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roadster era short tracks

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  • roadster era short tracks

    Back in the roadster era were there any tracks under 1 mile that the roadsters regularly raced on? I don't mean one-offs on track, (which I know happened) but regular or semi-regular appearances at tracks under one mile.
    Get off my lawn!

  • #2
    Originally posted by julesgoux2 View Post
    Back in the roadster era were there any tracks under 1 mile that the roadsters regularly raced on? I don't mean one-offs on track, (which I know happened) but regular or semi-regular appearances at tracks under one mile.
    Championship Dirt Cars ran on the 1/2 dirt track at Williams Grove, PA from 1949 thru 1959. And there was a one off race in 1956 at Dayton, Ohio. In both cases the teams ran dirt cars and not roadsters. Rules in both AAA and later USAC specified that Championship cars had to run on tracks of at least one mile in length. The races held at Williams Grove and Dayton were not part of the Championship series and paid no points.

    So to answer your question there were no tracks shorter than one mile on which any roadsters were raced.

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    • #3
      67bellevillesaldanavl.jpgSorry Randall, but I think you are forgetting something... 😉

      1960s-greg-weld-with-his-roadster-sprint-car-before-an-imcasanctioned-picture-id108969975?s=612x612.jpg

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      • #4
        Top picture - The Mechanical Rabbit.

        Story:

        https://www.museumofamericanspeed.co...calrabbit.html

        That picture is in the info board to the left on the wall behind the car at the Museum Of American Speed in Lincoln.

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        • #5
          I took the question to be solely about USAC Championship level racing and that pointing out all the roadster-style cars competing in sprint car races, let alone older cars converted into super modifieds might have confused the OP, who likely is in Europe and not remotely as knowledgeable as fellow European Michael Or, wait, is Michael that funny little British guy? I seem to recall reading that somewhere on the internet
          "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JThur1 View Post
            I took the question to be solely about USAC Championship level racing and that pointing out all the roadster-style cars competing in sprint car races, let alone older cars converted into super modifieds might have confused the OP, who likely is in Europe and not remotely as knowledgeable as fellow European Michael Or, wait, is Michael that funny little British guy? I seem to recall reading that somewhere on the internet
            Actually I am in the USA and have been for 70 years. I did not mean sprints or modifieds. I seem to recall a picture I saw once of a roadster on dirt. Now most tracks under a mile are or were dirt. But why limit my question to just dirt tracks? I know that there must have been any number of one-offs. But was there any under one mile tracks that regularly saw roadsters?
            Get off my lawn!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by julesgoux2 View Post
              Actually I am in the USA and have been for 70 years. I did not mean sprints or modifieds. I seem to recall a picture I saw once of a roadster on dirt. Now most tracks under a mile are or were dirt. But why limit my question to just dirt tracks? I know that there must have been any number of one-offs. But was there any under one mile tracks that regularly saw roadsters?
              Oh, well, never mind then : There seems to be a lot of European interest in U.S. championship racing, and I know from past experiences how much confusion it causes to bring up super modifieds 😁.

              It was rare, but there was a time or two when roadsters ran (or attempted to run) AAA/USAC Championship races on the 1-mile dirt ovals. I don't know the exact number, but I recall photos of Johnny Fedricks in a Kurtis roadster on dirt at Springfield, and I believe he ran a few more. I seem to recall one other Kurtis attempting a dirt mile.

              This is by no means a comprehensive rundown, there might have been other isolated cases.

              Under a mile? No. As indyrjc pointed out, AAA/USAC didn't compete on tracks under a mile in length aside from the non-championship races at Williams Grove and one at Dayton. The upright-style dirt cars were used in those races.
              "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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              • #8
                You might be interested in this book.

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                • #9
                  Look up Johnny Boyd, 1957 Phoenix 100. Geroge Bignotti's car. He led the race even.
                  "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved
                  body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting
                  "...holy $^!+...what a ride!"
                  >

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                  • #10
                    Not trying to hijack the thread but about 20 years ago I bought a paperback titled Indy 500 Mechanic (?) by a Clint Brawner (?) that went back to the dirt tracks. There was one in particular that was extremely dangerous, not an oval in the classic sense but a round configuration. What was it?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Niseguy View Post
                      Look up Johnny Boyd, 1957 Phoenix 100. Geroge Bignotti's car. He led the race even.
                      You are correct. Boyd drove roadsters on the dirt miles more successfully than anyone else in more than one season. Sat on the front row before finishing 3rd in the race that you mention.

                      The very first driver to try a roadster on a dirt mile was Bill Vukovich in 1952. He and Travers and Coon took the Fuel Injection Special to Springfield but missed the show and never tried to run dirt with the car again.

                      I had to look it up but there were actually quite a few attempts on mile dirt tracks with roadsters. Mostly they were DNQs but some like Boyd did manage to actually race. . Here's a quick list in no particular order. I'm sure I missed some others. Drivers that I found who at least attempted to qualify Indy roadsters on dirt include (in addition to Boyd) Pat Flaherty, Tony Bettenhausen (for both John Zink and Fred Gerhardt), Jack Turner, Pat O'Connor, Bill Cheesbourg, Johnny Fedricks, Dempsey Wilson, Jimmy Reece, Ernie Koch, Herb Hill, Harry Beck, Bob Cleberg, Norm Hall, Bruce Jacobi, Tommy Copp, Al Pombo, Ray Crawford, George Morris, Ralph Ligouri, Gary Congdon, and a couple of drivers new to me which are Luther Baughman (in a Kurtis 500A) and Willard Cantrell.

                      Like I said there are probably others. For the most part most of these attempts were in older roadsters without much of a chance to be competitive. However, Boyd's success came when driving for George Bignotti who was also the car owner (or co-owner) and went to great lengths to save the expense of running a dirt car in addition to his roadster. The Bignotti roadster had some dirt track tricks that included running a torque arm setup which helped the car to gain traction coming off of the corners. Bignotti's roadster was the only one that was ever really competitive at all on dirt but even he eventually went back to a specialized dirt car when the series ran on the mile dirt tracks.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sportscar _Bruce View Post
                        Not trying to hijack the thread but about 20 years ago I bought a paperback titled Indy 500 Mechanic (?) by a Clint Brawner (?) that went back to the dirt tracks. There was one in particular that was extremely dangerous, not an oval in the classic sense but a round configuration. What was it?
                        Langhorne

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                        • #13
                          I seem to recall Bob Cleberg putting a roadster on pole once, but generally Randall's right, as a rule they didn't work very well on dirt. And all of this doesn't really address the OP's question, as he was specifically asking about "regular or semi-regular appearances at tracks under one mile", and that he "did not mean sprints or modifieds". So, basically he's asking about mice on Mars.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Niseguy View Post
                            Look up Johnny Boyd, 1957 Phoenix 100. Geroge Bignotti's car. He led the race even.
                            Yes, that's the other one I recall seeing photos of. Thank you Boyd made some starts on mile dirt ovals in a later Kurtis.

                            I knew I'd seen photos of at least one other roadster on the dirt miles, which is why I wrote: "This is by no means a comprehensive rundown, there might have been other isolated cases."

                            I was going solely OTTOMH without looking anything up, because as Michael has pointed out, the original poster asked specifically about roadsters racing regularly on tracks under a mile in length, which didn't happen. The only time Championship cars ran on tracks under a mile in length during the roadster era was, as mentioned above by indyrjc, Williams Grove and Dayton (with Dayton being once only). And no roadsters ran in those races. So, a moot point.

                            I'm guilty of not looking up something someone wasn't asking about
                            "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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                            • #15
                              And then there's Lloyd Ruby in his funny rear engine car thinking he could keep up with Mario at the 1968 Hoosier 100. It didn't work.

                              Andretti Ruby DNQ.jpg

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