Racing at the State Fair in Iowa 1938
These are so fun - number 2 on the inside is drifting perfectly and laying on throttle, right behind inside number 2 better be starting his counter-steer if he doesn't want to eat the fence. I bet these guys are FLYING.
This and a bunch of other really cool old pictures are up at National Geographic.
There was a dirt track racer for sale (Illinois I think) several years ago I was really interested in. It ran tracks in the mid to late thirties, and looked like these. At the time, I wanted a T racer for my next car.
I'd still love to have one, however a Model K Ford ended all hopes for such a toy.
Thanks for the great pic, an NG link,
Rob, if the K you are talking about is the blue one I saw on here, that thing is SWEET!! Plus, you can take several people along for the ride.
Other than the Montanna 500, are there any speedster races that happen every year? After I get my Warford installed I really want to race somebody.
Speedway Motors in Lincoln NE sponsor a "Speedster Reunion" every other year. This is the year, and it's a great event, with Model T and A speedsters from all over attending. They also hold a hill climb (great to watch) and dyno testing during the event. Participants also receive an tour of the "Smith's" Museum of Speed (an incredible museum with early racing displays, including many many Model T racers and engines).
I think it's in June. I'll try to find the link unless someone beats me to it.....
Seth, The Montana 500 is not a speedster run. They run mostly stock full fenderd cars with only a few minor upgrades allowed. The cars used in the race are generally runabouts.
Hey Mike, I knew that was a pretty hardcore "stock" race. It's just the only one I know about at all.
There are a variety of speedster endurance runs but they are distinctly not races to avoid insurance and legal issues that could be prohibitive. They are timed rallies where being early usually incurs a greater penalty than being late. That doesn't mean that some folks don't get a bit spirited on occasion if they feel they need to make up time because of a wrong turn or whatever. Reckless driving is highly frowned on for the events I've attended. All of these that I know of are in the western states. Maybe the folks east of the Mississippi need to think about putting a run together. I'm sure the groups on the west coast would be glad to share info about how they do things out here.
Heck yeah! I can see it now, "The East Coast Endurance Run" where the only rule is no 'stock' cars allowed!! Lol. It won't happen any time soon, but I'll figure out a way to put it together. Heck, we might even need to set up "Seth's Speed Shop" where you can show up and buy easy-to-install upgrades like hotter carbs, dropped front axles, Z heads, wire wheels, fresh coils, or maybe you just need some aviator goggles and leather hat to feel fast.
If we did it somewhere like Charlotte, NC - hotels would be easy, we might even convince the Charlotte Motor Speedway to let folks clock some laps. From Charlotte it's pretty easy to get out to some back country roads pretty quick, both flat areas and hills for the endurance run.
My preference is endurance runs and touring but some folks really enjoy the idea of time on a track.
Are there still any small dirt tracks around? Possibly some that have races for vintage sprint or midget race cars? They might make provisions for some practice time on the track and / or some demonstration runs of T speedsters during part of their events. Might be worth checking into if there are other similar minded speedster folks in the general area.
About forty years ago, one weekend each July, was held the Calistoga Classics dirt track race reenactments. At a reunion gathering a couple years ago, it was universally stated that those meets were the most fun ever had in antique cars.
The track is a half mile oval commonly used for modern sprint cars. at that time, the track record for a modern sprint car was about 25 seconds. The average modern sprint car was running between 27 and 29 seconds. The faster model Ts were running under 34 seconds, not a lot slower than the average sprint car and better even than the slowest sprint cars running in actual races. Nearly half the Ts were running on wood wheels and drifting in the turns.
In one set up race, Vic Sala was to beat a modern sprint car as the sprint car spun out in the last turn. The sprint car driver was the track speed record holder (at that time, he had just lost his first place spot and was technically second). After the run, in which Vic narrowly passed the spinning sprint car, the amazed modern driver kept saying "I thought I would leave him way behind and have lots of room to spin the (his) car out so he could pass. But I couldn't get away from him! He was right on my tail the whole time (three laps)!
Vic had been a semi professional race driver in the '30s and later and really knew how to drive.
A couple years later, Vic completed the restoration of an original Fronty Ford back to about 1929 configuration. Special arrangements were made for him to do a couple timed laps during a halftime show for an actual race event. His official time for one lap was 27 seconds! (Right in there with the average sprint car times, these were big engine cars with big racing tires!)
Sometimes I wonder if this is why most of the rest of my life has been so messed up by family. I had way too much for fun for about four years!
There are a number of annual Endurance Runs in the West. The Santa Clara Valley Model T Ford Club holds their Grandaddy of them all event usually the second week in June. This is the one with more strict rules about authenticity. The Northwest vintage group holds events usually in Oregon or Washington. I don't know who sponsers it, however there is usually a meet in Southern Califunny or Arizona.
I have also read of some speedster events in the Midwest, but do not know anything about them.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Being from Iowa, this is a neat pic.
seth and I are both in the NC region of HCCA. Seth, I am spitballing ideas for a tour in the next 2-3 years. I already have ideas for where to host a hillclimb and a dirt track lap time. You know charlie will bring his Essex speedster!
Is that the gray one with the black roll bar ?
Neat picture Seth. Google Montana 500 and you can bring up the rules. They always welcome new people and are a great bunch of guys that are willing to help. Don't expect to have them give you all their secrets though. The picture is a late 20's early 30's car. It is not in the same league as the one that was auctioned of that Rob is talking about, but fun to drive.
The 10th Speedster Rally will be held in Chesterfield, Missouri on June 13-15. One of the days they will tour to a dirt track on the south side of St Louis. I assume they will be able to drive the track, but at what speed I do not know.
Can't do both, so I will be in Lincoln the week after. Wish I was retired and could do both speedster events.
I'd love to be able to build a "just to race in the Montanna 500" car. Of course if I could do that I'd have a TT and all kinds of other goodies. I have some ideas myself but haven't read the rule book very closely.
Nathan, I'm all for putting together a big time speedster event. Lets make it happen.
At Rendezvous days in Eureka, MT they have been giving "Barnyard Cruiser" demonstrations the past few years. "Barnyard Cruisers" are essentially really low bucks speedsters, although some of them are kinda cute. The "races" are all staged, but the crowd doesn't know it, which makes it exciting. Last year the track was rough and one of the cars bucked off a driver and took off across the back-stretch. Luckily there were no observers on the back stretch. The car must have had a foot feed because it didn't take them too long to track it down. The other drivers were skillful and vigilant enough to avoid running over the guy on the track, which he appreciated.
Well, as you might expect, people get worried and thoughts go through their head "what if this? what if that?" Next thing you know a bunch of people are worried about getting sued, and probably rightfully so. Too bad, in my opinion.
First, I am laughing hard at that tale of the car that took off on its own! Thank you. I needed that.
Second. Our experience with the races about forty years ago was that all the races started off as staged. The first problem was when the fellow that was to win broke down. Then everything broke down.
After that, we had good gentlemen's agreements to not "race" and to keep good spacing. That worked well for three years. After that, the fourth year, things started getting a bit too close. There was one serious close call, the result of a broken tie rod. But in all four years, no one was hurt. No car suffered a serious breakdown requiring more than a couple weekends of repair work.
There were nearly a hundred people involved. Pretty much all of us saw where it would end up. We discussed it a lot, for months, in groups large and small. Most people agreed. It was some of the most fun they had ever had. But it was time to end that level of risk. A few people tried to keep the real competitions going. I would have considered running under the right conditions, but those conditions never came along.
There are some "Historic Races" events run since and now, that I would like to become a part of, but my circumstances have not been too cooperative. People I know that were involved in the Calistoga Classic and now run the Historic Races say there is little comparison, however the Historic Races are still great!
I would still love to run some laps on a good dirt track. I sometimes wonder if I could sneak onto the local fairgrounds for a quick run (they sometimes leave the gates open during the week when they think nobody is looking), but their track is too small to be any fun.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
If the gates open.............
Here is a modern picture of the Ed Winfield two up two down racer that whupped the D O Frontenacs at Ascot in the late 20's. That number on the side was earned.
Frank, is that an updraft carb I see???
Any idea what the fastest strait away time of a Model T racer is?
Joel Young did over 200 on the Salt Flats with a T block streamliner.
Thank you. Talk about mixing old with the new.....
Did it have a water pump?