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History The 'Flying Norwegian' & The first Rocket Race car in 1932 !

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Harms Way, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    There are a number of colorful individuals scattered throughout Hot Rodding and Racings past,...... This is one of those people, I had known of some of Sig Haugdahl's (The 'Flying Norwegian') history and racing exploits, but I recently ran across this stuff and thought some of you would get a kick out of this interesting part of Hot Roddings past...... here is his story followed by pictures of His amazing Rocket Race Car

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    Sigurd Olson 'Sig' Haugdahl, the 'Flying Norwegian' was born in Tiller, Norway. A fine speed skater, he moved to the United States in 1910 and stayed with his uncle in Albert Lea, Minnesota. He went to work in a local machine shop. He started ice racing in 1912 on a motorised sled powered by an Indian motorcycle engine. He switched to racing motorcycles on dirt tracks and then in 1913 he moved onto four wheels in races promoted by J. Alex Sloan.

    When Sloan founded the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) in 1915, racing on the mid-western fair circuit from Canada to Texas, Sig found himself racing his Mercer Raceabout against the likes of Louis Disbrow and Leon Duray.

    He began his dirt racing career in 1918. Financed by Sloan, he lowered the mile record set by Barney Oldfield at the Minnesota Fairgrounds.
    In 1912 in collaboration with Sloan, he built the Wisconsin Special, primarily to beat the USAC champion Tommy Milton. The car was named after its 836 cubic inch Wisconsin 6-cylinder aero-engine, which was connected directly to the rear axle. The car was 192 inches (488 cm) long, had a body only 20 inches wide and produced 250 horsepower.

    Sig is widely reported to have run at 180 mph in the Wisconsin Special on the beach at Daytona, Florida, on April 7, 1922. This would have broken the existing world record held by Kenelm Lee Guinness in the 350 hp Sunbeam by some 47 mph. It not be until five years later, in 1927, that the mark would eventually be reached.

    Anyway Haugdahl's record was never recognised by the AIACR (Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus which became the FIA) in Europe as it was not officially timed by the relevant sanctioning body. It is actually very unlikely that he ever achieved this speed and that there was more than a small degree of showmanship and IMCA promotion involved. If the car had been that quick it would seem logical to attempt an official record but this never happened. Thus it fell to Henry Segrave in the 1000 hp Sunbeam to better three miles a minute on the beach at Daytona in 1927.

    In 1924 Sig did most of his racing in California on the new Ascot Speedway but returned to the mid-west in 1926 in search of the IMCA National Championship. He won the title six years running between 1927 and 1932.
    Haugdahl was also a fireworks expert and built a rocket-powered car with which he toured the country in 1932 making exhibition runs.
    This was the first manned rocket powered car. An earlier German effort was an unmanned and ran on rails. His first public exhibition run was on June 17, 1932 at the Bo Sterns Speedway, Wichita, Kansas. He is also credited with being the first person to balance his racing car's wheels.
    In the early 1930s, Sig lived in Florida and became a keen golfer. He continued to race, mostly midgets, on the east coast of the United States, finally retiring from driving in 1934.

    Haugdahl came up with the plan to hold a stock car race on Daytona Beach. In early 1936, Haugdahl, along with local attorney Millard Conklin and consultant Bill France, laid out a course of 3.2 miles consisting of 1.5 miles of State Road A1A and 1.5 miles of beach with short turns on the north and south end of the oval-shaped course.

    A 250 mile, AAA-sanctioned stock car race was held on March 8, 1936. The event drew and interesting array of competitors such as Indianapolis 500 winner Wild Bill Cummings, midget racing legend Bill Schindler, sports car racing pioneer Miles Collier, millionaire sportsman Jack Rutherford, English speed king Goldie Gardner and Daytona’s own Bill France. The city posted at $5,000 purse. However thousands of spectators had already arrived at the track before the ticket booths were set up, the sandy turns became virtually impassable and the event was stopped after 75 of 78 laps. The race incurred huge financial losses to the city.

    France entered a 1935 Ford V-8 coupe owned by a fellow mechanic named Glen Brooks. The local Gulf Oil dealer sponsored France with fuel and tires. Along with his driving chores,
    France raced a 1935 Ford V-8 coupe and was also the mechanic on Milt Marion's 1936 Ford convertible. Marion went on to win the race while France came home fifth.

    Haugdahl talked with France and they persuaded the Daytona Beach Elks Club to host another event in 1937. The event was more successful, but still lost money. Haugdahl didn't promote any more events but France used the experience and went on to found NASCAR.
    Sig suffered several strokes before he passed away on February 4, 1970. He is buried at Jacksonville, Florida and was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa in 1994.




    The Rocket Car


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    Sig showing off the car to Mary Pickford !
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    Wichita Eagle
    Saturday June 18, 1932

    Racing Machine Shows Here for First Time on Any Track






    Sig Haugdahl built the first man-driven rocket powered car in the early 1930s. An earlier effort, built in Germany a few years earlier, was an unmanned rocket sled that ran on a rail. Sig only drove the rocket car in exhibition runs, the first public one being on June 17, 1932 at the Bo Sterns Speedway, 10343 N. Broadway (then Lawrence Highway), Wichita, Kansas. The car was scheduled to make a second exhibition run at the same racetrack on June 19, 1932 but that performance was postponed to August 7, 1932 due to rain. When the car finally did make a speed run at Bo Stearns Speedway, it turned one lap on the half-mile track in 33.2 before the rockets burned out on the second lap.



    I hope you all found this as interesting as I did, just a glimpse of Hot Rodding & Racings past . :)
     
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  2. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    Other notable cars of "The Flying Norwegian"

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  3. flathead okie
    Joined: May 22, 2005
    Posts: 1,480

    flathead okie
    Member

    Now that's cool.
     

  4. the Sig mercer...with 18" cut out of the WB:

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  5. NealinCA
    Joined: Dec 12, 2001
    Posts: 2,900

    NealinCA
    Member

    I know what I need to build now...

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    Neal
     
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  6. Salty
    Joined: Jul 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,259

    Salty
    Member
    from Florida

    Very cool....

    Just noticed he is buried in Jacksonville FL. a brief search on my end did not return the actual location in which he is interned....

    Anyone know where he's buried....if I can find It I can pay him a visit and post a pic of his final resting place (might be kinda cool to see whats on his headstone).
     
  7. a miller 183...hard to disagree.
     
  8. Salty
    Joined: Jul 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,259

    Salty
    Member
    from Florida

  9. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,970

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    Great stuff. Wonder how many other folks get overlooked in the history books? Sad to say. Seems like only AJ and Mario get all the ink. Gary
     
  10. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    I didn't know that,.. just passing along what I read.
     
  11. Mercchev
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 605

    Mercchev
    Member

    Coolest thing I have read in awhile about a fellow Norwegian-American. He and my Dad were about the same vintage from Norway and settled in the same part of Minnesota. Great read, thanks for posting it! Now if I could just find my Dad's old 36 Ford Roadster...
     
  12. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

  13. tomjac
    Joined: Jul 10, 2008
    Posts: 97

    tomjac
    Member

  14. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 3,094

    jimdillon
    Member

    Dennis great thread here. I have never really researched the three mile a minute car but have always liked the car. I also ran into some stuff on Haugdahl in the Ben Gotoff scrapbook floating around back in the eighties.

    As to the rocket car I had heard of it and collected a few pictures of it but it was not until several years ago when Bill Castle mentioned that he witnessed the fire where it burned up. Bill recently recreated the Miller Baby Chevrolet and while visiting with him and another collector at a shop in Gasoline Alley, he mentioned the fire. Bill worked at a service station in the late thirties in Joliet Illinois down the street from the Sloan garage. He and his wife (fiance Esther at the time) had attended a movie and when they came out there was a big fire down the street. He figured it may be where he worked so they went down there and watched the fire. Inside the Sloan garage at the time of the fire were the White Rocket car and two Millers. The two Millers were alleged to be the Golden Submarine (although now with a new body) and the Cadwell MIller. Later noted early racecar collector Chuck Davis, spoke to Sloan's son about the fire and tried to see if there was any way to track down any parts left or buried but it went nowhere. Bill said the fire was so hot due to some of the wood and especially the oil soaked floor that nothing survived and they just hauled off the melted remains to the local landfill or dump (I would have to check my notes).

    I have most of the pictures you posted although the one of the shop (the one with the tires) may be the old garage. I will forward those to Bill and see what he thinks.

    Here are a couple of pics I took of the Wisconsin at the Miller Meet a few years ago. Still a cool car. -Jim

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  15. Rootie Kazoootie
    Joined: Nov 27, 2006
    Posts: 8,134

    Rootie Kazoootie
    Member
    from Colorado

    Sigs midget he built and raced before retiring.

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  16. fenderless
    Joined: Mar 31, 2006
    Posts: 1,286

    fenderless
    Member
    from Norway

    Cool story:)!

    Great to read that Norwegians made some Hot Rod history in the early days:)!?

    ......................................
    Taildragger&fenderless
     
  17. Hi,

    Yes Grandpa is buried in Jax. In fact next week I am going to the cemetery to visit. He is buried there with his wife and my Great Aunt. Actually under the #2 Was Sig and Jimmy Chai his long time mechanic ...Just some history
     
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  18. welcome aboard! do you have any neat family photos? Great to see that you still have the car and get her out.
     
  19. Actually the midget car he built in his garage in Daytona. Went to Miami and raced, took the car to New York for a few weeks and raced and then came back to Daytona and never raced again...He retired!
     
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  20. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    Wow, great to have you on board !,.... Do you have any pictures of your Grandfather or any of the race cars ? (Thanks for contributing!)
     
  21. tomjac
    Joined: Jul 10, 2008
    Posts: 97

    tomjac
    Member

    Does anyone know where the Wisconsin Special is now...and who owns it?
     
  22. Built mine
    Joined: Jan 10, 2012
    Posts: 24

    Built mine
    Member

    It is also believed by some that one of J.W Christie`s cars was in that barn as well.
     
  23. tomjac
    Joined: Jul 10, 2008
    Posts: 97

    tomjac
    Member

    Does anyone have more specific info on Sig's time in Albert Lea? What machine shop he worked at? Cars he drove during his time in A. L.? How long did he live in A.L.? Pic's of cars/vehicles he drove while living in A. L. etc?
     
  24. tomjac
    Joined: Jul 10, 2008
    Posts: 97

    tomjac
    Member

  25. Jim and Dennis,

    Hello and nice pics, even though I have had the pics for years. As far as the fire in Joliet, Ill you are correct about the fire but I have to ask my dad about the cars. My grandfather was in Joliet and met my grandmother there through her brother. The fire did destroy alot of cars that did belong to Mr. Sloan ( my grandfathers promoter) and my grandfather did lose a few cars as well.
    As far as the midget car, my dad tells me when he was 8 his dad woke him up early one morning and said do you want to go to Miami and New York and race the midget car? This was the fall of 1934 and raced against Bo Stearns.

    Another piece of info grandpa assisted Major "Sir Henry" Segrave in 1929 and his boat the Miss England and his new venture in boat racing. Sig built and installed the napier engine. They had a shake down tryout in Daytona and then transported the boat to Miami Florida to race against the famous Garwood and his boat Miss America VIII, Garwood held the worlds record on water but Segrave wanted it. Sig also brought along his my trusted and famous mechanic Jimmy Chai, together they helped Segrave defeat Garwood in a match race. Segrave returned to England and was knighted by the King of England for holding two records, one on land and one on water.
     
  26. fenderless
    Joined: Mar 31, 2006
    Posts: 1,286

    fenderless
    Member
    from Norway

    Very cool story:)

    Kjell
    ....................................
    Taildragger&fenderless
     
  27. Arieb
    Joined: Sep 3, 2010
    Posts: 8

    Arieb
    Member

    I don't know if this will get noticed as the last message in this thread is quite old already, but I am looking for information on Sig Haugdahl, especially his LSR vehicle the Wisconsin Special.
    There are quite a few pictures of the car, and I have found a fair few, but while I am trying to gather sufficient information to make a scale model of the car as it set the record on 6th April 1922, there are few correctly dated pictures.

    I am mainly looking for a clear picture of the right side of the car, especially the openings in the hood (one of which is partially covered by a beam). Then I am looking for a confirmation of the nose of the car and whether the wheels did indeed not have any disc-covers when the record was set.

    The picture below should be, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the record version (so not the nose with the fish-gill openings).

    1922-04-06 Wisconsin Special - Sig Haugdahl record Daytona beach (8).jpg
    The best picture of the right side of the car that I have is this one:

    1922-04-06 Wisconsin Special - Sig Haugdahl record Daytona beach (3).jpg


    A while ago I read that Linda Schainberg was writing a biography of her grandfather, but I have not been able to find any mention anywhere. Does anyone know if it was ever published?

    Any and all help will be very much appreciated!
     
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