Mexico, NY - Supermodified owner and builder, Steve Miller has a chance coming up on May 24 to do what many just dream of. He will pilot a race car around the famed Brickyard. Steve's ride is not quite what Al Unser or Greg Ray have under them,...
Mexico, NY - Supermodified owner and builder, Steve Miller has a chance coming up on May 24 to do what many just dream of. He will pilot a race car around the famed Brickyard. Steve's ride is not quite what Al Unser or Greg Ray have under them, but it's something he prizes highly. Steve has been asked to drive one of the famed Indy roadsters which he has restored over the years at Carburetion Day activities Thursday, prior to the Indy 500. Carburetion Day provides the only test and tune situation during the week between finally qualifying and race day.
Thousands of fans will be on hand to watch as Steve, a Mexico, NY resident, joins a parade of former Indy machines travelling around the famed Indiana speedway. He'll be in the #1 Kaiser Aluminum Special in which Rodger Ward drove to a fourth place 500 finish in 1963. Ward's roadster carries the #1 as he was National Champ in 1962, earning him that honor.
Miller, a veteran of 30 years of driving, owning and building supermodifieds, has always had a passion for the beautiful Indy roadsters which basically in the early 1960' brought about the evolution of the supermodifieds as we know them today. They met their demise at the Brickyard with the inception of the rear engine cars. Many of the roadsters then found their way to supermodified owners and drivers who quickly transformed them into competitive cars. "The first frame I bought when I started racing was from Jack Murphy, my second was an Indy roadster which I got from Ron Buckner," said Miller. The love affair started there. If you look at Miller's uniquely designed number 16 supermodifieds today, you can see that love is still reflected in the cars.
Steve got involved with mid-westerner Bob McConnell, the man who now owns the machine Miller will be driving May 24 way back. McConnell owns a museum in Ohio which houses one of the largest privately owned race car collections in the country and he's had Steve do a lot of the restorations and hunting for him. "I got hooked up with Bob twenty to twenty five years ago," said Steve from his automotive business in Mexico last week. "He found out I knew where a lot of the old cars were. He had a big trailer and the money, so off we would go buying up cars all across the country. Right now I've got three more in my garage to restore. My basement is stuffed with others. I've got Todd Gibson's famed Flintstone Flyer, Nick Virgo's old roadster, Gordie Dukes' car - the list goes on."
Miller has been restoring old roadsters for approximately 10 years now. He has done 8-10 of them, three of which will be on the track Thursday when the vintage cars take to the speedway. On Fan Day at the track, Wednesday May 23, all the restored cars will be on display for fans to view and Steve will be beside his to answer any questions.
Steve is now also working on another exciting project. "Brock Yates called me recently. He is getting together a New York State Museum on racing in Saratoga, New York," said Steve. "They're working on getting together cars from all aspects of racing related to New York State, from the local to the international level. New York has contributed to the Indy 500 on more than one occasion, for instance, with car builder Norm Demmler coming from Tonawada and New Yorker Tassi Vatis owned the #94 car that Bentley ran in USAC and Indy. And, there are more."
Steve has some contributions to make to the museum. "I have the old Nolan Swift roadster which was so successful. Norris McDonald had it and I finally got it from him.
Miller has had the likes of Dean Hoag, Joe Paeno, Ron Wallace and John Payne driving for him over the years, will borrow a firesuit from his current driver, Randy Ritskes. He'll have to get it back real quick though, as Randy will be competing in the Jim Shampine Memorial 50's at Oswego Speedway on Saturday, May 26 and he just might need it!