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History Classic Indy roadsters: Most beautiful oval racers ever?

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Bill McGuire, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    58 kuzma offy helse spl.jpg
    1958 Kuzma Offy, supposedly with IFS and unusually light weight. It seems three such cars were built, and struggled to qualify, only the Helse spl making the race.
    58 kuzma offy.jpg
    Even Troy Ruttman could not get the Agajanian spl up to qualifying speed. It seems difficult to escape the conclusion that the IFS was at least partly to blame. IFS is not apparent in this shot:
    58 kuzma offy-2.jpg
    Or was this pic taken after the crew reverted to a standard beam axle?
     
  2. Rootie Kazoootie
    Joined: Nov 27, 2006
    Posts: 8,105

    Rootie Kazoootie
    Member
    from Colorado

    I don't think either of the cars shown ever had IFS. The first shot shows the Helse car after the big crash in 58. The second shows it after Jerry Unser was killed in it in a practice crash 59.

    I'm quite sure the Agajanian 98 never had a IFS either. However Frank McGurk, who was Aggies head mech., did change the torsion bar heights in a effort to get the car to handle but they never did get it to work and Aggie gave up and traded it in on a Watson.

    Capture helse-2.JPG Capture helse-3.JPG
     
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  3. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    Thanks Rootie. No names, but this just shows that history isn't always accurately recorded or reported. No one's perfect, I guess. Thanks again for clearing up that misconception.
     
  4. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    1958 DA Lubricant Spl Kurtis KK500H. Laydown car with two special features being the aerodynamic shape and an unusual type of IFS, apparently using a single trailing arm:
    kk500h.jpg
    Resulting on-track performance was good, though not exceptional. And no further cars seem to have been built that way?
    It was the basis of Smokey Yunick’s well-known “Reverse Torque Spl” in 1959. Reverted to a beam front axle, and the Offy modified to rotate opposite to the usual direction, involving major changes to both engine and final drive:
    59 yunick reverse torque spl.jpg
    Qualified at the same speed, and finished better than the previous year. Reports on the performance are conflicting, but Duane Carter stated it was excellent, so Smokey’s theory seems to be valid:
    59 yunick reverse torque spl-3.jpg
    Was the car (and particularly the engine) further modified by the new owner the following year? It certainly qualified at a significantly higher speed. Subsequent racing history?
     
  5. Rootie Kazoootie
    Joined: Nov 27, 2006
    Posts: 8,105

    Rootie Kazoootie
    Member
    from Colorado

    Not sure what Kurtis was thinking with that suspension. It's being generous calling it a IFS as it is essentially a mishmash of a VW beetle/tube axle. Heavier than a tube axle and offers no camber gain, it's no wonder its the one and only.

    Capture kk ifs.JPG
     
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  6. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    Thanks Rootie.
    Agree with you about that strange IFS. With those large box-section fabrications it must have been heavy, but with only one swinging arm, the combination twisting and bending loads on it may have forced such a hefty construction.
    Probably only the Dubonnet system (as in some 30's Chevrolets) was less suitable.
    Anything known about whether the third owner retained the reverse-rotation Offy?
     
  7. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    It will be interesting to find out if the next owner did go with reverse rotation. Does anyone know if the Offy was designed as a Desaxe engine?
     
  8. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    s-l1000.jpg
    The car above doesn't look too different from the one below (KK500B), except for those two tubular pieces reaching forward to the front wheel. Anyone know what they could be?
    53 Kurtis KK500B Bardahl spl-1.jpg
    Thanks.
     
  9. oldtom69
    Joined: Dec 6, 2009
    Posts: 496

    oldtom69
    Member
    from grandin nd

     
  10. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    Thanks oldtom69.
    I did think of that, but it does seem more usual for the radius rod to be a single, forked piece, with a single pivot where it is attached to the chassis, as in this picture:
    51 kuzma offy.jpg
    This (along with the one on the far side) would keep the axle square to the car centreline and also resist braking torque as it tries to rotate the entire axle.
    Whereas on the one in question, the two separate rods are each pivoted to an upright link, which in turn seems to be itself attached to the chassis by a pivot. At least, that is how it appears to me on that low-resolution picture.
    Such an arrangement seems to have too many pivots, and the link seems able to rotate under braking torque, which won't do at all.
    Hence my question.
    Of course there are other methods of locating the axle, as probably done on the Bardahl car in the second picture.
     
  11. oldtom69
    Joined: Dec 6, 2009
    Posts: 496

    oldtom69
    Member
    from grandin nd

    with two separate rods the axle travels in less of an arc than with a single hairpin type radius rod.Most solid axle race cars now actually use two rods on the right and one single rod on the left,that way the axle doesn't try to twist during chassis roll.The older cars used the torsion arm as one of the locating links,now the arms just lay on the axle.
     
  12. oldtom69
    Joined: Dec 6, 2009
    Posts: 496

    oldtom69
    Member
    from grandin nd

    the radius rods do NOT keep the axle centered in the car!On a leaf spring car the leaf does that through the dead perch.On a torsion bar car like your photos it still needs some kind of lateral locating link,with the simplest being a pan hard bar
     
  13. Speedwrench
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 1,032

    Speedwrench
    Member

    The reason for the two radius rods on one side of the car is to allow for caster adjustment and to maintain the caster angle after adjustment.

    I'm not sure how this was handled on the older roadsters, but I think I remember seeing some of them that were set up so that the torsion arm was hooked directly to the axle so that the arm and the radius rod formed a Watts linkage. This was usually on the left side only and may have been to minimize wheelbase change or to relieve bind resulting from body roll when cornering.
     
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  14. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    Thanks guys!
    Much appreciate your responses on the subtleties of the beam axle suspension: not as elementary as it is sometimes thought to be.
     
  15. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    A few (dozen) years back, Sinclair Buckstaff wrote an article in Open Wheel describing the effect Jack McGrath's changing his new Kurtis from leading arms to trailing arms (or was it the other way around?) at Indy in 1954. He went out and put the car on the pole, and a lot of folks promptly followed suit. Although the change did improve the travel of the front axle's geometry, he had also lightened his Offy's crankshaft considerably. This was kept a secret from the field, and he attempted to change it out before the race, but Harlan Fengler would not allow it, because it magnafluxed ok.
     
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  16. 1929CDAN
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 345

    1929CDAN
    Member

    The person driving the Bardahl #15 is Bill Akins from Tenn. he restored that car and a few more all great looking cars and he was also a multi-time winner of Pebble Beach , Passed away Sat. 2nd of March R.I.P. Bill you will be missed.
     
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  17. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    What a great legacy he has left. RIP
     
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  18. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,057

    deucemac
    Member

    They also added nitro to the fuel. Kurtis reversed the arms so that it would throw everybody of the trail. Lots of racing is monkey see, monkey do and since McGrath's car was faster with the reversed arms, that must be the cause of his speed. Thus, everyone dashed off to change the arms and the nitro secret was safe. If anyone can find a copy of Ed Hite's book " The Kurtis Story ", this and many other never before published stories are in there. A marvelous read, but sadly, long out of print. I bought mine from Ed's widow in '80 or '81. It's buried away deep in my library.
     
  19. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    69 adams airplane spl-3.jpg
    The second Jack Adams gas turbine car, still front-engine. Perhaps it could be called a (very unconventional) roadster? Though it looks more like a 40s upright car, with that narrow, oval-section body.
    The body looks too low and narrow to fit the propshaft below or beside the driver, yet the car was reported as having four-wheel-drive, so it must have been possible. And the turbine exhaust too somehow ran past the driver, and exited through the tail. Not easy with those bulky exhaust ducts.
    The suspension has been described as DeDion front and rear, though it was also said to be without the A-arms that might be expected. In any case, it was slim enough to be enclosed within those aerofoil-shape fairings.
    The Allison 250C18 gas turbine made only 370hp, when the Fords and Turbo-Offys were giving 600hp and more. Not surprising it could not get up to speed, but makes me wonder why four-wheel-drive was thought necessary.
     
  20. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    I'm gonna make a guess and say they may have been hoping for higher corner speeds to make up for the lack of horsepower. A cutaway drawing of this would be nice.
     
  21. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    Yes, I'd like to see one too; so far I haven't found any. Compared with Andy Granatelli's turbine cars of 67/68, this car seems to have received very little media coverage, not even the enthusiast media.
     
  22. Speedwrench
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 1,032

    Speedwrench
    Member

    I believe Jack Zink tried a turbine some where in this same time period and it didn't get all that much media attention either.

    Then, again, those cars didn't have Fat Andy's media machine touting them or have Parnelli in the seat.
     
  23. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 7,220

    noboD
    Member

    I do not ever remember seeing pictures of this car before.
     
  24. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,678

    jimmy six
    Member

    Probably because it didn't qualify. When did they start using the low profile tire?
     
  25. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    The Zink Trackburner turbine car also went almost unnoticed, as Speedwrench points out.
    Maybe being naïve, but at least the enthusiast/specialist press should have been interested in such technically unusual machines.
     
  26. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    This car does seem to have rather small diameter tyres. And apparently equal size all round. Maybe specials by Goodyear for this team?
     
  27. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    49 fageol engine.jpg
    49 fageol spl-1.jpg
    1949 version of the Fageol Twin Coach Special: not radical like the 1946 car, but fitted with a most unusual engine, same as those in some Fageol buses. Reported to be a single overhead cam engine, which was rare in cars at that time. (But the buses probably didn’t have triple carburettors).Anyone know anything more about the engine?
    Did it also have “Torsilastic” rubber suspension, like the ‘46 version?
     
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  28. Rootie Kazoootie
    Joined: Nov 27, 2006
    Posts: 8,105

    Rootie Kazoootie
    Member
    from Colorado

    Looks to be a Fageol bus/truck motor with a OHC 2 exh. valve per cyl head.

    Capture fageol-1.JPG Capture fageol-2.JPG
     
  29. blueprint2002
    Joined: Dec 25, 2018
    Posts: 234

    blueprint2002

    Thanks Rootie.
    Would you know if the car raced again at Indy or elsewhere, maybe with another engine? Does it still exist?
     
  30. Rootie Kazoootie
    Joined: Nov 27, 2006
    Posts: 8,105

    Rootie Kazoootie
    Member
    from Colorado

    I really don't know what happened to the car. If I had to guess I would say it may have gone to the NASCAR Speedway Div. That's where many of the obsolete Champ cars went in the early 50s.
     
    Speedwrench likes this.

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