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Indy car project gets help from a previous owner of car #37

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  • Indy car project gets help from a previous owner of car #37

    At Reedsville this weekend, I got together with Stan Smith Jr. He and his father had restored the green #37 car (Hunt-Jenkins Special) back in the 1970s, later sold it to Bob Valpey, the current owner. As part of the restoration back then, the car needed a new tail section to replace one that had been badly damaged in some race crash and crudely repaired. Using measurements from the maroon #22 car in the Indy Speedway Museum and the #18 car restored by Mike Cleary, Stan Sr. and Jr. built a wooden body buck to define the shape of the panels for the tail section. Stan Jr. still had the buck and offered it to me. Yes!

    I was happy to meet Stan in person finally. He brought the body buck and some pieces from the original car as well as some some original spare parts. There was a mount for the tach drive, a chromed end piece for the hood panels, and -best of all - a pair of frame ends to attach the front springs eyes to the frame. These are cast steel and bolt to the chassis. He also had a full-size tracing of the original firewall, showing the locations of all the mounting points and penetrations. Stan even has a "paper trail" documenting the sale of the spare parts by Studebaker to a previous owner and the later transfer to his father.

    Additionally, Stan sent me about 100 pages of photos, detailed sketches, and dimensions that he had made 35 years ago. Included in pictures below is one of car 37 without its body about 1980. The photo of a tail section standing on end is of the one from the blue #18 car and shows Mike Cleary in 1978. In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined receiving such a treasure trove. Now I have real "DNA" from a Studebaker Indy car to inject into my replica and exact measurements to fabricate many more parts. Wow, thanks Stan! And thanks to all the other people who continue to offer help and encouragement.



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    Gary Ash
    Dartmouth, Mass.

    '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
    ’41 Commander Land Cruiser
    '48 M5
    '65 Wagonaire Commander
    '63 Wagonaire Standard
    web site at http://www.studegarage.com

  • #2
    Gary that is super cool. I would love to see any pics of the completed car post restoration, and of your replica project.

    I am sure that is completely safe to use a steel fuel drum and a seat backrest right?

    Comment


    • #3
      Very very very cool!!!

      I too look forward to seeing your car completed.

      I wonder what are the chances that all of the Indy cars can be in South Bend this year?
      I know it'll be the big 50 for the Club (and Avanti) but how sweet would it be to see those cars leading the rest of the Club for the trip around the test track?
      StudeDave '57
      US Navy (retired)

      3rd Generation Stude owner/driver
      SDC Member since 1985

      past President
      Whatcom County Chapter SDC
      San Diego Chapter SDC

      past Vice President
      San Diego Chapter SDC
      North Florida Chapter SDC

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      • #4
        Stan Smith debuted his restoration at the Atlantic Zone Meet in Boalsburg, PA. 1981. Restored to its original 1931 configuration when it won the Pike's Peak. The carbs were not yet synchronized but, he nonetheless drove it from his home about two miles away.





        Last edited by rockne10; 11-20-2011, 05:21 PM.
        Brad Johnson,
        SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
        Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
        '33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight. '53 Commander Starlight
        '56 Sky Hawk in process

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        • #5
          That is cool beans, Gary. Congrats. I can't imagine anyone had a better "Reedsville" than you! BP
          We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

          G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Cool!!! I like the idea of having the Indy cars on the test track coming up. I also know of a completed '62 pace car clone (and it's basically a 400 point perfect restoration) that the owner would probably be happy to pace the field. Both he and I used our cars as pace cars back in May.
            Chris Dresbach

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            • #7
              Gary,
              In the July 1931 issue of The Wheel there is a two page article about #37. In the article there is a drawing showing #37 crashing into the fence backwards.
              I'd say that is the race where the damaged could have happened.
              Gary Sanders
              Nixa, MO

              Comment


              • #8
                It's been years since Stan told me the story so, my narrative is strictly without fact.
                #37 was put together by Studebaker engineers, without the backing of the Corporation.
                In the 1931 Indy 500 it went over the wall. I don't remember if he said it was leading the race or was in second or third. At any rate, it showed well.
                This could be the image Gary is referring to.
                The car was repaired and went on to win the Pike's Peak Hill Climb that year.

                The Corporation was sufficiently impressed to build four more models and entered a five car team in the 1932 500. None of them won but I think he said they were all within the top finishers.
                All five were re-bodied for the 1933 event. They did not perform as well as the previous year, and Studebaker did not enter any teams after that. Here's how they all appeared in 1933.


                Stan Smith, Sr. bought # 37 in it's 1933 configuration from a person in California who had added lights, windshield and whatever else was necessary to drive it on public roads.

                Returning it to it's 1931 styling required re-fabricating the entire body shell and grill; in my opinion, substantially more attractive than in 1933.
                Last edited by rockne10; 11-20-2011, 06:45 PM.
                Brad Johnson,
                SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
                Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
                '33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight. '53 Commander Starlight
                '56 Sky Hawk in process

                Comment


                • #9
                  Brad, you got it mostly right. However, because #37 was privately owned by Hunt and Ab Jenkins, it did not get one of the egg-shaped bodies for 1933, though it did get a new grille to match the other cars and #47 painted on the side. Somehow, the original 1932 bodies got reunited with 3 of the other 4 cars in later years. Only the white #34 car pictured above kept its 1933 body. While #37 did go over the wall in 1931, it was fully repaired then. It must have been many years later that another tail-damaging crash occurred. All of these cars raced at many other tracks in addition to Indianapolis. The chassis are all bolted together, not riveted, so that repair or replacement of major parts can be done.

                  There were plans by Studebaker to go racing in 1934. Having discontinued the 336 cu. in. engine in 1933, they developed racing versions of the smaller 250 cu. in. straight 8 and got about as much horsepower (at higher rpm) than the old engine. Corporate bankruptcy in 1933 was likely the cause of cancellation of the Studebaker racing effort. The newly-developed engines were sold off for $750 each. One allegedly wound up in a 1934 sedan sent to Europe. My car is going to have a reproduction of this smaller engine.




                  There is little likelihood of ever getting more than three of the original cars (#37, #18, and #34) together. Car #22 lives at the Indy Speedway Museum, supposedly still owned by Andy Granatelli/STP, but it isn't allowed out to play. The 5th car was destroyed during a race in South Africa, though its engine may survive in a 1928 7-passenger sedan somewhere in Zaire or Zimbabwe, according to a magazine article from about 1983.
                  Last edited by garyash; 11-21-2011, 10:50 AM.
                  Gary Ash
                  Dartmouth, Mass.

                  '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
                  ’41 Commander Land Cruiser
                  '48 M5
                  '65 Wagonaire Commander
                  '63 Wagonaire Standard
                  web site at http://www.studegarage.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My eyes literally hurt from staring at those pics.....Unbelievable how beautiful that grill work is on the '31 version. It was just a race car and did not NEED any special chrome or bright work stuff to go fast, yet its designers still decided to make it beautiful.

                    What were the top speeds of these cars back in the '30s?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If those car numbers were correct for 1932, Stude finished 1st, 3rd, and 6th in 1932..?

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1932_Indianapolis_500

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        No, kmac530, the factory cars were Cliff Bergere #22 in 3rd place, Zeke Meyer in #37 in 6th place, Tony Gulotta #25 in 13th place, Peter Kreis #18 in 15th place, and Luther Johnson #46 in 16th place. Fred Frame, who finished 1st in 1932, was driving a Miller-powered car. Russ Snowberger (4th place) usually used Studebaker engines for his Russell 8 Special in the 1930s but had a Hupp engine in 1932. The factory Studebakers qualified at 108-111 mph, probably had top speeds in excess of 120-125 mph on the back straight - no crash helmet, no roll bar, no seat belt, no nuthin'! Red line was maybe 4100-4200 rpm, 3.09:1 rear axle, 7.00-18 tires. Virgil Exner, Jr claims to have traveled with his father, car designer Virgil Exner Sr, at 137 mph on the Pennsylvania Turnpike about 1950 in the former Indy car (#22) that his father owned and had converted to a sports car. See http://www.carlustblog.com/2009/06/f...und-table.html


                        See Studebaker Racing for details of 1931-33 at Indy and other races. http://www.studebakerracing.com/aaaopen2.html
                        Gary Ash
                        Dartmouth, Mass.

                        '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
                        ’41 Commander Land Cruiser
                        '48 M5
                        '65 Wagonaire Commander
                        '63 Wagonaire Standard
                        web site at http://www.studegarage.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thats just great Gary .....I know that will take years off your project !
                          sigpic

                          Home of the Fried Green Tomato

                          "IF YOU WANT THE SMILES YOU NEED TO DO THE MILES "

                          1960 Champ , 1966 Daytona , 1965 Daytona Wagonaire

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                          • #14
                            Cool links Gary, please keep me/us posted on progress.

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                            • #15
                              I am a newcomer here but have been following this intently. It is clear this 'treasure trove' is in good hands.
                              This is totally cool, or wicked awesome as they say up your way! And an important part of automotive history since it is from racing that we have gotten all the modern day engine/performance/handling goodies we have come to take for granted.
                              1947 M5 under restoration
                              a bunch of non-Stude stuff

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