Monday, May 30, 2016


‘Doc’ Williams at the Indianapolis '500'
Part three- from 1936 to 1940



Doc Williams poses in this photo from the author's personal collection
the year, photographer and location are all unknown

 

‘Doc’ Williams, the main subject of this article and the Cooper front-drive race cars intersected at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1936, as ‘Doc’ was paired with veteran ‘Dusty’ Fahrnow on the two-car Superior Trailer Team.   ‘Doc’ who had been employed at the Ford Motor Company in Detroit since 1933 reportedly resigned from Ford to take advantage of the Gauss/Goldberg opportunity.  

In just one year, conditions had changed dramatically at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In order to enhance the impact of the AAA “junk formula” rules and encourage the use of passenger car engines over pure racing engines, races teams were given a limited amount of fuel with which to qualify and then complete the 500-mile distance.

In 1935, the fuel limit for the race was 42 ½ gallons (11-3/4 miles per gallon average) and after the race, testing found that winner Kelly Petillo had two extra gallons, second place Wilbur Shaw had three leftover gallons, and fourth place finisher Floyd Roberts had five gallons in reserve, while only one car ran out of its entire allotment during the 1935 race. With those results in hand, for the 1936 ‘500’ the fuel allotment was reduced to just 37 ½ gallons, or a 13-1/3 miles per gallon average.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway facilities had been improved as the turns on the 2-1/2 mile oval were repaved with new asphalt, which improved the grip of the tires through the corners, although lap speeds did not increase. On the safety aspect, the concrete apron on the inside of the track’s corners had been widened, and a new outside reinforced concrete retaining wall built which was perpendicular to the racing surface.


One of the Race Car Corporation’s partners was Fred T. “Fritz” Holliday who had been involved at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1927, when he was one the owners of the ‘Jynx Special’ driven by rookie Wilbur Shaw.  The ‘Jynx Special’ was the supercharged Miller rear-drive in which Jimmy Murphy had been killed at the Syracuse “Moody Mile” in 1924. During the 1927 ‘500,’ Shaw became fatigued and Holliday suggested that young Louis Meyer relieve Shaw. Together the pair who would score six Indianapolis victories between them, brought the “Jynx Special” home in fourth place in 1927. 

Holliday was a 1920 graduate of Yale University, and a former vice-president at the family’s J.W. Holliday & Company steel company based in Chicago, although “Fritz” lived in Indianapolis. In 1935, “Fritz” and his brother started the Monarch Steel Company. As a partner in the Race Car Corporation of Indianapolis, Holliday continued to own the Cooper front-drive race car up until his death in July 1951, and was a long-time friend of Anton Hulman Junior, and was partner with Hulman in the ownership of the 98-foot, 103-ton yacht Marmot which was berthed in Michigan City Indiana.


After “Doc” qualified for the ‘500,’ the Franklin Evening Star newspaper proclaimed on May 25 1936 that “Doc Williams is back, with a new car, nerves of brass and silver dollars, and is ready for his fourth and by far his greatest assault on the 500.”  The article continued that “after four years of worry and work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Doc has got the best combination money can buy. 'Doc' was quoted "I'm out for gold and glory, with the emphasis on the gold. The glory won't buy sandwiches."
 
The Evening Star article described his qualifying run: “Doc not only the smallest but the youngest driver on the track, and his riding mechanic, brother-in-law, Ray Short, both were so light that they bounced around on those rubber cushions like balls on a feather bed." The article noted that ‘Doc's’ father, Dr. Walter J. Williams, was at the Speedway to see his son qualify. Williams’ teammate ‘Dusty’ Fahrnow did not make the 33-car starting field with the #55 Cooper front-drive ‘Superior Trailer Special,’ but the details of 'Dusty’s' failure to qualify are unknown. 

During the race, on the 26th lap 'Doc’s' machine and Babe Stapp’s ‘Wheeler’s Special’ driven by Louis Tomei brushed together in one of the turns but both cars continued.  On lap 192, the ‘Superior Trailer Special’ Miller engine exhausted its fuel supply and the Cooper front drive machine coasted to a stop and was placed 16th. Clearly the AAA rule makers had gone too far in further reducing the fuel allotment for the 500-mile race, as six other entries ran out fuel during the last 20 laps.

As result of the late race attrition due to fuel starvation during the 1936 ‘500’, the fuel allotment rule was rescinded for 1937 and the #57 chassis for ‘Doc’ Williams was again powered by the Gauss U-16 “twin Miller” engine. The Race Car Corporation of Indianapolis was the official entrant for the second time and also entered a second Cooper chassis for mustachioed rookie driver Louis Webb which still carried a four-cylinder Miller engine. Both entries sported Superior Trailer Manufacturing sponsorship, and neither ‘Doc’ nor Webb made qualifying runs fast enough to make the 33-car starting field for the 1937 '500.'

Webb, a former Legion Ascot ‘big car’ mechanic and racer originally from Knoxville Tennessee who listed Beverly Hills as his home, had been around the Speedway since 1934 as a riding mechanic, but 1937 was his first time to drive on the big 2-1/2 mile brick oval.  

Louis Webb tried unsuccessfully to make the ‘500 field in 1939 in Walt Woestman’s McDowell powered machine and 1940 in Charles Voelker’s V-16 car  before he was killed at the Syracuse ‘Moody Mile’ on Labor Day 1940.  Webb’s Marks Offenhauser ran over the back of Cavino ‘Kelly’ Petillo’s machine and flipped end-over-end three times in front of the New York State Fair grandstand on the 18th lap of the 100-mile race.

1938 AAA engine displacement/weight sheet

For the 1938 ‘500,’ ‘Doc’ Williams’  entry, the 4-cylinder 248 cubic inch Offenhauser powered #46 ‘Ben Been Special’ was reportedly the only car on the grounds that still carried a riding mechanic, which was no longer required. The AAA “Junk Formula” rules package, in effect since 1930, had been scrapped in favor of the new international rules package which used a sliding scale of weight and engine displacement. Williams’ riding mechanic in the ‘Ben Been Special’ was again his brother-in-law Ray Short.
'Doc' Williams and Ray Short in the 'Ben Been Special'
photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies

An article in the Logansport Press described the car as “a Miller type machine,” entered by first time entrant Ben Been who owned a LaSalle car dealer in the tiny Carroll County town of Burrows Indiana, although the author suspects Williams was the actual race car owner.  

The fastest laps ‘Doc’ ran all month were around 120 MPH, and he made his two unsuccessful attempts to qualify on May 25. During his third and final qualifying attempt on May 28, the ‘Ben Been Special’ spun as it exited turn two and into the infield. Williams and Short were uninjured in the incident, but they had run out of chances to make the 1938 ‘500’ starting field.  

For the 1939 ‘500,’ ‘Doc’ was again the driver of the "Miller type" front-drive machine now powered by a 270 cubic inch Offenhauser engine and sponsored by the Quillen Brothers Refrigerator Company of Indianapolis. On the final day of time trials May 28, there was drama as Billy Devore beat the clock to start his run then bumped out George Robson with a ten-mile run with an average speed just 2/10 of a mile per hour faster than Robson’s. When the final qualifying gun went off, Williams’ #36 was sitting second in line to make an attempt, so ‘Doc’ missed racing on Decoration Day for the second year in a row.    

‘Doc’ Williams’ sponsors, Carl L. and Clarence A. Quillen, started their commercial refrigerator business which sold units throughout the Midwest in September 1931 and had built their new factory building in 1936 at 1639 Lafayette Road just north of 16th Street on a lot which  backed up to the White River.  Their company slogan was "Our customers know that every Quillen product more than pays for itself."

'Doc' Williams in 1940
photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies
By the 28th running of the International 500-mile Sweepstakes in 1940, the Cooper front-drive chassis had been narrowed and fitted with new bodywork that disguised its 1927 origins. ‘Doc’ qualified the red #36 ‘Quillen Brothers Special’ powered by 255-cubic Miller Marine engine into the starting field on May 26 with a four-lap average of 122.963 MPH for nineteenth starting position on the inside of the seventh row.
'Doc' Williams in 1940
photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies


Williams was the only driver to qualify on the second weekend of time trials due to rain, which forced Speedway officials to stage qualifying runs on Monday and Tuesday in order to fill the 33-car field.  In a race marked with low attrition, the ‘Quillen Brothers Special’ finished 25th after the oil line broke on lap 61. For his second ‘500’ start in eight attempts ‘Doc’ earned $590.

The years following their 1940 Indianapolis ‘500’ race car sponsorship did not go well for the Quillen brothers. On January 21 1944, less than six weeks after the death of “Doc’ Williams’ original sponsor Clarence O. Warnock, Carl Quillen was killed when he lost control of his car as he drove through the north side of Indianapolis on his way home to Zionsville.  Carl’s car swerved across the centerline and struck a tree on the opposite side of the road. The car was demolished, and Quillen was thrown into the road where his lifeless body was found by Marion County Sheriff Deputies Glyndon Macy and Meritt Smith. Carl Quillen, survived by his wife and two sons is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.
Clarence Quillen's patent drawing for a refrigerated 
display case patent number 2513675

Clarence continued to run the Quillen Brothers Company which profited handsomely from selling refrigerators to the military during the Second World War, and on December 9 1945 announced plans for a 5000-square foot plant expansion. Quillen planned to install $75,000 worth of new equipment for the manufacture of two sizes of home freezer units and several sizes of Clarence’s patented design of display cases for national distribution.

Unfortunately less than three years later in April 1948 the firm filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy in Southern District Federal Court, a situation which Clarence blamed on the steel shortage which caused the 17-year-old company to “run out of cash." Quillen's petition showed that the firm had only $1 cash on hand, $51,513 in bank deposits versus $231,818 in debts. The plant and equipment of the Quillen Brothers Refrigerator Company valued at $230,000 were sold at a private sale on July 14 1948.

Our next installment will trace ‘Doc’ Miller's ongoing attempts to qualify the Cooper front drive machine at Indianapolis in 1941, 1946 and 1948 and his big shot at glory in 1947.

Friday, May 27, 2016


Three in a row at the Hoosier Hundred

 
The Hoosier Hundred contested on the Indiana State Fairgrounds mile track since 1953 is a test for car and driver, and while there are many great names among the winners only a select few have won the great race three times in a row. The great Jimmy Bryan did it - he won three Hoosier Hundred race between 1954 to 1957. Al Unser Senior captured three in a row from 1970 to 1973. The AJ Foyt has won the race six times but only back-to back three times.

Thursday night May 26, Kody Swanson of Kingburg California matched the record of Bryan and Unser when he won his third consecutive Hoosier Hundred crown in his typical fashion. Bowes Seal Fast pole-winner Brady Bacon led early but then gave way to Jerry Coons Junior, with Swanson and Bryan Clauson lurking in the top five. Shane Cottle charged through the field to take the lead on lap 58.

With 35 laps to go the red flag was displayed after veteran Russ Gamester flipped his family-owned machine on the back straightaway. When racing resumed, Swanson forced his way past Cottle on lap 67 and was never headed, though Cottle made several late race charges, to take the victory in the 62nd annual Hoosier Hundred.

Swanson was trailed to the checkered flag by Cottle, Coons, Clauson and Chris Windom in fifth. Windom took over the controls of the #14 machine after its scheduled driver Brian Tyler didn’t make it the Fairgrounds from qualifying for the Little 500 in Anderson, and the engine in Windom’s scheduled car broke a rocker arm during warmups.  
 
photo by the author
 

Tonight is the USAC Silver Crown cars return to action at Lucas Oil Raceway for the ‘Carb Night Classic”

Thursday, May 26, 2016


The 46th annual Tony Hulman Classic
at Terre Haute was a classic
 
 

Through the years, some famous names have won the coveted rifle emblematic of capturing a win at the Terre Haute Action Track’s “Tony Hulman Classic” United States Auto Club (USAC) AMSOIL sprint car races through the years- names like Pancho Carter, Gary Bettenhausen, Sheldon Kinser, and Rich Vogler.
None of those great names ever won the “Tony Hulman Classic” back-to back until Steve Butler did it in 1987 and 1988 and then Levi Jones won consecutive races in 2009 and in 2010.
 
Wednesday night, defending USAC national sprint car champion Robert Ballou became the second ever “Tony Hulman Classic” winner.  By notching his 24th career series win, Ballou has moved ahead of legends A.J. Foyt and Roger McCluskey on the all-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win list.

It was a hard-fought feature win, as Ballou battled Thomas Meseraull up until lap 22 of the 30-lap feature, and then pulled away for a 4-second margin of victory. Third place went to Jon Stanbrough, followed by Brady Bacon and Chris Windom, who started twentieth

Monday, May 23, 2016


‘Doc’ Williams at the Indianapolis '500'
Part two - the Cooper front drive cars
All photos with this article appear courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection in the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies.
 

‘Doc’ Williams returned for his third attempt at Indianapolis glory in 1936 assigned to drive the ‘Superior Trailer Special,’ a Miller-powered front wheel drive car originally built in 1927 by Earl Cooper. Before we continue with the ‘Doc’ Williams story, today we feature this sidebar on the history of the Cooper front drive cars from 1927 through 1935.

Construction and racing by Cooper
Earl Cooper in 1924

Earl Cooper, the three-time American Automobile Association (AAA) national champion in 1913, 1915, and 1917, had a remarkable driving career both before and after World War One. Before the war, as a member of the powerful Stutz Racing Team, Cooper notched sixteen victories mostly on dirt tracks and early road courses. Cooper a close friend of Barney Oldfield’s returned to race driving in 1922 at age 36 and proved to be an adept board track racer during the Miller 122 and 91 cubic inch eras with a string of top five finishes.   

During the 1926 AAA season, Cooper bought the Miller supercharged 91-cubic inch chassis number #2605 and over the winter of 1926-7, he built three copies, funded by Buick Motors with the approval and assistance of Harry A. Miller. Each of the three cars were powered by a supercharged 91 cubic-inch eight-cylinder Miller engine breathing through four Miller Dual Throat Updraft carburetors that produced 167 horsepower and powered the front wheels.

The three new Cooper Front Drive cars in 1927


The major difference between a Miller and Cooper was the front drive assembly. Instead of the Miller jewel-like front drive, with the design assistance of Leo Gosssen, Copper’s cars used a Ruckstell planetary gearset with two-speed Ruckstell axle to achieve four forward speeds powered by Miller supercharged engines.

Buick withdrew its support and all four of Earl Cooper’s cars were entered by Cooper Engineering for veterans Peter Kreis, Bennett Hill, and Jules Ellingboe.  All three new cars qualified for the 1927 ‘500,’ but Kreis’s and Hill’s cars had mechanical failure and Ellingboe crashed so only McDonough finished coming in with a sixth place finish.
Peter Kreis in the Marmon Special in 1928
By the time of the 1928 ‘500,’ Earl Cooper had sold his original Miller chassis and landed Nordyke & Marmon Company sponsorship for two of his three cars. All three Cooper-owned cars driven by Kreis, Russell Snowberger, and Johnny Seymour qualified for the starting field, but none finished the race, with two of three cars retired with supercharger failure while Kreis’ car lost a rod bearing.

For the 1929 ‘500’ all three cars were entered as ‘Cooper Engineering Specials,’ for Fred Frame  Johnny Seymour, and Snowberger but again only one driven by Fred Frame finished the race in tenth place seven laps behind race winner Ray Keech’s Miller. Snowberger was eliminated early for the second year in a row by supercharger failure and Seymour’s car broke a rear axle.  During the winter of 1920-1930, perhaps in anticipation of the coming AAA “Junk Formula,” Cooper sold all three front-drive cars to Herman N. Gauss, who ran a garage and welding shop at 916 East Washington Street in Indianapolis.

Herman Gauss’ ownership of the Cooper Front Drive Cars
Herman Gauss had just emerged from a nasty legal scrape. On October 3 1927, a car driven by Herman with his brother George as passenger collided head-on with another car at the intersection of Fifty-Fourth Street and Kessler Boulevard in Indianapolis.  While the Gauss brothers were just slightly injured, the couple in the other Mr. and Mrs.  Manthey of Brownsburg, were killed.

Witnesses claimed that Herman Gauss’ car was traveling over 60 MPH, and the Marion County Grand Jury charged Gauss with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Over two years passed before Herman’s trial was held on November 29 1929, and Marion County Criminal court Judge Robert Dalton declared that he was unable to determine who was responsible for the accident from the evidence and testimony and found Gauss not guilty. 

After purchasing the cars from Earl Cooper, Gauss, a sometime race car driver, widened the rear of the chassis, revised the engines, and built new bodies on two of the Copper chassis to comply with the new-two man cockpit rules in the 1930 AAA “Junk Formula.”  Gauss sold the third car without the engine to car builder Floyd A. Smith of Long Island New York.  

Johnny Seymour in 1929

Herman Gauss entered his pair of cars powered by 100 cubic inch displacement unsupercharged eight-cylinder Miller engines for the 1930 ‘500’ as the “Gauss Front Drive Specials” for young rookie Hoosier dirt track driver Joe Huff and former Legion Ascot motorcycle racer Johnny Seymour. The Gauss entries easily qualified but neither one finished the 1930 ‘500.  Huff had to be relieved by two drivers “Speed’ Gardner and Ted Chamberlin after he drove just eight laps before a valve broke in the engine on lap 48 while Seymour crashed on lap 21, one of nine cars eliminated in turn two crashes over ten laps.

Floyd Smith entered the third Cooper similarly modified like the Gauss cars but powered with a 215 cubic inch Miller straight eight engine for the 1931 ‘500’as the #3 ‘Empire State Gas Motors Special’ for driver “Wild Bill” Cummings. The two Gauss entries, number #69 and #71, used the same of pair of drivers as the previous year with sponsorship from the Goldberg brothers and their Highway Truck Parts Corporation which sold used trucks and part from their location at 1125 East Georgia Street.

The five Goldberg brothers – the oldest brother Irving, then Max, Samuel, Charles (an attorney), and Manning, were all born in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants. The Goldberg family arrived in Indianapolis during the mid-teens and built up a complex group of interconnected companies. 
Goldberg companies included Irving’s Indianapolis Auto Parts & Tire Co. at 518 North Capitol Avenue, Max’s Superior Trailer Manufacturing at 2100 Fletcher Avenue,  Samuel’s Highway Truck Parts Corporation 1125 East Georgia Street, and Manning’s Rex Trailer Company, which built and sold circus trailers and portable electric power plants next door at 1127 East Georgia Street, During the nineteen fifties the Goldberg family bought a number of multi-unit properties that included the Wyndham on North Delaware Street and the Hotel Continental at 410 North Meridian Street. 

Cummings started Floyd Smith’s ‘Empire State Gas Motors Special’ from the middle of the front row with a 112.563 MPH qualifying average speed, while Joe Huff in the ‘Goldberg Brothers Special’ #69 “crowded” or bumped his way into the field at 102.386 MPH and started last in the 1931 ‘500’ 40-car field, but Johnny Seymour in the #71 ‘Highway Truck Parts Special’ was too slow.  Cummings led four laps in the early going of the race, but was out on lap 70 with a broken oil line and won $710.   Huff, a tortoise in comparison to Cummings, finished the 500-mile grind in sixteenth place, 20 laps behind winner Louis Schneider and won $375.

Joe Huff later raced the ‘Highway Truck Parts Special’ on July 4 1931 at the board track at Altoona, Pennsylvania but the car was much changed from Indianapolis. Gauss had combined two of his straight eight Miller engines in a “U” configuration to create a 16-cylinder engine. Huff started fourth but the car crashed and overturned on lap 36 of 80. The Smith/Empire car also appeared at Altoona and finished second.  Surprisingly for a front drive car, the Empire entry was also competitive on the dirt tracks during 1931 and finished third at Detroit and Syracuse.

Paul Bost drove Smith’s ‘Empire State Gas Motors Special’  at Indianapolis in 1932 and qualified eighth while Huff qualified the 8-cylinder 100-cubic inch Miller powered #53 ‘Goldberg Special’ in the 15th starting position for the 1932 Indianapolis ‘500.  Unfortunately Huff’s teammate, rookie Herbert ‘Dusty’ Fahrnow crashed the U-16 powered ‘Highway Truck Parts Special’ in turn two during practice on the final day of time trials May 28, but was uninjured. Huff, with relief from Fahrnow, finished the 1932 ‘500’ in tenth place and completed the full distance 54 minutes after winner Fred Frame. Bost’s car broke a crankshaft on lap 18 and Smith’s Cooper front drive chassis subsequently dropped out of sight until 1934.

Gauss and the Goldberg brothers lined up a pair of veterans to drive their entries in the 1933 ‘500;’ six-race veteran Ralph Hepburn drove the 16-cylinder 190-cubic inch “twin Miler” powered  ‘Highway Truck Parts Special and six-race veteran Bennett Hill took the wheel of the 16-cylinder all-aluminum 330-cubic inch Marmon Series 16 powered  ‘Goldberg Special.’ Hill qualified nineteenth, while Hepburn bumped into the field in 41st position. Neither car finished as both retired with broken connecting rods, Hepburn’s on lap 33 and Hill’s on lap 158.

 In 1934 Herman Gauss entered both 16-cylinder powered Cooper front drive chassis for the ‘500.’ ‘Dusty’ Fahrnow returned as the driver of the #42 car with sponsorship from the Superior Trailer Manufacturing, a company Max Goldberg had started in 1929. As mentioned earlier, ‘Doc’ Williams was nominated as the drivers of the other Gauss entry the #38 ‘Highway Truck Parts Special’ but the AAA rejected ‘Doc’ as a driver and the #38 car sat for the month of May 1934.  

Fahrnow qualified the ‘Superior Trailer special’ in 24th position with the fastest time posted on Sunday May 28 at 113.070 MPH and then finished 24th after the 16-cylinder 330-cubic inch Marmon engine burned a rod bearing on lap 28. The Floyd Smith-owned Cooper front drive car meantime reappeared powered with a 250-cubic inch Studebaker President eight-cylinder engine driven by Studebaker engineer Tony Gulotta, who qualified seventh but retired with a broken connecting rod on lap 94 before the Smith car again dropped from sight again before it resurfaced in 1936 owned by Chicago union organizer Mike Boyle.

In 1935 #53 ‘Superior Trailer Special’ was practiced during the month by “Dusty” Fahrnow but he was too slow in his only qualifying attempt.  Chicago midget racer Jimmy Snyder then jumped in and posted a time fast enough to make the field, but the ‘Superior Trailer Special’ was disqualified from the starting field after qualifying when an inspection found that the car had used more the allowed amount of fuel (2 gallons and one pint) to complete the ten-lap run.  Rookie Snyder then jumped into Joel Thorne’s 336-cubic inch eight-cylinder Studebaker powered “Blue Prelude Special” and qualified for the starting field but retired from the ‘500’ early with a broken rear spring.

In our next installment, we will return to the story of ‘Doc’ Williams in 1936 at Indianapolis, behind the wheel of the Cooper front wheel drive machine that he would become associated with for most of the next dozen years.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


'Doc’ Williams and the Indianapolis '500'
Part one - his early life and first attempts


An early photo of Doc Williams and his riding mechanic 
Location and photographer unknown
Author's Collection



We will continue our theme of persistence as we review the career of race car driver 'Doc' Williams who competed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway thirteen times between the years of 1933 and 1949 but only made the starting field four times, all in the same front -rive machine that Earl Cooper built in 1927.

Merrill Henry ‘Doc’ Williams was born on October 26 1912 near Franklin Indiana, a small community in in south central Indiana. “Doc,” whose childhood nickname grew out of the profession of his father, Walter Williams a veterinarian, graduated from Clark Township High School in 1930 according to an interview given by his son Johannes published in the June 7 1994 edition of the Franklin Daily Journal.

‘Doc’ Williams had a meteoric rise through the racing ranks, with “great success on the dirt tracks in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and California” at least according the May 2 1936 issue of the Franklin Evening Star newspaper although the author has found no results to corroborate these claims. At the young age of 20, ‘Doc’ attempted to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500-mile race in 1933 as the driver of the ‘C.O. Warnock Special,’ the first Ford ‘flathead’ V-8 powered machine to attempt to qualify for an Indianapolis race.

Clarence O. Warnock claimed that he built racing cars for Ray Harroun before he joined the Ford Motor Company as a traveling supervisor of service in 1914.  Warnock opened the Barber-Warnock Ford agency in partnership with Hale Barber In 1917, which meant that the agency located at 819 East Washington Street was the oldest Ford dealer in Indianapolis.

The dealership had previous racing history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as in 1923 they entered the “Barber-Warnock Ford Special” a race car built by the three Chevrolet brothers. The tiny machine was  powered by an engine that featured a Frontenac SR (special racing)  head on a 122- cubic inch four-cylinder Model T block fed by two carburetors.   
L.L. Corum in 1923 Ford
Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies
Hoosier native Lora ‘L.L’ Corum, a long-time associate of the Chevrolet brothers, started the Barber-Warnock Model T racer in the ‘500’ from seventh starting position after posting a qualifying time of 86.65 miles per hour (MPH) during time trials.  Corum and the Barber-Warnock Model T finished the 11th annual International 500-mile Sweepstakes on Decoration Day in fifth place just 34 minutes behind Tommy Milton’s winning HCS-Miller and averaged 82.58 MPH over the 200 laps.

A Frontenac SR head and exhaust


The Barber-Warnock team expanded to three Model T racers built by the Chevrolet brothers for the 1924 Indianapolis ‘500’ with Fords claimed to be 75% stock except for Frontenac cylinder heads with racing intake and exhaust manifolds. The team’s drivers were three dirt track veterans - Indianapolis native Bill Hunt, Michigan’s Fred Harder, and Dr. Alfred E. Moss, a British student at the Indiana Dental College and the father of the great Grand Prix driver Stirling Moss.

All three of the team cars qualified for the 1924 ‘500’ starting field in 19th, 20th, and 22nd and last position, and all three ‘Barber-Warnock Ford Specials’ were still running when they were flagged at the finish. Bill Hunt finished in 14th place, nine laps in arrears, followed by Moss and Harder in 16th and 17th place, both 23 laps behind the race winner started by last year’s Barber-Warnock driver, L.L. Corum but relieved by Joe Boyer on lap 112.

The Barber-Warnock Ford agency business partnership was dissolved in 1925, and the dealership continued as C.O. Warnock Ford. The 1930 Indianapolis 500-mile race had ushered in the era of the “Junk Formula” rules package pushed through the American Automobile Association (AAA) Contest Board by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Eddie Rickenbacker. The new rules package was designed to encourage more participation by automobile manufacturers to compete with stripped down passenger cars which Rickenbacker believed would lead to larger starting fields and more paying spectators.  
'Doc' Williams after his 1933 qualifying run
Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies


The 1933 ‘C.O. Warnock Special,’ was a typical example of a “Junk Formula” machine,  a stripped-down 1932 Ford V-8 with a stock chassis and running gear, riding on knock-off wire wheels fitted with Firestone Balloons tires and a racing body finished in plain white. The car was prepared for the race by Robert Roof, the renowned designer and builder of multiple-valve cylinder heads for the Model T Ford engine, with engineering assistance from Don Sullivan, a Ford engineer that had helped develop the flathead V-8.   The engine of ‘C.O. Warnock Special’ was stock except for a pair of Detroit Lubricator model 51 carburetors atop a hand built manifold and a racing exhaust.

 ‘Doc’ and riding mechanic Milton Totten posted an average speed for their ten-lap time trial run of 104.538 MPH on Tuesday May 28th, but ultimately that speed was 45th fastest with the field capped at 42 starters.   Although he failed to qualify the flathead Ford, during the month ‘Doc’ had generated extra cash through the sale of autographed copies of photographs of himself and his car. For $5 more, buyers of the photograph would get his or her name actually painted on the body of the car, according to the 1994 Franklin Daily Journal interview with his son.
The restored 1933 'Doc' Williams Ford on display at a car show


Given the level of the clandestine Ford factory support for the racing debut for the Ford ‘flathead’ V-8 engine, the failure of ‘Doc’ Williams to qualify for the 1933 ‘500’ starting field was a disappointment. The race car was later sold (or given) to Williams who also became a Ford Motor Company employee. Ford returned to the Speedway in subsequent years with much stronger quasi-factory supplier entered entries - in 1934 with the Bohn Brass & Aluminum Company and 1935 with Lew Welch before the disastrous 1936 full-blown Ford factory effort with Harry Miller.

1933 sponsor Clarence Warnock died on Monday December 13 1943 of a heart attack in his home at 4324 Park Avenue in the Oliver Johnson’s Woods area on the city’s near north side.  Just 57 years old, Mr. Warnock had returned just weeks before from a trip to Mexico, as he was an authority on Mexican archeology, with a large collection Mexican pottery and archeological relics.  The C.O. Warnock Ford dealership was purchased by the C. T. Foxworthy Company in February 1944, and continued to operate as Foxworthy Ford at the East Washington Street location until the building was demolished during the nineteen seventies to make way for Interstate 70. 

Over the winter of 1933-1934, the Williams flathead Ford V-8 racer was rebuilt at the Baker Motor Service Company the Franklin Indiana Ford dealership, and ‘Doc’ Williams entered it for the 1934 Indianapolis ‘500’ with sponsorship from Lloyd H. Diehl’s Detroit Gasket and Manufacturing Company. Before practice opened at the Speedway, Williams accepted an offer to drive the #36 ‘Highway Truck Parts Special’ an Earl Cooper built front-drive machine owned by the Goldberg brothers.

Now that he had another ride, Williams signed  Charles Crawford to drive his 221 cubic inch flathead Ford powered racer, but then for reasons that are unknown more than eighty years later, Williams’ ‘500’ entry in the Cooper front-drive was rejected and ‘Doc” wound up a spectator for the 1934 ‘500.’  Two other drivers, Harold Shaw and Orville Smith were also rejected; could this have been for competing in “outlaw”(as the AAA deemed anything but AAA sanction) races or some other reason?

Charles Crawford, the 35-year old rookie driver from Nashville Tennessee qualified the ‘Detroit Gasket Special’ for the race with a qualifying average speed of 109 MPH with Milton Totten again the riding mechanic, but the month was not without problems. During practice a steering knuckle snapped as the car went through the north end of the track and the car hit the wall. The driver and riding mechanic were only slightly injured and the car was repaired in time to qualify for the race.

Crawford started the 1934 ‘500’ from 28th starting position and was forced into the pits for one hour and sixteen minutes when another steering knuckle broke.  Without spare parts, but unwilling to give up, the pit crew stole a steering knuckle off a Ford Model A parked in the infield. They reinstalled the knuckle on the race car and Crawford returned to the race until his 110th lap when the flathead engine’s head gasket failed on ‘Detroit Gasket Special.’

Having the flathead Ford eliminated by a blown gasket was ironic since the Detroit Gasket Company was the lead supplier of their patented "Steelbestos" steel-reinforced asbestos head gasket for the Ford four-cylinder Model B production engine.  Crawford was scored in thirteenth position, and Crawford and Williams split the $860 purse. Crawford unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the ‘500’ in 1938 and 1947.

‘Doc’ Williams was back in the AAA Contest Board’s good graces for the 1935 running of the Indianapolis ‘500,’ entered to drive his car with sponsorship from Detroit Michigan car dealer Harry Henderson  with the rebuilt flathead V-8 engine now fitted with four carburetors.  During a practice run on May 25 1935, Williams’ Ford V-8 racer suddenly hit the outside wall, then out of control smacked the inside wall and ‘Doc’ was thrown out of his #64 car.

Williams miraculously avoided the same deadly fate that had befallen Wilburn “Stubby” Stubblefield, Leo Whittaker, and Johnny Hannon earlier in the month and escaped with a broken ankle. From his hospital bed, Williams reportedly sold the wreckage of his race car which had all four wheels torn off for $100 according to the May 2 1936 issue of the Franklin Evening Star.

‘Doc’ Williams returned for his third attempt at Indianapolis glory in 1936 assigned to drive the ‘Superior Trailer Special,’ a Miller-powered front drive car originally built in 1927 by Earl Cooper. Before we continue with the ‘Doc’ Williams story, we’ll share the history of the Cooper front drive cars from 1927 through 1935.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Racing Associates team in 1961

The Racing Associates team in 1961
"Rocky" Philipp stands behind #86 in dark paints 
with Herb Porter to the right of Philipp
Author's Collection

This faded photograph taken 55 years ago, shows the Racing Associates team for the 1961 Indianapolis 500-mile race posed behind the paddock grandstand. The photo commemorated the team placing all three cars into the starting field. The drivers from left to right are Roger McCluskey, Ebb Rose, and Paul Goldsmith. 


The author was fortunate enough to have one of the surviving team members, Paul Goldsmith, autograph the photo at the 2016 Bench Racing Weekend banquet. 
Left to right Ms. Musetta Yeager, Paul Goldsmith and the author


The Racing Associates team was originally formed in 1955 by three men:  Indianapolis attorney Arthur B. "Art" Lathrop, Nelson G. Johnson an Indianapolis businessman, and D. Coleman Glover from Moline Illinois. Through the years, the team compiled an impressive record with drivers that included Bob Sweikert, Johnny Thomson, and Jim Hurtubise. 

After the 1960 United States Auto Club (USAC) season, the trio of Lathrup, Johnson and Glover sold the Racing Associates operation to Jesse E. "Ebb" Rose from Houston Texas, and team’s mechanics, Hubert “Herb” Porter and Robert "Rocky" Philipp came along in the deal.   


Roger McCluskey's official 1961 IMS photograph
courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection 
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies 


Roger McCluskey

Roger McCluskey’s 1961 ‘500’ mount was the red and black #22 “Racing Associates Special” Moore “laydown” chassis so called because the 270-cubic inch 4-cylinder Offenhauser racing engine was laid nearly flat on its side just 17 degrees from horizontal.  

Chief Mechanic Denny Moore built the roadster in the John Zink Racing Tulsa Oklahoma shop and it debuted in the 1959 ‘500,’ formally entered by Ellen McKinney Zink, team owner Jack Zink’s wife at that time. California midget standout Bob “Traction” Veith finished the 1959 ‘500’ in twelfth place. The Moore-built Zink roadster was entered for rookie Ebb Rose in the 1960 ‘500’ after Rose alleged received it in trade from Tulsa’s John Zink in exchange for some property according to author Joe Scalzo.

Roger was a 30-year Indianapolis rookie who had driven in six USAC championship races during the 1960 season, first in Arthur Koopman’s Lesovsky dirt car, and then behind the wheel of Phoenix plumbing supplier Harlan Fike’s Offenhauser-powered Kuzma dirt car.  McCluskey born in San Antonio Texas but raised in Tucson Arizona was a long-time racing veteran who began racing locally in 1948 at the Gilpin Sports Stadium and the Tucson rodeo grounds in a jalopy he had built with Hank Arnold. Besides the love of cars, both men shared several other things in common; both wound up in Tucson after their families moved there because of their mothers’ health and both men were accomplished welders and car builders. 

By 1950, Roger became a regular winner in jalopies, and before long he moved into California Roadster Association (CRA) roadsters which soon morphed into sprint cars. His success with the CRA led to racing sprint cars with USAC ‘back east” then onto USAC championship racing. Just days after he was officially entered for the 1961 ‘500,’ Roger won his first USAC feature on April 23 at Williams Grove Pennsylvania driving for Elmer George. On April 30 McCluskey finished second to AJ Foyt in the 30-lap USAC sprint car feature on the high-banked half-mile at Salem Indiana after Parnelli Jones was black flagged for an oil leak on lap 23. 

McCluskey started the 1961 ‘500’ from 29th position after qualifying with an average of 145.038 miles per hour (MPH) for his ten-lap run. Roger started so far back in the field because he qualified on Saturday May 20, the third day of time trials with 24 cars already qualified for the starting field. Roger quickly passed his 135 MPH rookie test during the first week of practice but then the team struggled to get the car to break above a 144 MPH lap speed.
 
According to a May 19 1961 article in the Tucson Daily Citizen, the Offenhauser engine in Roger’s car ran backwards, and had blown up twice in practice, which had caused minor wall contact once. Roger was quoted in the Citizen article prior to the second weekend of time trials that the reverse running engine caused odd vibrations in the car but that the crew was addressing that issue with new shock absorbers.

As shocking as it might seem to modern race drivers, but many of the stars from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were in action on May 28 at the inaugural race at the 5/8-mile dirt track at Indianapolis Raceway Park in nearby Clermont Indiana. The entry list included five drivers that had failed to qualify for the ‘500’ and three drivers schedule to start the ‘500;’ AJ Foyt, AJ Shepherd, and Roger McCluskey.

After he recorded the quick time during time trials at 27.57 seconds, Roger flipped Mari Hulman George’s “H-O-W Special” (Mari Hulman-George Ober-Roger Wolcott) sprint car in his heat race but escaped with only bruises.  Two days later during the ‘500,’ Roger was involved in one of the most spectacular chain-reaction crashes in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history. 

The accident on McCluskey’s 52nd lap began when Don Davis crashed his “Dart-Kart by Rupp Special” Trevis-Offenhauser on the brick main straightaway and the car came to a stop in the middle of the track. Apparently dazed from the crash, Davis crawled out and walked towards the pit dividing wall. A.J. Shepherd in the “Travelon Trailer Special” crashed to avoid hitting Davis, and then Roger McCluskey and Bill Cheesbourg in the Dean Van Lines Special” came onto the scene, their cars collided and both hit the pit dividing wall.

The author's copy of the press photograph that showed the lap 51 carnage


Lloyd Ruby swerved towards the outside of the track to avoid the carnage and Jack Turner ran over the right rear wheel of Ruby’s “Autolite Special.” Turner’s “Bardahl Special” flipped end-over-end down the main straightaway, as Johnny Boyd and Dick Rathmann miraculously avoided Turner’s flipping car.  When the dust finally settled, all the cars except Ruby’s were eliminated and McCluskey finished his first ‘500’ in 27th position.

The 1961 race marked the first of eighteen Indianapolis 500-mile races for Roger, and when he led in 1962, he became the 100th man to lead the Indianapolis ’500.’  During his career, Roger captured the USAC national sprint car championship twice, in 1963 and 1966, was the 1969 and 1970 USAC stock car champion, and won the 1973 USAC national driving championship, the year that Roger recorded his best Indianapolis ‘500’ finish of third place.  

Roger was a versatile driver, as he also raced in the 1967 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am series), the 1966 and 1967 24 hours of LeMans as part of the Ford team, and the inaugural International Race of Champions (IROC) series in 1974. Roger retired from driving in 1979 and went to work for USAC as its competition director and later became the club’s Chief Operating Officer until he passed away in 1993, just five days after his 63rd birthday.



Ebb Rose's official 1961 IMS photograph 
courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection 
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies 


Ebb Rose

In the center of the photograph is Ebb Rose seated in his pink and black #86 “Meyer Speedway Special” a Porter “laydown” chassis. Rose born in Huntsville Texas on February 27 1925 was the son of the founder of JH Rose Trucking Company.  Fascinated by fast cars, Ebb owned and raced midget race cars and stock cars at Houston area tracks that included Playland Park and Joseph F. Meyer Speedway.

In addition, Ebb also provided race cars for Lloyd Ruby and others. Midget driver Cecil Elliott, the assistant manager at JH Rose trucking, died at the 1/5-mile Dallas Fair Park Speedway on the Texas State Fairgrounds while driving Ebb’s midget on November 10 1957, shortly before that track closed forever to make way for a new livestock coliseum.

Rose also owned a fleet of sports cars: English built AC Ace, the second of three Chevrolet Corvette SR-2 racers which he later sold to John Mecom, and a pair of Maserati sports cars - a 300A and a 450S, and a Kurtis Kraft 5ooS sports car which he raced nationally as the “Micro Lube Special.” Despite a lack of previous championship racing experience, Ebb was allowed to enter the 1960 Indianapolis ‘500’ based on his three years sports car racing experience mainly in the Southeast. After he failed to qualify for the 1960 ‘500,’ Ebb appeared at four other USAC championship races during the 1960 season also without success.

Rose’s 1961 ‘500’ the Porter laydown was essentially a copy of the Racing Associates Ludwig “Lujie” Lesvosky-built laydown which had qualified for the 1959 ‘500’ pole position. Porter and Phillip, the Racing Associates mechanics built the new car over the winter of 1960-1961 after Ebb Rose had purchased the team.

When Racing Associates was first formed by the triumvirate of Lathrop, Johnson and Glover, the team’s initial chief mechanic was Danny Quella, who was later replaced by Roy Sherman. Herb Porter had come to work for Racing Associates after the end of the 1959 USAC season after eight years of running the Roger Wolcott racing team. 

Wolcott’s history of race car ownership stretched back to 1949 when he was a partner in Indianapolis Race Cars Inc. the group which purchased the assets of the Boyle Racing Team after Harry ‘Cotton” Hennings’ death. During the years, Wolcott employed drivers that included Ed Elisian, Jim McWithey, Len Sutton, and Rodger Ward.

Team owner Roger Gould Wolcott an Indianapolis investment broker was found dead on November 1 1958 after the deputies that responded to citizen calls found Wolcott’s Mercedes Benz sedan rammed into a light pole adjacent to the entrance to Marion College on Cold Springs Road in Indianapolis. Although Wolcott’s throat was found badly cut, the Marion County Coroner ruled Wolcott died from a coronary occlusion, and that the cut occurred postmortem. 

The coroner surmised that Wolcott sensed trouble, and leaned across the interior get his bottle of nitroglycerin pills out of the glove box when he was fatally stricken and that the glove box door cut Wolcott’s throat as he was thrown forward after the car’s impact with the pole.  For the 1959 USAC season, Wolcott’s cars were entered by Porter and raced under the banner of the “Roger G. Wolcott Memorial Racing Team.”

Bob “Rocky” Philipp who lived in Culver City California also worked for Racing Associates when it was still owned by Lathrop, Johnson and Glover. “Rocky” notably worked with driver George Amick on apple orchard owner Norm Demler’s team in 1958  but was fired by Demler after the  1958 ‘500’ after the owner was angry that his car finished second 27.65 seconds behind Jimmy Bryan’s similar laydown machine.

In 1959, “Rocky” worked on the new shocking pink colored Racing Associates Lesovsky laydown that Johnny Thomson qualified for the pole position for the Indianapolis ‘500,’ and finished in third position after running much of the last half of the race of three cylinders. Philipp was credited with the creation of the first in-car drinking system for the 1959 ‘500’  by rigging a rubber hot water bottle next to Thomson’s knee which by pressing against the bottle, fed water up to Thomson’s mouth through a tube.

Team owner and rookie driver Ebb Rose qualified for his first USAC race, the 1961 ‘500’ from the 19th starting position after he posted a four-lap qualifying average of 144.338 MPH as the last car to make a run on the first day of time trials. The “Meyer Speedway Special” had an undistinguished run in the 1961 ‘500’ as it retired from running in 13th place when a connecting rod in the Offenhauser engine broke on lap 93 and Ebb Rose was scored as the 23rd place finisher. 

For the 1962 ‘500,’ Ebb Rose drove the same Porter laydown chassis dubbed the “Rose Truck Line Special” to the final race distance to a fourteenth place finish which earned him membership into the Champion Spark Plug 100 MPH club. Don Davis drove the Lesovsky laydown to a fourth place finish only 48 seconds behind winner Rodger Ward.

In the 1963 ‘500,’ the Porter chassis with Sheraton-Thompson sponsorship was driven by Bob Veith but the car retired early with an engine problem. Ebb Rose meantime had purchased a new Watson chassis for the 1963 ‘500’ which shockingly failed to qualify. Rose then jumped into AJ Foyt’s backup “Sheraton-Thompson Special” Watson chassis and bumped his way into the field and finished the ‘500’ in fourteenth place.

The 1963 ‘500’ unfortunately proved to be Rose’s last 500-mile race at Indianapolis.  Absent from the Speedway in 1964, Ebb’s Watson roadster was qualified by Johnny Rutherford and raced as the “Bardahl Special.”  Rose crashed the 1964 “Rocky" Phillip built rear-engine car in practice during May 1965, while Rutherford made the field in the team’s Halibrand–Ford and Bobby Grim missed the field in the Racing Associates Watson roadster. 

Rose was entered for the 1966 Indianapolis ‘500’ but never appeared before USAC officials. Meanwhile the Racing Associates Watson roadster painted “Fontana Rose,” a 1963 Cadillac factory color and now powered by a turbocharged Offenhauser made the starting field driven by Bobby Grim. Considered the last roadster to start the Indianapolis 500-mile race it was eliminated in the pile-up on the main straightaway and never completed a lap.

Ebb Rose returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1967 in the gold with black trimmed Mallard “roadster” built by Jim Hurtubise but crashed in practice in his final appearance as a driver at the Speedway and the final hurrah for Rose’s Racing Associates team at the Speedway.  Ebb Rose died in Houston Texas on August 27 2007.  

Paul Goldsmith's official 1959 IMS photograph
 courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection 
IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies 


Paul Goldsmith

The driver in the car at the far right  of the photograph is 35-year old Paul Goldsmith ready for his fourth Indianapolis ‘500’ behind the wheel of the #10 black and gold “Racing Associates Special” Offenhauser-powered Lesvosky laydown roadster. Goldsmith’s first career was as a successful American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Grand National motorcycle racer during the late 1940s through the mid-1950s as he scored five career AMA national wins.

His first AMA national victory came in 1952 aboard a Harley-Davidson at the Milwaukee Mile but his most famous victory came at the 1953 Daytona 200 held on the original beach course.  By the time Paul won his final AMA event at Schererville, Indiana on August 7 1955 he had started his stock car racing career, and in 1956, he became a full-time Chevrolet NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Racing) racer teamed with car owner and mechanic Henry “Smokey” Yunick.

Goldsmith won his first NASCAR race at Langhorne Pennsylvania on September 23 1956 after he led 182 of the 300 laps. Paul notched four NASCAR victories in 1957 and in the final Daytona 500 stock car race held on the beach course in 1958 he started from the pole in Yunick’s “Best Damn Garage” 1958 Pontiac and led all 39 of the 4-mile laps on his way to victory, five years after his Daytona motorcycle win.  

1958 also marked Goldsmith’s first appearance in the Indianapolis 500-mile race as he drove Yunick’s “City of Daytona Beach Special” Kurtis Kraft 500G2.  Unfortunately, after he qualified sixteenth, Goldsmith in the black and gold #31 roadster was swept up in the massive accident in the third turn of the first lap of the race.  Jerry Unser ran over the back of Goldsmith’s car which launched Unser’s “McKay Bulldog” over the outer retaining wall and Paul finished in 30th place.  Goldsmith became the first and perhaps only man to compete in the Daytona Beach motorcycle race, the Daytona Beach stock car race and the Indianapolis ‘500.’

Goldsmith returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 1959 and 1960 500-mile races behind the wheel of Norm Demler’s Quinn Epperly-built laydown roadster and scored fifth and third place finishes respectively. In 1961 driving for Ebb Rose, Goldsmith qualified at 144.741 MPH and started from 17th position the best starting spot of the Racing Associates team in 1961. Paul’s #10 car was eliminated from the 1961 ‘500’ with the same failure as Ebb Rose’s car, a broken connecting rod on lap 160 and he placed fourteenth only because of the high level of attrition, as only twelve cars finished. 

Beginning in 1960, Goldsmith directed his efforts towards USAC stock car racing with car owner and mechanic Ray Nichels and was the 1960 points runner-up before he captured the USAC stock car championship in 1961 and 1962.  Goldsmith and Nichels still ran the occasional NASCAR race, and it was Goldsmith’s appearance in the November 3 1963 NASCAR race on the Riverside International Raceway road course led to Goldsmith becoming famous or infamous depending on one’s point of view.

NASCAR and USAC had a long-running feud that dated to the formation of NASCAR and NASCAR’s sanctioning of sprint, midget and championship racing events during the early 1950’s. In May 1954 the dispute reached the boiling point when Indianapolis Motor Speedway guards escorted NASCAR founder “Big Bill” France off the Speedway grounds. “We have a long-standing disagreement with NASCAR on what constitutes good racing,” explained Harry McQuinn, the AAA chief steward.

The USAC and NASCAR organizations briefly called a truce in 1961 after a group of drivers, headed by Curtis Turner and Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, met with the Teamsters union organizers. According to an article published in National Speed Sport News in August 1961 the drivers met to explore the formation of a “union of all professional drivers cutting across NASCAR, USAC, IMCA and other boundaries.” Of note in the article was the attendance at the Chicago area meeting by “several Indianapolis race drivers including Don Branson and Paul Goldsmith.”

The war escalated in 1962 when USAC refused to allow USAC drivers to compete in the 1962 Daytona ‘500.’ USAC had granted Goldsmith a special exemption in 1961 but refused to do so in 1962 despite the fact that the Daytona 500 was sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) international sanctioning organization. 

Goldsmith took the refusal personally, telling reporters “the Daytona 500 is FIA approved….I see no reason why USAC should not allow us to run. I can’t understand why USAC doesn’t get up to date. They are living in the past.” Rodger Ward the two-time Indianapolis ‘500’ champion told the same reporter that “USAC should amend our rules to allow all of our drivers to drive in FIA recognized races regardless of the sanctioning body. Our organization must grow with the times.”

USAC had a 1963 season agreement with NASCAR and the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) so USAC drivers were free to compete in NASCAR races for most of the season.   The night before the November 3 1963 NASCAR race at Riverside, USAC issued a warning to its drivers that there would be consequences if they appeared in the 148-lap race, as USAC claimed the agreement had expired at the beginning on November. Drivers Dan Gurney, who had qualified on the pole in the Wood Brothers Ford, AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Rodger Ward and Roger Penske all heeded the USAC warning and withdrew from the event.

Goldsmith did not withdraw from the “Golden State 400,” as he believed he was protected by his FIA international license. On November 5 1963,   Goldsmith was proved wrong as he was suspended by USAC for a period of one year for competing in a race that was not USAC sanctioned and all the points that he has accumulated during 1963 were suspended.

This was not an unprecedented action by an open-wheel sanctioning body, as drivers received lengthy suspensions from the American Automobile Association (AAA) Contest Board for driving in unsanctioned (non-AAA) races. For example 1949 Indianapolis ‘500’ winner Willard “Bill” Holland was suspended for a year after driving in  3-lap Lion’s Charity two-car match race at a Florida dirt track in November 1950.  Holland’s AAA suspension was extended another year after he publicly challenged the AAA and competed in several other “outlaw” races while he was under AAA suspension during 1951.

In early 1964 Goldsmith filed a lawsuit against the United States Auto Club, USAC chairman Thomas Binford and USAC Competition Director Henry Banks for $75000. Goldsmith’s suit also asked for issuance an injunction against the USAC ban that would allow him to compete in the May 3 USAC Stock car “Yankee 300” at Indianapolis Raceway Park and the Indianapolis ‘500.’  

On May 7 1964 Judge Henry Stickler denied Goldsmith’s request for an injunction and dismissed portions of the suit against Binford and Banks but left alive the suit against the USAC organization. Thwarted by the legal system, Goldsmith pressed forward with his fight through international racing politics through his FIA membership.  Later in May 1964 the head of Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS) Charles Moran (a onetime Indianapolis driver)  stated that ACCUS, as the United States representative of the FIA would not permit any foreign drivers to compete in the 1965 Indianapolis ‘500’ unless Goldsmith was reinstated.

In June 1964 there was a contentious meeting of ACCUS members. Tom Binford not only the USAC chairman but also a member of the group of 15 businessmen that owned the Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) wanted ACCUS to recommend that the 1965 US Grand Prix be held on the IRP road course instead of at Watkins Glen in upstate New York. The other members of the ACCUS which included NASCAR, the SCCA and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) would not agree until Goldsmith was reinstated by USAC. USAC refused and the US Grand Prix remained at Watkins Glen for 1965.   

Goldsmith continued to race in NASCAR events during 1964, and based on precedence, USAC could have extended the suspension which ran out on November 5 1964 around the same time that Goldsmith’s appeal of Judge Stickler’s ruling was denied. It took time, but the eight-man board of USAC directors finally caved into the international political pressure and Goldsmith was reinstated with full competition privileges by USAC on March 23 1965.

Goldsmith returned to USAC stock car action on May 2 and finished second at IRP in the “Yankee 300” driving Ray Nichels’ Plymouth. Goldsmith was entered for the 1965 Indianapolis ‘500’ as the driver of the new Halibrand “Shrike” chassis owned by first-time ‘500’ entrants Jack Adams, Jack Walls, and Robert Carr with sponsorship from Jack Adams’ Aircraft Sales Corporation.

Paul practiced in the Shrike but encountered problems with the durability of the car’s odd “short stroke” 240-cubic inch Offenhauser engine and never got comfortable in the rear engine machine. The Halibrand chassis which like all eight built in 1965 used 67 individual castings, at least 50 of which were magnesium was formally withdrawn on May 22 and subsequently sold as a roller to Dan Gurney’s All American Racers for use as a back-up car.


The day before the 1965 Indianapolis ‘500,’ Goldsmith started from the pole and led all 150 laps of the USAC stock car race held on the IRP road course. During the course of the 1965 USAC stock car season, Paul won three more races and again wound up the series runner-up. 

Thereafter, Goldsmith concentrated on NASCAR Grand National competition with only an occasional USAC stock car appearance until he retired from driving during the 1969 season. Goldsmith, 90, a longtime pilot, owns and operates a small regional airport, the Griffith-Merrillville Airport south of Chicago will be inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame on May 26.