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A 1916 Miller build for Neil Whalen USA Spl

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#1 carl s

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 02:01

This excerpt from an article (Nov 20 1916 Uniontown Herald) promoting the Thanksgiving opening of the Uniontown Boardtrack  -USA Speedway- and driver Neil ‘Whirlwind’ Whalen makes mention that Neil is having a 165 hp racecar built for him for next season by Harry Miller of Los Angeles.


Paraphrasing some of the collected research I’ve read on this time period in Harry Miller history


Robert Dick


‘between Aug 1916 and June 1917 Miller had built 4, 300 inch 4 cylinder engines : Ogren (Otto Henning, Delage Miller-Oldfield/Oldfield, Ogren/Jerry Mason and Pan American/Tom Alley.’


And two complete cars: Miller Spl - Golden Sub/Oldfield (debut Chicago 16 June 1917) and Miller Spl/ Andy Burt (Omaha July 1917).




I know newspaper talk is cheap but anyone have any info/thoughts on this ‘USA Spl’ supposedly being built for Whalen by Miller in Fall 1916?


Link to excerpt:



#2 robert dick

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 17:15

The "U.S.A. Special" is new to me.

In August 1916, in the hillclimb up to the Pikes Peak, Neil Whalen was entered in the Milac (short for "Made-in-los-angeles-california").
The Milac was a 3-liter Peugeot copy and appeared in the Spring of 1916, driven by Teddy Tetzlaff.
According to the contemporary press, the Milac was designed by Owen Linthwaite and assembled by his Linthwaite-Hussey Motor Co. in Los Angeles.
The Miller shops were certainly involved and supplied some special components for the Milac.

The Uniontown speedway opened in November 1916, with Neil Whalen as director of contests.
As far as I known, Whalen's "U.S.A. Special" was not mentioned in the trade press.

Just a few speculations:
Most probably the paragraph of the Uniontown Herald was promotion for a first meeting on a new speedway.
Maybe there was a bit of confusion between Milac and Miller.
And maybe Whalen had the intention to order a Miller and did not find the money.

#3 Michael Ferner

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 00:48

By 1916, Neil Whalen had long since retired from active driving, although he did indeed drive the MILAC at Pikes Peak, a one-off it seems. As Robert has noted, he was deeply involved in the promotion of the Uniontown events, so that's where this all comes from.

#4 carl s

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 04:48

Thank you Robert and Michael.

I've found a bit more info in news articles mentioning Mr. Whalen.


It appears he had his hands full with the newly opening track. There were a number of serious and fatal accidents prior to and during the actual race and the amateur car dealership proceedings in particular.


Mr Whalen was doing the flagging for the practice laps for the amateur group - later complaining that several drivers were either confused or simply ignoring his commands from the side of the track.

One such driver lost control as he was being flagged into the pits and struck Mr Whalen and a member of the press corps (a Universal Studios photojournalist) sending both to the hospital, Mr Whalen with a broken leg.


Months later Mr Whalen was mentioned as recovering with more surgeries planned and apparently fulfilled an agreement to appear in some administrative capacity in future Uniontown Events before disappearing along with any further mention of The USA Special from the news.


As per comments from Robert and Michael The Miller build of The USA Special was a promotional pipe dream.

Edited by carl s, 18 November 2019 - 15:57.