis Offenhauser

17th	134.725 mph	Bobby Ball, Stevens Offenhauser

18th	134.343 mph	Gene Hartley, Kurtis Offenhauser

Seventh Row

19th	134.308 mph	Alberto Ascari, Ferrari

20th	134.288 mph	Art Cross, Kurtis Offenhauser

21st	134.142 mph	Jimmy Bryan, Kurtis Offenhauser

Eighth Row

22nd	134.139 mph	Rodger Ward, Kurtis Offenhauser

23rd	133.993 mph	Jimmy Reece, Kurtis Offenhauser

24th	133.973 mph	Eddie Johnson, Trevis Offenhauser

Nineth Row

25th	133.953 mph	Bob Scott, Kurtis Offenhauser

26th	133.904 mph	Jim Rigsby, Watson Offenhauser

27th	139.034 mph	Chet Miller, Kurtis Offenhauser

Tenth Row

28th	135.982 mph	Manuel “Manny” Ayulo, Lesovsky

29th	135.962 mph	Spider Webb, Bromme Offenhauser

30th	135.384 mph	Tony Bettenhausen, Deidt Offenhauser

Eleventh Row

31st	135.328 mph	Johnnie Parsons, Kurtis Offenhauser

32nd	134.983 mph	Bob Sweikert, Kurtis Offenhauser

33rd	133.939 mph	Johnny McDowlee, Kurtis Offenhauser



Alternates

34th	133.844 mph	Mike Nazaruk, Kurtis Offenhauser

35th	133.824 mph	Jimmy Jackson, Kurtis Offenhauser



Failed to Qualify

133.789 mph	Gene Force, Schroeder Offenhauser

133.427 mph	George Tichenor, Kurtis Offenhauser

132.660 mph	Spider Webb, Deidt Offenhauser

132.553 mph	Bob Sweikert, Ewing Offenhauser



Freddy Agabashian drove the first turbocharged engine in competition.



Ruttman set new track record of 128.922 for 500 miles, breaking Lee Wallard's 

1951 record of 126.444.



Art Cross named the first “Rookie of the-Year.”



Speedway purse of $169,300 includes: guaranteed prize money of $75,000; 

bonus of $75,000; refund from entry fees of $13,800; and, qualifying prizes of $5,500. 

In addition, there are lap prizes and cash accessory awards of $20,000. 

The “Rookie of the Year” receives $500 in cash from Stark-Wetzel & Company plus a trophy 

and products worth an additional $500. 



The winner also received the following: the Studebaker Commander pace car; 

the Borg-Warner Trophy; the L. Strauss & Company portrait trophy by Ernie Rose; 

the Ringmaster Award from Bardach Brothers Incorporated; a Chronograph Compax 

watch from the Cummins Engine Company; a similar watch for Chief Mechanic 

Clay Smith; the Strompor Memorial Trophy for Clay Smith; diamond pins from 

Wynn Oil Company for the members of the pit crew; a set of Herbrand tools; a set 

of Herbrand tools for Clay Smith as well as Cocker pup from Wilson & Company.



As the winner of the pole position, Fred Ajabashian won the Wynn Oil Company 

Rex Mays Memorial Award and the Bob Bowes Memorial Trophy. Bill Vukovich 

won the Hobbs Trophy and the Wheeler Catering Company meal ticket for 

one year. Cummins Engine Company presented a Chronograph Compax watch 

to all drivers starting the race.



Caution light shown for 50 seconds when the right rear spokes pull out of the hub 

causing Ascari to spin, and hit the wall. Caution light on for one minute 10 seconds 

after bracket holding steering arms on Vukovich car breaks and car hits the wall 

shearing pivot pin in the steering.



Results

1st 	Troy Ruttman 

No. 98 J.C. Agajanian Agajanian Special Kuzma 52 ‘98’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 3 hr 52 min 41.88 sec, 128.922 mph, 1,000 points

Speedway $38,918.18, Total $61,743.18 

Chief Mechanic: Clay Smith

Pit Stops: on lap 81 for fuel and tire change but fuel spill causes fire which is put out quickly and 

returns to the race, 1 min 58 sec; on lap 147 for fuel and right side tires, 55 sec

2nd 	Jim Rathmann 

No. 59 Grancor Automotive Specialists Grancor-Wynn Oil Special 

Kurtis KK3000/50 ‘333’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 3 hr 56 min 44.24 sec, 126.723 mph, 800 points

Speedway $19,968.18, Total $24,368.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 49 for fuel and change both rear tires, 56 sec; on lap 113 for fuel and tire 

change; on lap 183 for fuel and right side tires and left rear tire, 1 min 59 sec

3rd 	Sam Hanks 

No. 18 Ed Walsh Bardahl Special Kurtis KK3000/50 ‘330’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 3 hr 58 min53.48 sec, 125.803 mph, 700 points

Speedway $12,118.18, Total $14,768.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 65 for fuel and change right front tire and both rear tires, 1 min 28 sec; on lap 

173 for change of all four tires, 1 min 50 sec

4th 	Duane Carter 

No. 1 Murrell Belanger Belanger Motors Special Lesovsky Offenhauser

200 laps, 3 hr 59 min 30.21 sec, 125.259 mph, 600 points

Speedway $9,318.18, Total $11,818.18 

Pit Stop: on lap 103 for fuel, 1 min 36 sec

5th 	Art Cross 

No. 33 Ray T. Brady Bowes Seal Fast Special Kurtis 4000/52 ‘346’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 01 min 12.08 sec, 124.292 mph, 500 points

Speedway $7,418.18, Total $9,218.18

Pit Stop: on lap 72 for fuel and change of left rear and both front tires, 1 min 20 sec

6th 	Jimmy Bryan 

No. 77 Pete Schmidt Pete Schmidt Special Kurtis KK3000/51 ‘337’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 02 min 06.23 sec, 123.914 mph, 400 points

Speedway $6,118.18, Total $7,468.18

Pit Stops: on lap 92 for fuel and change of right side tires, 1 min 23 sec; on lap 157 for right rear 

tire change, 37 sec; on lap 170 for fuel and right side tires, 1 min 31 sec; on lap 197 for left front 

tire, 27 sec

7th 	Jimmy Reece 

No. 37 John Zink John Zink Special Kurtis KK4000/52 ‘356’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 03 min 17.15 sec, 123.312 mph, 300 points

Speedway $5,218.18, Total $6,358.18

Pit Stops: on lap 87 for fuel and right side tire change, 1 min 30 sec; on lap 88, 10 sec

8th 	George Connor 

No. 54 Federal Automotive Associates Federal Engineering Detroit Special 

Kurtis KK3000/50 ‘335’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 04 min 42.50 sec, 122.595 mph, 250 points

Speedway $4,718.18, Total $6,118.18

Pit Stops: on lap 85 for fuel and change of both front tires, 1 min 46 sec; on lap 176 for right side 

tires, 1 min 17 sec

9th 	Cliff Griffith 

No. 22 Tom Sarafoff Tom Sarafoff Special Kurtis KK2000/48 ‘318’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 05 min 05.65 sec, 122.412 mph, 200 points

Speedway $4,918.18, Total $5,768.18

Pit Stops: on lap 68 for fuel and four tire change, 1 min 31 sec; on lap 134 for fuel and right side 

tires, 2 min 32 sec

10th 	Johnnie Parsons 

No. 5 J.M. Robbins Jim Robbins Special Kurtis KK1000/48 ‘316’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 06 min 19.71 sec, 121.789 mph, 150 points

Speedway $4,518.18, Total $5,518.18

Pit Stops: on lap 67 for fuel and change right rear and both front tires, 2 min 08 sec; on lap 113 

for fuel and both change of both rear tires and right front tire, 2 min 43 sec; on lap 115 for 

adjustments and delayed due to unable to select gear

11th 	Jack McGrath 

No. 4 Jack B. Hinkle Hinkle Special Kurtis KK3000/50 ‘334’ Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 07 min 03.62 sec, 121.428 mph, 100 points

Speedway $3,388.18, Total $4,263.18

Pit Stops: on lap 38 for repair of sticking throttle and fuel and tire change, 5 min 10 sec; on lap 

110 for fuel and tire change

12th 	Jim Rigsby 

No. 29 Bob Estes Bob Estes Special Watson Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 08 min 46.95 sec, 120.587 mph, 50 points

Speedway $2,968.18, Total $3,193.18

Pit Stops: on lap 101 for fuel and three tire change, 1 min 44 sec; on lap 178 for fuel and left rear 

tire, 1 min 45 sec

13th 	Joe James 

No. 14 Ed Walsh Bardahl Special Kurtis KK4000/51 ‘342’ Offenhauser ‘128’

200 laps, 4 hr 09 min 37.47 sec, 120.180 mph

Speedway $2,848.18, Total $2,923.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 78 for fuel and change of right front and both rear tires, 1 min 20 sec; on lap 134 

for fuel and both right side tires, 59 sec

14th 	Bill Schindler 

No. 7 H.A. Chapman Chapman Special Stevens Offenhauser

200 laps, 4 hr 11 min 30.51 sec, 119.280 mph

Speedway $2,728.18, Total $2,903.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 82 for fuel and tire change after spinning and coming to a stop in front of his pit 

box, 3 min 12 sec; on lap 143 for fuel and right rear tire, 1 min 08 sec

15th 	George Fonder 

No. 65 George H. Leitenberger Leitenberger Special Silnes/Sherman Offenhauser

197 laps, flagged, 4 hr 11 min 07.44 sec, 117.671 mph

 Speedway $2,608.18, Total $2,683.18

Pit Stops: on lap 83 for fuel and change of right front and both rear tires, 2 min 19 sec; on lap 172 

for fuel, engine check, and change of right side tires, 4 min 35 sec

16th 	Eddie Johnson 

No. 81 Peter Salemi Central Excavating Special Trevis Offenhauser

193 laps, flagged, 4 hr 11 min 23.31 sec, 115.160 mph

Speedway $2,488.18, Total $2,663.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 4 for carburetor adjustment, 1 min; on lap 90 for fuel and two tires, 2 min 10 sec

17th 	Bill Vukovich 

No. 26 Howard Keck Company Fuel Injection Engineering Special 

Kurtis 500A/52 ‘353’ Offenhauser

191 laps, wrecked in Northeast turn due to steering failure, 3 hr 41 min 39.38 sec, 129.254 mph

Speedway $2,868.18, Total $18,693.18

Pit Stops: on lap 61 for fuel and change of all four tires, 1 min 20 sec; on lap 134 for fuel and all 

four tires, right rear tire is put on backwards and has to be changed, 2 min 03 sec

18th 	Chuck Stevenson 

No. 16 Bessie Lee Paoli Springfield Welding’s Smith Special 

Kurtis KK4000/52 ‘349’ Offenhauser

187 laps, flagged, 4 hr 11 min 42.91 sec, 111.435 mph

Speedway $2,448.18, Total $2,623.18

Pit Stop: on lap 8 for a new magneto a change of spark plugs and fuel, 7 min 12 sec

19th 	Henry Banks 

No. 2 Lindsey Hopkins Blue Crown Spark Plug Special Lesovsky Offenhauser

184 laps, flagged, 4 hr 11 min 11.83 sec, 109.874 mph

Speedway $2,318.18, Total $2,693.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 50 for fuel, right side tires, and steering arm adjustment, 17 min; on lap 75 for 

fuel and spark plugs, 3 min; on lap 160 for change of right side tires; on lap 172 for change of left 

rear tire, 30 sec

20th 	Manuel “Manny” Ayulo 

No. 8 Coast Grain Company Coast Grain Company Special Lesovsky Offenhauser

184 laps, flagged, 4 hr 12 min 17.42 sec, 109.398 mph

Speedway $2,588.18, Total $2,763.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 57 for fuel and tire change; on lap 72, 1 min; on lap 89 to repair split brake 

line

21st 	Johnny McDowell 

No. 31 Roger G. Wolcott McDowell Special Kurtis ‘350’ Offenhauser

182 laps, flagged, 3 hr 58 min 56.00 sec, 114.258 mph

Speedway $2,158.18, Total $2,333.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 95 to tighten cap on fuel tank, 8 sec; on lap 178 for consultation with chief 

Mechanic, 20 sec; on lap 183 for fuel, 44 sec

22nd 	Spider Webb 

No. 48 Vincent Granatelli Granatelli Racing Enterprises Special Bromme Offenhauser

162 laps, oil leak, 3 hr 31 min 58.32 sec, 114.638 mph

Speedway $2,428.18, Total $2,603.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 60 for fuel and change both front tires, 2 min 03 sec; on lap 126 for fuel and right 

side tires, 2 min 54 sec; on lap 131 for clutch adjustment and check on brakes, 3 min 58 sec

23rd 	Rodger Ward 

No. 34 Federal Automotive Associates Federal Engineering Detroit Special 

Kurtis KK4000/52 ‘351’ Offenhauser

130 laps, lost oil pressure, 3 hr 03 min 35.02 sec, 106.219 mph

Speedway $2,098.18, Total $2,273.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 25 with split brake line, leaking brake fluid, oil plug problems, and takes on 

fuel, 20 min 31 sec; on lap 111 for fuel and right side tires, 1 min 15 sec

24th 	Tony Bettenhausen 

No. 27 Slick Racers Incorporated Blue Crown Spark Plug Special Deidt Offenhauser

93 laps, after stopping to investigate a tire weight coming off unable to restart due to failure of the 

portable  starter, 1 hr 53 min 53.73 sec, 122.481 mph

Front-wheel drive, Speedway $2,268.18, Total $2,443.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 40 for fuel and change of right tire, 1 min 40 sec; on lap 83 for fuel and right rear 

and left front tire change, 

25th 	Duke Nalon 

No. 36 Lewis W. Welch Novi Pure Oil Special Kurtis 47 ‘004’ Winfield Novi

84 laps, broken supercharger shaft, 1 hr 43 min 24.24 sec, 121.852 mph

Front-wheel drive, Speedway $2,238, Total $2,413.18 

Pit Stops: on lap 16 for fuel and change of front tires, 1 min 35 sec; on lap 50 to change right front 

Tire, 36 sec; on lap 61 for fuel and change of both front tires, 44 sec

26th 	Bob Sweikert 

No. 73 Lee Elkins McNamara Special Wetteroth Kurtis KK2000/50 ‘010’ Offenhauser

77 laps, differential gear, 1 hr 32 min 48.21 sec, 124.457 mph

Speedway $2,008.18, Total $2,183.18 

Pit Stop: on lap 77 with rear end problems

27th 	Fred Agabashian 

No. 28 Cummins Engine Company Incorporated Cummins Diesel Special 

Kurtis 52 ‘347’ Cummins 

71 laps, debris clogged turbocharger intake, 1 hr 24 min 32.96 sec, 127.470 mph

Speedway $2,478.18, Total $2,653.18

Pit Stop: on lap 44 to change right side tires, 1 min 22 sec

28th 	Gene Hartley 

No. 67 Mel B. Wiggers Mel-Rae Special Wiggers Kurtis KK4000/52 ‘011’ Offenhauser

65 laps, broken exhaust pipe, 1 hr 20 min 37.23 sec, 120.937 mph

Speedway $1,948.19, Total $2,123.19 

Pit Stop: on lap 66 due to black flag by AAA officials because of loose exhaust pipe, retires due 

to right front kingpin or bushing failure

29th 	Bob Scott 

No. 93 Dr. Ludson D. Morris, M.D. Morris Special Kurtis KK2000/50 ‘328’ Offenhauser

49 laps, broken drive shaft, 1 hr 08 min 19.94 sec, 107.563 mph

Speedway $1,918.19, Total $2,093.19 

Pit Stops: on lap 6 for a change of spark plugs, 1 min 36 sec; on lap 45 for fuel, fuel hose cut-off 

fails and fuel dumped in pit area

30th 	Chet Miller 

No. 21 Lewis W. Welch Novi Pure Oil Special Kurtis 45 ‘003’ Winfield Novi

41 laps, fractured supercharger shaft, 55 min 10.74 sec, 111.455 mph

Front-wheel drive, Speedway $3,338.19, Total $3,663.19

Pit Stops: on lap 40 for fuel, change of spark plugs, and change of right rear and both front tires, 

5 min 45 sec; on lap 41 for a new magneto; on lap 42 retires with fractured supercharger shaft 

31st 	Alberto Ascari 

No. 12 Enzo Ferrari Ferrari Special Ferrari 375

40 laps, broken hub flange,spun, 46 min 36.90 sec, 128.714 mph

Speedway $1,858.19, Total $1,983.19 

32nd 	Bobby Ball 

No. 55 Rotary Engineering Corporation Ansted Special Stevens Offenhauser

34 laps, fractured transfer gear case, 39 min 36.93 sec, 128.737 mph

Speedway $1,828.19, Total $2,003.19

33rd 	Andy Linden 

No. 9 Hart Fullerton Miracle Power Special Kurtis KK4000/51 ‘338’ Offenhauser ‘111B’

20 laps, oil leak, 37 min 53.25 sec, 79.182 mph

Supercharged, Speedway $2,198.19, Total $2,273.19

Pit Stops: on lap 7 due to an oil leak takes on fuel, 1 min 10 sec; on lap 12 black flag 

for an oil leak from split oil line and a change of spark plugs, 12 min 09 sec; on lap 21 

with oil sump pump problems, and retires



Fastest Leading Lap

1 min 06.60 sec, 135.135 mph, on lap 8	Bill Vukovich, Kurtis Offenhauser 



Lap Leaders 

Laps 1 thru 6		Jack McGrath 

Laps 7 thru 11		Bill Vukovich  

Lap 12			Troy Ruttman 

Laps 13 thru 61		Bill Vukovich 

Laps 62 thru 82		Troy Ruttman 

Laps 83 thru 134	Bill Vukovich 

Laps 135 thru 147	Troy Ruttman 

Laps 148 thru 191	Bill Vukovich 

Laps 192 thru 200	Troy Ruttman 



Did Not Qualify 

Mike Nazaruk 		No. 66 M.A. Walker John Zink Special 

Kurtis KK3000/50 ‘332’ Offenhauser

Did not qualify, 133.844 mph, First alternate

Jimmy Jackson 		No. 61 Eugene A Casaroll Auto Shippers Special 

Kurtis KK3000/51 ‘336’ Offenhauser

Did not qualify, 133.824 mph, Second alternate

Gene Force 		No. 96 Brown Motor Company Brown Motors Special 

Schroeder Offenhauser

Did not qualify, 133.789 mph

George Tichenor 	No 88 Pete Schmidt Pete Schmidt Special 

Kurtis 4000/52 ‘348’ Offenhauser ‘139’

Did not qualify, 133.427 mph

Spider Webb 		No. 51 Slick Racers Incorporated Blue Crown Spark Plug Special 

Diedt Offenhauser

Did not qualify, 132.660 mph, Front-wheel drive

Bob Sweikert 		No. 52 Pat Clancy Pat Clancy Special 

Ewing Kurtis 48 ‘005’ Offenhauser

Did not qualify, 132.553 mph



Walt Faulkner 		No. 25 Eugene A. Casaroll Auto Shippers Special 

Kurtis 500A/52 ‘354’ Offenhauser

Did not complete run

Allen Heath 		No. 32 John T. Stanko Engle-Stanko Special 

Kurtis KK4000/52 ‘345’ Offenhauser

Wrecked during qualifying in Northwest turn

Bill Taylor 		No. 47 Charlie Marant Blue Crown Spark Plug Special 

Lesovsky Offenhauser

Did not complete run

Tony Bettenhausen 	No. 99 Murrell Belanger Belanger Motors Special 

Kurtis 49 ‘327’ Offenhauser

Wrecked during qualifying in Southwest turn



Entries

Walt Faulkner 		No. 3 Sid Street Sid Street Motor Special 

Pankratz Offenhauser

Johnnie Parsons 	No. 6 G. Grant and J. Bartlett Grant Piston Ring Ferrari Special 

Ferrari  

Paul Russo 		No. 10 Francis Bardazon Lutes Truck Parts Special 

Kurtis KK4000/51 ‘344’ Offenhauser 

Bobby Ball 		No. 15 John L. McDaniel Blakely Oil Special 

Schroeder Offenhauser

Wrecked during practice, Northwest turn 

Danny Kladis 		No. 19 Charles Pritchard Tuffanelli and Derrico Special 

Diedt Offenhauser, Front-wheel drive

Carl Forberg 		No. 23 R.A. Cott Fadely-Anderson Special 

Maserati Offenhauser

Johnny Mauro 		No. 35 Johnny Mauro Kennedy Tank Ferrari Special 

Ferrari 

Bobby Ball 		No. 38 Howard Keck Howard Keck Special 

Ferrari 

Jud Larson 		No. 39 Howard Iddings Iddings Auto Parts Special 

Meyer Offenhauser

Jackie Holmes 		No. 41 Speed Partners Speed Special 

Maserati Offenhauser (Supercharged)

Art Cross 		No. 44 Ray T. Brady Bowes Seal Fast Special 

Schroeder Offenhauser

Bill Cantrell 		No. 52 Pat Clancy Pat Clancy Special 

Ewing Kurtis 48 ‘005’ Offenhauser

Joe Barzda 		No. 53 Joseph J. Barzda California Speed Equipment Special 

Maserati Offenhauser

Frank Luptow 		No. 56 Karl Hall Bardahl Special 

Ewing Offenhauser

Buzz Barton 		No. 58 M. Pete Wales Pete Wales Trucking Special 

Rae Offenhauser

Dick Frazier 		No. 63 Lee S. Glessner Jeanie Lee Special 

Stevens Offenhauser

Jimmy Daywalt 		No. 64 Franklin T. Merkler Merkler Machine Works Special 

Kurtis 47 ‘007’ Winfield Bowes, Supercharged 

Duke Dinsmore 		No. 68 Ralph S. Miller Vulcan Tool Special 

R Miller R Mill

Bayliss Levrett 		No. 69 Brown Motor Company Brown Motor Company Special 

Kurtis KK2000/49 ‘324’ Offenhauser

Wrecked during practice on main straight 

Bob Sweikert 		No. 71 Milt Marion Marion Engineering Special 

Kurtis KK2000/49 ‘326’ Offenhauser

Peter Hahn 		No. 74 Charles Helin Helin Flyer Special 

Snowberger Offenhauser

Doc Shanebrook 	No. 76 L.E. Parks Parks Offy Special 

Pawl Offenhauser



Johnny Fedricks 	No. 82 Calvin C. Connell Cal Connell Special 

Kurtis KK3000/50 ‘331’ or KK500A/52 ‘352’ Cadillac

Did not arrive 

Ottis Stine 		No. 84 B & M Racing Team B & M Special 

Scopa Offenhauser

Did not arrive 

Chuck Weyant 		No. 92 Paul A. Martin & William Richards Martin & Richards Pipe Fitters Special 

Koehnle Offenhauser

Did not arrive 

Allen Heath 		No. 97 J.C. Agajanian Agajanian Special 

Kuzma Studebaker

Did not arrive


#12 paulhooft

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 17:53

From back in the late fifties, those Modern... Sidewinders have intrigued me ..
There was not much information about the 500 in Europe then,
only a few Firestone add's
We now have 2 nice books on Watson roadsters by Joe Scalzo and Gary Wayne, and the extensive Novi Volumes by Mr George Peters and my good friend Henri Greuter and Gordon White fine books on Offenhauser and Kurtis..
My next wish is a book about the other glorious roadsters..
Paul Hooft
Netherlands

#13 Aanderson

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 19:27

Originally posted by Don Capps
The Roadster that won in 1957 was actually a Quinn Epperly chassis which George Salih, as the chief mechanic, tweaked into a winning proposition. There has always been some discussion as to where the Epperly part ended and the Sahil part began.

There really isn't an "Indy Cars A-Z" floating around out there. Much of that information is scattered all over the place in books, articles, and in the minds of such folks as Phil Harms and several others who visit this forum.

It is an endlessly fascinating story and you can't leave out Halibrand, Gerhardt, Brawner, Gurney, Foyt, and others who produced cars in the post-Roadster era.

Gordon White has done an outstanding job in tracking down the Kurtis cars and their appearances at Indy and Gary Wayne has produced the best accounting of the Watson Roadsters, one that has proved invaluable.


Interesting that you should think that George Salih "tweaked" an otherwise Quinn Epperly chassis, as I believe Indianapolis Motor Speedway records do not show an Epperly chassis entered until either 1958 or 59.

I believe it is quite the other way around. Quinn Epperly copied the idea of Salih's laydown roadster, as it seemed to be the "unbeatable" combination (which for a laydown it was, no other laydown ever came close, but Salih's entry won, back-to-back, in 1957-58). But, as they say...there is more:

Frank Kurtis is credited with building the first "laydown" car, the 1952 Cummins Diesel Spl., which with it's 402cid 6-cylinder turbocharged truck engine being both tall, and quite heavy, needed all the help it could get (in 1950, Cummins sponsored another diesel car, with a conventional chassis layout, which did not do well). Kurtis, in 1952, also produced 3 other entries, the first of his "500" series of chassis, two of which (one being Bill Vukovich's Fuel Injection Spl.) were built with offset engines (the famed roadster layout), laid over 18-degrees from vertical to the right. The 3rd KK-500A (The Auto Shippers Spl.) had its engine mounted on the centerline, with the driveshaft running below the driver's seat, in true dirt car fashion. However, one overriding characteristic of almost all Kurtis Offy roadsters from then on was the semi-laid-over engine.

Art Anderson

#14 Aanderson

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 20:11

Originally posted by petefenelon


I agree Roger - it's an area that on this side of the Atlantic is very hard to find out about.

I would love to know more about the people and technology involved in building the cars of "Roadster years" in US racing - really from the end of the "junkyard formula" to the Cooper/Lotus/Mickey Thompson rear-engined revolution. There doesn't seem to be anything of the depth of (say) Borgeson's Golden Age of the American Racing Car about this era, yet to me the big roadsters are just as evocative as those exquisite little Millers etc.

Very few names stand out from behind the commercialism - apart from Offenhauser on the engine side, Watson and Kurtis-Kraft on the chassis front I can only really think of oddities like the Fageol, or the Gulf-Miller, or the Novis... and the odd European invader like Mercedes or Maserati. it'd be great to know more of the stories behind some of the more special "specials".



Pete,

I agree, it's pretty tough sometimes to think of a particular car by its constructor's name when the sides and nose are plastered with graphics and sponsor decals. However, it was always considerably different in the US than in Europe in from the 20's onward. For starters, I want to think that you'd have to go all the way back to 1925 to record a "works team" in Victory Lane at Indianapolis, that car being the Duesenberg Spl., built by Fred and August Duesenberg (both chassis and engine/driveline), owned by Duesenberg, with no further sponsorship, driven by Peter DePaolo. Harry A. Miller Inc., the other serious race car constructor in the US also built entire cars, but Miller never campaigned cars themselves, certainly not in the 20's, rather, they built "turn-key" race cars, which were purchased and run by wealthy car owners, who, as the 20's wore on, did acquire sponsorships. Certainly the Depression years of the 1930's were no different. In fact, I believe there were only two serious "works teams" in that decade, the Studebaker Factory Team of 1932-33, and the Miller Ford team in 1935. Even Studebaker, however, did not build there cars (chassis were by Herman Rigling, the bodywork largely by Myron Stevens).

Other than these exceptions, open wheel racing in the US since prior to WW-I has been the province of the "privateer", who had to assemble a team, usually a chief mechanic, of course a driver, and perhaps 2 or 3 "stooges" to help out at the tracks themselves. The cars were a bit of a collection of component assemblies once the likes of Miller and Duesenberg went away: The car owner bought a chassis (new if he could afford it, used if money was tight), an engine (again, a new motor when possible, rebuild an older engine if that was the only thing affordable). In the 30's, mechanics scoured the country for good used racing axles, front and rear, adapted either older Miller brakes and gearboxes, or modified passenger car units (primarily Ford) to work.

By the 50's, chassis construction had evolved to quite an art for this type of racing, but builders such as Watson and Kurtis built little more than the frame, body panels, suspension and front axles. Engines (other than those used by the Novi team) were almost universally the Offenhauser, who built only a handful of new engines yearly, but supplied every replacement part needed to keep earlier engines running, often for years. The two speed transmissions were generally rebuilt 30's Ford gear boxes, with second gear often removed, as it wasn't needed, but with reverse gear still in place (one of the interesting details of AAA Championship car rules up through the early 50's was that Indianapolis cars had to be able to "back up"!). Offenhauser didn't even build the carburetion, leaving induction to whomever, after the arrival of fuel injection, Stuart Hilborn provided all the fuel injection systems throughout the roadster era. Halibrand Engineering supplied rear axles and quick-change centersections, as well as front and rear hub carriers, Monroe Auto Equipment built special shock absorbers in return for decal placement on the car, Champion (and later also Autolite) provided spark plugs free of charge for promotional consideration, Airheart built disc brake systems, and Ross Gear built many of the steering gear components, even though Gordon Shroeder apparently constructed the steering boxes himself. The era became, very quickly, a strange, curious, yet wonderful blend of degreed engineers, self-taught chassis men such as Kurtis, Watson, Lesovsky, Salih, Epperly and Kuzma, along with others who had cut their teeth, as it were, in the hot rodding "wars" of Southern California.

No wonder the cars became known as "specials", which they were in the truest sense of the word, not at all unlike what I understand the British term "special" to mean in regard to a competition car, meaning a car constructed of bits, pieces and components from here and there. And, in those days, I submit that relatively few spectators truly knew who the various men were behind each car, they simply recognized the car for what it was, the "such-and-such Special".

Actually, it wasn't so much the "European Influx" that doomed the roadsters, but rather the sudden, massive infusion of serious corporate money, beginning with Ford Motor Company in 1964 (when Ford made the 4-cam Indianapolis engine available for sale), and by 1966, not only free tires, but free engines and chassis courtesy of Goodyear and Firestone. In fact, both Frank Kurtis (in the early 50's) and AJ Watson both had serious interest in pursuing the rear-engine idea, but only Watson every got one on the track. Keep in mind, that when it was only the car owner's bankbook funding the car, with some help from sponsors, it was a very conservative era, and only when major dollars began to flow almost freely, then technology rolled.

Art Anderson

#15 ensign14

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 20:22

For some details on the personalities involved, such as Wayne Ewing and AJ Watson, Joe Scalzo's book "Indianapolis Roadsters 1952-1964" seems to be a pretty good source.

#16 m.tanney

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 22:25

  There's a new book out on the Offenhauser engine. The details can be found in The Big Book Thread .

#17 Don Capps

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 22:40

Art,

Having read and heard so many versions of the George Salih and Quin Epperley "saga," I am not sure that most of the information presented from either side really tells the "rest of the story." I know that I have wobbled back-and-forth and have lately begun to edge into the Epperley camp. However, as is often the case in American open-wheeled racing, the truth is still out there somewhere.

As I have posted in the past, the AAA Contest Board stated that racing cars had to be named and called "Specials" since the first Contest Rules were published for the 1909 season. Prior to WW1 there were a number of works-backed racing programs in the US -- Case, Marmon, Maxwell, Packard, Stutz, Mason, and others.

However, existing cheek-by-jowl with these works teams were those Sportsmen who would form the backbone of US racing for decades and decades.

Good stuuf, enjoyed reading it!

#18 Aanderson

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:07

Originally posted by paulhooft
What about Miller, Chevrolet..
Paul


Well,

Miller was, and still is, very well-known as an Indy car builder even today, simply because a Miller race car was so identifiable, visually, and in it's design and engineering. In addition, the Millers of the 20's were legendary in their own time.

Louis Chevrolet, along with his brothers Arthur and Gaston, was very well-known in his time, and his memory is perpetuated in Indianapolis, by a large memorial bust, sited just outside to the left of the Speedway Museum's entrance, along with his grave site in Crown Hill Cemetery on 38th street on the north side of Indianapolis. Gaston Chevrolet is forever enshrined on the Borg Warner Trophy, as the winner of the 1920 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

In the pre-race activities this year, both on Carburetion Day, and before the 500, Louis Chevrolet was further recognized by the appearance of his impressive (from a predictive, but not performance view point) 1915 Cornelian, which someone has beautifully resurrected.

At the beginning of this thread, the thought was expressed that we don't truly recognize/remember the constructors of Indy cars, but rather the car as some sort of "Special", while the builder(s) are often obscured by the car's name. However, in the case of the Chevrolet Brothers, their two victorious years did put forth the name of their fledgling automobile company, which did fail in the economic ills of the early 20's: Frontenac. (Yes, Virginia, there was truly a Frontenac passenger automobile produced!).

In 1920, Louis and Arthur Chevrolet built a 4-cylinder race car, which they ran under both Monroe and Frontenac names in that year's 500. They were, however, the same cars, just that Monroe was a sponsor, while Frontenac Motors picked up the cost of the others. In the IMS Museum stands a restored 1920 Monroe engine. I have pics of this engine on my site: http://public.fotki.com/modlra/

In 1921, Louis Chevrolet built a straight eight powered car, with pretty much the same design as his 1920 effort, but a bit longer, due to the longer engine. Tommy Milton won in this car. However, as far as I know, the whereabouts of any of the Frontenac Indy Cars is unknown, save for the one restored engine.

As the 20's drew to a close, race cars in the US became known by their sponsorship name, for one very simple reason: Commercial sponsors providing the funding for a racing effort, be it just Indy, or a whole season's campaign, rightly expected some return for their expenditure, and that was the advertizing value of the car on the track. Think of racing as being perhaps the first highly visible, animated commercial! Couple this with the "hero" status attained by major-league race drivers which made the driver the important person, not the vendor/builder of the chassis or engine, and you surely get the picture.

For perhaps the first 25 years or so of NASCAR, the cars themselves were far better known away from the track than were the drivers. Not until the rise of such stars as Richard Petty, did the driver begin to become the overwhelming personality seen in NASCAR today. When I was coming home (950 miles) from Daytona in February 1965, the only question anyone asked at gas stations, cafe's was "What won, Ford or Plymouth?" not who won. No wonder the heavy emphasis by Detroit automakers on their racing programs back then: "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday".

Indy cars seldom ever had that kind of tie-in. Of course, Marmon, Stutz, National, Peugeot, Mercedes, Frontenac and Duesenberg all reaped some benefit from their cars winning at Indy, and other tracks, as did Studebaker in 1932-33 even though their cars never won. Cummins Engine Company even toured their 1931 non-stop running Indianapolis entry all across the US, even in Europe, but that was about the end of it. (and Cummins only built the engine of that car, the chassis is a Duesenberg Model A chassis).

Art Anderson :smoking:

#19 Aanderson

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:36

Originally posted by Don Capps
Art,

Having read and heard so many versions of the George Salih and Quin Epperley "saga," I am not sure that most of the information presented from either side really tells the "rest of the story." I know that I have wobbled back-and-forth and have lately begun to edge into the Epperley camp. However, as is often the case in American open-wheeled racing, the truth is still out there somewhere.

As I have posted in the past, the AAA Contest Board stated that racing cars had to be named and called "Specials" since the first Contest Rules were published for the 1909 season. Prior to WW1 there were a number of works-backed racing programs in the US -- Case, Marmon, Maxwell, Packard, Stutz, Mason, and others.

However, existing cheek-by-jowl with these works teams were those Sportsmen who would form the backbone of US racing for decades and decades.

Good stuuf, enjoyed reading it!


Don,

I would submit that when researching such as this, it might be well to go back to the contemporary literature and records of the time. Jack Fox, in his "History of the Indianapolis 500" books of 1967 and a later, updated edition, used IMS entry forms and records to give the chassis builder of every car, wherever that was known (I am pretty certain that the records of 1957 are intact). At the time Fox compiled his book, Quinn Epperly and George Salih were both still living, and Fox was a newspaper reporter, so he in all likelihood did research the basic facts of his book, which was a listing of each race by finish, driver, car name, engine, chassis builder, qualifying time, laps completed, order of finish, along with a black & white picture of each car from the official photographs. Floyd Clymer also refers to the Belond Spl. (1957--Sam Hanks), and the Belong AP Spl. (1958) as having been built by George Salih, in his 1957 and 1958 Indy 500 Yearbooks. In addition, in an after dinner talk perhaps 25 years ago, Sam Hanks, in an after-speech question & answer, referred to the car's builder as Sam Hanks. Donald Davidson, as good a historian (with a passion for correctness) also speaks of the car as a Salih Chassis. What does make it perhaps confusing is that while George Salih rather dropped from the scene quite soon after the car quit racing (Bryan dropped out of the 1959 500 on the first lap, with engine failure), Quinn Epperly continued building laydown cars out through at least 1961, and all such roadsters got somehow called "Epperly's (even though Lujie Lesovsky built at least as many). The late Ed Hitze Sr., at the time he wrote his book "The Kurtis Kraft Story" also always referred to the 1957-58 winner as having been designed and built by George Salih. Having known Ed Hitze Sr. from my late teens up to the time of his passing, I have little reason to doubt him, as Ed, through his race car photography, was very "dialed in" to the AAA and USAC Championship Trail from the late 1930's until well into the 1960's and knew virtually every car builder and most chief mechanics quite well.

In addition, the Belond car, as it stands in the Museum today, was acquired immediately upon its retirement from racing in 1960-61, intact, so there can be little doubt that it is a totally correct car. Also, I seem to recall the late Barney Wimmer, who along with Bill Spoerle, handled restorations of cars for the Museum until his passing about 15 years ago or so, telling me that the Belond Car was a George Salih creation, and that Epperly had a "thing" about claiming some credit for it, but Wimmer wasn't at all convinced of that, and expressed a rather low opinion of Epperly (Wimmer was a chief mechanic in AAA and USAC for years, up until he went to work for Tony Hulman about 1957 or so.

Given all of this, plus the fact that the first Epperly laydown chassis seems to have appeared in either 1958 or 1959, I really believe that it was Epperly "knocking off" Salih, and not the other way around. Also, as a final thought: Race car builders and mechanics back then were a very close-knit group, and were well-known to have shared ideas and concepts over a beer or two, so it is likely that Epperly may well have known of Salih's project, perhaps even helped him out on it as well, given that Salih put every dime he had (even mortgaged his home!) to build it. That could be the genesis of the story you are hearing/reading.

Art Anderson

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#20 Don Capps

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 03:44

Epperly built the fuel and oil tanks and the bodywork for the Salih chassis that became the No. 9 Belond Exhaust Special. Doubtless he assisted on perhaps a few other items as well. It pays to look at your own notes before speaking when you are trying to do more than one thing -- an increasing problem for this member of the Geritol Generation.

Speaking of contemporary sources, the 1957 Clymer annual actually lists the chassis of the cars which qualified for the race that first weekend, something not too common at the time. The 1959 Clymer does a complete listing of all the "builders" of the cars entered. The No. 6 Belond A-P Muffler Special has the builder listed as "Epperly" and the chief mechanic as Salih. The question is whether or not Jimmy Bryan was in the same car that ran in 1957 and 1958. Apparently it was. This is obviously where the confusion started. Why Epperly was now listed as the builder is not made clear in anything I've read. However, the information is submitted by the car owner. And the owner of the No. 6? George Salih. Pity the poor historian.....

#21 petefenelon

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 09:07

Originally posted by ensign14
For some details on the personalities involved, such as Wayne Ewing and AJ Watson, Joe Scalzo's book "Indianapolis Roadsters 1952-1964" seems to be a pretty good source.


I've read a fair few of Scalzo's pieces on US drivers in Motor Sport - his style is a bit sensationalist there, is his book a bit more sober? He knows his stuff, but his writing is very much in the florid US sportswriter tradition...

#22 petefenelon

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 09:10

Thanks aanderson for your very informative and knowledgeable postings on this thread - they're certainly very thought-provoking about the difference in racing culture between the US and Europe. I wasn't necessarily thinking in terms of 'works' vs 'privateer', but in terms of the US analogues of later European constructors like Cooper, Ralt, Brabham etc -- the guys who built the "raw material" that the Specials came from, and the teams who bought the cars off them.

Thanks also for the pointers to literature.

#23 ensign14

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 11:11

Originally posted by petefenelon


I've read a fair few of Scalzo's pieces on US drivers in Motor Sport - his style is a bit sensationalist there, is his book a bit more sober? He knows his stuff, but his writing is very much in the florid US sportswriter tradition...

Maybe a little more sober, but constantly refers to people by their often less than flattering nicknames - Fat Boy Ewing anyone?; having said that, it does make a change and is stuffed with info.

#24 Aanderson

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 12:45

Originally posted by petefenelon
Thanks aanderson for your very informative and knowledgeable postings on this thread - they're certainly very thought-provoking about the difference in racing culture between the US and Europe. I wasn't necessarily thinking in terms of 'works' vs 'privateer', but in terms of the US analogues of later European constructors like Cooper, Ralt, Brabham etc -- the guys who built the "raw material" that the Specials came from, and the teams who bought the cars off them.

Thanks also for the pointers to literature.


I would suppose that the greatest difference between European racing and the American scene in the first 15-20 years after the War would have been the somewhat "backyard garage" nature of race car construction in the US in those days (speaking of open-wheel, of course). For example, Frank Kurtis, while building dozens of complete midgets, also sold "kits" wherein all the tubular chassis members were formed, even to the "fishmouthing" of the ends of pieces meant to be butt-welded onto others, for home construction.

AJ Watson did a very similar thing, fabricating parts for individuals wanting one of his roadsters, as well as selling plans for them (for example, Foyt's 1961 winner was built by Floyd Trevis, and Eddie Sachs' 1960-61 Dean Van Lines car was built by Wayne Ewing, but share so much in design of the chassis as to be virtual copies of a Watson.

As for "works VS privateer", that was about the only comparison I could think of. I do think, however, that US race car owners went quite a bit farther, as they well could have, given the breadth and depth of the speed equipment industry in the US at the time. With the exception of Meyer-Drake, an awful lot of small, almost "cottage industry" companies produced a broad range of speed equipment and race car components by the early 1950's, much of it of course done from the very beginning as specialty race car componentry, other equipment modified from aircraft application (Joe Hunt Magnetos for example were modified from units designed for use with Continental and Lycoming 4-cylinder aircraft engines). One simply has to but look at the wide array of "hot rod" equipment makers of the 1950's to see: Halibrand, Hilborn, Iskenderian, Forged True, Airheart--the list is long.

Art Anderson

#25 Don Capps

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 16:27

Looking at the list of builders in the 1959 Clymer annual, here are the ones mentioned and the number of times:

Epperly (includes the Salih car) -- 6
Lesovsky -- 4
Watson -- 6
Kurtis -- 25
Phillips -- 1
Kuzma -- 11
Maserati -- 1
Utzman -- 1 (or Christain)
Elder -- 1
Cornis -- 1
Curtis -- 1
Moore -- 1
Sutton -- 1
Dunn -- 1

#26 wibblywobbly

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 01:08

I can't believe noone has not mentioned the Whipett. Created by the Willeys - Overland Company, this car competed in the "500", during the 30s, as far as I know. I've only known of the car, for about a day and a half, but have learned much about it. Anyone care to add to this? Please?

#27 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 01:30

And at the same time the same company were involved in yet another field... the one that's the subject of this thread...

http://www.atlasf1.c...&threadid=11402

I wonder if there's any chance of those who are devoting so much attention to this well-trodden path to answering the question I have posed a month ago?

#28 David M. Kane

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 01:54

I have to agree with you. I haven't missed an Indy 500 since 1950 and I don't even know where to start the conversation. Clearly Don Capps is the man given what I have seen so far.

I will tell you this, I went to my live 500 this year and they had different historical cars running every day, THEN on qualifying day they
bought out the REAL stuff and it was amazing, the sounds, the colors...
unbelievable. To appreciate the situation you have to visit the museum.

I am going to go away and think about this and come back I hope with a more sensible message since I now live in Indy and I have been here since
December.

#29 Don Capps

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 02:39

To kinda, sorta, almost address Ray's excellent question: when you sit down and read the Rueter and Joel Finn books, then something like the Wilbur Shaw book, the few copies of Speedway News available, Automobile Racing, and Who's Who in Automobile Racing, and then the Floyd Clymer Indianapolis 500 compilation and cast that all against what is then happening in Europe from 1930 or 1931 until the start of WW2, you see much of what will set the stage for the first 10-12 years of American racing after The War.

The ARCA folks were deeply taken with the notion of road racing and the image of the gentleman racer. They devised tracks of varying lengths -- usually under a mile -- at such places as:

Overlook Estate, Pocantico Hills, NY -- Sleepy Hollow Ring
Wayland Mass -- Bemis Estate Eace Circuit
Briarcliff, NY -- Briarcliff Manor (Grand Prix of the United States of America)
Marston Mills, Mass
Memphis, Tenn -- Memphis Cotton Carnival Race (4.4 mi)
Alexandria Bay, NY
Westbury, NY -- Roosevelt Raceway
Montauk, NY -- Montauk Manor
Flushing Meadows -- World's Fair

While there were perhaps a great divide between the worlds of the ARCA gents and the AAA pros, they were both very similar -- they loved racing. And they saw the problem of fielding an entry merely something to be overcome, hence the specials they devised from whatever was at hand. And whether it was for a $5 trophy dash or a 50 cent trophy, they raced to the best extent of their abilities. More a case of different sides of the same coin than different worlds.

Let's not overlook that there were also road courses planned for Los Angeles, Dallas, and several other places during this period. And "Pop" Myers was prone to refer to the "Indianapolis Grand Prix" despite the views of Eddie Rickenbacker which were not quite so "internationalist" if you will.

Despite the excellent -- superb -- efforts of more than a few, we still have big, gaping holes in the fabric of American Racing history, not the least of which is the period from about 1928 when the boardtracks were fading from the scene until the late 1950's (say 1958) when what could perhaps be called the Modern Era really got started.

Several have led the way and have given us much that I am sure we are so grateful for having at hand to shed light on this era, but there is still much more that can be done. While the "gents" and the "pros" may have travelled in different circle so to speak, they still lived in the same world. That is what often gets overlooked. And the Racers generally got along better than most would imagine given the images that have become part of the folklore. This is where folks like Cameron Argetsinger, Big Bill France, and the like really made a difference.

Anyhow, I think you get the idea that I get just a tad spun up on all this.

#30 Aanderson

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 12:13

Originally posted by wibblywobbly
I can't believe noone has not mentioned the Whipett. Created by the Willeys - Overland Company, this car competed in the "500", during the 30s, as far as I know. I've only known of the car, for about a day and a half, but have learned much about it. Anyone care to add to this? Please?



No Whippet automobile competed at Indianapolis. What you refer to is a car sponsored by Willys-Overland driven by Wilbur Shaw, a Miller 91 rear drive, I seem to recall (my book on Shaw is buried here, someplace, in boxes left over from a move over a year ago).

While certainly, the Whippet Automobile was a neat, and somewhat trend-setting car (my Dad's first new car was a 1928 Whippet Roadster--he talked lovingly about that car for the rest of his 88 years), it was nowhere near a racing car, not with just 45 hp, from a flathead 4cylinder motor. The Whippet is far better remembered for that engine, which went on to power every Willys-Overland car built, from 1933 to the end of the 1940's, including the famed World War II MB Jeep, and the first Jeep CJ's.

Art Anderson

#31 Don Capps

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 14:50

Originally posted by Aanderson
No Whippet automobile competed at Indianapolis. What you refer to is a car sponsored by Willys-Overland driven by Wilbur Shaw, a Miller 91 rear drive, I seem to recall (my book on Shaw is buried here, someplace, in boxes left over from a move over a year ago).

Art Anderson


In 1930, there are three cars usually credited with having "Whippet" chassis and Miller engines. They are the following:

15th place Ernie Triplett, No. 17 Guiberson Special entered by Allen Guiberson
17th place Mel Keneally, No.10 MAVV Special entered by James Talbot, Jr.
19th place Tony Gulotta, No. 9 MAVV Special entered by James Talbot, Jr.

The Nos. 9 & 10 MAVV Specials were the named for the "Melcher Automatic Veriable Venturi" carburetor. These were Miller rear-drive chassis equipped with four-cylinder Miller marine racing engines. These cars had engines of 150.4 cubic inches of displacement. The team mechanic was Jerry Hands.

The No. 17 Guiberson Special was similar to the MAVV Specials -- rear-drive Miller and marine Miller engine, except the displacement was 183 cubic inches. The team mechanic was Harvey Ward. The car was composed of parts mostly derived from the Ford Model A, the clutch, transmission, and rear axle in particular being Ford parts.

The No. 25 Allen Miller Products Special was entered and driven by Leslie Allen. It too carried a four-cylinder 183 cubic inch Miller marine engine in a Miller rear-drive chassis. Yet it is a "Miller" where the other three are "Whippets."

Now it gets a bit interesting. Prior to the race, the No. 16 Miller Schofield Special -- or Miller Hi-Speed Special as it was known prior to the re-naming -- of William S. "Bill" White for Shorty Cantlon was described as a Miller rear-drive chassis with a Miller marine engine of 183-cubic inches. So, was this a true Myron Stevens chassis or a Miller carrying Stevens bodywork?

#32 fines

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 16:05

Originally posted by Don Capps
Utzman -- 1 (or Christain)

I believe that should read Christianson, for Barney Christianson.

Originally posted by Don Capps
So, was this a true Myron Stevens chassis or a Miller carrying Stevens bodywork?

Practically all Millers carried Myron Stevens bodywork - he was head of the Miller bodyshop all through the twenties!;)


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#33 fines

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 16:11

About the Whippets, Mark Dees has the following to say: "Jim Talbot entered two cars in the 1930 Indianapolis contest using his [Miller] 151 hydroplane engines (with high compression pistons) in converted Whippet chassis."


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#34 Don Capps

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 17:56

Originally posted by fines
I believe that should read Christianson, for Barney Christianson.


I was merely quoting from a contemporary source and I had the same point in mind which I should have mentioned. Great catch! :up:

The Stevens point is one that often makes me scratch my head. Yep, as the bodywork man at Miller, Stevens fashioned the panels which covered just about every Miller of the time. Yet, Stevens is given credit for the chassis of the Bill White Schofield Shorty Cantlon machine when Dees states it was a 91 Miller rear-drive chassis.

The more I look into this "Whippet" business, the more I see headaches since a contemporary source, Harry Blanchard of MoToR, learly refers to the "Whippets" as rear-drive Millers. Given the painstaking attention to the modified stock or stock-based cars in the 1930 race, the appearance of a lowly Willys Whippet as a chassis is something that would get lots of ink.

I keep thinking of the "Whippet Special" that Wilbur shaw drove -- a rear-drive 122 chassis -- and keep thinking that there is perhaps a connection here. :confused:

#35 Aanderson

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 01:20

Originally posted by Don Capps


In 1930, there are three cars usually credited with having "Whippet" chassis and Miller engines. They are the following:

15th place Ernie Triplett, No. 17 Guiberson Special entered by Allen Guiberson
17th place Mel Keneally, No.10 MAVV Special entered by James Talbot, Jr.
19th place Tony Gulotta, No. 9 MAVV Special entered by James Talbot, Jr.

The Nos. 9 & 10 MAVV Specials were the named for the "Melcher Automatic Veriable Venturi" carburetor. These were Miller rear-drive chassis equipped with four-cylinder Miller marine racing engines. These cars had engines of 150.4 cubic inches of displacement. The team mechanic was Jerry Hands.

The No. 17 Guiberson Special was similar to the MAVV Specials -- rear-drive Miller and marine Miller engine, except the displacement was 183 cubic inches. The team mechanic was Harvey Ward. The car was composed of parts mostly derived from the Ford Model A, the clutch, transmission, and rear axle in particular being Ford parts.

The No. 25 Allen Miller Products Special was entered and driven by Leslie Allen. It too carried a four-cylinder 183 cubic inch Miller marine engine in a Miller rear-drive chassis. Yet it is a "Miller" where the other three are "Whippets."

Now it gets a bit interesting. Prior to the race, the No. 16 Miller Schofield Special -- or Miller Hi-Speed Special as it was known prior to the re-naming -- of William S. "Bill" White for Shorty Cantlon was described as a Miller rear-drive chassis with a Miller marine engine of 183-cubic inches. So, was this a true Myron Stevens chassis or a Miller carrying Stevens bodywork?



Does a set of Willys Whippet frame rails a Whippet Indy car make? If the answer is yes, than yes it does, I suppose. Of course, consider that 1930 was the beginning of the so-called "Junk Formula" at Indianapolis, and any number of production automobile frames got used in this time frame. However, without seeing good, clear pictures showing the front and rear axles, etc., I suspect it would be hard to tell if these cars also used Whippet front axles, and I would somehow doubt that the rear axle would have stood the test for long, where it a Whippet. Most assuredly, as you note, the Whippet-framed cars did not use the Whippet 4-cylinder, which I stated they surely would not have used. In fact, I don't know that anyone made the race in the Junk Era with anyone's production-based 4. Those engines just weren't made for that kind of hopping up.

The biggest reason for smaller teams trying out production car frames likely was the extremely low cost, a used car for the frame could have been had for no more than a couple of hundred dollars, take the frame, junk the rest; for far less money than it would have cost to pick up an obsolete single seat Miller or Duesenberg chassis, then rework it to the width necessary.

Model A Ford front and rear axles were readily available, and as anyone familiar with the Model A can attest, those parts were stout as hell, and when compared to other makes, much lighter as well. Also, the transverse springs lent themselves readily to oval-track use: Just bolt the left end of the spring directly to the mount on the axle, use a longer shackle on the right side, to eliminate the tendency of that kind of spring to swing side-to-side, as they would do on the production car. The Model A radius rods were easily split, then spread out so they could be attached to the outside of the frame rails so the car could be lowered by use of a "suicide spring mount" in front, and "zee-ing" the frame in the rear. Where do you think the hot rodders found out about those tricks?

There were several cars at Indianapolis in the 30's that used virtually stock 1932 Ford frames, not even narrowed. You can tell these (the Bohnalite Car in 1933 comes to mind) by spotting the characteristic "reveal" on the sides of the frame rails (where Ford bolted on the front and rear fenders and running boards, the "reveal" forming the "splash apron" as part of the frame itself, as opposed to the more conventional sheet metal splash apron.

Model A and 42-39 Ford V8 transmissions were very popular in Championship & sprint cars from the 30's onward, due to their light weight, top-loader gearshifts, and nearly bulletproof stamina (Ol' Henry built 'em stout!).

As for the "Stevens" chassis being made from Miller 91 frame rails, I would guess that the chassis was built by Myron Stevens, by modifying a Miller 91 frame to suit.

Art Anderson

#36 Don Capps

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:20

Maybe we're just talking literally in circles here. Granted that the formula adopted by the AAA Contest Board in late 1928 for the 1930 season opened the doors to no end of approaches to putting together racing cars for Indianapolis and elsewhere, but we seem long on generalities and short on specifics. Naturally, this is scarcely surprising considering the topic and the specific subject.

Really dumb question on my part: where are the references to the Whippet frame rails being used and in which cars? Given my relatively limited research resources for 1930 and 1931 -- basically Dees, Fox and Clymer, I would really be interested to seeing where that came from. One reason I ask is that I am wondering that if they had a Miller chassis -- 91 or 122 -- why would there be a need to use frame rails from a Willy Whippet? Or were the rails needed for the widening of the chassis necessitated by the requirement to lug a mechanic along as well as to fit the chunkier marine Miller four?

In the Allen Special, front and rear axles and brakes are listed as being Miller. In the Guiberson Special, there are all listed as Ford. In the MAVV Specials, these same items are Timken and Bendix.

In 1931, the Jones Specials of Stubblefield and Farmer have as their chassis "Willys-Overland" in Fox. Both have Miller four-cylinder engines of 182.3-cubic inch displacements. The front and rear axles are Timken, clutch and transmission are Brown Lipe, and both have a 104-inch wheelbase. I must be either overlooking something or simply don't have the right research materials. It would be quite something for the "lowly" Whippet to have actually been used at Indianapolis.

The Duray chassis is listed by Fox as a "Stevens/Willys-Overland" so no telling what that really is. Very nice looking, though.

One of the problems with this era for is that I always have more questions that answers and the answers only lead to more and more questions. That alone is an indication as to how much additional work is needed in this area. Not just the data, but the stories behind the data and the events.

As for the Model A, right on the button. The last car my Dad restored was a Model A. He sold it and always intended to do another, but..... It was really interesting to do work on it as compared to the Corvairs that Dad had specialized in for many years -- my brother was a VW mechanic and I once had a Porsche as well as a really nice '64 Spyder and a '65 Corsa that Dad fixed up for me. The Model A was built tough. I was amazed at just how durable those things were. I was not at all surprised to find that many of its parts were used in racing.

#37 m.tanney

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 16:06

Originally posted by theunions
No, there is no such hard copy source. And North American publishers have little or no interest right now in publishing anything having to do with open wheel racing TODAY, let alone 40+ years ago (i.e., the rejection letter I received from David Bull). One primary reason for that is because the reading/buying public wants/demands NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR and more NASCAR (doesn't matter how good - or bad - the writing or photography is - it's the subject matter that counts most). So there's plenty of blame to go around.


theunions,

  I wasn't going to ask this. I thought, "Do I really need to know about another racing history book that's having trouble finding a publisher? "
  Curiousity finally got the better of me.
  What is your book about?

#38 paulhooft

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 16:21

OK..
I have got the message...
In Europe we now have another kind of NASCAR:
it is Called:
Formula One...

That old song goes ...

Where did all the Grand Prix gone...
Long time...
passing...

Passing?
Long time ago!

Paul Hooft
Somewhere in Europe..
Netherlands,
in fact...

#39 theunions

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 16:31

Originally posted by m.tanney


theunions,

  I wasn't going to ask this. I thought, "Do I really need to know about another racing history book that's having trouble finding a publisher? "
  Curiousity finally got the better of me.
  What is your book about?


I've got several books in mind, but the one specifically pitched and rejected (not just by David Bull) was a biography on Jerry Unser, Jr. (and nobody seems to care about the NASCAR content that's actually quite pivotal to the story, which offends me to no end).

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#40 fines

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 18:23

Originally posted by Don Capps
In the Allen Special, front and rear axles and brakes are listed as being Miller. In the Guiberson Special, there are all listed as Ford. In the MAVV Specials, these same items are Timken and Bendix.

In 1931, the Jones Specials of Stubblefield and Farmer have as their chassis "Willys-Overland" in Fox. Both have Miller four-cylinder engines of 182.3-cubic inch displacements. The front and rear axles are Timken, clutch and transmission are Brown Lipe, and both have a 104-inch wheelbase. I must be either overlooking something or simply don't have the right research materials. It would be quite something for the "lowly" Whippet to have actually been used at Indianapolis.

:eek: Don, where are you getting this details from??? :eek:

#41 Don Capps

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 19:26

Originally posted by fines
:eek: Don, where are you getting this details from??? :eek:


From the tables provided by MoToR and printed in the Clymer Omnibus Indianapolis Race History, which I bought for the massive investment of $3.50 at some point in the the mid-1950's, which was a huge fortune at the time (remember that this same $3.50 could buy 35 comic books....).

While there is much on the engines, diddly squat on the chassis for the most part.

Admittedly, my lack of knowledge is often exceeded only by my ignorance at times, but there are materials in The Alternate and other such references which I have in too short a supply.

I am always happy to find that someone has unearthed new tidbits of information which shine light on the data and events that we really don't have as good a picture of -- well, some of us at any rate... -- that we would like or makes the case for something we sorta "knew" but didn't really know why or had just accepted as it was passed on without the related supporting data or story.

Paul, The "history" of Euro F1 is almost too crowded a field, although much of it seems to contribute little to the real picture or tell much of a story. Fortunately there are some wonderful exceptions, but far too few and too often difficult to obtain.

Art has provided some excellent leads for those interested in this period. He is truly a man after my own heart. Too often it is easy to overlook the role of the rather mundane Ford Model A and its role in American racing, particularly as a source of components. In setting the stage, the generalities are often overlooked when examining the period we are focusing upon. At times there are blinding glimpses of the obvious which set the specifics in a new light when you have a better idea of the mindset of those whose work you are observing at a remove of several decades.

Too often the "Junk Formula" is sneered at and treated with some level of scorn. On the other hand, I have found it endlessly fascinating, admittedly to my surprise. I also believe that you have to play the hand you are dealt.

#42 Aanderson

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 12:21

Originally posted by Don Capps


From the tables provided by MoToR and printed in the Clymer Omnibus Indianapolis Race History, which I bought for the massive investment of $3.50 at some point in the the mid-1950's, which was a huge fortune at the time (remember that this same $3.50 could buy 35 comic books....).

While there is much on the engines, diddly squat on the chassis for the most part.

Admittedly, my lack of knowledge is often exceeded only by my ignorance at times, but there are materials in The Alternate and other such references which I have in too short a supply.

I am always happy to find that someone has unearthed new tidbits of information which shine light on the data and events that we really don't have as good a picture of -- well, some of us at any rate... -- that we would like or makes the case for something we sorta "knew" but didn't really know why or had just accepted as it was passed on without the related supporting data or story.

Paul, The "history" of Euro F1 is almost too crowded a field, although much of it seems to contribute little to the real picture or tell much of a story. Fortunately there are some wonderful exceptions, but far too few and too often difficult to obtain.

Art has provided some excellent leads for those interested in this period. He is truly a man after my own heart. Too often it is easy to overlook the role of the rather mundane Ford Model A and its role in American racing, particularly as a source of components. In setting the stage, the generalities are often overlooked when examining the period we are focusing upon. At times there are blinding glimpses of the obvious which set the specifics in a new light when you have a better idea of the mindset of those whose work you are observing at a remove of several decades.

Too often the "Junk Formula" is sneered at and treated with some level of scorn. On the other hand, I have found it endlessly fascinating, admittedly to my surprise. I also believe that you have to play the hand you are dealt.



Don,

Thanks for the kind words! I've been fascinated by the so-called "Junk Formula" at Indy (also on much of the AAA Championship Trail in the years 1930-37), although since my car modeling interests moved away from Indy Cars (I built perhaps 200 1:25 scale Indianapolis Cars in the years 1966-83, most of them almost "junk formula" in the manner of their conception!), I've not really dug into reading my old books for years.

Indeed, I believe that the 366cid engine formula, coupled with the often scorned return to 2-man bodies with a "riding mechanic" required (now, that really did serve to double the casualties in a crash, and did!) truly saved not just Indianapolis from oblivion in the deep economic times 1930-33, but perhaps even American auto racing its very self owes a debt of gratitude for the change.

The only race car constructor's shops that survived the specialization of the 122/91.5 cid formulae in the years 1923-29, Duesenberg and Miller, were in no way going to survive even 1930 financially. In point of fact, the true guiding light of Duesenberg Brothers, Fred Duesenberg was pretty much constrained by his employer (1928 until his untimely, tragic death from a crash in 1932), Errett Loban Cord, from diverting his attention to his position as chief engineer for Duesenberg Inc. (then building that mightiest of motorcars, the fabulous Duesenberg Model J) to any other enterprise. Griff Borgeson (whom I had the pleasure of meeting, at Milwaukee, attending the Miller Reunion in 1996), Mark Dees, and others have chronicled well Harry Miller's eccentricities, idiosyncracies, and downright profligate ways, which had already put him on the path of self-destruction, even before the stock market crash of 1929.

Lest anyone think I am unaware of, or bashing in any way, the abilities of race car constructors anywhere else on the planet (which I do not!), the 366-cid formula adopted for 1930 had another tremendous benefit: By outlawing the "Thoroughbred" supercharged, but highly expensive 91.5 cid cars, that formula brought dozens of potential constructors into the sport, truthfully ensuring its survival, even its future success. It also brought some most intriguing cars.

I still recall, with goosebumps(!) seeing the 1931 Cummins Diesel Spl. make its first laps around Indianapolis on Race Day morning, after languishing in a Cummins Engine Company warehouse since about 1934 (the car had been used as a road-going advertisement for Cummins truck engines (with which it was equipped) all over the US, even in Europe after its famed non-stop run in 1931, and its return engagement in 1933. In addition, I can still remember my interest in seeing the newly restored 1932 Studebaker Indianapolis car, perhaps the most successful Indy Car ever built almost totally by an automaker using essentially stock components, albeit with a professionally built race car chassis, as it stood on display in the Pace Car Room at Indy, next to the 1962 Studebaker Lark Pace Car, and the stunning prototype of the Avanti. (Studebaker, then in their death throes as an automaker pretty much abandoned the 32 Indy car at the Speedway, never transporting it back to South Bend after spending considerable scarce company money on the restoration, with the Speedway Museum finally assuming ownership by right of abandonment).

Without the tremendous upheaval stemming from the abandonment of the 91-cid formula, would we have seen the likes of the Miller-Ford, the strange-looking but oh-so-intriguing Sparks-Wierick "Catfish", or Wilbur Shaw's Myron Stevens-built Gilmore "Pay Car" (the 1937 winner)? What about the tremendous and temperamental 6-cylinder engines of the eccentric (some might say crazy!) Joel Thorne in partnership with the great Art Sparks, or the mighty Winfield V8 (the NOVI)? And of course, would we have seen the famed Offenhauser series of awesome 4-cylinder DOHC engines? I think not.

IMHO, the "Junk Formula" had a lasting effect on American Auto Racing, that being a "democratization" at the very top of the sport in the US, that lasted well into the modern era, at least until the 1980's. Almost anyone with an idea of how to make a car go fast, and with the ability to promote the money necessary, could, and did, go racing, right up there with the best and fastest. For most of that time, there seemed always to be a "people's choice" car at Indy, you know, the one that seemed to be the improbable "underdog".

I particularly liked watching that legendary hot-rodder, Barney Navarro, who started his performance-building career in the late 1930's, wring almost 900hp out of a Rambler 6-cylinder passenger car engine, installed in the then 6-year old, ex-Rodger Ward 1964 Watson rear engine chassis, in 1970. Of course, the car tagged the wall, due to driver inexperience, was repaired with suspension parts cannibalized from the stablemate car (driven by Don Branson in '64), then in the garage of Bob Higman (Romney Indiana), but was unable to get to the qualifying line.

It would also have been neat, if JC Agajanian's DOHC Studebaker V8 engine project had worked in the early 50's, nothing went wrong with the engine, the starter shaft just broke off, and no time to mess with it then. Or, how about the aborted 354 cid Chrysler Hemi in 1953, which died because the then-establishment protested the very idea of such a displacement being allowed for a stock-block engine?

Oh well, I've waxed on long enough for today.....

Art Anderson

#43 Mattthecat

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 05:26

Two questions regarding Indy cars I would like to raise that are bugging me.

Some sources say that a Curtis-Offy was driven by Dempsey Wilson (56-58), Chuck Arnold (59) and Russ Congdon (60) for Martin Bros/Hall-Mar.
Was there such a car or is it just a misspelling of Kurtis?

The other car is the Hill-Offy by Myron Fohr (Shaheen) in 1951. Was there such a car or is it rather a Hillegass?

Thx for enlightning me :-)

#44 xkssFrankOpalka

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 10:23

Interesting comments fellows. I had a chat with A J Watson during the Milwaukee Mile Vintage races. About 50 cars entered and was able to drive a 30s 2 man Indy car with Ford engine. Mostly Indy cars or Sprint or Dirt cars were there. The event grows larger every year, A J was able to advise and see some of his creations from years past.

#45 Phil Harms

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 11:17

Originally posted by Mattthecat
Two questions regarding Indy cars I would like to raise that are bugging me.

Some sources say that a Curtis-Offy was driven by Dempsey Wilson (56-58), Chuck Arnold (59) and Russ Congdon (60) for Martin Bros/Hall-Mar.
Was there such a car or is it just a misspelling of Kurtis?

The other car is the Hill-Offy by Myron Fohr (Shaheen) in 1951. Was there such a car or is it rather a Hillegass?

Thx for enlightning me :-)


Frank Curtis entered champ cars in the 1964-1977 period. Entirely different person from the same-sounding Frank Kurtis.

Joe Shaheen entered cars in the 1951-1959 era.

#46 Mattthecat

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 01:55

Thanks Phil.
That doesn't bring me real closer though to solving the puzzle. Those Curtis cars were entered before the period of acticity for Curtis with a "C" you described.
And I know Shaheen was the entrant, but was it a Hill or a Hillegass. Lol

#47 Mattthecat

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 02:48

Got this reply from the good folks (and Gordon in particular) at the RaceHistory yahoo group:




You need to get copies of Jack Fox' Indy book, the Clymer yearbooks
and my Kurtis Indy Car book, which has the records of all Frank Kurtis'
Indy cars.

The Hall-Mar car of 1959-1961 was a Kurtis KK-500B, serial # 359,
built in 1953 for Ed Walsh. Cliff Griffith crashed it in practice and
it burned and could not be repaired in time for the race that year. The
remains were sent back to Kurtis and it probably got an entirely new
frame. Lee Elkins bought the rebuilt car and entered it in 1955. Len
Duncan, an eastern midget ace, again crashed before the race.

W.T. Martin bought the car and in 1956 Dempsey Wilson and Billy
Garrett dnq. (# 22) In 1957 as # 42 Wilson was also dnq and likewise in
1958 as # 71. In 1959 Arnold finished 15th in it as # 71, the only year
it made the race. As # 79 in 1960 Russ Congdon dnq. Bert Brooks was
a dnq in 1961 also as # 79. Karl Hall was either co-owner with Martin,
or full owner 1959-60-61.

In 1962 Bill Deakin bought the car and as # 92 with eastern midget
driver Johnny Coy driving it also was a dnq.

Frank Curtis of Long Island, N.Y. , worked it over
for Martin. They were all easterners as were their drivers. Curtis
owned Kurtis midgets, built a couple of midgets himself and probably was
a mechanic on the car. You might call Dave Michaels at (973) 267-0805
in N.J. who might know more about it.

IMS of course has all the records you could want, but it is
difficult to get access to them. Photos are easy to get from IMS but
data is a little tougher.

There is a photo in Fox of Wilson in another car that dnq in 1958,
not the Kurtis.

- Gordon White






Now that leaves only the Hill-Offy question...

#48 MPea3

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 02:52

Another question. Was Curly Wetteroth a body builder or a car builder?

#49 Arthur Anderson

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 04:20

Originally posted by MPea3
Another question. Was Curly Wetteroth a body builder or a car builder?


Curly Wetteroth is credited primarily for his rail frame chassis of the 30's. Some of his creations include the Studebaker factory cars of 1932-33, Kelly Petillo's 1935 winning Gilmore Red Lion Spl., and the "Knoc-Out Hose Clamp Spl." driven to the 1941 win by Mauri Rose & Floyd Davis.

I seem to recall that Wetteroth was involved in building Wilbur Shaw's 1936-37 Shaw-Gilmore Spl. I've never heard, nor read any mention of Wetteroth hammering out any body panels, for example, Myron Stevens did the bodywork for Shaw's car.

Of course, one needs to understand that with all the variety of cars built for Indianapolis during the 30's, most were recycled year after year after year. Frame rails might be replaced with changes in specs--such as the move to 2-man cars in 1930, then back to 1-man monoposts in 38-39, body panels, particularly tails, seem to have been somewhat expendable, and then, with the coming of streamlining in the middle 30's, the old exposed radiators virtually disappeared behind radiator shells and grilles, finally by fully enclosed noses. Where once frame rails were exposed, by the end of the 30's, most were hidden behind hand-formed aluminum fairings, with full bellypanning underneath.

Of course, engines fell by the wayside, as formula's changed over the years of the "junk formula" and the decade or so that followed. Yet, the 16'cylinder Miller from Frank Lockhart's fatal Stutz Blackhawk LSR car was still around, and running in 1948. The unique front drive transmission, braking setup, and DeDion axle of Tommy Milton's 1926 Detroit Spl. was used in an Indy car as late as 1947 as well.

What I wrote a year or more back, about what it might have cost to buy say, a used 27-29 Whippet, for its frame rails was pretty incorrect though. I've since discovered that by 31-32, most lesser-brand used cars like the Whippet were available, dirt-cheap--for perhaps no more than $100, so that's likely another reason for the desirability of Whippet frame rails--most certainly the same would have been true of Essex frame rails. Front axles, certainly in the early 30's, would have been dominated by Miller units (if a car builder could find, AND afford one), but production car axles also abounded, notably Ford I-beams and Franklin tubular axles. Once Ford introduced their tubular front axle in the V860 powered cars of 1937-38, those axles found wide usage in Indianapolis cars, and were still around in dirt championship cars and sprint cars well into the late 1950's.

The junk formula--a fascinating era!

Art

#50 Mike Lawrence

Mike Lawrence
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Posted 16 December 2004 - 22:40

Art Anderson touched on an interesting point in one of the first of his incredibly erudite postings, the role, influence and status of the crew chief. The nearest person I can think of from British racing is Alf Francis, but he is only an approximation. He did design the 2.5 litre Walker-Climax F1 car, which did not race in period, and he did make the Derrington-Francis 1.5-litre F1 car (using ATS mechanicals) but on the one time it raced (1964 Italian GP) it was painfully slow. In truth, Alf Francis was a superb mechanic, but no engineer, and I have had that from both Rob Walker and Stirling Moss.

I cannot think of an equivalent of a George Bignotti, a Clint Brawner or a Jim McGee, men who seem to be gurus as well being chief mechanics. When Nigel Mansell joined Newman-Haas in 1992, Mario Andretti lost no time in getting McGee in the team to look after his car. Very occasionally a particular mechanic has followed a driver to another team, but I cannot think of anyone in Europe who has played a similar role.

Any suggestions?

Incidentally 'The Internation Motor Racing Guide by Peter Highma (publ. David Bull) does list the winners of every Indycar race and does give the make of chassis. It is a book which sits next to me at my desk.