Indianapolis: First Pontiac to run at U.S Nationals

First Pontiac Race Car To Be Featured At U.S. Nationals INDIANAPOLIS, August 20, 2002 - Pontiac's earliest known race car, a 1926 boat-tail racer affectionately called "Hill Climber" by owner/driver Arnold Landvoigt, will be on display...

First Pontiac Race Car To Be Featured At U.S. Nationals

INDIANAPOLIS, August 20, 2002 - Pontiac's earliest known race car, a 1926 boat-tail racer affectionately called "Hill Climber" by owner/driver Arnold Landvoigt, will be on display September 1-2, at the 48th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

"This car is significant because it is documented as Pontiac's earliest race car," said Landvoigt, an avid automobile enthusiast who, with wife Lois, make their home in Savage, Md. "It is also one of only a limited number of Pontiacs of any sort surviving from the initial production year of 1926. Since we purchased Hill Climber back in 1997, we've worked to build the history of the vehicle along with restoring its resemblance to the original race car."

The Hill Climber originally was a two-door sedan that was partially destroyed in a fire in Utica, N.Y. in early 1926. The car was rebuilt into an open, boat-tailed racer to compete in local hill climbs, which were important publicity opportunities for car dealerships because they demonstrated an automobile's ability to negotiate long, steep, curvy roads. It was not unusual for hill climbs to attract as many as 20,000 spectators for an event.

On August 14, 1926, Pontiac Hill Climber competed for the first time in Sherrill, N.Y., and won first in its class, taking two trophies and a $20 cash prize. Hill Climber repeated its success at the same event a year later in 1927, and continued to be raced in the Utica area until the 1930s.

In the summer of 2001, Hill Climber was repainted to its original white color scheme with its original sponsor, the "McRorie - Sautter" Pontiac-Oakland dealership name on the sides. The Pontiac Chief head profile and the slogan, "Pontiac, Chief of the Sixes" were restored to the rear sides of the rear deck. Simple leather covered seat cushions and wooden artillery wheels bring the car back to its original race configuration. Landvoigt and his wife Lois accentuate this classic period piece by dressing the part in 1920s-era garb. Documentation of the history of the 1926 Pontiac Hill Climber was certified by the Antique Automobile Club of America in 1999.

"Arnold has done a wonderful job of helping to preserve the history of Pontiac Racing," said Fred Simmonds, GM marketing manager of drag racing. "We're proud to have Hill Climber as a part of our 2002 U.S. Nationals Pontiac Racing display. The Hill Climber will give race fans a taste of the proud heritage of Pontiac Motorsports and show how far we've come in our 76 year history."

The 1926 Pontiac Hill Climber will be on display at the Pontiac-GMC display on the NHRA Manufacturer's Midway.

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Series NHRA