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The Watson Dirt Champ Cars


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#1 brickyard

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 18:06

Hi,

I'm trying to find out how many Watson Dirt Champ cars were built and their racing history.

After I found this photo here and read the article published in "Vintage Motorsport" magazine Mar/Apr. 2005, I can trace at least the records of two existing cars:

The one from the magazine
(actual owners: Louis Timolat/Richard Freshman)
was the second Leader Card entry:
1963 #4 Leader Car Duo Spl. (Don Branson) car debuted at Trenton April 21
1964 #5 Wynn's Friction Proofing Spl. (Don Branson)
1965 #4 Wynn's (Don Branson)
1966 #4 Leader Card Spl. (Don Branson)
1967 #6 Rislone Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1968 #3 Rislone Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1969 #1 Bardhal Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1970 #3 Warner Lokheed Spl. (Bobby Unser) car retired after a race at Terre Haute latter that year

The one from the photo
according to what is writen on car and Phil Harms' results: (I don't know who is the actual owner)
was the Agajanian-Faas Racers entry as above:
1964 #98 Agajanian Bowes Seal Fast Spl. (Parnelli Jones)
1965 #98 Agajanian Hurst Spl. (George Snider)
1966 #98 Agajanian REV 500 Spl. (Dick Atkins)
1967 #98 Agajanian REV 500 Spl. (Bill Vukovich)
1968 #98 Wagner Lokheed Brake Fluid Spl. (Bill Vukovich)
1969 #98 Wagner Lokheed Spl. (Bill Vukovich)
1970 #98 Wynn's Spitfire Spl. (Bruce Walkup)
according to the photo the car was raced by Sam Sessions on 1971-72 (I supose on Silver Crown, but which number he had? #12 with King'O Lawn sponsor?)

For the others I checked with Phil Harms results 1956-1971 and I can compile this:

the HOW car
from 1956 to 1961 #21 HOW Special every year mostly with Elmer George at the Wheel. I supose it was always the same car. I don't know who was the owner/team of that car.

the Jonh Zink car
1956 #8 and #18 John Zink Spl. (Pat Flaherty, Pat O'Connor and Ed Elisian)
1957 #2 and #25 John Zink Spl. (Jud Larson)
1958 #5 John Zink Spl. (Jud Larson)
1959 #1 John Zink Heater Spl. (Tony Bettenhausen, Lloyd Ruby)
1960 #28 John Zink Spl. (Tony Bettenhausen, Bob Tattersall)
1961 #56 John Zink Trackburner Spl. (Lloyd Ruby)
1962 #52 John Zink Trackburner Spl. (Chuck Hulse)
latter that year a #26 Ward Machine Spl. (Colby Scoggin) appears on dirt tracks, and might be this car or anything else.
1963 #26 Ward Machine Spl. (Colby Scoggin)

one Leader Card car
1959 #5 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1960 #1 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1961 #2 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1962 #3 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward, Len Sutton)
1963 #1 Kent Aluminum Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1964 #2 Kaiser Aluminum Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1965 #2 Wynn's Spl. (Johnny Rutherford) latter as Mog St. Louis Spl.
1966 #12 Wynn's Spl. (Chuck Hulse)
1967 #90 Leader Card Racers Spl. (Jim Hurtubise, Jerry Daniels, Chuck Hulse)
1968 #90 Zecol-Lubaid Spl. (George Snider)
1969 #90 Zecol-Lubaid Spl. (Mike Mosley)
1970 #9 G.C. Murphy Spl. (Mike Mosley)

the other Leader Card car
1962 #7 Leader Card Spl. (Don Branson)

I count six cars but the time span of the leader car seams too much longer... but's only a guess.

any corrections/comments/photos on this?

regards

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#2 A E Anderson

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 19:06

Originally posted by brickyard
Hi,

I'm trying to find out how many Watson Dirt Champ cars were built and their racing history.

After I found this photo here and read the article published in "Vintage Motorsport" magazine Mar/Apr. 2005, I can trace at least the records of two existing cars:

The one from the magazine
(actual owners: Louis Timolat/Richard Freshman)
was the second Leader Card entry:
1963 #4 Leader Car Duo Spl. (Don Branson) car debuted at Trenton April 21
1964 #5 Wynn's Friction Proofing Spl. (Don Branson)
1965 #4 Wynn's (Don Branson)
1966 #4 Leader Card Spl. (Don Branson)
1967 #6 Rislone Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1968 #3 Rislone Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1969 #1 Bardhal Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1970 #3 Warner Lokheed Spl. (Bobby Unser) car retired after a race at Terre Haute latter that year

The one from the photo
according to what is writen on car and Phil Harms' results: (I don't know who is the actual owner)
was the Agajanian-Faas Racers entry as above:
1964 #98 Agajanian Bowes Seal Fast Spl. (Parnelli Jones)
1965 #98 Agajanian Hurst Spl. (George Snider)
1966 #98 Agajanian REV 500 Spl. (Dick Atkins)
1967 #98 Agajanian REV 500 Spl. (Bill Vukovich)
1968 #98 Wagner Lokheed Brake Fluid Spl. (Bill Vukovich)
1969 #98 Wagner Lokheed Spl. (Bill Vukovich)
1970 #98 Wynn's Spitfire Spl. (Bruce Walkup)
according to the photo the car was raced by Sam Sessions on 1971-72 (I supose on Silver Crown, but which number he had? #12 with King'O Lawn sponsor?)

For the others I checked with Phil Harms results 1956-1971 and I can compile this:

the HOW car
from 1956 to 1961 #21 HOW Special every year mostly with Elmer George at the Wheel. I supose it was always the same car. I don't know who was the owner/team of that car.

the Jonh Zink car
1956 #8 and #18 John Zink Spl. (Pat Flaherty, Pat O'Connor and Ed Elisian)
1957 #2 and #25 John Zink Spl. (Jud Larson)
1958 #5 John Zink Spl. (Jud Larson)
1959 #1 John Zink Heater Spl. (Tony Bettenhausen, Lloyd Ruby)
1960 #28 John Zink Spl. (Tony Bettenhausen, Bob Tattersall)
1961 #56 John Zink Trackburner Spl. (Lloyd Ruby)
1962 #52 John Zink Trackburner Spl. (Chuck Hulse)
latter that year a #26 Ward Machine Spl. (Colby Scoggin) appears on dirt tracks, and might be this car or anything else.
1963 #26 Ward Machine Spl. (Colby Scoggin)

one Leader Card car
1959 #5 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1960 #1 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1961 #2 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1962 #3 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward, Len Sutton)
1963 #1 Kent Aluminum Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1964 #2 Kaiser Aluminum Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1965 #2 Wynn's Spl. (Johnny Rutherford) latter as Mog St. Louis Spl.
1966 #12 Wynn's Spl. (Chuck Hulse)
1967 #90 Leader Card Racers Spl. (Jim Hurtubise, Jerry Daniels, Chuck Hulse)
1968 #90 Zecol-Lubaid Spl. (George Snider)
1969 #90 Zecol-Lubaid Spl. (Mike Mosley)
1970 #9 G.C. Murphy Spl. (Mike Mosley)

the other Leader Card car
1962 #7 Leader Card Spl. (Don Branson)

I count six cars but the time span of the leader car seams too much longer... but's only a guess.

any corrections/comments/photos on this?

regards


For starters, "Silver Crown" didn't exist until the 1980's, when USAC finally lost all but Indianapolis as a Championship Car race. In the 60's. dirt tracks were still a part of their "Championship Trail" but pretty much whittled down to Indiana State Fairgrounds, DuQuoin State Fairgrounds (in downstate Illinois, a privately owned facility, and privately run State Fair), Springfield Illinois (Illinois State Fairgrounds), and Sacramento, California.

Someone else may well correct me here, but I believe that AJ Watson only built a handful of dirt track cars, and those in the late 50's, perhaps as late as 1960-61. Pretty much, by the very early 60's the dirt track chassis mantel had gone to Wally Meskowski, who built for, among others, AJ Foyt, I believe Mario Andretti also campaigned a Meskowski dirt Champ Car in his days with Dean Van Lines.

The HOW Specials (HOW: Hulman Old Wheels--Tony Hulmans antique car museum in Terre Haute, IN) were owned by his wife, Mari Hulman George.

The reason for the relatively long time-span (life on the track) of Dirt Champ Cars back then stems from there being only 4 races on mile dirt tracks by the early 60's, with construction of new dirt Champ Cars truly being stifled even when USAC took the dirt tracks off the Championship Car season about 1970 or so. So, few races translated into relatively few reasons for anyone to have a new car built--JC Agajanian probably ran the same "98" car for several seasons, as an example. It was also pretty much the same at Leader Card Racers as well.

Art

#3 Herbert

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 19:47

Originally posted by brickyard
according to the photo the car was raced by Sam Sessions on 1971-72 (I supose on Silver Crown, but which number he had? #12 with King'O Lawn sponsor?)


Sam Sessions' car in 1971 was #98 and it was entered by Agajanian-Faas, don't know the sponsor. In 1972 it had #12 and King'O Lawn sponsorship.

#4 Herbert

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 20:25

Originally posted by brickyard

one Leader Card car
1959 #5 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1960 #1 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1961 #2 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1962 #3 Leader Card Spl. (Rodger Ward, Len Sutton)
1963 #1 Kent Aluminum Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1964 #2 Kaiser Aluminum Spl. (Rodger Ward)
1965 #2 Wynn's Spl. (Johnny Rutherford) latter as Mog St. Louis Spl.
1966 #12 Wynn's Spl. (Chuck Hulse)
1967 #90 Leader Card Racers Spl. (Jim Hurtubise, Jerry Daniels, Chuck Hulse)
1968 #90 Zecol-Lubaid Spl. (George Snider)
1969 #90 Zecol-Lubaid Spl. (Mike Mosley)
1970 #9 G.C. Murphy Spl. (Mike Mosley)
[/B]


The car was entered by Leader Cards in the inaugaral USAC Natinal Dirt championship in 1971 as #4 and G.C. Murphy as sponsor. George Snider won the title in that season. This is confirmed by the book "The dirt road to Silver Crown".

In the follwing year Leader Card again entered cars, but I'M not sure if it was still the same car.
1972 #98 Vivitar (Larry Dickson, Mike Mosley, Al Unser)
1973 #98 Lodestar (Johnny Parsons/4th in Championship)
1974 #98 Lodestar (Tom Bigelow/2nd)
1975 #2 Leader Card Lodestar (Tom Bigelow/2nd/3 wins)
1976 #2 Leader Card Racer (Tom Bigelow/7th/1 win)
1977 #7 Thermo-King (Tom Bigelow/7th/1 win)
1978 #7 Thermo-King (Sheldon Kinser, Tom Bigelow
#3 Thermo-King (Sheldon Kinser)
Sometimes two cars were entered!
1979 #30 Hubler Chevy/WNDE (Bobby Olivero/1st/2 wins)
1980 #1 Hodgdon-Curb (Bobby Olivero)
1981 #5 Moran Electric (Bobby Olivero)
...

#5 brickyard

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 23:54

:wave: Fines,

anything to say about this one?

thanks

#6 fines

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 11:40

Sigh, so that means farewell to a quiet and restful Boxing Day... :(;)

After building a few track roadsters for CRA competition in the immediate post-WW2 years, Abraham Joseph Watson began...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

to be continued...

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:42.


#7 fines

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 12:27

Undaunted, A. J. came back in 1950 with a new car - of sorts! It was...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:42.


#8 fines

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 16:05

The team regrouped and in January 1953 Dale Estes, infant son of Bob, famously...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:42.


#9 fines

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 17:45

John S. Zink of Tulsa, Oklahoma had made a fortune in the thirties firstly by...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:43.


#10 fines

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 19:12

Discourse: The Ladies Car (1)

Not surprisingly, female car owners are a rarity in top level US motorsports. Every once in a while, one finds names like Shirley Bergere, Geneva van Acker or Helen Reynard in entry lists, presumably presenting a form of spousal support, perhaps for legal reasons, and of course there are the enterprising couples like Ray and Cecilia Smith, who supplement each other. But to my knowledge, there were only ever two "genuine" female car owners in Indy and Champ Car racing until the lifting of the "women off limits" in America's Gasoline Alleys in the seventies. And almost ironically, they both...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:43.


#11 fines

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 21:53

Discourse: The Ladies Car (2)

HOW are you? Who are HOW? "Hulman Old Wheels"? No, not really. To the best of my knowledge, HOW stood for...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

But enough of that for now, the 4-bar Watsons will have to wait for another day, and: I'm sorry, but don't expect that list of yours to get a simple nod...;) :wave:

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:43.


#12 fines

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 23:56

Originally posted by brickyard
After I found this photo here and read the article published in "Vintage Motorsport" magazine Mar/Apr. 2005, I can trace at least the records of two existing cars:

The one from the magazine
(actual owners: Louis Timolat/Richard Freshman)
was the second Leader Card entry:
1963 #4 Leader Car Duo Spl. (Don Branson) car debuted at Trenton April 21
1964 #5 Wynn's Friction Proofing Spl. (Don Branson)
1965 #4 Wynn's (Don Branson)
1966 #4 Leader Card Spl. (Don Branson)
1967 #6 Rislone Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1968 #3 Rislone Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1969 #1 Bardhal Spl. (Bobby Unser)
1970 #3 Warner Lokheed Spl. (Bobby Unser) car retired after a race at Terre Haute latter that year

Luis, one thing I'd like to tackle in advance: do you still have that article in "Vintage Motorsport"? Is it possible for you to sketch out here what the article actually says (without adding your own research)? You know why, because from what you describe here, it sounds as if the article may in reality have dealt with a 1963 Watson (or Phillips!) Sprint Car, not a Champ Car!

#13 brickyard

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 01:18

Originally posted by fines

Luis, one thing I'd like to tackle in advance: do you still have that article in "Vintage Motorsport"? Is it possible for you to sketch out here what the article actually says (without adding your own research)? You know why, because from what you describe here, it sounds as if the article may in reality have dealt with a 1963 Watson (or Phillips!) Sprint Car, not a Champ Car!


Sure Michael. I'll scan the article for you.

I'm amazed with the quantity and quality of informations you gathered. And I have to change a lot in my database :blush:
poor the historian who lives so far away from the place where the action took place :lol:

#14 brickyard

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 12:41

;) Fines,

please check your PM's.

Bye :wave:

#15 martyk

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 19:12

Here's a couple more of the #12, taken at the All-American Vintage Clissic in 2006:

Posted Image

Posted Image
Hosted on Fotki

I remember the car was a bit of a handful to drive on a 1/4 mile oval!

#16 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 06:47

Martyk does the 12 car belong to Leonard Fass? I understand some of those Ford 4 cammers got shoe horned to a few sprint cars?? I remember Larry Rice telling me that may made there power between 9000 and 12000 rpm. The long wheel base of the Champ Car would make a 1/4 a bit tight but on a mile I would think it would be ok

#17 fines

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 12:36

Peter, afaik only a very few sprinters ran with a DOHC Ford, a 1967 Watson (driven by Foyt, Andretti, Bobby U. etc. and once VERY spectacularly wrecked by Mike Mosley!), a 1969 Hilton Wachholz roadster (not sure about that, though) and the 1971 Willie Davis car with which Gary B. won his second championship - those are the only ones I can come up w/o further research.

Before I go on with the Leader Card part of the Watson story, let me first dispel Art's notion here that "Watson only built a handful of dirt track cars, and those in the late 50's, perhaps as late as 1960-61" - Watson did indeed continue to build dirt cars right through the sixties and seventies; the last Watson Champ Car in my database appears to have been built in 1980, and there may have been even more after that.

As it is, research gets very difficult once the dirt tracks disappear from the spotlight of the National Championship trail, and anyway fewer and fewer races means fewer and fewer photographs to trace cars, fewer race reports to find nuggets of info about sales or new car deals, and the whole scene generally drifts into obscurity! Basically, I have given up any hope of doing much research beyond the early eighties, and even the seventies may remain a bit of a patchwork. :(

Another thing that is making research rather difficult is the preponderance of "copy cars" in the fields. Once Wally Meskowski had introduced the four-bar concept to dirt cars, and Watson had responded with his interpretation of the same theme, there were basically two "standard shapes" for a Champ Car to have, and other builders followed this example or that, sometimes even one after the other. Additionally, Meskowski was apt to rush out unfinished cars, leaving "minor" work to other builders such Joe Silnes or Eddie Kuzma. This, of course, leads to another rash of "split personality" cars that appear in one source as a "Meskowski", and as a "Silnes" or "Kuzma" in the next! Add to that A. J. Watson's trait to offer his blueprints around for other builders to use, and you have a real mess at hand...

#18 fines

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 16:12

Let's begin with the car from the "Vintage Motorsport" article, kindly copied for me by Luis! :) It's actually...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:44.


#19 fines

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 21:21

The second works car was built with...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:44.


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#20 fines

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 22:58

The next car was for a customer who would soon be no customer anymore...;) I should add, however, that some people insist on calling the car...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:44.


#21 fines

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 00:04

The next works entry appeared in 1972, it was...

Read on at http://www.oldracing...indy/watson/cc/

We have now covered four and a half decades of Champ Car racing with A. J. Watson designed and built cars, and most of the time we have talked about winners. Watsons were winners, most of the time. :)

Edited by fines, 14 December 2009 - 18:44.


#22 fines

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 21:43

Discourse: The Ladies Car (3)

Strange things happen when racing cars get "restored" - the #16 Springfield Welding Special is for sale on ebay these days! Needless to say, with a phoney "history"... :rolleyes:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...sspagenameZWDVW

#23 martyk

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 17:02

Originally posted by Peter Leversedge
Martyk does the 12 car belong to Leonard Fass? I understand some of those Ford 4 cammers got shoe horned to a few sprint cars?? I remember Larry Rice telling me that may made there power between 9000 and 12000 rpm. The long wheel base of the Champ Car would make a 1/4 a bit tight but on a mile I would think it would be ok


Sorry not to see this query before, the car was listed in the program as being owned by Bob Nielson, who I recall owning sprint cars back inthe 80's & 90's.

#24 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 23:21

Marty the reason I asked if the 12# car was owned by Leonard Fass was because the car has a "King O' Lawn" logo on the hood. I remember seeing the "King O' Lawn" logo on his sprintcar at Ascot Park in 1977. I understand that it was a company that he owned that made lawn mowers ?

#25 montague

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 09:00

It is my understanding that the Mataka entry listed for 1972,1973,and 1974 as the Raceweld car,was in fact the Weinbergher homes car that the the Mataka Bros bought early in 1972,and they rebuilt the car and ran it for the first time at Nazerath in 1972 with a bolt on roll cage which is still on the rack.
Ed Mataka is of the opinion his car is a Blum upright,however after showing him this thread he don't know what to think.Bill has past on,and he was the one with most of the history.Attempting to get Eddie into the restoration mode.

Were these cars numbered by anyone,or was it just somebody tried to keep track as the years gone by.
If the cars a numbered,where would they be marked ? Any information available is wonderful,and appreiated


Great forum,and great information to be gained from a wealth of knowlage,Thank You.

#26 fines

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 16:03

Welcome montague, and thanks for the info! :up:

Ed Mataka's right as far as I can tell, if the car was the former Weinberger Homes Special, then it was a Watson copy built by Hank Blum! It appears to have been of 1962 vintage, but possibly it was even older than that. Chuck Hulse drove it successfully for Blum in 1962, and ran it for Al Dean the following year.

When Hulse's career stalled after his spectacular Sprint Car crash in early 1964, Dean sold the Blum car to Sid Weinberger and dusted off his old Kuzma/Meskowski, driven to many wins by Eddie Sachs in the early sixties. I had the Weinberger car traced to the end of 1969 so far, so your info is very valuable to me! :up:

I don't know if the cars were numbered or stamped in any way, but I suspect they weren't. My info comes from research done by the late Phil Harms, USAC yearbooks and photographs, plus bits and pieces gleaned from literally anything I could lay my hands on. Caveat emptor!;)

#27 montague

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 16:26

Thank You Fines,

Great to know some of that information that you provided.
On a side note,were you aware that recently they made a diecast as a limited edition,of the raceweld car when the Mataka Brothers ran it with Joe Saldana.
Ed recieved a note from Crocky wright congratulating him on the diecast.Ed had no idea of what he was referring to.I did some research and found it online.I bought one for both Ed and I.Ed said it looked correct in every way.

Thanks

#28 fines

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 16:57

How is Crocky Wright these days? Last I heard he was in hospital with heart problems! :(

#29 ZOOOM

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 22:50

Fines....
Here is a picture of the HEAD working on what I believe is a recreation of the Granatelli '49 Indycar, at Milwaukee for the Miller event.
Posted Image
He was blipping the throttle pedal (a door hinge welded th the firewall) with his cane!

ZOOOM

#30 montague

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 01:27

Originally posted by fines
How is Crocky Wright these days? Last I heard he was in hospital with heart problems! :(


I will have to ask Eddie,he stays in touch with him.I will get back to you soon.

#31 JimInSoCalif

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 09:03

Wow - ask a question and Fines replies with a whole book's worth of information - his knowledge of these cars and history is just amazing as it is for some other folks here too - I don't want to list names as I would undoubtedly miss someone, but I am grateful for all of the information shared here.

Cheers, Jim.

#32 Buford

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 09:54

Off topic but I once raced the only midget ever built by A.J. Watson. At least that is what the car owner told me.

Posted Image
Posted Image