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Six-wheel cars at Indy - late 1940s


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#1 Russ Snyder

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 16:14

Hello all Indy 500 fans and Indy 500 historians.

I continue to be amazed at many things over the years at the brickyard. One of those things.... the idea of 6 wheeled cars running at Indy. The pics/films I have seen, shows a double up of the tires in the rear.

Does anyone have any stories to share on these oddities?

W/o looking at my references, I believe these cars showed a good outing, finishing near the top ten in the late 1940's.

Thanks for any info/discussion on this subject.

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#2 SWB

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 20:45

Do you mean the 'Pat Clancy Special' of 1948?

It was basically a sprint car with two rear axles. The downside was that it was heavy and couldn't maintain a good speed, so was black flagged.

#3 E.B.

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 21:29

Looking at a pic of the car, it occurs to me that its wheels may have been a trendsetter in another way - first appearance of solid magnesium wheels at Indy perhaps?

#4 Hugo Boecker

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 23:39

They already tried in 1933
report in the Wuppertaler Papers May 10 1933
Posted Image
During practice for the Indy 500 they tried a sort of "emergency-wheel". If the normal one had a failiur the second one would help to avoid an accident.
Not really a six-wheeler but a nice try.

#5 TrackDog

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 05:58

Originally posted by SWB
Do you mean the 'Pat Clancy Special' of 1948?

It was basically a sprint car with two rear axles. The downside was that it was heavy and couldn't maintain a good speed, so was black flagged.


In '48, the car was driven by Billy DeVore and finished 12th. It was driven by Jackie Holmes in '49, and was black-flagged for not keeping up a safe racing speed. By 1950, it was converted to a conventional 2-axle car. The chassis was Kurtis, the engine was the traditional Offy.



Dan

#6 SWB

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 06:59

In '48, the car was driven by Billy DeVore and finished 12th.



Thats not so bad, my apologies to Billy DeVore. My book implied it was a complete failure and never mentioned 1949 in context. Beware the race history content in 'Design and Delevelopment of the Indy Car' by R Huntington (but there are some good illustrations and photo's).

#7 rx-guru

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 07:16

Originally posted by SWB
Do you mean the 'Pat Clancy Special' of 1948?

It was basically a sprint car with two rear axles. The downside was that it was heavy and couldn't maintain a good speed, so was black flagged.


Were both rear axles driven so one could speak about a 4WD or a 6x4 car?

#8 Henri Greuter

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:35

Originally posted by rx-guru


Were both rear axles driven so one could speak about a 4WD or a 6x4 car?


Yes it was.

The idea behind the car was to get more ruber on the track and this more grip. But from what I've inderstood, the car had too much grip at the rear and not enough differentials between the two axles and the wheels per axle to compensate for differences in rotation speeds within the corners. Thus creating a situation that the front end wanted to follow the turn but the rear end preferred to go straight.

I also have heard about the car actually being used on dirt tracks too.

The one and only A.J. Watson (Of Roadster fame) actually made a replica of the car some years ago.


Henri

#9 paulhooft

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:58

quote:
They already tried in 1933
report in the Wuppertaler Papers May 10 1933

During practice for the Indy 500 they tried a sort of "emergency-wheel". If the normal one had a failiur the second one would help to avoid an accident.
Not really a six-wheeler but a nice try.


------------------------------------------

Never saw this photo of the device before..
Is there a better picture of it?
including readable text?
The car is a Studebaker Special of Luther Johnson, started 20th, finished 10, in the 1933 500,
but on normal wheels...

Paul.

#10 szautke

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 13:28

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



The one and only A.J. Watson (Of Roadster fame) actually made a replica of the car some years ago.


Henri


Yes it ran at the Milwaukee Mile as a six-wheeler. Actually ran quite well in one of the races in '49 IIRC.

#11 raoul leDuke

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 14:59

I think that in 1949 Jackie Holmes drove it to fourth in the Milwaukee 100 at West Allis the week after he drove it at Indy where he went out with drive shaft failure.

#12 Russ Snyder

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 15:16

Originally posted by paulhooft
quote:
They already tried in 1933
report in the Wuppertaler Papers May 10 1933

During practice for the Indy 500 they tried a sort of "emergency-wheel". If the normal one had a failiur the second one would help to avoid an accident.
Not really a six-wheeler but a nice try.


------------------------------------------

Never saw this photo of the device before..
Is there a better picture of it?
including readable text?
The car is a Studebaker Special of Luther Johnson, started 20th, finished 10, in the 1933 500,
but on normal wheels...

Paul.


agreed Paul. I have never seen this photo before either.

Thanks for sharing Hugo!...the things we learn online

#13 Walter Zoomie

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 19:39

Photos from Ludvigsen Library Series Indy Cars of the 1940s:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

I saw this rig, or the Watson copy, on display at Indy in 2006, but at the time I considered it too goofy to photograph.

Silly me...

Posted Image

#14 Russ Snyder

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 19:58

Thanks Walter!

Great photos...as always!

I am looking at the 4th pic in action and it seems that the drivers arm is very close to that added wheel.

Talk about rubber burn!

#15 fines

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 17:59

Originally posted by E.B.
Looking at a pic of the car, it occurs to me that its wheels may have been a trendsetter in another way - first appearance of solid magnesium wheels at Indy perhaps?

I don't think this has yet been answered - yes, the first mag wheels in Indy!

#16 wildman

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 03:20

Originally posted by E.B.
Looking at a pic of the car, it occurs to me that its wheels may have been a trendsetter in another way - first appearance of solid magnesium wheels at Indy perhaps?


That's correct, I believe. Car and Driver magazine ran a feature about the car sometime in the mid 1970s that made much of the fact that the Clancy Special was probably the first race car with solid disk "monocoque" wheels -- copied by Center Line and other manufacturers some 30 years later.

#17 Walter Zoomie

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 19:03

Don't know if they are mags, but they sure ain't wire, and the 1911 Wasp didn't have wire either!

1922 Harry Hartz

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#18 fines

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 19:48

Those are Disteel wheels, and as the word may suggest, it's... steel!

#19 Henri Greuter

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:54

Rarely mentioned but Indy could have had another 6-wheeler in 1969.

Derek Gardner, the man who had designed the 1964 Ferguson-Novi P104 had designed an Indycar with two front axles, (like he did for the 1976 & 1977 Tyrrell P34) and with power on the rear axle and the middle axle. All of this to improve the traction when using the Turbo Ford.
Was never built, wonder how it would have looked.


Henri

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#20 TrackDog

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 08:17

Originally posted by Henri Greuter
Rarely mentioned but Indy could have had another 6-wheeler in 1969.

Derek Gardner, the man who had designed the 1964 Ferguson-Novi P104 had designed an Indycar with two front axles, (like he did for the 1976 & 1977 Tyrrell P34) and with power on the rear axle and the middle axle. All of this to improve the traction when using the Turbo Ford.
Was never built, wonder how it would have looked.


Henri


An interesting and intriguing concept...but if there was to be more than one powered axle; it would, sadly, have been a short-lived vehicle. Wasn't all-wheel drive banned at the Speedway after '69?

I've heard several stories as to the idea behind the P34 and it's dual front axles...one was to decrease wind resistance with smaller tires and a smaller frontal area, and the other was to increase traction in the turns. It evidently turned out not to be much of an advantage, because of the added weight of the extra front axle offsetting any aerodynamic gains. I remember hearing that Gardner thought that the concept should have worked better than it did, though...

I'm gonna have to find some kind of illustration of this vehicle, even a concept drawing...



Dan

#21 McGuire

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 12:49

Originally posted by wildman


That's correct, I believe. Car and Driver magazine ran a feature about the car sometime in the mid 1970s that made much of the fact that the Clancy Special was probably the first race car with solid disk "monocoque" wheels -- copied by Center Line and other manufacturers some 30 years later.


The Clancy Special used cast magnesium wheels. These were one-piece castings like those used throughout the 50's except for the lack of cooling/lightening holes. The Centerline wheel was of composite construction with the hub and rim riveted together. Centerlines ran at Indy, but the Indy wheels had holes. So it is hard to see how Centerline was copying the Clancy Special's wheels.

#22 McGuire

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 12:55

Originally posted by Walter Zoomie
Don't know if they are mags, but they sure ain't wire, and the 1911 Wasp didn't have wire either!


The Wasp used conventional wood-spoke wheels with sheet-metal covers bolted on.

Posted Image

#23 McGuire

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 13:02

Somewhere in the Ky-W Va area, circa 1960...


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#24 D-Type

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 15:18

Originally posted by TrackDog


An interesting and intriguing concept...but if there was to be more than one powered axle; it would, sadly, have been a short-lived vehicle. Wasn't all-wheel drive banned at the Speedway after '69?

I've heard several stories as to the idea behind the P34 and it's dual front axles...one was to decrease wind resistance with smaller tires and a smaller frontal area, and the other was to increase traction in the turns. It evidently turned out not to be much of an advantage, because of the added weight of the extra front axle offsetting any aerodynamic gains. I remember hearing that Gardner thought that the concept should have worked better than it did, though...

I'm gonna have to find some kind of illustration of this vehicle, even a concept drawing...



Dan

What was the phrasing of the Indianapolis rule? "No 4-wheel drive" would disallow a 6x4 but "No all-wheel drive" would allow it.

I think you are correct as to the rationale behind the P34. The problem was that Goodyear were unable to spend time and money developing the small tyres. They were sole supplier of tyres when the car was envisaged, but some opposition came along (Michelin?) and their energies were then focussed on meeting the competition. This was also at a time when aerodynamics were improving in quantum leaps and development of front wings etc would have improved front end grip, and ground effects were just around the corner.

#25 TrackDog

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 18:23

Originally posted by D-Type
What was the phrasing of the Indianapolis rule? "No 4-wheel drive" would disallow a 6x4 but "No all-wheel drive" would allow it.

I think you are correct as to the rationale behind the P34. The problem was that Goodyear were unable to spend time and money developing the small tyres. They were sole supplier of tyres when the car was envisaged, but some opposition came along (Michelin?) and their energies were then focussed on meeting the competition. This was also at a time when aerodynamics were improving in quantum leaps and development of front wings etc would have improved front end grip, and ground effects were just around the corner.


I think that the ban was carefully worded; it really didn't disallow 4WD as a whole, it just had to be based on a commercially available automotive system, or words to that effect. It had to be based on a production car system, and there were no cars on the market at that time with 4WD. Also, modifying a production car chassis to Indycar standards would have been virtually impossible, so it was, in effect, a ban.

Also, tire technology in the late '60's had reached a point where 4WD was no longer an advantage, except when combined with the tremendous torque of a turbine engine; and we all know what happenned to them...


Dan

#26 fines

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 20:30

Originally posted by Hugo Boecker
They already tried in 1933
report in the Wuppertaler Papers May 10 1933
Posted Image
During practice for the Indy 500 they tried a sort of "emergency-wheel". If the normal one had a failiur the second one would help to avoid an accident.
Not really a six-wheeler but a nice try.

Originally posted by paulhooft
Never saw this photo of the device before..
Is there a better picture of it?
including readable text?
The car is a Studebaker Special of Luther Johnson, started 20th, finished 10, in the 1933 500,
but on normal wheels...

Paul.

Stumbled over this in a 1933 newspaper I was researching, it isn't a six-wheeler at all, but a five-wheeler! :D The photo caption read "Because the right rear tire is usually the first to blow in negotiating the two-and-a-half-mile Indianapolis speedway, a fifth wheel, smaller and attached to the right rear hub, has been devised. When the right rear tire blows the extra wheel takes over the job and enables the driver to slow down and come into the pits for repairs in comparative safety. It's called a 'parachute'." Basically the same as the German magazine text.

No prizes for guessing why it didn't catch on!;)

#27 HistoricMustang

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 23:16

WOW! :drunk:

Henry