The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kurtis, Jul 18, 2009.
The driver in the Topping Spec is babe Stapp.
Here is a pic of Wilbur Shaw at Winchester in the summer of 1927. The machine is a re-bodied 183 Frontenac.
Later that year Shaw & Floyd Smith placed the drivetrain into a Miller Chassis. Here is a shot of the car taken at Roby Speedway (note Frontenac emblem on radiator).
Later on in February 1928 the car appeared at Daytona as the "Whippet Special". Shaw attempted to set a 4-cylinder speed record, but an engine fire forced him to put the car in the drink.
Thanks Zig Zag that Wilber Shaw photo in the ex INDY Frontenac is great, never saw it before. Lots of famous cars had great second and third lives. Bob
We'll never know for sure which of the Frontenac or Monroe INDY cats turned into the Wilber Shaw car, but this is how they looked. Bob
Some great pictures by Billy on the Frontenac stuff (no wonder with his treasure trove of Frontenac stuff). I appreciate what Billy has done with his research on Chevrolet/Frontenac as they were pretty good cars that get lost in so much fan fare going to some of the other great race cars of the era. The pic above by Bob of the Golden Sub is cool as well but as is the case with so many of the old race cars and race car engines, you have to wonder about the "provenance" to a certainty. As the SOHC four Miller continued it's racing career most everyone would have heard about Barney Oldfield but not so much as one of the other Miller cars from the 300 inch era. I guess if they said here is the old Doc Cadwell car many would go "huh?" I suppose it could be the ex-Oldfield car and no matter it is still cool.
Years ago when attending a formula 1 race at Long Beach I spent the night on the Queen Mary and they had a store on board where you could buy newspapers with your birth date. I spent some time looking thru the papers and came up a copy of a Los Angeles paper with the headlines and article about the fatal crash of Gaston Chevrolet in his Frontenac when he slammed broadside into O'Donnell's Duesenberg on the Beverly Hills boardtrack (November 25, 1920). It hangs in my shop and is a daily reminder of that fateful day. Some have commented that it is a bit morose possibly, but for some reason I am hooked on these old race cars and we all know they were pretty dangerous.
This thread has been a bit slow of late so good to see these pics.
Thank you Jim! It is always good to see these old photos and the response the generate from members. I remember the Monroe four Ed Roy put together from parts, think that engine is in the INDY Collection now. Bob
Yes the Monroe that Ed put together is in the museum and I seem to pay it a visit when I go to the museum. I corresponded with Ed on the engine and he sent me one of his booklets describing his great working models he used to build. He also sent me article with Van Ranst and Louis I believe. Ed was a good guy with super talent.
I believe the one thing that would be great would be if someway/somehow an actual 300 inch era Frontenac engine was found in someone's stash (although not sure how realistic that is).
Being a neophyte vintage race car fan I am wondering if there is a printed summary of all the rules and rules changes that have occurred over the "Golden Age" years, like from the '20s to the '40s? (I am not interested in later years that much.) More specifically, is there a printed time line somewhere that summarizes the rules for big cars, dirt cars, and midgets? That would be fun to peruse. When you guys talk of things like the "300 inch era" I'd like to know whereof you speak. Things like mandated roll bars, ride-along mechanics and the like, in addition to engine constraints are the type of things I'd like to see included.
Thanks for steering me in the right direction.
Happy Holidays to all.
Not sure if there is a printed summary that you request that I know of. I probably have some stuff on the 300 inch era, which is from 1915-1919. I consider this to be an interesting era for a number of reasons. Mainly I suppose is that prior to this time modified stock cars were very common on the big tracks (AAA on this side of the Atlantic) but once 1915 and the new rules for the 300 inch era took effect most of the cars carried "more sophisticated" overhead cam engines. Even though WWI interrupted the racing here and especially abroad, the racing car came of age IMO.
Of course starting in the 20s with the 3 liter requirement (183c.i.) the cars became more refined with each passing contest it seemed for awhile. Great era for auto racing.
Rules for racing in the 20's and 30's (and on up to today) varied depending on the "Sanctioning Body". They also changed frequently, sometimes from year to year. I know of no definitive publication of all "The Rules" through the years. There were rules for engine size and configuration (cam in block or DOHC), supercharged?, compression ratio). Rules for chassis length and track. And rules for oil and fuel containment. The rules seemed to be made to "even" the competition and for safety. I've observed that the "Rules" created a community of ingenious guys that "worked around the rules". The "Cheaters"!
I've got an AAA "Rule Book" from the 1925 season I'll dig it out and get back with a review. Bob
Wonder if the Riley (English) Twin Underhead Cam enging was a rule beater, or just unique design. Bob
There is a road marker on RT.30 Pa. somewhere around Stoystown. One of the Duesenberg brothers were killed in a road accident. I believe around 1932.
"Underhead Cam"! I like it! In Gene Banning's book: "Speedway, Half A Century of Racing with Art Sparks", pages 96 and 97 have columns quoting the "Rules for 1934 by the AAA Contest Board. These "Rules" pertained to the events held on the Pacific Coast; and in particular to Legion Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles. Race cars at Legion Ascot were separated into two Classes: A and B. The displacement of both classes were limited to 205 C.I.D. The Compression Ratio limit of both was 7 to 1. Both would have a transmission with a "declutching device". Each had a tread limit of between 52 and 65 inches. There was nothing said about the wheelbase; but I believe it was a figure of "Between 90" and 100"! (I think Indy Cars at that time might have had a top limit of 110 inches)! Each class had to have an ignition cut-off on the steering wheel. There was NO limit on the valve system on A Cars. The B Cars were limited to a single cam and two valves per cylinder. The Dry Weight minimum of the A cars was 1450 lbs.. B cars could be no lighter than 1400 lbs.! BTW the were NOT called "Sprint Cars" (that term came in in the late 40'/early 50's) They were called "Big Cars" or "half Cars"!
Old Dawg I will have to find my copy of that book that I have not looked at in years. Gene was signing copies at some vintage event I attended years ago and he signed his book for me. I sadly have not read it in years. Had lots of good info as I remember.
Fred Duesenberg was killed driving a supercharged Duesenberg I believe. Really works of art.
Thank you Bob & Jim for your comments. Sharing a photo that neither of you had seen before puts a smile on my face. I thought the photo was interesting, because (1) Shaw is behind the wheel, and (2) This engine was used at both Indy & Daytona.
The HAMB comes alive again!
Great find, Billy, and a picture I hadn't seen before, too. It must show Wee Wilbur before his feature win at Winchester on July 24. He cleaned up good that day, winning a 10-mile race at 65.86 mph, then a 5-miler at 66.32 mph, a 15-miler at 65.45 mph and finally the twenty-mile main at 64.80 mph! Fellow Indy winners George Souders, Lou Schneider and Billy Arnold were amongst the money winners that day - oh, happy times! On the other hand, both promoter Frank Funk and starter Jesse Kinsey were arrested during time trials for violating the state's "blue laws", so perhaps times really weren't that good. Both were released prior to the races on bond of $500 each (at a time when the race winner netted no more than $1,000!!), and finally fined one dollar each in court a fortnight later.
About which Frontenac chassis this was, well, maybe we'll never know, but I wouldn't be that pessimistic. Sure, Fronties are especially hard to research because of the plethora of Fronty-Fords in the twenties, but eventually the clouds will clear, I'm sure. The key is to have lots of good pictures, and together with more and more period reports about those races, someone will finally be able to connect all the right dots. That it can be done is shown by my own Miller research: I can confidently state that I have identified the Miller chassis into which the Fronty engine was eventually dropped, to run into the Daytona waves as the Whippet Special: it was a veteran of five Indy 500s, first driven by Cliff Durant in 1923, then Jerry Wonderlich, Jules Ellingboe, Bon McDougall and Lou Schneider in subsequent years. After it was through with the Fronty engine, it made a comeback with a Miller marine four, and was very much responsible for the popularity of that particular type of motor. A racing car life, well lived!
According to the newspaper reports, a very large crowd saw a stellar group of drivers that Sunday afternoon at Winchester. Funk & Kinsey persevered, challenging local blue laws to ensure the show went on as scheduled.
Shaw writes about the car in his autobiography, and stated that it had been acquired from Shorty Cantlon. I'm not sure how long Cantlon had it, or from whom he had purchased it from.
Would anyone be familiar with the Detroit emblem on the side of the car?
Here is a mangled picture of Louie and Wilbur Shaw circa 1940
I don't think Shorty actually owned the car. It was known as the FAS Special in 1926, named after master mechanic and probable car owner Floyd A. Smith. Cantlon was second with it at the Akron/OH board track on Labor Day, then won at Toledo/OH Sep 19, and at Akron Oct 17. Shaw relieved Cantlon for a short stint during a 150-mile race at Roby/IN Oct 10, where they finished fourth.
In 1927, it often raced as the Boyer-Kenyon Special, likely named after a fellow from Benton Harbor/MI, Billy (or "Baldy") Kenyon. Cantlon was second at Winchester/IN on Decoration Day, and fifth at Detroit/MI Jun 5, before Shaw took over for a second at Crown Point/IN Jul 17, and then the win at Winchester the following Sunday. Shaw scored two more thirds with the car at Toledo and Roby before the engine went into the Miller chassis*, finishing second at Roby and Cleveland in September, then missed the Milwaukee race because of the death of his wife, with Cantlon subbing and finishing third. Shaw was back for another third at the grandly named US Dirt Track Championships at Detroit in October, before the car was renamed the Whippet Special for the LSR attempts in Florida.
* the exact date of the change of chassis is not entirely clear; this is an educated guess.
Thank you Michael, sure is interesting to read a cars history from its life as a new INDY car then down through the lower ranks of racing. Guess there is a hub or knock off from it on a restored car some were today. Bob
Wish all of you a Merry Christmas.
I am new to the HAMB and came across this thread just a few days ago. I’ve scanned quickly through all 366 pages, and am awed by the expert level of knowledge of so many of you, as well as the superb photos that seem to keep appearing! What a great site this is, and am I lucky to have stumbled across it!
My own interest is mainly technical, and I have to say that there seems to have been much innovative and enterprising design at Indianapolis, at least from the thirties onwards, even though enough credit appears never to have been given for it. I may be wrong, but from about the early eighties the technical interest seems to have dried up. However, the past is still full of hidden (to me, at least) gems, just waiting to be uncovered, and I am hoping that some of you will be able to help me with that quest.
While many successful cars have been well covered in magazine articles and other forms of the media, many unsuccessful ones are just as interesting, sometimes even more so. Two that come to mind at this moment are the Coleman specials of 1930 (I think) and the Cooper Lycomings of about the same time. The latter did not even qualify, as far as I know. And I have never been able to find out very much about either of these. Here are some of the thoughts that have occurred to me:
Coleman specials: Is the drive through a conventional live axle, as it seems to be? If so, what provides for the necessary up-and-down movement of the input to the differential? Are the clutch and gearbox at the rear, and does the drive then turn 180 degrees with a forward-running propeller shaft (somewhat like the Oldsmobile Toronado)? That would seem to necessitate a rather high position for the engine, to leave enough space below. This does not seem to be the case. Or is there some entirely different arrangement?
(The 1929 Pikes Peak Colemans seem to have much the same appearance, though their engines are apparently sixes)
In post #10938, ZigZagZ presented a superb picture of the partially stripped front end of a Miller-Ford V8, revealing almost as much detail as any drawing. Does anyone have anything like that for the Colemans? Drawings, contemporary magazine articles, press releases or the like may also be useful, anything at all would be much appreciated.
Cooper Lycomings: Would these be V8s or V12s, similar to those fitted to some Auburns and Cords at about the same time? Front or rear drive? Were these also Earl Cooper owned, and who built them? Again, just about anything relevant is what I am seeking.
Many thanks for your patience in going through this long message!
Hi there, and welcome!
The Coleman specials did indeed have live front axles, which was possible because the Miller engines always used a yoke-type mounting in the frames, to enable them to live with frame distortion to a degree. In this, the front of the engine was "yoked" to a crossmember of the frame in such a way that it could move in three dimensions. In the Colemans, the engines were mounted back-to-front, and thus free to move up and down along with the transmission. It was a peculiar arrangement, but does seem to have worked satisfactorily. Unfortunately, I have never been able to find out much about the Pikes Peak Colemans.
With Cooper Lycoming you probably mean the 1931 Copper Special, which was a sponsor's name for the Trexler/Lycoming built in 1930 by Marion Trexler of Indianapolis. It had nothing to do with Earl Cooper, but was a homebuilt special with an Auburn-Lycoming straight eight engine (3 1/4*4 1/2), and driven through the rear wheels. It qualified slow in 1930 to crash out early, and was much to slow to make the field in '31. He tried again in '32, but never found enough speed to try and qualify.
Thank you Michael.
That is food for thought indeed. I must now go back to all the Miller material I have, and see if I am able to figure that out!
Would you know what became of the Cooper Specials of 1927? Did they live on after 1930, with new engines and 2-seat bodies?
You're welcome. One of the Coopers was really a renamed Miller, and was sold to Phil Shafer in 1928, ran in two more 500s before it was sold to Europe to become the famous "Derby-Miller", to be used mainly for record attempts at Brooklands and Montlhéry. The three real Coopers were bought by an Indianapolis garage proprietor named Herman Gauss, who widened the bodies for the two-man formula, and sold one of the cars as a rolling chassis to Empire State Motors of New York, who put in an old Miller straight eight engine, which was later replaced by a Studebaker stock engine. It made the 500 field several times during the "junk era". Gauss kept the third Cooper engine originally as a spare for the other two cars, but in 1931 he combined two of the engines into one single car, much like Riley Brett had done with the Sampson/Miller the year before, and in 1933 he put a Marmon V16 stock engine into the other car, fielding two sixteen-cylinder jobs! One or both of the Gauss cars made the field for several years, the last time as late as 1948, by now converted back to monoposto form and with new bodywork also, of course - it was no longer recognizable as a Cooper.
It has taken me a while to digest your response regarding the Coleman specials.
From such pictures as I have, which show Miller engine mountings, they seem similar in principle to the then prevalent three-point system, before flexible mountings were widely used. This involved, first, two rigid (bolted) mounts, one either side of the flywheel/clutch casing and hence fairly widely spaced.
The non-drive end of the engine was held, at or near the crankshaft centre, on a single mounting. The point was that the engine as a whole, and the main bearings in particular, were unaffected by twisting of the chassis frame (which was considerable with the typical frames of that era).
Of course, it is not difficult to arrange for that single mount to allow the free end of the engine to rotate about the transverse axis, in turn allowing the drive end to swing in an arc, up and down. Something like this, as I understand it, is what you have described. That is to say, the engine, gearbox and live axle, rigidly bolted together, could all swing about the free-end of the engine, thus allowing the necessary suspension movement. The main drawback of this could be the very high unsprung weight, and a correspondingly spine-jarring ride. And the loads acting at that single mount must have been considerable.
But the fact that two cars qualified for the 1930 race, and one completed the full distance in seventh place, means it was not so impractical as it might seem! And surely it was better than the Pikes Peak Colemans, where the live axle appears rigidly bolted to the frame.
Would be interesting to hear what the drivers of these cars had to say.
Your concise story could not have been easy to compile: nearly 90 years on, with only widely scattered and fragmented information, you have certainly had to make a huge effort! Much appreciated!
This single story of four cars also illustrates the amazing lengths to which those owners, builders and crew chiefs went, so as to field cars as competitive as they were able. Taking only the combination of two supercharged Miller 91s into a single unblown U16, there must be a story enough to fill a book! And this was known as the “Junk Formula”.
Lucky man who can find some of that “Junk” today!
Guessing at this photo, I think it was shot at Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale CA. The car is probably owned Harvey Ward. Arvol Brummier or "Stubby" Stubblefield could possibly be in the seat.
This was shot in San Luis Obispo CA during one of the road races through the streets of the then little town. The time would have to be prior to the building of the dirt oval track East on the outskirts of the Town. The fast banked oval track, though it attracted cars and drivers from all around the US, only lasted from 1923 to 1925. Nowdays folks in the City seem only interested in Marathon Running and bicycles!
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