Lesovsky Indy Roadster

1949 Lesovsky-Offenhauser

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 17-18, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Classic race cars take a special breed of person. They’re high-maintenance cars and you can’t exactly take them to the local cruise-in. And the older they are, the crazier they can be. Before big money moved in, there were a lot of people with a lot of different ideas building cars that ran within inches of each other. They were individuals, not spec cars. And because of that, old race cars are awesome.

This car was built by Lujie Lesovsky’s L.A. Lesovsky Race Car Engineering, an open-wheel race car constructor active from the late-1940s through the early-1960s. It’s a short-wheelbase car powered by a Meyer-Drake Offenhauser inline-four making 300 horsepower. 

The racing history for this chassis includes:

  • 1948 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ
  • 1949 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd, with George Connor
  • 1950 Indianapolis 500 – 8th, with George Connor
  • 1951 Indianapolis 500 – 30th, with George Connor
  • 1952 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bill Taylor
  • 1953 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bill Taylor
  • 1954 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bob Christie

Well there you have it – three Indy 500 starts with a podium finish. The car was also raced in period by Bill Holland and Len Sutton, the latter of which wrecked the car in a race in 1955. After that, it never raced competitively again. It was preserved and later restored to its “Blue Crown Special” livery.

This Offy-powered Lesovsky is one of very few such cars that survive today. They don’t change hands often, but when they do the prices make you take note. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Rounds Rocket

1949 Rounds Rocket

Offered by RM Auctions, Boca Raton, Florida, February 25, 2012

This beastly mid-engined Indy car was built by Indy car-building legends Lujie Lesovsky & Emil Diedt for a man named Nathan Rounds, who provided the funding and the original drawing of the car that he modeled after the brilliant pre-war Auto Unions.

Because both Diedt and Lesovsky were busy building their own successful race cars, this car was barely ready for the 1949 Indy 500 where it as entered with Bill Taylor as the driver. He did not qualify. In 1950 both Sam Hanks and Bill Vukovich gave the car a run and failed to make the show. Bill Vukovich was a man among men at Indianapolis and – even though 1950 was his rookie year – if he couldn’t get the car in, there was scarcely hope.

Intrigue: Nathan Rounds was close friends with Howard Hughes and it is suspected that Hughes money was behind the project. After failing to make Indy in 1950 the car was shipped to Beverly Hills where it sat in storage, although it did appear in a Mickey Rooney film in 1949.

Bill Harrah (of course) discovered the car in 1969 and bought it. When his collection was parted out the car was purchased and restored and eventually purchased by the Milhous Collection in 1998.

Here is your chance to purchase a car that was extremely ahead of its time. Indy cars would be front-engined for at least another 10 years and here was this brilliant car that had come along and said “the way of the future” (that’s a Howard Hughes quote from The Aviator).

It features an Meyer-Drake Offenhauser straight-four engine (naturally), making about 350 horsepower. It’s fast too – it was tested at Bonneville after it was completed and was clocked at 140 mph. The no reserve pre-sale estimate is $250,000-$350,000. For the complete catalog description, click here and for the rest of the collection click here.

Update: Sold $275,000.