Friday, May 19, 2017

R100: Touching Three Awesome Racecars!

No Fenders Head Scribe Tomaso touching the No. 99 Belanger Special, lightly please! (The Tomaso Collection)
Whale', at least two of them were AWESOME! As not so sure 'bout the 'Ol Crapwagon; Hya!

Author's Note
The 1951 Belanger Special pictured above, was the First of Three IMS Museum Indy Cars your visually impaired No Fenders Head Scribe Tomaso was graciously allowed to touch with the Permission of the IMS Museum Staff. During our personally guided museum "Tactile" tour led by the very amiable IMS staff member Bernie.

Please do NOT touch the cars or go behind the "partitions" without IMS Staff permission! Which will only cause the museum to frown upon offering this unique experience to the Blind and Visually Impaired in the future...

IMS Hall of Fame Collection
  • Wilbur Shaw's 1939-40 Maserati Boyle Special Indy 500 winner
  • Lee Wallard's 1951 Belanger Special Indy 500 winner
  • Danica Patrick's 2005 Dallara-Honda

The first of the three chassis I got to momentarily touch was Wilbur Shaw's two-times consecutive winning Maserati 8CTF, the first of only four cars currently to have ever won consecutive races. Can Y'all name the other three? As I'll give away another below.

Next up was another of the countless 'Ol Timers I'm not familiar with, as Bernie guided me to the No. 99 Belanger Special. Which was somewhat Karmic, or symbiotic? Since Funny how I told Bernie how I knew the name Lee Wallard from his association with the Blue Crown Spark Plug racing team of Lou Moore, which saw Mauri Rose winning twice aboard in 1947-48; whilst just learning that Messer Wallard also drove Shaw's Boyle Special at Mother Speedway, back during an era where racing cars were utilized for multiple years.  

Even funnier yet, I was totally unawheres' he'd actually won the race at the spry age of 40 in 1951 for car owner Merle Belanger, whom I'm definitely not familiar with.

Bernie noted how this same chassis was subsequently taken over by the late Tony Bettenhausen, who'd record eight wins aboard it en route to the '51 National Championship title. As Wallard would sit out racing after being severely burned a week later during a race in Reading, PA, which effectively ended his racing career. As Wallard would endure 27 skin grafts and serious "Sheet Time," spending his 41st birthday still in hospital recovering, before passing away in the fall of 1963 at the age of 53.

So did Y'all figure out the only four chassis to ever win Indianapolis consecutively? And NO, that doesn't include you George, of Oil Pressure fame, since you most likely know the answer, eh?

Nope! It's NOT the Johnny Lightning Specials of 1970-71, as they're two separate, and not identical PJ Colt chassis. Nor is it HULIO's 2001-02 Penske cars, which are ditto to the Johnny Lightning Specials.

The first was indeed the 1939-40 Maserati 8CTF Boyle Special which raced at Mother Speedway remarkably until 1949, albeit the driver to accomplish this feat third; Driving a racecar to consecutive victories used it to complete his rookie test  in 1950!

The second driver to pull off this rare "double" utilized the same Blue Crown Spark Plug Special racecar to become the track's third three-time winner, when Mauri Rose won back-to-back victories in 1947-48 before his team-mate Bill Holland won in '49.

And that driver passing his rookie audition in '50 won twice in-a-row in 1953-54 aboard Oil Tycoon Howard Keck's Kurts Kraft KK500 Fuel Injection Special Roadster. as you've probably guessed by now that his name was Bill Vukovich.

The fourth and final racecar in this illustrious company was shared by two drivers, as Sam Hanks finally won at Mother Speedway at the age of 42. Then followed the next year by Jimmy Bryan taking the Belond Exhaust Special, known as the first successful "laydown" engine design to consecutive wins in 1957-58.

As reportedly, the Belond Exhaust Special laydown Roadster, sporting a near horizontal Offenhauser engine, had something in common with one of the racecars I got to lightly touch at the museum. As it was designed by George Salih, chief mechanic on the winning #99 Belanger Special of 1951.


So I've almost completely forgotten to mention that final IMS Museum racecar I got to lightly fondle. As the funniest part was that I knew which car it was going to be even before Bernie led us to the back part of the museum's new addition...

Tuh-Duh! This is Danica Patrick's rookie IndyCar Bernie announced to us, as sorry folks, but those Dallara's are indelibly seared into Thy Cranium as Crapwagons', courtesy of 'Ol PT', thou thrill from The West Hill, Mr. Chrome Horn or simply Paul Tracy!

Alas, I really had very little interest in this racecar, which I'm certain is a very competent mount, and I totally admire it far more than today's DW12 variant's with their hideous Cardashian Humps', which Derek Daly anointed them!

As I'm looking forward to the 2018 Universal Body kit era instead, even if we're still stuck in the Spec chassis mold, and I won't be able to see 'em! As it sounds like they'll revert back to my youthful Dazes 'O CART, albeit minus the 900bhp+ monster turbo motors...

And this concluded our portion of our guided museum tour, as we said our good buys to Bernie, who was a most amiable and knowledgeable host.

Kudos to the IMS Museum, it's Staff and Bernie in particular for such an enjoyable outing!

For the corresponding Penske Exhibit portion of this visit, see; R100: Celebrating El Capitano's Golden Anniversary in Motor Racing...