WDW running show 98-01-20

OVER 60 HISTORIC CARS GET RUNNING TIME AT DISNEY Lake Buena Vista, FL, January 20, 1998 - On a beautiful, warm, and sunny Tuesday at the Walt Disney World Speedway over sixty vintage racers from all disciplines of the sport gathered...


Lake Buena Vista, FL, January 20, 1998 - On a beautiful, warm, and sunny Tuesday at the Walt Disney World Speedway over sixty vintage racers from all disciplines of the sport gathered Tuesday to put on a running show on the one mile oval.

Host for the meet was the Kruse Auction Company which is conducting a car auction this week at the Sports Complex. The principal club involved was the Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association and its secretary, Dee Hoersting, graciously provided a list of the over thirty club members participating. The other half of the field arrived at the invitation of the Kruse company.

There was no publicist present and no one created an entry list however after 3 1/2 hours of friendly talk we were able to put together some interesting facts on several of the entries..

The field was broken into eight classes to simplify control and afford better viewing by the limited number of spectators who showed up. Running time was strictly controlled and limited to 75 MPH. First out were the midgets, followed by sprints, champ cars/formula 1, stock cars, full bodied sports cars, open wheel sports cars, three wheeled Morgans, and model A's.

Jim Hoersting of South Daytona brought his #1 roadster midget, the only roadster midget built by legendary Indy car builder Floyd Trevis. Jim developed an oil leak and had his running time curtailed.

Gene and Randy Erickson of Monsey, NY brought the famous Jerry Willets #31 Offenhauser called Sugar Blues and it looked just like it did in pre-war days.

Brian Johnson of Daytona had his beautiful, crimson red #2 Frank Curtis built Kurtis Kraft kit-car from 1948. The car was first driven at Freeport, NY by Steve McGrath of New Caanan, CT. This car was also driven by Phil Walters, alias Ted Tappet, the pre-war driver who survived war injuries because a German doctor who was a race fan in the U.S. and seen him drive recognized Walters as Ted Tappet and rendered extraordinary medical care to see to his recovery. More on this car in a separate article.

Bud Styles of South Miami showed off his resplendent, yellow, Miller which ran at Indianapolis in 1934 and owned by Art Sparks. The cockpit of this most excellent racer has been graced by Wilbur Shaw, Kelly Petillo, and Louie Meyer. The classic Miller ran as a sprint car in the midwest. At some point driver Bob Carey lost his life in the machine. Styles received many invitations to exhibit this immaculately prepared champ car with a 270 cubic inch motor originally built by Joe Gemsa.

It isn't the most mechanically significant race car but its authenticity earns it a place in the spotlight--the 1937 Ford Sedan #13X of Bill Yerger of Lakeland, FL--which raced in Pennsylvania from '52 to '57. The lime green flat head tall bodied car won 43 features in his history and cost a whopping $700 to build.

All eyes were on the pristine #12 Dean Van Lines Indy roadster owned and shown by Vic Yerardi of Westin, Mass. This classic vehicle is most representative of the speedway style roadster, built by legendary A.J. Watson, and acclaimed in art circles as having the most beautiful race car lines ever created. Watson, today, is busier than ever building copies of his own design for collectors.

One of the most interesting entries, the original aluminum bodied Bugatti notwithstanding, was the 1923 Indianapolis Mercedes brought by veteran collector Bob McConnell of Urbana, Ohio.

The machine was driven at Indy in '23 by Christian Lautenschlager with Jacob Kraus crouched in as riding mechanic. In 1934 the car was custom converted by Zumback Motors in NYC to a dual purpose car and fitted with a Miller engine purchased directly from the dean of race engines himself. At one time the chassis may have been owned by Ralph DePalma. The car was entered in the Vanderbilt Cup at Roosevelt Raceway in New York in 1937 but was not run because the owner had another car he felt was more suited to that circuit. The red painted beauty was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1937.

What a rare treat to experience such a hands-on opportunity to see so many collector cars on parade on a January day in Florida.

by Len in Indy

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Series Vintage
Drivers Brian Johnson