The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kurtis, Jul 18, 2009.
Yes, the board tracks were popular also at this time and didn't last.
If by "all around the US" you mean California, then that's correct.
What I meant was the dirt track at Exposition Park from 1923 to 1925 in San Luis Obispo, California attracted drivers and cars, not only from the West Coast (including California); but from the East. Names such as Oldfield, DePalma, DePaolo and Californian Ed Winfield. The link is a excerpt of a film shot by Reginald Denny.
The board track in Uniontown PA. was on the Indy circuit at the time. Duesenberg was on the pole.
The boards rotted. The boards came loose and caused serious problems. And most of them, like in Beverly Hills and Culver City were an "Interim Use of The Land"! I've been told the land and track in San Luis Obispo went into foreclosure. The owner of the adjacent land, knowing that the track owner did not have "Deep Pockets", allowed "Freeloaders" onto his property the line of which is on the "Backstretch" of the track. After a couple of years without sufficient revenues, the events lost money and the owner went broke! The owner of the adjacent property stepped in and bought it.
That is what happened to the board track in Unipntown. Too many rain outs and lost revenue. Then depression and track was cut up.
I wonder if any of that oil smoke was "intentional"? If I were running a car back then that did not burn any oil I think I may have made it. Burn oil.
That's an interesting thought. Would you have added oil to the fuel, as in a two stroke? or is there another way?
Well, I have seen a vintage bug bomb sprayer attachment for a garden tractor that plumbs the mosquito repellant to a fitting installed on the exhaust pipe. It creates a goodly fog.
Adding oil to fuel significantly reduces the octane rating of the fuel and in a (relatively) high compression racing engine that may have been counterproductive.
If those cars were burning that much oil it is a miracle any of those engines have survived today.
Oil control rings weren't invented until the mid '20's
With the babbit bearings in those engines, oil level was very important.
If it was smoking that was good !
No smoke, meant the oil level could be dangerously low !
Thanks Pete, I never knew that about piston rings. I do remember Dick Greene telling me the owner of Perfect Circle was blind, I was always impressed that he was able to what he did. Is the RAJO running? Bob
Of course Pete is correct on the oil control rings but if you study some of the you tube board track videos of the cars during the teens they did not smoke heavily all the time-although the foot to the floor and decent speeds may have alleviated some of the issues. The smoke at the start was quite extensive but once they ran the straights the smoke was not so hideous. The dirt tracks were a bit of a different animal in that there was a constant combination of dust and smoke with slower speed and possibly more instances of acceleration in every lap (versus foot to the floor on the board tracks). That being said oil usage was a normal function of the ways that the cars were set up.
If you remember De Palma’s hard luck with his bottom end going south in his Mercedes at Indy in 1912 (with the pictures of him pushing the car back to his pit while he was, I believe 2 laps ahead). I believe it was a connecting rod although I have read it was a piston. I have read he insisted on a five gallon tank under his cowl from that day forward-just in case. Also it has been written that when he won the Indy 500 in 1915 (again with a Mercedes-although this time a 1914 GP Mercedes) that he had bottom end issues on his last laps and relied on the large oil tank to help him nurse the car to the finish.
Add to the considerable usage of oil in all of the cars and some of the engine gaskets being less than ideal and the oil pumps on the dash, so you could lubricate exposed engine parts regularly and the tracks could be a bit of a mess and very slippery.
As an aside, when Buck Boudeman finished his Golden Sub in the mid 80s he exhibited the car at the Meadowbrook concours. When they started the car by pulling it with a rope to pass by the reviewing stands and the large crowds, the smoke was incredible-to the point of being ridiculous. I spoke to Buck after he brought the car back to the ring where he had earlier parked his car and suggested to him that he should try and lessen the smoke. He told me that is how they were originally and I told him maybe BUT I told him it was simply too much and detracted from the great job he did on the car. Not sure if he listened to me but he did tighten it up considerably and I was fortunate to see the car at other shows and see him make some laps at Milwaukee (Miller Meets).
Then when you get into the whole oil discussions it leads to the use of Castor oil. I had a discussion with my grandfather on the use of Castor oil (and he had worked on race car engines of the day) and he told me some guys liked it but it made a mess. He had to tear down some of the engines after testing and if my memory is any good, I seem to remember him telling me that the cylinders often needed more cleaning or more attention than with some of the other high grade oils. I also spoke to an old guy that was present at some Chicago tracks in those days and he told me that Castor oil stunk. I believe it is a vegetable based oil and some bike racers used it with success. Never spent any time researching the use of castor oil though, so I certainly cannot claim any expertise in that arena.
Here is a picture of De Palma pushing his Mercedes after his bottom end let loose at Indy with him in the lead with only 2 laps to go (I believe). Some have suggested he was trying to push it to a win which is silly-he was trying to get back to his pit to see if there was any way to save the day-there wasn't.
The scene was immortalized in a painting by the great Peter Helck.
Here is a picture showing the large oil cap on the cowl of the Mercedes he drove to victory in 1915 (allegedly with 5 gallons of oil under the cowl-that he used successfully to soldier to finish-his only win at Indy although until Al Unser Sr passed him in the 80s, Ralph was the lap leader at Indy with 615 laps lead I seem to remember.
Here you can see some oil streaming out of the hood with De Palma and the 299 in 1917.
Another closeup of the 299 with streams of oil on the car. Ralph was extremely finicky on how his mounts looked prior to his races-so you can bet this oil was removed as soon as practical. You can also see the oil cap on the cowl above the number 4. I also believe that the gentleman with goggles was another racer to break into the limelight in the not so distant future-Tommy Milton.
I had this you tube video in a file-not sure if it works. May show a bit of smoke on the boards in 1917 at Sheepshead Bay New York between the three match racers- De Palma in the creme colored Packard 299, Barney Oldfield in the Miller Golden Sub and Louis Chevrolet in the SOHC Frontenac four. The three matched raced a bit in 1917 with them trading wins between them. On this day De Palma won all three heats although for one heat Oldfield had to switch to his Miller powered Delage.
Great write up Jim! Here is an interesting photo of the 1909 Wheeler Schebler race. The combination of smoke and dirt made visibility insanely dangerous.
Billy if I had access to a way back machine I would certainly want to experience the board tracks but the dirt tracks would not be at the top of my bucket list. Even on some of today's road courses it is difficult to see much (mainly due to a limited viewing area) but add to that all of the smoke and dust and it would not be ideal IMO. The noise and action you could see would be cool, no doubt though. Ever read the book Blood and Smoke? Not sure how true everything in the book is but kind of enlightens us today as to how it MAY have been back then. The track in its original form was quite the mess-if I remember correctly they shortened the 1909 race due to the poor condition of the track as the race wore on.
I also find the board track events much more interesting than the races that were held on dirt. The spectators that attended the board track races would have been in awe, and must have believed they were witnessing something from a Jules Verne novel.
The road racing events (like Elgin) would have been fun to witness in person, but just like today's road courses spectators would have had a limited view of the action. Do you remember the Detroit GP back in the 1980's?
I haven't read the Leerhsen manuscript on the early days of IMS, but it does sound like a fun book. I did pick up an number of texts over the holidays, and am currently finishing up the "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines".
Billy I do remember the Detroit GP (as well as the Long Beach GP) with both Indy cars and F1 cars. Fun but nothing like Indy IMO. Some of us like ovals and others not so much I suppose. Great memories of Indy. My fondest memory of Long Beach was a memorable lady that accompanied me one year rather than the cars. Since then I remarried and my wife cannot understand how one can enjoy street racing when you can see so little. Can't argue with her too much if the truth be told.
Gentlemen Start Your Engines was a good read, I may have to find it and give it another go. Just finished Thunder at Sunrise (on the Vanderbilt Cups, Grand Prize and Indy event up to 1916). Pretty interesting although I may have corrected him a little on the Mercer stuff-overall pretty good.
Found a Louis Chevrolet short youtube on the Harkness win that you probably already have or have seen (even though it is short I thought others may enjoy).
Thank you for the historical insight into oil consumption and other topics. I enjoy reading your posts. Since we are close geographically would hope our paths do cross sometime in the future so I can meet you in person. Thanks again.
If I see you running at Milan this summer I will look you up. Jim
OK. I usually do the 12 week Sunday Bracket Series, the Detroit Dragway Reunion, Kickin' It Old School, and The Nostalgia Drags. Thanks
I got to see the Stagger Valve when it was in the Cunningham collection, great looking car. I saw the Jimmy Franklin Stagger Valve at Hershey, are there others that are also restored? Bob
The Frankland car is in Florida with Jim's son.
What a super car!
Could you post a few pics of the engine, from both sides, please? Thanks.
10 %, more likely.
Oldfield and de Paolo never raced at SLO, though de Palma did once while he was living in California. Fact is, it was a regional track, like 99 % of all tracks at the time. Transport was not that easy in those days, so you raced near home.
Mr. MF, I can see you like to Bash peoples posts on this thread, so I have deleted my post, and won't
share photos again.
Nobey : Don't be so sensitive : As we go through life we come to realize that we're always going to meet people that we want to "flip-off"(& on a regular basis!!), but that's life, so "get over it", & move on.
Here's a 1933 shot of Tommy Mulligan in a Stagger Valve. Mulligan's sister was Anna Chevrolet, Art's wife.
Thanks, Billy, for that great pic of the Reed & Mulligan Stagger Valve.
Mr. Nobey, I'm sorry if you feel that way, but I really can't see how correcting info could in any way be considered "bashing" other posters. I enjoyed your pictures, like I'm sure everyone else here did, and would love to see more of them. If, however, posting incorrect info is more important to you than posting pictures other people can enjoy, then go ahead and sulk. That's your prerogative.
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