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Mystery-Eagle less mysterious


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#1 T54

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 04:52

A couple of months ago, I posted some pictures of one of our two 1972 Eagles in the process of a complete restoration. The project has advanced quite a bit more and it is now on the ground, still missing a few bits, but nearing completion.

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It is painted just like the one with which Jerry Grant set the first 200mph lap on a closed circuit, at the 1972 California 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway. I was there and saw it being done. It was anticlimactic and Bobby Unser, the team's #1 driver, was not too happy about it!

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The car was completely gone through from NOS and used parts, and it only needs finishing touches before being tested.

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The engine is a 2.6-liter Drake-Offy with a Garrett turbo. Top speed at Indy was nearly 230mph. There, Bobby Unser set pole position with the sister car at 195mph, a full 18mph FASTER than the previous year's pole speed by the works McLaren of Peter Revson.

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I have been working on that project for nearly 20 years, so it feels great to see it almost done at last...

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Look at that plumbing! The turbo feeds the Hilborn full-time fuel injection. Throttle lag is about 3 seconds, meaning acrobatic and accurate driving decisions are needed to keep off the wall.

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This lever between the driver's legs is the rear anti-sway bar adjustment, through hydraulic lines. I believe that this was the first racing car to benefit from this now-common feature, allowing to adjust the handling as the fuel is being spent.

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The cockpit with its gauges and stuff to do during a 500-miler.

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Some of the stuff is still missing, hopefully for not too long.

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The engine looks like new but has a long racing history including a win in the California 500 and a win at Milwaukee. It was excellently maintained by AAR's engine man, John Miller, now retired to Hawaii.

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The car is a long and low-slung machine that will not fit in a standard garage.

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The detailing is beautiful. I remember seing Phil Remington, AAR's chief fabricator who also built the original Scarab and the Cobra Daytona coupe, fashioning these gorgeous mirrors from sheet aluminum and tubing spun in a lathe...

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This is pretty much the view of the car from most other competitors cockpits from 1972 through 1975, the Eagles winning the "500" twice during those years.
So what do you think? :)

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 05:25

Well... it looks all right...

But I'd reserve my final decision until after you let me try out that 3-second turbo lag.

#3 FLB

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 05:37

Beau-ti-ful! :love::clap: And Ray's right: from the pictures at least, it doesn't look over-restored. It looks like it would have in period.

Philippe, do you know the Nostalgia section of Trackforum? The guys there would absolutely love your prictures.

#4 Jerry Entin

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 05:39

Hey Ray: Aren't you a little old to be thinking of going over 200mph on an oval? Beautiful work T54.

#5 cosworth bdg

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 05:42

Nice toy if you can afford such a thing-------------- :up:

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 05:55

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
Hey Ray: Aren't you a little old to be thinking of going over 200mph on an oval? Beautiful work T54.


Who mentioned doing over 200mph?

195 would do me any day... and no, I'm not too old!

#7 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 07:33

Outstanding, job well done :clap:

Have you managed to show the photos to Mr. Grant?

#8 Doug Nye

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 11:01

Just lovely. Again... Congratulations. And nice to see Rouem Haffenden receiving hopefully enduring credit.

DCN

#9 Andretti Fan

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 13:31

Forget driving it........I'd be happy to just sit in it and go zoom....zoom. hahaha.

Is it very hard to get correct tires for it?

#10 brickyard

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 16:29

:love:

Superb job T54, congratulations... fantastic paint job too...

I would love to see the making off it, on a TV program (kinda Overhauling) :lol:

#11 T54

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 16:44

Thanks all for the compliments! The second car will be of course the sister car to this one, the white Olsonite Eagle. We hope to have that one completed by May 2007 or so.

Doug, "Haff" Haffenden was a great mechanic, great company and I have very nice memories of the whole crew. Butch Wilson is still working at AAR or their mysterious projects, while I think that Wayne Leary is hanging around Indy. Bobby Box died a few years back.

I must add that the car is fully raceable, carefully assembled by John Mueller, one of the best there is out there. He was the crew chief for one of those in the 1970's and now runs the Entrepreneur Magazine racing shop.

The question of affordability is of course important, but in this case the investment was relatively modest (I am no money bag!) due to a very kind arrangement made between Dan Gurney, the owner of Enterpreneur and myself. However over the past 20 years, lots of money was wasted with various restoration outfits that, for one reason or the other, failed to advance the project, making my life miserable.

We hope to have the car running and fully operating in time for the March "Route 66" HSR/Victory Lane event at California Speedway, where LOTS of Indy cars will be tested because of the nearing Monterey Historics featuring the old roadsters, of which I hope to drive one.

I won't be able to drive THAT Eagle because the pedals are about a mile from my feet. We probably will have much taller Alex Gurney in it for the sahkedown. The second car is specifically assembled for me so that won't be a problem.

There are not too many of these running yet, but there will be two more soon, along with the ones of Chuck Haines, Tom Scott, Jacques Dresang and a couple more. Those Eagles were THE car to have if you wanted to win an Indy car race between 1972 and 1975. They won Indy twice during that period but could have won 5 times with a shade more luck.

In the meantime, I am stuck racing slot cars until the global warming gets going again... :)
Regards,

T54

#12 Allen Brown

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 19:44

That looks fantastic!

#13 Tmeranda

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 19:57

T54,

You done good!!! Where and when can we see this car in it's rightfull place, on the track?

#14 David M. Kane

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 20:19

Did Graham and John Collins work on this project? I remember seeing an Eagle tub over there a few years ago.

#15 AugieAscot

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 20:39

Absolutely beautiful. I was there also at OMS to see Jerry lap the track in less then 45 seconds. Pepsi (Coke?) had a promotion going on that day too. When you bought a 6 pack of Pepsi it came with a little card. You glued the bottle caps to the little card and you got into qualifying and the twin 100s for a dollar I think. My buddy and me collected bottle caps and cards, glued them together and sold them at the track to people standing in line to get tickets. I forget what we charged…$5? Anyway we sold all we had. I loved that track.

#16 T54

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 21:24

Augie,
I raced many times on that track with road-racing motorcycles. I also loved it!
I vaguely remember that indeed there was some kind of a ticket promotion for qualifying. Glad you made a few bucks! :)

This car will hopefully be ready for the HSR/Victory Lane showcase March 7-9, 2007 at California Speedway. The second car will take a bit longer as lots of work remain to be done.

Indeed Graham and John Collins did some work on these two cars, but it is only one of the many episodes of restoration. John and Graham are of course first-class people and could have done just as well, but AAR wanted the cars back to do the work themselves. It did not work out as they had to make several building moves, and eventually after waiting over 4 more years, I got the cars back 8 months ago in this 20-year saga.

At this time, most of the congrats must go to John Mueller who vanquished all the hurdles. I think that he is also in love with the car and does not want to let go... :lol:

#17 Michael Clark

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 21:59

B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l :love:

Love the colour...

#18 scags

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 22:01

Beautiful car- I love the wheels. Enjoy it!

#19 Ted Walker

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 08:57

T54....................................is that the right shade of purple?????????????????????????????????/

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#20 Allen Brown

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 09:30

I was waiting for that.

#21 T54

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 16:41

Allen,
In April 1972, I masked and helped Ron Prevenslik to paint the original car, I have in my possession most of the original stickers, I have the original color chip and reference number, and I took the pictures under fluorescent light which of course deform the color. Besides this I had to lighten the pics on Photoshop to show the details.
Yes, it's the right color.
Remember the controversy about the Cooper Indianapolis car? Here we go again :lol:

#22 JSF

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 16:53

Stunning job you have done there, it's a credit to you. :up:

#23 Allen Brown

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 16:54

Originally posted by T54
Remember the controversy about the Cooper Indianapolis car?

Yes, and so does Ted. He was being mischievous - as usual.

#24 Gokart Mozart

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 22:56

T54,

The car looks great!!! When I was out at John's shop in August I took a few photos of the cars being worked on, it really did not take too much time to go from a polished tub to the finished product! Well done to him and everyone at the Entrepreneur Magazine shop!

I have some photos to get to you soon. I'm logging histories of the '72 Eagles as we speak. I may even start a Web site with a dedicated Eagle registry, since people seem to be coming out of the woodwork with works from Santa Ana.

If I'm not mistaken...7229?

Cheers,

Jacques N. Dresang

#25 Ted Walker

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 09:25

Sorry T 54 ....................Its "british humour" not many Americans understand it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#26 Peter Morley

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 10:44

Originally posted by Ted Walker
Sorry T 54 ....................Its "british humour" not many Americans understand it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It's called Irony - apparently not a word in the American dictionary!
But I thought the French understood it, surely T54 hasn't lost his roots?

BTW T54 you are so lucky to be involved with such great cars - hopefully Goodwood will persuade you to bring it/them over so that we can see it in the flesh?

#27 philippe7

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 10:59

Originally posted by Peter Morley
But I thought the French understood it, surely T54 hasn't lost his roots?


Moi, j'avais compris que c'était de l'humour anglais ;)

En tous cas, bravo à vous Philippe, votre voiture est superbe !

#28 RA Historian

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 13:47

Originally posted by philippe7


Moi, j'avais compris que c'était de l'humour anglais ;)

En tous cas, bravo à vous Philippe, votre voiture est superbe !

well said!

#29 T54

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 21:38

Unfortunately, my sense of humour is limited to my IQ, and living in California I am told that I have lost 2 points per year lived there, meaning that I am now over 70 points behind average, your basic village idiot by now... :drunk:

Jacques, this one is 72-30, the last tub made. The Olsonite car is 72-29.

This is how it is going to look like:

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I was the fellow behind one of the cameras shooting this pic of 72-03...

As far as Goodwood, I sure would love to come back there some day. What a magic place that is, even with all the commercialism of today. Communication has unfortunately not always been best with His Lordship's servants who apparently (I am told by an uppity person in the trade) believe that I am Canadian and keep losing my address... :cry:
If only the Earl knew that I am in fact kind of related to him by family ties from his great-great-great (times X) granma, Louise de Keroualles, mistress of Charles II, as one of my ancestors was apparently er, boinking her before she moved to England to spy on him by order of French king Louis XIV, the Sun King, may be I would move in grade there...! :rotfl:

However I must say that Charles was as kind to me as can be every time I was lucky enough to be related to the "right" car for the show. So I really have nothing to bitch about, as I was the luckiest man on earth when invited there and would come anytime at his request, by babana boat if funds did not allow.
In the meantime, I am counting the days...

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#30 Peter Morley

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 10:11

Originally posted by T54
As far as Goodwood, I sure would love to come back there some day. What a magic place that is, even with all the commercialism of today. Communication has unfortunately not always been best with His Lordship's servants who apparently (I am told by an uppity person in the trade) believe that I am Canadian and keep losing my address... :cry:
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Speaking American with a French accent - who else would do that but a Canadian :lol:

#31 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 14:06

Originally posted by Peter Morley
Speaking American with a French accent - who else would do that but a Canadian


You've never been to Noo Orleenz?

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#32 Justin Gurney

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 19:43

I know that little blond haired kid in that group photo next to the right rear tire.

#33 Gary C

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 21:24

LOL @ Justin!

#34 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 22:12

:up: to a fantastic car, and purple is really an underrated colour! Works terrific on this classic Eagle!

#35 David M. Kane

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 22:26

T-54 is Phil Remington a Kiwi? If so, I think I met him through Ed Swart at one of his races at Fontana. If it is who I think it is, he is very, very talented.

#36 Gokart Mozart

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 22:29

T54,

I remember John saying that 7230 was going to go to Dan since it was the last one, but alas, I'm wrong again! I think I supplied John with some of the tech stickers from 1973, though I don't recall if he needed them or not. Let me know if you need any more.

I have some photos of John with the car right after his crew polished the tub. I thought it was splendid in person, as it was interesting to me to look at a vintage piece of history with zero laps on it compared to our own, which attempted to make some 20 something events. I had a great time on that trip to Cali, as it coinsided with the Monterrey weekend. Sitting here in the 34 degree Wisconsin weather, I miss it greatly.

I'll email you the photos this weekend when I get back to the shop from school.

Respectfully Yours,

Jacques N. Dresang
UEMSI Motorwerks
AAR Eagle #7225

#37 T54

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 23:02

I know that little blond haired kid in that group photo next to the right rear tire.


Indeed, and I do not think that Alex was on the map quite yet... :lol:

I remember John saying that 7230 was going to go to Dan since it was the last one, but alas, I'm wrong again!


No you are not. Dan will get 72-30 (the purple car) while 72-29 (the white car) will remain with me. Thanks for the stickers, I am sure that John made good use of them. I do have authentic '72 Indy 500 tech stickers for the other car. I kept them since that year, as I obtained them at the Speedway from USAC tech, thinking that I could use them some day. Well, now is the day!

The two brand-new tubs needed polishing after 33 years of aluminum corrosion, but they look quite splendid and it will be easier to keep them up now. The same applies to the suspension bits that were cadmium plated, but cad plating goes bad too quickly. The only thing we lost are the USAC stamping on all the parts...
Those tubs were glued and riveted, and according to John, no need to do much to them other than the clean-up. They remain in perfect condition as well as the Goodyear unused fuel cells.

We will paint the second car in pearl white instead of the plain-white the original car was, because this is what I really wanted the car to be originally. Unfortunately it would not have been realistic at the time, and I had to settle for plain color.

Phil Remington was born in Santa monica, meaning that he is a true Californian... an extraordinary man who did extraordinary things, while keeping a level of modesty unequalled in the racing world. A true star in my book, and one very kind man. :)

#38 TIPO61

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 23:05

Originally posted by David M. Kane
re; Phil Remington "If it is who I think it is, he is very, very talented."


That would be the understatement of ALL TIME.

#39 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 17:01

I believe "Mr. Grant" turns 72 today (January 23). Here is Jerry, in dark hat and jacket, sharing a moment with ex-Porsche RSK racer Bob Yeakel, while ex-Ferrari 250TR, etc. racer George Keck (left) looks on. This was at the launch of Martin Rudow's book "Long Straights and Hairpin Turns" at Seattle in July, 2005.

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Vince Howlett, Victoria, B.C., Canada