Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weeze ‘Luvs Yuh Randy!

In apparently what was the TWEET heard ‘round duh World... Herroe? Chirp-Chirp, is this thingy on? IndyCar CEO Randy “The CandyMann” Bernard has apparently fired off his first not so positive tweet claiming that an anonymous team owner is calling for his head on a platter and that Randy be fired toot sweet!

Hmm? Cannot really say I blame the owners this time - as what is Bernard expecting with all of the Buffoonery he’s personally overseen during his tenure... As after all last time I checked - this AIN’T NO buckin’ bronco circus Yuhs hear?

Yet, I cannot personally say that I wish to resort back to the “Ronnie” TG George era either! And you’ve gotta be absolutely FREAKIN’ kidding ‘bout inserting BillyBob Brazenheartz (Brian Barnhart) as his replacement, right? Although I’d suggest that Randy get busy fixing Indy Cars Foopah’s instead of tweeting about people NOT liking him - as after all isn’t that a NEGATIVE thingy to do Mr. Bernard? As it sounds like ‘Ol ‘R’s suggestion about a Lieutenant Governor is a sensible suggestion - provided it AIN’T Barnhart! Hmm? Perhaps Chris Kneiffel...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials (Part 4)

Although Mauri Rose had given team sponsor Blue Crown a taste of leading at the Speedway in 1946 - victory had eluded him upon his frightening crash the year before...

Deem Jackson:
The secret to the success of the Blue Crown Spark Plug vehicles was that the front wheel drive pulled the car around the corners vs. pushing the rear wheels.

Some of the cars fiercest competition came from the Novi Governor race cars, which were also front wheel drive, but the supercharged V-8’s were simply too powerful.

The Offy’s performance secret was the size of its pistons; which were the size of Grapefruits...

1947 INDY 500 Winner - Mauri Rose: “Best wishes to “P.D.” Jackson; a real performer.” (DJP)
1947-49: Victorious - trice!
In 1947, the very first two Meyer & Drake 270cid “Offy’s” produced went to Lou Moore for his brand new Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials race team, which were designed by the famous Draftsman Leo Goossen during the war.

Reputably “secretive,” Moore’s Offenhauser powerplants were presumed to be of two valves per cylinder design, with 13:1 compression and running 115 octane “Av-gas” Aviation grade petrol. As Moore’s winning philosophy centered on fuel economy; utilizing the time honoured philosophy simply known as making the least amount of pit stops possible, with Moore’s strategy consisting of running the race on a single pit stop!

Meanwhile Joe Lencki was back again with his Lencki Specials, as this year saw Lencki’s mounts be entered under the Preston Tucker Partners banner, with the addition of a new Myron Stevens chassis joining the mix. Emil Andres and newcomer Charlie Van Aker were his drivers behind the keyboards, with Rookie Van Aker and Andres qualifying 24th and 30th respectively. Andres was classified 13th after his No. 3 Lencki/Lencki chassis retired on lap 149 with an uncooperative oil line, while Van Aker crashed the No. 44 Stevens/Lencki chassis out on lap 24 and was classified 29th for the non-typical 30 car field.

Moore’s two Blue Crown drivers that May were the 1941 Indy 500 co-winner Mauri Rose, with Indy 500 Rookie Bill Holland as his teammate. Rose qualified his No. 27 racecar third, while Holland rolled off from eighth place aboard the No. 16.

After pole sitter Bergere had led the first 23 laps, the rest of the race would be dominated by the two Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials leading the rest of the way, as Holland would lead a total of 143 laps.

Pit Board signs (DJP)
Yet, this was the year of the infamous “EZY” (EASY) sign board debacle, as then race leader Holland, mistakenly interpreted his pit board’s EZY letters that Moore had been showing him to imply that he was a lap ahead of teammate Rose, having backed off his pace to cruise to the win. Thus, on lap 193, Holland simply waved Rose by, believing that his elder teammate was simply unlapping himself, unaware the move would ultimately be for the race win... As Holland would have to take solace in being the race’s runner-up...

Lou Moore once again entered his two front drive Offy’s for Mauri Rose and Bill Holland, yet the spotlight was firmly affixed upon the shrieking wail of the Novi, which had seem much controversy leading up to the races start. As previous year’s pilot Cliff Bergere had declared the car unsafe and retired, with his last moment replacement being Ralph Hepburn, who at 52 years old would sadly lose his life in a practice session after having run a lap at 128mph. Chet Miller then resigned from driving the second Novi and thus stepping into the breach was Dennis “Duke” Nalon, who qualified the car in 11th place after his last minute substitution, albeit his speed having been faster then pole winner Rex Mays, with his first flying lap being just a tick over 134 miles per hour.

Joe Lencki returned once again in what would ultimately be his last race at the Speedway during the front engine era, before a long hiatus, when he’d attempt a comeback in 1960, having Meyer & Drake produce another 265cid six cylinder engine for him, which Lencki hoped to contest the 1962 Indy 500 with a modern Roadster. Yet, his sponsorship fell thru and his final attempt at the Speedway in 1963 saw the racecar fail to qualify.

Lencki entered the now long in the tooth front engine six cylinder chassis, with Ronnie Householder and "Cowboy" O'Rourke as his drivers, but both failed to qualify.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rex Mays pole winning Bowes Seal Fast Kurtis/Winfield set the pace at 130.570mph, vs. Nalon’s electrifying four lap average of 131.600mph, while the Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials of Bill Holland and Mauri Rose qualified second and third respectively.

Meanwhile starting in fourth place was a third Deidt/Offenhauser front wheel drive chassis, having been purchased by Superior Oil magnate Howard Peck and driven by Jimmy Jackson.

And although Mays took off like a rocket at the start of the race, he was forced out of the race on lap 129 with a fuel leak, While the stiffest competition for victory came from Duke Nalon and the Novi, while Rose and Holland once again steadily held station at the front of the pack by running Moore’s traditional one stop strategy.

Nalon was also on a similar strategy, as the Novi featured a cavernous 112 gallon fuel tank, but ironically his tank was not filled full at the race’s midpoint due to a pressure differential and suffered an excruciating second pit stop when the Novi failed to re-fire for two minutes after refueling... And thus, Rose who’d been leading at the time was followed home by his wingman Holland for a repeat 1-2 sweep by the Blue Crown racecars, while Nalon forlornly finished third...

For the 1949 Indy 500, Lou Moore increase his team’s entry to three cars, with the two front drive Offy’s once again being reserved for Mauri Rose and Bill Holland, while new Blue Crown recruit George Conner was given the wheel of a rear drive Offy that Moore had ordered the previous year for Holland to contest Dirt Track events in.

1947 INDY 500, Bill Holland; 2nd place (DJP)
This year’s race would once again see the Novi’s as favourites... With Duke Nalon on pole and new teammate Rex Mays alongside him, as the Novi’s started one – two.

And while Nalon took off like a scalded cat and led with ease for the firs 20 laps, a rear axle failure would cause a violent crash in which Nalon would be seriously burned and Mays would retire with engine failure.

Next into the lead was Lee Wallard, in the ex-Wilbur Shaw Maserati, but he too fell out and as history has shown time after time, the Speedway always beats its own drum, as it would be second row starter Bill Holland aboard his No. 7 racecar winning his first and only Indy 500 for Lou Moore.

Ironically, towards the end of the event, another “EZY” sign board was displayed around lap 143 while Holland was leading his arch rival (teammate) Mauri Rose by 45 seconds. Yet, this time he was more cautious about backing off, having fallen fowl to this instruction in ’47, slowing down only slightly while Rose continued charging.

Thus instead of Rose finishing second, the hard charging exertion caused the magneto strap to wilt under the demands of the impatient Mauri and the No. 3 Blue Crown Special ground to a stop just eight laps short of the finish, (being classified 13th) while rookie Johnny Parsons (Senior) inherited second and Blue Crown debutante Connor’s No. 22 finished in third place.

After the race, Moore and Rose reportedly got into a shouting match over Rose’s disrespect for his equipment, and their longstanding partnership came to an end, while Holland said nothing!

To continue reading, see; Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials-Part 5

(DJP:  Dean Jackson Photographs)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Out ‘N Aboot at Indy!

Banner of Dan Wheldon entitled "Remembering a Champion" hanging on the south chute grandstands. (DOP)
In case you’re looking for great instantaneous insights into this year’s Indy 500 - then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong Blogsite... As your humble No Fenders scribe has winged his way east upon a big ‘Ol jetliner Thursday; “Justin-time” for this year’s always enjoyable Carb Day festivities... As my favourite of thee day is the Indy Lights event, whilst I can personally do without the BORRIFIC Pitstop competition!

As I know I’ve said it before; BUTT! It just really blows meeze mind to ‘tink that tomorrow will mark one-year since I sported my “I AM ‘KUHNAIDIUN” T-shirt in hopes of bringing last year’s Pole sitter ‘TAG (Alex Tagliani) some No Fenders Feel-good Mojo on Raceday...

And since I DON’T do TWIT-er or Facembook, there WON’T be any live blow-by-blow trackside reports from Mwah, as I’m just looking forward to enjoying another Funtastic race day... As I’d personally like to see Will Power drinking milk in victory lane this year; although it’s always funner to have somebody totally unexpected WIN! Can you say Michele Jourdain Jr.?

But I’m definitely looking forward to honouring the late Dan Wheldon on Lap’s 26 & 98 by donning those ultra cool white cardboard replica white Wheldon shades!

(Photo Courtesy of No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer ‘CARPETS)

Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials (Part 3)

After having sat dormant and neglected for four hard war years - The old lady at 16th & Georgetown was set for a renaissance thanks solely to Tomy Hulman’s decision to purchase the venerable racetrack...

1946: Racing resumes
With World War II over, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the hands of the Hulman family, racing not only resumed around the globe, but at the Speedway during Memorial Day weekend.

Dean Jackson:
My father Purvis “P.D.” Jackson was a World War One fighter pilot whom met Eddie Rickenbacker during the war. So, it was Rickenbacker who spurred his interest in motor racing.

My father originally owned the Continental Radio Tube business, but during the depression he lost everything; i.e.; business, buildings & factories, etc. so he started over from scratch and began the Blue Crown Spark Plug Co. which was his first and only endeavor into sponsoring racing cars.

I used to go to time trials and the race every year with my father and I recall riding from Chicago and leaving once around 8-9PM, riding in the back seat with my father and (Blue Crown) company executive Curt Kellogg while we listened to the Joe Louis fight on the radio the year he won, while I was probably the last kid allowed to have a pit/garage pass during the late ‘40’s...

1946 Indy 500: Mauri Rose; No. 8; Leading at 40 laps (DJP)
Thus, with the resumption of racing at the Speedway that May, a lone Blue Crown Spark Plug Special (#8) was entered for Mauri Rose. It was once again one of the Lencki Specials, as Mauri would be behind the controls of The original “Little Six” (Lencki 2V) that would ultimately see service at the Brickyard between the years of 1939 to 1948; with drivers Tony Willman, George Conner, Emil Andres, Mauri Rose, Ronnie Householder and Cletus Joseph "COWBOY" O'Rourke all taking turns behind the keyboard of this racecar which now resides in Nevada.

Ironically, the 1938 ex-Floyd Roberts winning chassis qualified on pole at the hands of Cliff Bergere, with a speed of 120.220mph. Since Lou Moore currently had no racing cars in his stable, he instead participated as Bergere’s chief mechanic, who had once again partnered with Moore.

1946 Indy 500: Mauri Rose; crashing into No. 10 Twin Coach. (“Rear axle flying above car!” DJP)
Yet, the sensation of qualifying was Ralph Hepburn, now 50 year’s old and piloting the newly constructed Frank Kurtis roadster with the ’41 Bud Winfield developed V-8, now renamed the Novi, with the race car carrying the moniker of Novi Governor Cup, while two most unorthodox racecar’s accompanied the pole sitter.

Dean Jackson:
The No. 8 Blue Crown Spark Plug car started ninth, on the inside of row three, driven by Mauri Rose and by the first lap led by a quarter of a lap, leading for 40 laps before it was involved in an accident, when Mauri spun out on an oil slick in the North chute and there was major carnage, with an axle being thrown 30-40 feet into the air!

1946 Indy 500: Aftermath of Rose’s crash (Car No. 10 + Car No. 8; DJP)
On lap 41, Rose rammed the stricken chassis of Paul Russo’s #10 Fageol Twin Coaches, which had crashed against the wall some 24 laps prior, but had been left unattended on the circuit! Thus, when Rose had been forced to take evasive action upon attempting to lap another competitor, whom seems to be unknown, a massive collision occurred and Rose would be classified 23rd.

1946 Indy 500: Tow Truck cleaning up Rose’s stricken chassis (DJP)
Interestingly, the Fageol Twin Coach was a rather unique vehicle entered by NOTED Indy Car owner Lou Fageol, whose fortunes seemingly came from his father who built twin engine busses for a living. Hence,, the motivating factor of the Fageol Twin Coach was based on the motor coaches principles and thus, not one but two 90cid four cylinder Offenhauser midget engines were shoehorned into the radical chassis with one each in front of and behind the driver.

Meanwhile, rolling off from third place was a youthful Sam Hanks aboard another interesting creation, as the Myron Stevens 1939 chassis originally built for George Schroeder was motivated by the ex-Frank Lockhart V-16 Blackhawk Stutz supercharged engine. This sixteen cylinder Lump was the same motor propelling Lockhart’s fateful land speed record attempt on the sands of Daytona Beach in 1928, having originally been produced by the famed Miller Engine Works. As the racecar was entered by popular bandleader Spike Jones and his Spike Jones special wound up finishing 31st, falling out with a broken oil line on lap 18.

Being the first post war race, the field was comprised of an eclectic mix of pre-war vehicles and alas, the Indy 500 was not won that year by an Offy, with victory instead being obtained by George Robson aboard a Thorne Engineering, Adams/Sparks race car, as Offenhauser, Lou Moore and the Blue Crown Spark Plug Co. would have to wait a further year before their indelible grip upon the Borg Warner trophy would begin...

To continue reading, see; Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials-Part 4

(DJP:  Dean Jackson Photographs)

Friday, May 25, 2012

INDY 500: Don’t forget the Rookies...

Was gonna go into great lengths of showcasing each driver; BUTT! Since perennial IndyCar ‘Hack Kurty Cavin has already done this sorta... I’ll just save my thoughts on this impressive I500 rookie class for after I return from the Speedway...

Here’s my very first-ever attempt at handicapping duh Rookies... Please be WARNED; this is just my very NON-scientific choices and Odds may NOT actually represent real chances of winning this year’s R.O.Y. crown at the Brickyard. As I’d haveda say that Wade Cunningham is my Dark horse, whilst I’d enjoy seeing either Thy Leggy ‘Juan or Brian Closson pull a rabbit outta ‘Dar Hats...

(Car No./Driver/Team/Engine/Unofficial Odds)
77) Simon Pagenaud
Team: Schmidt Hamilton Racing
Engine: Honda
Odds: 7:1

41) Wade Cunningham
Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Engine: Honda
Odds: 10:1

67) Joseph Newgarden
Team: Sarah Fisher Hartman racing
Engine: Honda
Odds: 10:1

39) Bryan Clauson
Team: Sarah Fisher Hartman racing
Engine: Honda
Odds: 15:1

8) Rubens Barrichello
Team: KV Racing Technology
Engine: Chevrolet
Odds: 20:1

19) James Jakes
Team: Dale Coyne Racing
Engine: Honda
Odds: 25:1

6) Katherine Legge
Team: Dragon Racing
Engine: Chevrolet
Odds: 40:1

64) Jean Alesi
Team: Fan Force United
Engine: Lotus
Odds: 100:1

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blue Crown spark Plug Specials (Part 2)

Although war had broken out in Europe, America still wasn’t involved - yet, and thus a final Indy 500 would be held in May, 1941...

After the 1940 Indy 500 race, Lucy O'Reilly Schell sold both of her Ecurie Bleu Racing Team Maserati cars to Lou Moore, as Lucy O'Reilly was the mother of American Grand Prix race car driver Harry Schell, whom had both traveled to Indianapolis via luxury liner to have their race team contest the 1940 Indy 500 representing France, in hopes of boosting morale for a country mired in War...

Lee Wallard, 1950 (DJP)
Moore subsequently had the Maserati’s prepared and readied for the 1941 race as the 'Elgin Piston Pin Special’s” made up half of his unprecedented four car armada.

Moore’s three primary entries featured lead driver Mauri Rose; qualifying the No. 3 Maserati on pole, with teammate Dennis “Duke” Nalan starting the No. 17 Maserati  on the outside of Row 10, in “P30.” While the unheralded Floyd Davis would roll off 17th aboard the trusty No. 16 Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special Wetteroth/Offy race car, while Moore also had an interest in a fourth race car, as Cliff Bergere was contesting the race aboard the No. 34 Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special, the ex-Moore/Floyd Roberts Wetteroth/Offy chassis.

Meanwhile, Joe Lencki once again entered his two car stable of six cylinder designed Lencki’s with Emil Andres at the controls of the No. 19 Kennedy Tank racecar (Lencki 4V) qualifying 15th, while George “Joie” Chitwood was aboard the No. 25 Blue Crown SpL. (Lencki 2V) Also referred to as the “Little Six,” Starting from 27th. (Lencki now claimed his 4V engine was of 265cid displacement). Andres would retire on lap 4 after being involved in an accident, while Chitwood solidered home to a 14th place finish, 33 laps behind.

The Blue Crown Spark Plug Company was making its foray into the Indy 500, by sponsoring one of Joe Lencki’s racecar’s this May, with the aforementioned Chitwood as the pilot.

Dean Jackson:
Blue Crown Spark Plug was a product of the Motor Master Products Company in the 1930’s and at the height of business, Motor Master Products was selling a range of 90+ spark plugs. This was during the era of when Chrysler owned the Autolite spark plug concern and General Motors owned AC spark plugs with Champion also doing business.

During World War II; Blue Crown was producing 40,000 spark plugs per day under Government contracts for the war effort; Purvis, (his father and Owner of the Blue Crown Spark Plug Co.) owned factories in Chicago and Mexico, with the Mexican plant being for international business, prior to selling Blue Crown to the Defiance Automotive Screw Machine Co. in Defiance, Ohio in the early 1950’s...

And for this 29th running of the Memorial Day classic, the front row’s three starter’s are the same in two consecutive Indy’s For the very first time, along with being the top three finishers from the previous year. As Rose started from the Pole, with Rex Mays and Wilbur Shaw alongside respectively; having led the race for six laps, Rose retired with engine trouble on lap 60. However, he finally won driving the Floyd Davis car; from the same stable of Lou Moore’s, while “Duke” Nalon finished in fifteenth place, twenty seven laps behind the winner.

Champ Car Drivers: Duke Nalon, Mauri Rose, Bill Holland and Ted Horn, 1948 (DJP)
Speculation suggests that team owner Lou Moore and driver Floyd Davis were both of strong bull-headed opinion; supposedly with Moore fast growing displeased with Davis’s race performance, who was at the time running in 11th place.

Thus on lap 72, Moore ordered Davis to relinquish his mount to the now sidelined Rose, who resumed the race in 13th place. Yet, by lap 152, when leader Shaw crashed out, Rose moved into third place, with only Mays and Bergere ahead of him. Yet Mays needed to pit for fuel and thus Berger in the ex-Lou Moore entry was the only opposition left ahead of Rose,

Bergere, racing on Moore’s savvy strategy, was trying to complete the race without making any pit stops and eventually would be forced to slow down in order to finish the race. Thus smelling blood, Mauri swept by on lap 162 as the two combatants’s sped down the front straightaway in lockstep, before Bergere would fade to 5th place.

Upon his triumph, Rose tried doing everything in his power to share the victory laurels with Davis, even having come to a crawl on the pit lane whilst trying to hand over the winning race car to Davis to drive into victory lane... Yet, a dejected Davis was nowhere to be found and a widening rift between him and Moore would lead to their eventual falling out, as Davis was not to be featured in the winner’s photographs the following day.

Bill Holland (DJP)
On an interesting side note, starting the race from 10th and finishing fourth was the little known No. 54 Bud Winfield prepared Bowes Seal Fast Special, with Ralph Hepburn behind the wheel of what was the forbearer to one of Indy’s most popular post war race cars, affectionately known as the Novi.

This particular race car was actually one of the previous ten front engine 1935 Miller Ford’s, with it’s alluring body panels having been hammered by Emil Deidt, as Henry Ford had sold off the cars piecemeal to private collectors after the fiasco of the ’35 Indy 500, in which all of his race cars failed to finish. And like the majority of top line racing Lumps of the period, once again the Novi engine’s designer was the renowned Leo Goossen, while Bud Winfield was responsible for developing the supercharged V-8, after Team Boss Lew Welch told him to go ahead and build it!

But after escaping the scourge of warfare in the European theatre, as we all know, “A Day of Infamy” occurred on December 7th and the United States was finally involved in World War II...

To continue reading, see; Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials-Part 3

(DJP:  Dean Jackson Photographs)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Car Blues turn the wick Down upon Indy Pole-day festivities - as I watch a micro500 instead...

I must admit that I just haven’t really gotten into my usual giddy spirit regarding the Indy 500 this year - especially this past weekend’s Pole Day festivities... As somehow it DON’T really feel like The Greatest Spectacle in Racing this year...

As may be it just has ‘Somme-thun to do with the new Dallara DW12, which I’m certain in time will become a very good racecar and probably make us forget all ‘bout the previous ‘CRAPWAGON’s, right?

Yet, the whole build-up has been so HOKEY! With Turbo Gate, Appeals, Counter-appeals, Yuhs can change your engine today for a penalty on Thursday... (10-grid spot penalty for Indy not valid ‘til Texas...) will there - Won’t there be 33-cars? Can the ‘Luddi’s; (Lotuses) make the field; Blah-blah-blah...

Thus I actually took off for Tacoma instead of hangin’ out ‘N listening - perhaps, if I could find the blinkin’ Live-stream to the artificially sweetened; Err Boosted Fast Friday action via ze Internetz...

And although the witching hours of Friday afternoon would see me once again answering mize ‘Aunty Harriet’s repeated question of when is the B-I-G race tomorrow? What time is it on... We’ll haveda watch it. Where’s it at? What time is the race on... Even recanting Bob Varsha’s quintessential quip ‘bout “Before you can race; first you must Qualify...” Oh? What time is the race on? Que Benny Hill theme music here; Hya!

Alas, I decided to forgo sitting inside on a bright ‘N gloriously sunny day on Saturday and instead revel in the frivolities of a race of a different type occurring outside instead, which I quickly christened thee micro500! As we not only had different engine makes but multiple different chassis. With counte ‘em; all three of Detroit’s finest - with my unofficial count at nine; number-9, number nine, number Nein?

As duh ‘Feurds led the parade with an Exploder, Taurus station wagon, ‘Ol Blue, our trusty ’78 Econoline camper van and NOT ‘Juan but count ‘em two 24-foot long 460cid V-8 Blue Oval motivated circa ’84 RV’s; Aye Karumba!

Then there were the two Dodge’s: a Grand Caravan and an early ‘90’s A-Team van with duh ‘Chebbie brigade being represented by a much maligned Buick and a way too overtaxed ’87 Pickem-up truck... And lastly our flotilla included two inclement weather vehicles - with two trailered motorboats ironically powered by ‘Luddi; Err Lotus - which I hear some are even calling IT SLOTUS!

As there was the Lotus-by-Judd 90 that we were able to move much more easily after emptying the water out of it before I tried rolling it over my foot; CRIKEYS! Whilst the other Loti was buried ‘Sommewearz out in the back forty by the brambleberry bushes!

Like I said before - we had our very own version of duh FAST nine ‘Qualie shootout as for reasons unknown, Clyde was determined that all of these vehicles; OH CRAP! Just realized I forgot the ‘RattleLacc... Our luxury 1992 Caddy which is on its last legs and hence it being renamed the RattleLacc... Hey! Guess it was our Pace-car since after all Chevrolet has an exclusivity clause with IMS, right? Needed to be moved outta the front yard and therefore were moved at breakneck speed 500-yards around the barn and into the briar patch - with several Left turns being made; Yuck-yuck-yuck!

Although the two Loti marine craft didn’t manage to get up to speed and hence missed the cut for the first and only dazes running of our micro500, yet safely made the field Sunday morning when it once again began raining here in the Pacific Northwest.

Then Clyde decided we needed to make a bonsai qualifying attempt in the ‘Chebbie workhorse Pickem-up truck by racing off to the somewhat nearby budget battery store noting how the three unsecured batteries could be heard shifting locations in the truckbed; as our weight-jackers weren’t securely tied down...

And lastly, having run this ‘Qualie blitz on a minimum fuel-load, with approximately 4-gallons ‘O GoGo-juice remaining in the left saddle tank; Clyde was most insistent upon using up my grocery Gas-points award which DON’T aid me a whole bunch... As this enabled us to save a whopping ten-cents per gallon upon our purchase... As do NOT even get me remotely started on the ATROCITIES of petroleum!

As our Triple-A agency reports the average price of a gallon of petrol costing $4.24 per-gallon, as BP - remember those BASTARDOES! Managed to neglect maintenance of their Cherry Point refining facility - as fire took it off line and then decided to do summer maintenance early... As this refinery is responsible for 20% of ALL west coast production along with the majority of ALL jet  fuel including Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, BC’s airports; SHEISA!

Thus, it seemed almost anti-climatic watching duh tape Monday afternoon, as really Chevy? That appeal of the appeal was really warranted, eh? As eight of the top-nine contenders for Pole weren’t Honda’s... As even ‘BIA (Ana Beatriz) OUT-qualified some four-time IndyCar champion named Dashley LePew. (Dario Franchitti)

But I was very happy for Ryan Briscoe, albeit somewhat pullin’ for duh Mayor ‘O Hinchtown which woulda been quite shocking meeze thinks... whilst  two of the Bowtie Boyz didn’t even attempt real qualifying runs, only making two-lap mock passes before returning to Pitlane.

Yet I far more enjoyed listening to a most excellante Fresh Air interview with The Dictator’s lead star Sacha Baron Cohen, who instead of blathering on the noxious ‘RASSCAR tainted mandatory insert 43 $ponsorz names here... Hey, I know we could sell advertising space upon the Pagoda, right? As I think Otis has just become the Official Elevator supplier of the Brickyard?

As instead, Cohen had me in veritable stitches ‘O laughter over his mock video speech he made demanding the release of his two Oscar tickets by Midnight or else...

Now I’ve gotta go pack for Indy...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lola Cars filing for Bankruptcy

Just spotted this newsblurb yesterday morning - stating that that the iconic Lola Cars concern is filing for Administration in Britain due to a downturn in the economy along with Tax credits not being forked out...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials saga

Author’s Note
This ‘Mega story was originally published on No fenders during the spring of  2009 - just prior to my inaugural Indianapolis 500 - yet was “ruined” by upon the forced migration to their new & improved blog platform - which rendered OVER 1,500-posts (including these) with broken images; SHEISA! As these were the most labour intensive to re-publish, and hence the lengthy delay...

It’s always interesting to me what sparks your curiosity, eh? As during the summer of 2008 - while dining with “Snobyrd” M.J. and her longtime friend Joy, who was visiting “The Emerald City” from Phoenix, AZ, I was busy extolling the virtues of my No Fenders “BLOB.” (What ‘Aunty Harriet affectionately calls it!) Which in turn sparked the following conversation of Joy telling me about an ex-Chicago classmate’s father who was the sponsor of the Indy 500 winning Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials sixty-plus years ago.

Thus, my curiosity was definitely peaked, (Hey! You didn’t think peaking was Danicker’s sole property; did yuh’s?) And Joy introduced me to Dean, whose father Purvis was the owner of the Blue Crown Spark Plug Company and hence the following conversations with Dean morphed into this story about a long forgotten racing team and racecar I’d never heard about before...

Joie Chitwood, 1941 (DJP)
Early Days
Having retired from the cockpit after the 1936 Indy 500, Lou Moore was busy beginning his career as a team owner, circa 1937 and would ultimately go on to win the Indy 500 five times, a record that stood for nearly four decades, until some dude adorned by the moniker “The Captain,” a.k.a. Roger Penske scored the sixth of his untouchable fourteen victories to date, in 1987. (As this was prior to my having to witness ‘HULIO win his third Indy 500 & Roger’s 15th in May, 2009)

And while “The Cheepster,” a.k.a. Chip Ganassi basks in the limelight of being the current Indy 500 winning Team Owner, Ganassi still trails Moore on the all time victory list; 5-3, as Chip was co-owner of Emerson fittipaldi’s 1989 Patrick Racing winner, along with Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2000 victory and Scott Dixon’s 2008 triumph for Target Chip Ganassi Racing respectively. (And still remains one race BEHIND Moore after Dario Franchitti’s victory in 2010)

So, eat your heart out “Cheep!”

The very first Lencki chassis was being laid down by Joe Lencki of Chicago, as Lencki had commissioned Leo Goossen to design what Lencki considered to be the ultimate solution to capturing victory at the Brickyard.

Interestingly, Lencki was also the inventor of some secret “Slippery Liquids” concoction known today as Z Max, for which you may have seen an ‘Ol Snake Oil salesman by the name of Carroll Shelby pitching to you via television.

Lencki, a mechanic by trade, had begun racing Dirt Tracks in the mid-1920’s and after owning multiple Miller chassis, went to California to have Offenhauser produce an engine of his own specification. There, Goossen, chief draftsman and engine designer extraordinaire for Harry Miller, Offenhauser, Meyer & Drake and Drake Engineering, penned a 270cid, two valves per cylinder “Lump,” for what would become the first Lencki/Lencki to race at the Speedway in 1939.

Speculation suggests that if you were so inclined to call the six, which looked extremely similar to an Offenhauser 270cid four cylinder, with the additional two cylinders in front of Lencki, you were likely to get slugged!

Bill Holland - 1947 runner-up (DJP)
Meanwhile, Louis “Curly” Wetteroth was another of the many fabricators making a living by building race cars, with a shop in California and kept busy by producing Midgets and Indianapolis/Champion Cars. As Curly had previously built the 1935 Indy 500 winner for Harvey Ward and Kelly Petillo...

Thus, reportedly it was Lou Moore serving as chief mechanic for driver Floyd Roberts at the controls of Moore’s Burd Piston Ring Special, who captured the pole position for that year’s race. Roberts would go onto lead 92 laps enroute to his lone 500 victory whilst taking the chequered flag aboard a Wetteroth/Miller race car. The win would become the first of Moore’s five Indy 500 wins as a team owner and the first time the pole sitter had won the race since 1930.

Tony Bettenhausen, 1939; First “Big Car” he drove (DJP)
Floyd Roberts returned with Lou Moore aboard the previous year’s winning Burd Piston Ring Special, while for the 27th Indy 500, there were a total of four entries sponsored by Burd Piston Ring, with Frank Wearne in a second Wetteroth/Offy, along with Tony Gulotta in a Stevens/Offy, while Lencki entered his lone chassis for Tony Willman, the #51, which started 26th and finished 14th after retiring on lap 188 with a broken fuel pump.

As in 1937, when rules revisions no longer made it mandatory for competitors to have a riding mechanic, another popular change was made, when qualifying was cut from ten laps to four, with Jimmy Snyder capturing the pole at 130.130mph, Louis Meyer in the middle of row one and Wilbur Shaw on the outside. This triumbrant would go on to lead the majority of the race, as Shaw in a Boyle-Maserati would win his second race in three years, while Meyer had spun out of contention for his record forth victory while chasing Shaw on lap 198.

The win by a Maserati was the first by a foreign make since the Fisher/Allison owned Peugeot had won the 1919 May classic, while Floyd Roberts, the previous year’s Indy 500 victor, began the race from the 23rd position, but tragedy was to strike Roberts, who was involved in an accident on lap 106, when a spinning Bob Swanson was collected by Roberts, causing Swanson’s car to flip, catch fire and eject its driver, while Roberts race car hurtled out of the Speedway, thru the wooden retaining fence at over 100mph and came to rest against a tree. Chet Miller was also involved in the incident, along with two spectators being injured from flying debris, while all three drivers were transported to the hospital, it took 30 minutes to remove the burnt hulk of Swanson’s car and Roberts was pronounced dead prior to the races conclusion as a result of a skull fracture. Sadly, Roberts was reportedly set to announce his retirement after the race. Also, that August, Carl Fisher passed away in a Miami hospital...

Mauri Rose; Indy 500 Winner (DJP)
While the public pondered the possibility of the Indy 500 occurring that May, as ominous war clouds festering over Europe had led to the invasion of Poland on September 7, 1939 and war declared by Adolf Hitler... IMS track owner Eddie Rickenbacher decided to press on.

Meanwhile, Joe Lencki had commissioned Offenhauser to produce a second six cylinder engine. While the original engine was of two valve design, (hemispherical combustion chamber) the new Lump sported four valve per cylinder construction, (pent-roof combustion chamber) measuring 260cid vs. the 2V’s 270 displacement.

Lencki’s two entries lined-up for the 500 with drivers George Connor in 17th, while Floyd Davis nabbed the very last spot upon the grid; while Connor’s No. 10 Lencki (Lencki 4V) would finish 26th, having thrown a rod on lap 52. While Davis’s No. 61 Lencki (Lencki 2V) wound up 20th. (Ironically Davis would race for Lou Moore the following May).

Pole sitter Rex Mays finished a disappointing second to race winner Wilbur Shaw, while the final “Podium” position of third place was captured by Mauri Rose aboard an Elgin Piston Pin racecar owned by Lou Moore, which past Indy 500 winner Floyd Roberts had helped Moore and Wetteroth construct over the winter of 1938.

Shaw’s third victory was of historic proportion, as not only did it make him the race’s second three time winner, but he became the very first driver to win two consecutive races in a row, along with piloting the very first chassis to win two events in a row... Thus Shaw’s remarkable tally of finishes between 1937-40 comprised of three wins and one runner-up finish, not to mention his two second places in 1933 and 1935...

To continue reading, see; Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials-Part 2

(DJP:  Dean Jackson Photographs)