1950 Hillegass Midget Racer
Hiram Hillegass began building race cars in 1919 while working at Mack in Allentown, Pennsylvania. By the time he died in 1960, at the age of 65, he was recognized as one of the foremost builders of single seat race cars in the United States. Following the war, both car builders and racers looked for an alternative to the recycled production car frames that had been the basis of many pre-war cars. Many of these individuals had worked in the aircraft and defense industries during the war, and brought from it some lessons.
Car builders began to use large diameter, high strength steel tubing for frame rails. Rigid, rugged, and straightforward to build and repair, these tube frames caught on quickly. Hillegass quickly realized the practicality of frames made from lightweight, strong tubing, and quickly developed his own design which he offered as a chassis and body package for $925. The buyer had to provide their own engine and driveline. The first three tube frame Hillegass sprint cars were built in 1949. Three more were built in 1950.
1950 Kurtis-Kraft Midget Racer
Frank Kurtis is a very well-known builder of race cars. His infatuation with automobiles began at an early age. His father owned a blacksmith shop located in Pueblo, Colorado, that repaired automobiles and horse-and-buggies. The family later moved to Los Angeles, where Frank began designing, building, and repairing racers in a four car garage behind their home. During the 1940’s, Kurtis fostered a reputation for his midget and Indy racers.
In 1946, the Kurtis Miller Ross Page Special had been created, and was ready to compete in the first Indy 500 since World War II. By 1947 he had created the Kurtis-Kraft Special, his personal entrant in the 1948 Indy race. George Shilala was plant foreman at the Kurtis-Kraft plant between 1945 and 1953, when he left to start his own company. The chassis that Shilala produced for this car was virtually identical to the stock Kurtis-Kraft chassis, with only subtle differences. It is believed that this car was driven by Johnny Rutherford in 1963, during the early part of his career.
1949 Hillegass Midget Racer
Hiram Hillegass began building race cars in 1919 while working at Mack in Allentown, Pennsylvania. By the time he died in 1960, at the age of 65, he was recognized as one of the foremost builders of single seat race cars in the United States. The midgets of Hiram Hillegass were quite reliable, and it is not surprising that the drivers who survived racing his cars turned to him for bigger cars which were then simply known as "Big Cars."
These cars carried bigger engines, campaigned on larger tracks, and each year adjourned to Indianapolis during the month of May for the Indy 500. This car has an extensive race history, having raced on the East Coast in the Amateurs Racing Drivers Club, and the National Midget Association. This car was most recently raced by Tommy Caruso, a race enthusiast from Massachusetts, between 1982 and 1987.
1947 hillegass Midget Racer
Hiram Hillegass began building race cars in 1919 while working at Mack in Allentown, Pennsylvania. By the time he died in 1960, at the age of 65, he was recognized as one of the foremost builders of single seat race cars in the United States. He was elected to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1997. Hillegass is probably best known for his midgets, which he began building as the racing boom took off in the 1930’s. Midgets, as builders like Frank Kurtis and Pop Dreyer proved, were a viable business, and Hillegass approached them as such.
Hillegass went to the extent of investing in cast iron bucks over which he could accurately, quickly, and repeatedly form the complex body panels that clothed his creations. Racers earned their living with the diminutive but shapely single-seaters, sometimes racing every evening of the week during the season, and twice or more a day on weekends. The cars and their engines had to be quick enough to command appearance money, bring home prize money regularly, and stand up to constant use and competition.
1947 Hillegas-Style Midget Racer
Weight: 1,125 lbs
Maximum Speed: 75+MPH
Engine: Early Ford flathead V-8, 136 cubic inch
Transmission: In-out, manual shift
This midget racer is an excellent example of a running midget racer which has composed almost entirely of vintage racing parts. Under the hood are: Offenhauser water manifolds, twin Stromberg carburetors and an Eddie Meyer intake manifold. All three of these are legendary racing manufacturers.
Offenhauser, in addition to making complete racing engines, manufactured high quality racing components for other engines. The Stromberg 81 carburetors are highly sought after in the racing circuit. This model carburetor has a smaller 85 cubic feet per minute rating, which is better matched to the smaller Ford flathead engine in this racer. Eddie Meyer was well known for building race cars and speed equipment for lake and oval circuit racing in the 40’s and 50’. In particular his equipment for Ford flat heads was highly sought after.
This car also has some interesting features which are common to midget racers. The 12" long cylinder with a knob which is at the side of the driver cockpit is a fuel pump. Because the racer does not have a charged electrical system, the manual pump was used to pressurize the fuel tank, thus forcing fuel to the carburetors. The nearby long chrome handle with a red button is a manual brake lever, which was necessary because there is no brake pedal. The red button on the handle is a kill switch that shuts off the magneto electrical system. Drivers would often hold this button down while the engine was being started to give time for oil pressure to build up in the engine. Upon release, the engine could then start. This was also used to shut off the engine. This is an excellent example of a race-ready car!
1947 Midget Racer Kurtis Copy
Weight: 1,225 lbs
Maximum Speed: 75+MPH
Engine: Ford V-8
Transmission: In-out manual shift
This midget racer was recently restored with paint, chrome and engine work. This is an excellent example of an automobile which was constructed to replicate an original Kurtis racer.
The in out transmission was typical of midget racers. It is simply a mechanical coupler between the engine and rear axle. This drive train has no clutch and allows the car to be push-started when the transmission is engaged. As a result this transmission allows the elimination of weight normally required for clutch, flywheel, starter motor and battery. This push start process works well because midget races are typically short with no need for pit stops.
This particular racer was rebuilt with the intention to actively participate in vintage racing events. In fact, this car was recently raced for 6 six years in the western vintage race car circuit. Rich Mastroleo, whose name is painted on this car is a Board Member of the Western Racing Association and is believed to have raced this car during many of those years in various midget races.
1940 Flat Tail Sprint Car
Length: 14' -11"
Weight: 2,100 lbs
Maximum Speed: 100+MPH
Engine: Ford Model 'B"
Transmission: Model "A"
This sprint racer was raced in the 1940’s by Fritz Tegtmeier, a well known driver who was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Midget Auto Racing Museum. The car was driven primarily in the Midwest.
Sprint car racing really had its beginning in the years following World War I. The racing before then was mostly with larger cars that were primarily modified stock cars. Initially these larger racers were called "big cars" or "dirt track cars". It wasn’t until the late 1940’s that the term "Sprint Racer" was coined. Sprint car racing typically came to the rural areas with competition on oval county fair horse tracks using machines built from stripped Model A and B and T Fords which were plentiful at the time.
This car was recently restored to museum quality and is still in running condition. The chrome grill shell, hand painted gold leaf lettering and 16" Rudge wire wheels give the car a striking appearance and sense of proportion.
1972 Quarter Midget Dirt Track Car
- Chevrolet Cosworth Engine
- Hilborn fuel injection
- Hunt magneto
- Quick change rear end
- Onboard starter and battery
- Fire extinguisher
- Schroeder steering box