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History Vintage "Cageless" Midget Picture Thread

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by KKx125, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. gearguy
    Joined: Jan 27, 2010
    Posts: 286

    gearguy
    Member

    We're preparing for one of our club's "trophy" races and I thought you guys might enjoy seeing a few photos of why we host the Harry Turner Classic. The Kenosha Gang's leader built, drove, and owned midgets, sprints, & champ cars for over 50 years. Many of his fellow Hall of Fame members strapped in to his cars from coast-to-coast.
    See how many you recognize. The faded snapshot isn't one of Harry's creations but shows him with fellow gang members Ernie Fredrickson & Ralph Pabst. The P on the bumber identifies the car as Ralph's.

    Thanks to Gregg Kishline for sharing the photos.
     

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  2. Denny Zimmerman
    Joined: Jan 8, 2010
    Posts: 504

    Denny Zimmerman
    Member

    Joyce, Thanks for that interesting post, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Walt. Denny Zimmerman
     
  3. wisdonm
    Joined: Jun 20, 2011
    Posts: 444

    wisdonm
    Member

    I was at the Miller Reunion also. Here's a pix of a Studebaker powered midget.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Gearguy......did Harry Turner have a brother named Leo who lived in Muncie, Indiana and owned Turners Alignment Shop? Leo used to go to Chicago on occasion to visit 'relatives'. Leo had a brisk race car business at his shop in the early 1950's.
     
  5. LittleFauss
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 272

    LittleFauss

    ....."thought you guys might enjoy.......???"

    Thank you gearguy. Those are priceless pieces of history. 'Especially the ones of Eddie and Johnnie Parsons; never seen them before. So, thanks to Gregg, too.

    Since you guys are close to where all the action took place, could you confirm that the idea of the Harry Turner monocoque designed midget was actually Gary Bettenhausen's own idea that he dreamed up one night? And then took the idea to Harry's shop. That's according to the book, Go! The Bettenhausen Story. And, any idea of how many monocoque designs were built?
     
  6. BZNEIL
    Joined: May 28, 2005
    Posts: 659

    BZNEIL
    Member

    Ebert, What a great car you picked up! I have studied lots of Edmunds cars and blueprints and agree with the others on here that it is not and Edmunds. The roll bar is the wrong shape, The front rear torsion tubes and bracing are different, and both front and rear bumpers mount differently. It does appear to have an Edmunds nose and grill, and maybe the whole body. Unless this car has been altered along the way, which the all have been, I would date this configuration to the late 60's. The reason being is that in my research I have found just a few examples of Cage less midgets having the single rear radius rod, and they were all from 68-69 era. One in particular being built by Leffler. I always liked that style of rear suspension and the Leffler car is what I based my rear chassis build on.

    After memorizing every picture in the USAC midget pictorials of the era, This all happened well before I was born, It seemed in the late 60's most people ran 13x8 on the rear, 13x7 on the right front, and a 12x5-6 on the left front.

    Your car is awesome! I would put the Window Halibrands on the back and call it a day!
     
  7. BZNEIL
    Joined: May 28, 2005
    Posts: 659

    BZNEIL
    Member

  8. JOHN EVANS
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 93

    JOHN EVANS
    Member

    Hi Joyce, I am Ronnie's son. Here is a picture of you, your brother Steve, and me way back yonder.

    Also see posts# 1719, 2213, & 2464 of the car and your father that I had posted earlier............John

    Happy 90th Walt!!
     

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  9. gearguy
    Joined: Jan 27, 2010
    Posts: 286

    gearguy
    Member

    From Gregg Kishline:

    <tt><tt>Circa 1967, Gary dreamed up the stressed skin idea and took a very simple sketch to Harry, his shop located then at 2456 North Western Av in Chicago (312-486-2384). [ I know - I worked there, jumping in on the very beginning of tub #5 or 6, built for Capt. Lee Carey in 1973 - an airline pilot at the time. Lee's son George was already driving midgets then. ] I discussed the tub concept with GB about 3 yrs ago. Bettenhausen is not sure of the details of that first discussion, but Harry solved all the technical problems. It was to be built of .125" x 6061 T6 Alcoa aluminum sheet. Very springy stuff and doesn't weld without losing its temper. Harry built a long mandrel out of heavy-wall 3" pipe, reinforcing the back side of it so it wouldn't flex in a large industrial hydraulic press-brake. As I recall, you could buy 4'x10' sheets of 1/8" 6061, which yielded two 'tubs'. Some fabrication shop on Chicago's north side did the bending (two 90-degree parallel bends), and Harry took it from there. Harry duplicated the ends of a spaceframe midget he had recently made. Mel Cornett destroyed in at Granite City.) These became subframes that overlapped and mounted at the front and rear edges of the 'tub', and bolted thru. No welded attachments were made on Turner's monocoques. The motorplate and cage stiffened the chassis additionally. Flat mounting plates were welded to everything that had to attach to the tub, and bolted through. The attached picture illustrates the subframe idea, however it is not representative of the eleven monocoque cars built without a frame, as this car was an experiment featuring independent front suspension, vs. the conventional tube axle on all the rest. [I drove this IFS car for two seasons, and even converted the Chev II to a VW, and it never surprised me.] In Chicago, we also built a tub for Kurt Mayhew, who still races midgets. [Kurt! Kurt!] That car is in southern IL, last I knew. As mentioned, Harry built 11 tubs, all upright and appearing quite conventional. We got dusted pretty well by Rollie Lindblad's Badger roadsters when we went out East, with Rich Vogler driving Turner's #82 upright Chev II, in 1973. So I tried for a couple of seasons to convince Harry to build an offset roadster tub, but he'd have no part of it. I started a low, wide roadster tub (circa 1978) with IFS, but never finished it (photo attached). As an homage to Frank Kurtis, I used two fuel tank halves of a Kurtis midget roadster tank as the tail. Too many vintage projects have competed for my time, but I would like to see it run someday. After Harry got nailed by Danny Kladis at Kankakee in July 1973, he ended up a paraplegic, which slowed but did not stop Harry from building cars. He relocated back to Kenosha 1975 or '76 and tried to knock out a tub for Gary Hempel of Chicago. It was too much to do alone, and Harry called me for help, as I had worked for him in Chicago 4 years prior. The car went from Gary Hempel to Ken Dull to Lance Turner (with whom I did repairs required by a nasty, late 80's flip). Long story short, I now own the Hempel VW monocoque, which should be running next season with a VW air compressor. Lance owns the 'house' monocoque that Harry owned and raced (after Harry, it was owned by midget builder John Callahan and later Kim Marks, who restored it). Half of the tubs have disappeared. Paul Field has what I believe is Tub #1, down in Australia, later owned (or driven) by Robin Miller, Gene Crucean, and finally driven by Pepi Marchese. Don Francisco currently has a Chev II tub originally built for Bill Dooper, then owned for 20+ years by Eugene 'Paul' Russo of Kenosha. I think it has a 'for sale' sign on it. Another tub began as an Offy, went thru a racing career with Jim Hill in BMARA, and now resides with Gregg Wilke who plans to vintage-race with it when his active competition days are over. Ralph Baiza out in CA still has the monocoque car he ordered from Harry about 1970 - same owner over 40 years, now. Tom Mislich but one or two tubs, Don Vogler built one from a sheet of aluminum that Harry bent up for him. And I've seen two or three monocoque midgets but I haven't a clue as to who built them. Harry's work has its signatures, if you know what to look for. Whereabouts of the rest of the tubs are a mystery to me, including the IFS VW car which went to CA in 1979 or so. That's about all I know. Oh - I have the last bent, un-built tub. gk

    [Gregg supplied some photos along with this response but I'm having posting problems right now so they'll be along later in the week.
    CS]
    </tt></tt></pre>
     
  10. gearguy
    Joined: Jan 27, 2010
    Posts: 286

    gearguy
    Member

    Photos from Gregg Kishline:
    Gary B in the First Tub
    John Callahan with tub at his Bristol WI shop
    John Jr & Sr at Sun Prairie
    Gregg Kishline at Joliet Stadium in 1976
    Carey Tub
    The gang in Daytona 1973
    Reidelberger's IFS tub
     

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  11. Denny Zimmerman
    Joined: Jan 8, 2010
    Posts: 504

    Denny Zimmerman
    Member

    John Evans, Wow in that picture I can see the resemblance between you and your Dad. Denny Z
     
  12. Lumpy95
    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Lumpy95
    Member








    littlefauss I remember seeing Gary Bettenhausen at Vallejo with the monocoque midget chassis he was fast but the chassis looked very fragile. I only remember him getting in a tangle in the heat race and buckled

    the radius rod points. I can hear him saying I need to reenforce those points.very fast car....before the VW's
    lumpy
     
  13. Ebert
    Joined: Feb 13, 2006
    Posts: 1,915

    Ebert
    Member

    BZ,

    MANY thanks for your time and insight! Late 60's it will be and this is just the kind of info I am looking for! Thank you!
    E
     
  14. doctordarryl
    Joined: Apr 14, 2011
    Posts: 17

    doctordarryl
    Member
    from NJ

    Latest build, still under construction. Revell KK Offy kit with a Hillegass nose and grill resin conversion kit from Big Donkey Resin (www.bigdonkeyresin.com) and decals from Scale Auto Details. Mario Andretti drove this car in August '63 to win three main events in one day.
     

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  15. Buildy
    Joined: Jan 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,521

    Buildy
    Member

    Man,

    I`ve got to get myself back to building models now that the KK Midget is available!
     
  16. DocF
    Joined: Feb 22, 2011
    Posts: 120

    DocF
    Member

    I put the picture of Mel Kenyon from post #2424 on my desktop. The car is Herby. Does anyone know if this car is still around?

    I guess I spent a whole lot of time with the USAC midgets in the mid to late 60s and through about 1977 as I saw Mel win over 100 features.

    If Herby exists, the car is as worthy of restoration as any one still out there.

    Another car that should be restored if it is around is Tommy Sellberg's barn red #8.

    Doc
     
  17. Old Sprinter
    Joined: Dec 20, 2010
    Posts: 141

    Old Sprinter
    Member

    That's a great looking midget model. I scratch build midgets and sprints in 1/8th scale. You have nailed it, sir. I think the research on the car is half the fun. Got anymore to show?:cool:
     
  18. slobitz
    Joined: Feb 1, 2008
    Posts: 245

    slobitz
    Member
    from drums, pa

    That model of the Mataka car is beautiful but that is not a Hillegass nose on it.
     
  19. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 10,020

    RichFox
    Member Emeritus

    Here is a picture of Norm Rapp demonstrating why a cage would be a good idea. No worry, he is still alive and selling parts today
     

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  20. KKx125
    Joined: Dec 22, 2008
    Posts: 72

    KKx125
    Member

    I saw Mel KENYON,s Offy at Van Kraft in Indianalopis in march 2009. I believe it was for Restoration. The car looked complete and assembled,I dont know what has happened to the car since Van has passed Away, Maybe some of the indy locals on this site could comment, Gordon.
     
  21. doctordarryl
    Joined: Apr 14, 2011
    Posts: 17

    doctordarryl
    Member
    from NJ


    Do you have a Hillegass nose in your garage or do you have decent, high resolution pictures of one you could share with us? Based on the pictures in the Bill Montgomery books on KK midgets, this resin piece looks good to me and many others. Give us some tangible, constructive feedback on what is wrong with it or why you think it is not a Hillegass nose.
     
  22. doctordarryl
    Joined: Apr 14, 2011
    Posts: 17

    doctordarryl
    Member
    from NJ


    I built four Revell KK midgets so far. Three Offys and one V8 60. Some of them have been posted in this thread before. I made the decals for all of them. I can not build out of the box and have to change the decals or super detail the model to be satisfied.

    I agree that the research on the subject is fun. I was raised in the Allentown, PA area and saw these midgets run at local tracks in the PA and NJ area. I am an aftermarket vendor (Scale Auto Details) and offer decals (up to 10 different sets for midgets at the moment and will be releasing 7 more sets in 30-45 days) and resin parts. I am a builder first and a vendor second.

    Decals and parts can be seen at the following Fotki site:

    http://public.fotki.com/doctordarryl/scaleautodetails/

    You can see more of my models (midgets included) at my Fotki site for Scale Auto Details Model Gallery.

    http://public.fotki.com/doctordarryl/sadmodelgallery/
     
  23. SUHRsc
    Joined: Sep 27, 2005
    Posts: 5,079

    SUHRsc
    Member

    Hillegass....
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  24. indyrjc
    Joined: Nov 8, 2008
    Posts: 973

    indyrjc
    Member
    from Indiana

    KK, that car is still pretty much like you saw it in 2009. Except since Van's is now closed the midget is currently hanging from the ceiling in the Hammer Art shop next door to Van's old place. The current owner is former Indy winning car owner John Mecom of Houston and he has the car for sale if anyone is interested.
     
  25. slobitz
    Joined: Feb 1, 2008
    Posts: 245

    slobitz
    Member
    from drums, pa

    Darryl,
    That is a good example of a hillegass grill that suhr posted above. The grill on Matakas car resembles a Shilala grill which is not cast he welded them up fron cold rolled. It may take me a few days but I will post some photos of grills on the weekend
     
  26. doctordarryl
    Joined: Apr 14, 2011
    Posts: 17

    doctordarryl
    Member
    from NJ

    I think part of what we are dealing with here is that there was not only one type of Hillegass nose. See the attached picture which identified the nose on the Chem-Flo Special Offy as a Hillegass nose in the Montgomery books. It this an incorrect identification by Bill or are there several different types of noses that Hillegass made?
     

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  27. doctordarryl
    Joined: Apr 14, 2011
    Posts: 17

    doctordarryl
    Member
    from NJ


    I would greatly appreciate seeing the many types of midget noses as that would make for quite a variety of models we could build. A resin caster that I know may be interested in making more conversion kits for the new Revell KK midget kit. I look forward to your post this weekend. Thanks in advance for the great material.
     
  28. slobitz
    Joined: Feb 1, 2008
    Posts: 245

    slobitz
    Member
    from drums, pa

    I have the remains of Hillegass` shop, not all the castiron bucks but tools patterns. benches, shelves and drawings. He only had two grills a small one for 1/4 and TQ`s and a larger one as on Suhr `s pic whick he used on midgets, sprints and the one champ car he built. If he made any others I would have found at least one.
    In amongst the stuff I got of his there were even skins from aluminum Franklin cars the were used on many early sprints. I have the bronze patterns for the cast aluminum grilss and the jig he used to assemble the welded grills that he used on the railframe cars. even have the fixture he used to lace the spring for theearly hood straps
    Lots of this stuff including the louver cutters can be seen at the EMMR museum. I`m happy to have it on display there
     
  29. DocF
    Joined: Feb 22, 2011
    Posts: 120

    DocF
    Member

    I am glad these Hileigass tools have survived. This stuff is so important that is must be saved for posterity.

    I knew two guys who had Hillegass cars. The original nose on each of them was different. One looked much like the Ford nose in the photo on this page. The other was, well totally different. It sort of looked like a more rounded Peck nose with a somewhat larger grill in it. When the nose got destroyed, a Peck nose was fitted, with some difficulty and looked great.

    Friends found a rail frame midget in a crate. They put it together, converted it to torsion rear suspension, dropped a Studebaker in it and ran with some of the outlaw midget clubs in the Mid-West. They had a brand new rail frame midget in 1968. After much digging, we found it was built by Hillegass in 1938-39. It had a very flat nose, very graceful, but flattish, and a built up grill that looked to be unique. When it got smashed, a great deal of effort was put into fixing it as nothing else looked right for that car.

    Doc
     
  30. DocF
    Joined: Feb 22, 2011
    Posts: 120

    DocF
    Member

    Good to know that Herby is around. Mel and Don and their dad built one hell of a race car with that one.

    Doc
     

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