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History Auto racing 1894-1942

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kurtis, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,746

    jimdillon
    Member

    This year’s Indy 500 will be a memorable event to me in a sense. Fifty years ago, my grandfather saw a drag Corvette I was associated with that had stack injection and he mentioned that he worked on race cars when he worked in the Packard experimental department during the teens of the last century. We ended up having numerous discussions on the topic and I searched for any race cars or parts from the day forward until I found the engine and some parts to one of the racecars in 1981, some 9 months after my grandfather passed away. Funny deal is that the engine I located and bought in the early 80s had spent the weekend in the pits at Indy in 1969 on display ( I still have the sign board they had in the pits at Indy in 69). The engine had been in the racecar that led the race in 1919 for the first half of the race and after several mechanical stops finished in 6th place. It is the only 12 cylinder to ever finish the race. It has quite a history as it is engine #1 in the progression of the Packard Liberty aero engines that were built to fight the Kaiser in WW1. It has also been written up in Ferrari articles as the inspiration for Enzo Ferrari and his great v-12s. It was a SOHC match racer that toured the country in 1917 match racing Barney Oldfield in the SOHC 4 cylinder Miller Golden Submarine and Louis Chevrolet in his 4 cylinder SOHC Frontenac.

    Although I have made several laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in collector cars, I regret that I was so short-sighted to have not done something to have the engine and/or recreated car present at this year’s event-on the 100 anniversary of it’s attempt at immortality. Hopefully I will be able to do something with the car so that it too can make one more lap at the speedway but this year I will watch the race in my shop and give the engine a nod during the event.

    Amazing to me that it ran there 100 years ago. Too bad that more of the great cars that ran in the race did not survive. A few have, including the Peugeot entered by the Book Brothers (and that recently sold for 7.2 million dollars). The first of many Indy 500s where Miller OHC cars competed. The 1919 race had 3 Millers compete. Probably though the 1919 race was also known for the sad fate that befell several participants. Arthur Thurman and Louis LeCocq, both in Duesenberg powered cars were killed and LeCocq’s mechanic as well. They adopted the three liter limit for the 1920 race and some of the press reports alluded to slowing the cars down although it may have had more to do with the new crop of cars being developed in post war Europe.

    299 Packard on the outside of the front row.
    19start.jpg

    299 during the race
    DePalma-1919-7.jpg

    299 prior to the race with the hood sides removed
    299-Indy 1919-5.jpg

    299 with the 905 at Indy. The 905 had several months prior set the speed record at Daytona and was touring the U.S.
    299-905 1.jpg

    905 at speed at Daytona in February of 1919
    Packard 905-Dytna.jpg

    299 at Indy on August 2, 1916,several months after being completed where it became the first AAA class racer to lap the Motor Speedway at over 100 mph. Jesse Vincent, Packard' chief engineer besides the car.
    img036-2.jpg
    299 match racing against Oldfield and Louis Chevrolet in 1917 at Sheepshead Bay 2 mile boardtrack. De Palma in the 299 had a good day and won the three match races that afternoon.
    7-28-2012_11-02-09_PM_edited-1.jpg

    De Palma getting the checkers with Louis Chevrolet close behind in his Frontenac.
    img034-2.jpg
    The 299 finished in sixth place in the race 100 years ago. He had led the first half of the race but had a pit stop for a bad valve but the frozen right front wheel bearing made for a lengthy pit stop. De Palma in the dark cap as in those days the driver and mechanic had to do their own repairs.
    299 WB 1.jpg

    The engine as it sits today. The radiator is the original radiator they used in 1916. They had a different one in 1919 as they had made a newer and lower body- taking advantage of the studies they had done with the 905 and aerodynamics.
    038_10Ar.jpg
     
  2. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    Thanks Jim! I always enjoy reading about that early Packard race car. Just remembered I have all that info on the 1919 Ira Vail Hudson, got to find it and post it. Bob DSCF1181.JPG
     
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  3. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    DSCF1182.JPG

    The Ira Vail factory Hudson that finished in 8th place in the 1919 INDY 500. Licensed and on the street in Philadelphia around 1925, then owned by H.D.Carpenter, it was also raced at Pottstown and other local tracks. It turned up on a used car lot around 1948. Cameron Peck bought it and later sold it to Lindley Bothwell, who in turn sold it to Bill Harrah. Tom Barrett restored it and it is now in a collection in South Korea. This is the first time I've ever shown this photo, HAMB members need to see it. Bob
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
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  4. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 6,836

    noboD
    Member

    Thanks Jim, how many cubic inches is the Packard? Twin spark plugs?
     
  5. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    H.D. Carpenter bought the 122 MILLER from Ira Vail and raced it at INDY in 1925 with Vail driving it again. Here it is in the INDY garage, I believe the mechanic on the right is Frank Fabian. This car was later sold to M.A.Yagle, WITHOUT the 122 to Larry Beals who put a straight eight Duesenberg engine in it. There is a pile of Yagle related MILLER parts around today, and this engine may be in it.

    Bob

    DSCF1184.JPG DSCF1183.JPG
     
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  6. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,746

    jimdillon
    Member

    Doug it is 299 cubic inch. One set of spark plugs for the distributor and the other set for the mag. There is a mag drive in the rear of the valley.
     
  7. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 231

    blueprint2002

    Thanks Jim for the great story and pics.
    Hope to see a few more, if you have any, specially of that V12.
     
  8. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,746

    jimdillon
    Member

    Cool stuff on the Hudson Bob and there is also one of the Ballots from the 1919 race that comes to mind.
     
  9. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,746

    jimdillon
    Member

    Asking me to go on about this 12 can be a dual edge sword as it may make it hard for me to stop talking. I have always been fascinated by 12s to begin with and my grandfather started collecting cars long before I was born and I was around 12s my whole life. The first sports car to really put me over the edge was a Ferrari Berlinetta in the late 50s that was driven by a friend of my grandfather and the sound was so incredible I stood next to the car waiting for the owner to start it so I could listen to it again. I believe Enzo had a soft spot for 12s himself as can be evidenced by the great cars that will carry his name forever.

    The 299 Packard that I own carries the number one stamped inside a circle on the lower casing and it is not happenstance IMO opinion that it was 299 cubic inches. The racing limitation at Indy and AAA during the era (1915-1919) was 300 cubic inch. When De Palma made the trip to the 1914 Grand Prix at Lyons France in 1914, he was behind the wheel of a Vauxhaul that was not the most competitive car in the race by any stretch. To this day, historians heap massive amounts of credit on the Peugeot race cars and the great engines that powered them and for the 1914 affair at Lyons it was quite the same sentiment. The Peugeots were more than likely going to enjoy the laurels at the conclusion of the race. The shock though that the French suffered with the final result was quite the opposite in the Mercedes camp. The SOHC Mercedes ended up taking the top three spots at Lyons and proved that they were a force to be reckoned with but WWI was only a few weeks away and racing in Europe would be on a hiatus for sure. Ralph De Palma who raced Mercedes to some impressive wins in the U.S. was rewarded with one of the Mercedes racers from Lyons which he returned to the States and almost immediately took to the Packard experimental department to be put into shape for racing in upcoming American events. The car was quite successful winning a number of events with new bodywork and also a Packard carburetor that was installed in the Packard experimental department when they prepared it for the upcoming 1915 Indy classic when the cars would be running under the new formula. Jesse Vincent, the Packard chief engineer was in charge of the rebuild as well as in charge in the pits at Indy when the car took it’s place at immortality winning for Mercedes. Jesse Vincent had racing in his blood for sure and was a boat racer himself, winning a number of gold cup type events during the period.

    I had a number of conversations with my grandfather who not only worked in the department, but also worked on the very engine from the Mercedes racer when he and his teammate Carl Smith (they worked on two man teams often in the department) were given the task of setting the engine on what he called a jack stand (what we may call an engine stand), so they could study the effects of the engine running at varying angles. The 299 was designed and built first and I believe they had every intention of racing at Indy as soon as practical but long story short shortly after the car was built an official racing ban at Packard was implemented. The car was sold to De Palma so he could race it privately.

    Actually two 299s were built and although it is difficult to prove which engine was in the car at any point in time, I believe that there were probably substitutions when record runs were made as De Palma did want to wear out his main racing engine (especially after the experiences he had with the 14 GP Mercedes that had to be rebuilt numerous times from 1914 through 1917ish).

    After Indy the 299 did pretty well at some events at Sheepshead Bay, winning several but by the end of summer the engine was tired and they experienced bottom end problems and I believe they threw a rod by the end of summer which ended it’s career. De Palma though I believe with Packard’s assistance put the number 2 engine in the 1919 bodywork and sold the car to help defray the cost of his new three liter Ballot for the upcoming season. The number 1 engine was returned to Packard where they cast a new crankcase (with some minor differences from the original crankcase) where it was exhibited proudly by Packard at their Grand Boulevard headquarters until they went out of business in the 50s.

    The number 2 299 engine in the Indy bodywork though went to Europe and did quite well in a short span, in a couple of offbeat contests. Valerio Moretti wrote an article on the car and it’s influence on Enzo Ferrari and his first 60* V-12s (the 299 is also a 60* V12). When this article, which was written in Italian, was translated by the Betty Jane Helander of the University of Houston, I played a small role in making sure the translation made sense and I added my own thoughts in comments when the article was published in Automotive History Review (Fall 2005-Issue Number 44). I also helped with pictures and my .02 when Simon Moore (noted Alfa expert) wrote a piece for Cavallino, The Journal of Ferrari History on the influence of the 299 on Enzo and his V12 engines (issue 149-Oct/Nov 2005) and more recently in December 2015 issue of the UK magazine, The Automobile. Basically all three articles deal with the experience of Enzo competing against the 299, #2 in a couple of contests where the Packard dominated. Simon Moore also believes Enzo may have taken the car for a spin, when Ascari owned it. My opinion though is that 12s have a certain sound that is captivating and if anyone ever heard a Liberty 12 they are quite loud and have a great racing sound. Peter De Paolo, the nephew and later riding mechanic of his Uncle Ralph and winner at Indy in his own right in 1925, said in his memoirs that he could always hear his Uncle’s 299 at Sheepshead in 1919, as it was the loudest car on the track. I used to run my engine in my shop occasionally and the sound has an effect on one that is hard to explain. I believe that when Enzo heard it, he was equally blown away. His engines of course have a completely different sound but his fascination had to start somewhere and I and a few other authors of note seem to agree it very well have been the 299 SOHC V12. A motor that has some ties to WWI aero, speed records, Indy and Enzo cannot be all bad.

    Progression of the Liberty Motor showing the 299 first then the 905s then the actual aero engines of 1650 cubic inch built for WWi aircraft
    img087.jpg

    299 after Indy at Sheepshead Bay during one of it's wins with the newer bodywork.
    Sh By 19 3.jpg

    De Palma on the banking giving some hand signal apparently during a less hectic pace lap

    SH By 19-4.jpg
    picture of the back of the engine showing the cam towers. Inside the cam towers are spur gears so there are no chains to break. The hole on the right side if for the tach. Dual coils with a distributor for each bank. The little tube in between the manifold is a small gas tank for running the engine that was installed when it was at Indy in the pits in 69.
    032_16Ar.jpg
    The car on the Fanoe Islands with the #2 engine in 1920 with the Baroness Maria D'Avanzo driving the car.
    Fanoe-redo.jpg
    The Packard racing garage at Sheepshead Bay with what I believe is the frame horns of the 299 in the aisle way. Packard took their racing seriously. Rac Gar-Sh BY-2.jpg
     
  10. ZigZagZ
    Joined: Oct 24, 2011
    Posts: 239

    ZigZagZ
    Member
    from LA

    Thank you Jim! Here is a photo from a century ago I know you'll get a kick out of.;)
    1919 Indy side by Side.jpg
     
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  11. ZigZagZ
    Joined: Oct 24, 2011
    Posts: 239

    ZigZagZ
    Member
    from LA

    I really enjoy your posts Bob. Your research & insight never cease to amaze me.
    Mulford in Hudson.jpg
     
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  12. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,746

    jimdillon
    Member

    Billy I think you have to wait two more years for that photo to be 100 years old. I believe it is De Palma in his Ballot and Boyer in his Duesey at Indy in 21. It does remind me of the Packard though.
     
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    Thanks Zig Zag, that is one photo of the Vail Hudson I've never seen. Never rember seeing the cowl air scoop. It may be another factory team car. Bob
     
  14. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    th.jpg th.jpg Always liked this shot, most race cars traveled by train in the teens & twenties. Bob
     
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  15. Bob, does it say where in Philly that pic was taken of Vail's Hudson? Looks like Fairmount park/Centennial Building area?
     
  16. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    No, but I do have H.D. Carpenters address, think it was in a high end section of town in 1925, 1505 North Broad Street.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  17. ZigZagZ
    Joined: Oct 24, 2011
    Posts: 239

    ZigZagZ
    Member
    from LA

    Sorry about thank. Let me try again.....
    Packard vs Frontenac.jpg
     
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  18. Right in the neighborhood of Temple University- where I spent too many semesters :D

    [​IMG]
     
  19. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    Spent some Google time and found this photo of the Ira Vail HUDSON as is sits today in the Samsung Collection. Wonder if they could afford to buy all the literature I have on the car? :confused: Bob

    1917 Hudson Super Six Racer STM 02.jpg
     
  20. banjeaux bob
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 5,747

    banjeaux bob
    Member
    from alaska

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  21. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,746

    jimdillon
    Member

    Billy great shot that I have never seen before of the 299 at the stripe. Thanks-will save that one for sure.

    Bob, what is up with the whitewalls?
     
  22. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    Jim, They are a Tom Barrett restoration addition. That car went from $27,500 at a Harrah auction to a paint job and white walls at $99,000 within a year. Think Blackhawk had it for a while then off to Samsung in South Korea. Bob
     
  23. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    Jim, Have you ever seen a legal contract between a car owner and driver? I've got one from H.D. Carpenter with the HUDSON, nothing really fancy but there can't be many from the 1920's still around. Bob
     
  24. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,746

    jimdillon
    Member

    White walls on that car is not correct IMO. I really wonder about some so- called restorers at times.

    Bob, I have not seen a contract but it sounds like you have a cool piece. Most drivers needed a patron. I wish someone would write a book on the patrons. Bet it would make for a great read.
     
  25. Hmmm, the synonyms I'm coming up with for "not correct" are as follows:

    ridiculous, stupid, asinine, foolish, pointless, absurd, ludicrous, silly... :D
     
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  26. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    Mac, This is the HAMB, no need to sugar coat your feelings. :)Bob
     
  27. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member


    In all the 122 MILLER related papers is a note from mechanic Frank Fabian pleading to be repaid around $123.00 for expenses racing the car at Charlotte board speedway. He finally was paid by Mr. Yeagle after the car was sold to him. I could write a small book base on all the paperwork that starts with a telegram stating the MILLER and one spare block could be bought for $6,500. race ready with a new paint job. I talked with the guy that painted it about 30 years ago. Ira Vail was so happy he let the guy stand on the rear spring and hold on to the gas cap for a run around the block. Bob
     
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  28. Would you happen to know what the #25 car is? has the feel of a Case, as a guess?

     
  29. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,664

    The37Kid
    Member

    If this at INDY in 1915, the Bugatti carried #26, so the #25 would be a car with a Cino chassis and MERCER engine entered by Cino-Purcell driven by G.C.Cox, info from the Jack Fox INDY 500 book. The #25 finished in last position with the Bugatti in front of him. Bob
     
  30. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 231

    blueprint2002

    Thanks Jim for the great stories and the pics.
    Here are a couple of pics of the Liberty 12, which you've probably seen before:
    Liberty 12 cross section.jpg
    Liberty 12 longl section.jpg
    liberty v12.jpg
    Do any such exist for the Packard 299?
     
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