Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | May 13-21, 2022
Russ Snowberger competed in 15 Indianapolis 500s as a driver between 1928 and 1947 with one pole position and a best finish of fifth (two years in a row). He was the king of the “junk formula” that debuted in the 1930s that required stock-ish engine blocks.
He built and entered some of his own cars, including this Hupmobile-powered roadster. After his career as a driver ended, he became the chief mechanic for the Federal Engineering racing team based in Detroit. This lasted until 1961 and included prepping this Federal Engineering Detroit Special in 1956.
The chassis is based on a Kurtis 500C, and it’s powered by a 4.2-liter Offenhauser inline-four. No specific competition history is listed, but it was driven in period by Tony Bettenhausen, George Amick, Billy Garrett, and Tom Pistone. It’s currently owned by Ray Evernham, who is thinning his collection a bit at Mecum in Indy. Click here for more info.
Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 13-14, 2021
When it comes to classic Indy cars, not much beats a Kurtis-Offenhauser. The 500C was introduced either in late 1953 or early 1954. Only nine were built. Despite their build date, the cars were raced for years at Indianapolis – as late as about 1959.
This particular car is interesting in that it started out as a 500C that debuted at the Speedway in 1954. It ran there through 1957, including:
1956 Indianapolis 500 – 8th (with Rodger Ward)
After 1957, it was sold to a different team, who had Eddie Kuzma cut the car up and update it with Kuzma parts. At that time, the Kurtis chassis was discarded and ultimately purchased by someone who would go on to have it restored in the 1980s to as it was in 1956. So, from that first original car, there are now two cars, one of which is still a Kurtis. Kind of weird, but that’s what happens.
Power is from a 4.2-liter (255ci) Offenhauser inline-four estimate to produce 400 horsepower with Hilborn mechanical fuel injection. The car is expected to sell for between $250,000-$450,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 12-14, 2021
Wayne Ewing worked for A.J. Watson in the body department, and in 1960 he designed and built his own Indy Roadster. The car would be sponsored by long-time open-wheel team owner Al Dean, owner of moving company Dean Van Lines. His race cars were dubbed “Dean Van Lines Specials” and driven by some pretty big names, including A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.
This car was similar to the dominating Watsons of the era, but had some slight differences. It featured a 4.1-liter (252ci) Offenhauser inline-four mounted ahead of the driver. This car went out and won the pole for the 1960 Indy 500 in its first try. Its competition history includes:
1960 Indianapolis 500 – 21st, DNF (with Eddie Sachs)
1961 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Sachs)
1962 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd (with Sachs)
1963 Indianapolis 500 – 8th (with Chuck Hulse)
That’s a pretty impressive Brickyard resume, especially considering it won the pole in ’61 as well. After 1963, the car remained in the Midwest, where it was modified into a super modified. It wasn’t until nearly 1980 that a future owner realized what the car actually was and set out to restore it. The engine is now a 4.4-liter (270ci) Offy.
This car has participated in many shows and events and has had two long-term owners since 1982. The auction catalog lists this as a “1961” – it was apparently restored to its 1961 spec. Anyway, you can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020
Quin Epperly is another legendary mid-century name associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His cars first showed up at the 500 in 1955 and would continue to run there until the mid-engined revolution took hold.
This car is another Offy-powered roadster, originally equipped with a 255ci inline-four. The competition history for this chassis includes:
1961 Indianapolis 500 – 33rd, DNF (with Don Branson)
1962 Indianapolis 500 – 5th (with Bobby Marshman)
1963 Indianapolis 500 – 28th, DNF (with Bud Tingelstad)
Like so many other Indy roadsters, it was once part of the Bob McConnell collection for a number of years. It has been restored to its 1962 500 livery. It really looks the part of bad-ass Indy roadster, doesn’t it? The pre-sale estimate is $350,000-$450,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020
Frank Kurtis was a legendary race car designer, and his 500B was an iteration of his earlier 500/500A cars. They first hit the track in about 1953, and they would be competitive for a few years thereafter, although they would eventually be topped by later, greater cars.
It’s powered by an Offenhauser inline-four, and the competition history for this chassis includes:
1953 Indianapolis 500 – 10th (with Jimmy Davies)
1954 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ (with Davies)
1955 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd (with Davies)
1956 Indianapolis 500 – 28th, DNF (with Al Herman)
This car was formerly part of the Bob McConnell collection, and it wears its 1955/1956 “Bardahl Special” livery. Only eight examples of the 500B were built, and this was the last. It’s an Indy podium finisher and is expected to bring between $350,000-$450,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | July 10-18, 2020
Emil Diedt was a California-based fabricator whose name is closely associated with post-war racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This car, the Blue Crown Spark Plugs Special, competed at Indy in four consecutive years, from 1947 through 1950. It’s results were:
1947 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Bill Holland)
1948 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Holland)
1949 Indianapolis 500 – 1st (with Holland)
1950 Indianapolis 500 – 2nd (with Holland)
That’s the mark of a pretty dominant car. It’s powered by a 270ci Offenhauser inline-four that drives the front wheels, thus pulling the car through corners instead of pushing it. This car wears its Indy-winning livery and has spent time in the IMS museum, where it ultimately belongs.
Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | May 12-17, 2020
Frank Kurtis built some spectacular race cars in the 1950s, including this 500H. It was from the later years of Kurtis Indy Roadster production. I’m not really sure how many were produced, but if there were multiple, they were probably built between 1958 and 1960. That’s when they were campaigned.
This car is powered by a 252ci (4.1-liter) Offenhauser inline-four. The Kurtis-Offy was a nearly unbeatable combo at the Brickyard in the ’50s. The competition history for this car includes:
1958 Indy 500 – 23rd, DNF (with Johnny Tomson)
1959 Indy 500 – 7th (with Duane Carter)
1960 Indy 500 – 22nd, DNF (with Don Freeland)
Looking at a bunch of old Indy box scores, it’s possible that this was the only “H” example built. It appears to be the only one to run the 500. You can see more about this car here and more from Mecum here.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020
This car is listed in the auction catalog as a “Silnes-Offenhauser Tomshe.” It was apparently built by Fred Tomshe, but was entered in various races as a Silnes-Offenhauser with Tomshe/Bardahl listed as the entrant. The car was commissioned by gangster George “Babe” Tuffanelli, who was part of the Chicago Outfit.
Power is from a fuel-injected 4.4-liter Offenhauser inline-four. It was entered in the 1951 Indy 500 with driver Ray Knepper, who failed to qualify. It did compete at Milwaukee and Langhorne later that year.
It’s been used at historic events since 2010, including the Monterey Historics. The constructor confusion here could be easily explained by that the possibility that the Tomshe build was based on a Silnes car. Who knows… the people who were there are no longer here. The pre-sale estimate is $125,000-$150,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM at Amelia.
Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 11-19, 2020
Eddie Kuzma built Indy roadsters in the 1950s and early 1960s. Kuzma won the 500 in 1952 with driver Troy Ruttman, the youngest person to ever win the race. Ruttman actually ran this very car at Indy in 1963, where he finished 12th.
This is a “lay-down” Indy roadster, meaning the 4.2-liter Offenhauser engine is laid on its side, protruding from the bodywork. This both reduced drag and increased the left-side weight bias, making it faster around ovals. The car was not used in USAC after 1963 (the rear-engined cars had arrived). Instead, it went east, where it was used as a super modified.
Unfortunately, Ruttman’s son, Troy Jr., was killed driving this car in an accident at Pocono in 1969. The car was purchased by Bob McConnell in 1980 and was restored by a later owner in 2004. The catalog lists this as a 1963 but also states it was built in 1961. Not really sure which is correct. Anyway, it is selling at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | August 31, 2019
Though not as well-known, Quin Epperly is a name that sits right there with Frank Kurtis, A.J. Watson, Eddie Kuzma, and Lujie Lesovsky when it comes to legendary builders of race cars during the “Roadster” era of the Indianapolis 500. Epperly actually worked for Kurtis before opening his own shop in the mid-1950s. His cars appeared at Indy from 1955 through 1960 and beyond.
The history of this car is interesting. Howard Keck had just won two consecutive 500s with Bill Vukovich driving his cars and was going for number three in 1955. Epperly had designed this streamlined special for Vuky to drive, but it wasn’t completed in time for the race. Instead, Vukovich drove a Kurtis for another owner. He was killed while leading the race.
Epperly completed the car with Keck’s help (money) anyway and installed a 385 horsepower, 4.4-liter Offenhauser inline-four instead of the V8 that was originally planned. IMS president Tony Hulman knew of the car and wanted it in the ’56 race, paying the entry fee for it in advance. But with Vukovich’s death, Keck lost all interest in racing and the car ended up stored in his shop until 1985.
The car became more or less legend until it was purchased and restored in 1990. And now it’s being offered for public sale. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.