Just to say how much I enjoy looking in the two Radbruch photo sites on here and how I think they give much of the flavour that is the American track scenario for various forms of cars. And as some have said here those roadsters do look as if they could have paved the way for sprint cars in the States. Some of the 1950s roadsters very much so.
Post by youtubefiend on Jul 7, 2012 15:40:39 GMT 1
For my part the Track Roadsters look rather like the cars that raced at Brooklands, UK, in the 1930s rather than tending towards being a prototype of sprint cars. I wonder just why they are on what is primarily a midget car discussion group?
No way were roadsters similar to Brooklands racers as this site shows. Different type of track as well with Brooklands more like F1 of today and also to the Crystal Palace track from 1937 onwards. Roadsters were bona-fide track cars in the concept that we know small oval tracks to be whereas Brooklands and Crystal Palace were what is termed circuit car racing?
Just to add to the "upsidedown backwards" V8-60 photo. Here's Don's story. Couldn't find a proper link (there used to be one):
A Most Unusual Engine by Don Radbruch In the early days of midget racing, dozens of different engines were used. A few American passenger car engines would meet the displacement limits of 100 to 140 cubic inches set by most racing groups. Foreign engines and outboard boat motors were used as well as industrial motors. Outsized engines were sleeved down or "simply" cut in half. There was no limit to the ingenuity and innovation of the midget pioneers. For the most part, this all ended with the advent of the Ford V8-60 horsepower engine in 1937. Here was an ideal powerplant—one that would dominate non-Offy midget racing for nearly 30 years.
In Denver, the V8-60 didn't end innovation—it became more so. The Shay-VenDersahl V8-60 ran upside-down and backwards! Buddy Shay had been running a midget with a sleeved down Chrysler Four on local tracks. It was fast becoming obsolete so something had to be done. Two options were available to Shay—an expensive Offenhouser racing engine or a V8-60. The Offy would fit fine in the Shay midget but would not fit Buddy's budget. The Ford fit the budget but not the midget—it was so wide that it would have to be mounted too high in the chassis.
Shay's friend, Frank VanDersahl had the answer—mount the V8 engine upside-down in the car. Automobile engines are not designed to run inverted but that didn't bother Frank VanDersahl and Buddy Shay. There was no choice but to run the engine "backwards"—that is to use the (more accessible) exhaust ports as intake ports and the intake ports as exhaust. This was not unheard of with the V8-60 and the larger Ford or Mercury V8s but Shay and VanDersahl were probably the first to do this. At some point, it was decided to also reverse the rotation of the engine.
With everything upside-down, lubrication could be a problem but it all worked out just fine. Oil was picked up by channels in the pan and allowed to drain to the low point in the engine where the gearbox driven sump pump lifted it to a tank in the cowl. From here, the standard Ford oil pump took over. Buddy Shay reported that there was no problem with the engine and that it did not foul plugs. Shay had some sort of sponsorship with Perfect Circle and this is a heck of a testimonial for that product.
An aircraft carburetor of forgotten make was used and a Ford distributor was modified to run backwards. The valve timing of a Winfield racing cam may not have been ideal but it worked. With the exhaust coming out the bottom of the engine, things got a bit crowded and ground clearance was very limited. The reverse engine rotation was taken car of in the driveline by turning the rear end center section upside-down.
The radical engine design resulted in a couple of advantages. The exhaust gases exited very quickly and this was a rare V8-60 that ran cool. The reverse rotation transferred engine torque to the left, or inside wheels, and the car scooted around the turns like it was on rails. The downside was the long path from the carburetor to the valves and acceleration off the turns was a bit slow.
Buddy Shay drove the car at Lakeside Speedway in 1941. There were a few Offys in Denver and they won most of the races but Shay ran well and usually finished in the top half of the field.
Like so much of the "good ole days" of midget racing, the Shay-VanDersahl "Upside-down and Backwards" engine is long gone. Men with the remarkable talents of Buddy Shay and Frank VanDersahl are also gone from today's midget racing. The almighty dollar rules supreme—a shame!
The Don Radbruch article about the upside down engine was a great read. It's sad to think that a man with his great knowledge and love of motorsport - midget cars especially - passed away some years ago. Many thanks to bpratt for bring the article to our attention. A little more has been added to my knowledge of the USA development of midget racing.