Perhaps no racing name is more closely linked with the Indianapolis 500 than Offenhauser. This venerable engine manufacturer was a dominant force at The Brickyard from the early 1930s up until the 1960s. Offenhauser remained a force to be reckoned with until 1983, rounding out a spectacular half-century run as America’s most advanced racing engines.
It all began in the heady days of the Roaring Twenties when investors were more than happy to fund the newest technological breakthroughs. In the field of racing engine design, one name stood out: Fred Offenhauser. Working closely with Harry Miller, Offenhauser introduced an engine that was revolutionary for its time yet quite familiar to us today – a dual overhead cam (DOHC) motor sporting 4 valves per cylinder. Although small in displacement, even for the era, the advanced 4-cylinder engine Offenhauser & Miller introduced in 1930 was deceptively powerful. The first variant of the new engine displaced 151 cubic inches and promptly set a new land speed record of 144.895 mph. Further development of the engine saw displacement increase to 251.92 cubic inches. Using a 15:1 compression ratio, this engine was rated at up to 420 horsepower and was eagerly sought by racing teams of the day.
Offenhauser-powered cars won the Indy 500 a staggering 24 times from 1934 through 1960, including an unparalleled run of 11 consecutive victories from 1950 to 1960 inclusive. Paving the Speedway’s trademark brick track in 1956 was expected to increase average speeds, yet 32 of the top 33 qualifiers featured Offenhauser engines. So dominant was the Offenhauser engine that in 4 races; the 1954, 1955, 1959 & 1960 Indy 500s, EVERY car in the starting lineup had an “Offy” engine! It was this rare feat that sealed Offenhauser’s reputation as America’s premier engine maker, and the name Offenhauser still resonates in the halls of Indy 500 history long after their days of glory have faded.
If you are a racing fan you likely already know all about midget car racing. Many racing car drivers start out their professional careers with midget cars or at least quarter midget cars and this form of race car driving can be exciting. Of course, it does not quite have the sponsorship or coverage of NASCAR or F1 events, but it certainly does have a large following of fans and racers of all ages.
Midget cars can basically be described as small racecars with four-cylinder engines that weigh only about 1000 pounds and which are capable of reaching high speeds despite their size and the weight they carry. They are not specifically used by midgets but rather are used by average-sized drivers despite the vehicle’s size and weight. Midget cars are fully equipped with roll cages and other safety features since their size and speed can result in dangerous accidents. They are raced over relatively short distances and are often used in indoor arenas and there are a number of spectacular annual midget car racing events which are held all over America. Often racers from other forms of racing participate in midget car racing events for entertainment and recreational purposes.
In a similar vein, Quarter Midget racing is also very popular. Roughly ¼ of the size of a full size midget racecar, this form of racing is restricted to youths since it would be difficult if not impossible for a full-grown adult to fit inside such a vehicle – unless, perhaps, they were a midget. Drivers are aged between five and sixteen and these aspiring race car drivers usually race on small banked ovals. They may race on dirt, asphalt or concrete and there are relatively few quarter midget racing tracks in America. Between eleven and eighteen years of age, a driver may choose to drive a half midget which is about half the size of a midget car. Half midgets have a single cylinder engine which can be as big as 250cc in size and may also compete in a variety of events.
For youngsters, racing midget cars is a great way to get into the sport of auto racing. For skilled drivers, midget cars are the best way to unwind and have fun on the weekends. For fans, midget car racing is plenty of fun. No matter which way you look at it, midget car racing is a great way to spend a weekend.
Ever since the invention of the wheel, mankind has been searching for better ways to travel faster and more effectively. This process has taken many thousands of years yet one competition has helped to speed it up rapidly: The Great Race which took place nearly a century ago. It spawned a generation of auto racing events that have captured the imagination of car enthusiasts in the United States and internationally.
“The Greatest Auto Race of 1908” consisted of six teams driving the most modern vehicles of the time around the world. The race covered an amazing distance of 22,000 miles and took seven months to complete with only the three teams and vehicles arriving at the finish line in Paris, France. The race created incredible enthusiasm for the automobile and raised the visibility of the sport of racing to unimaginable popularity.
The Great Race captured the imagination of the public and car manufacturers and spurred developments in the automotive industry. In America, a race known as the Great American Race began to be held annually and this year the event is celebrating its 25th year anniversary. Today the race is seen as being the ultimate automotive adventure and participants proudly display and drive their antique motor vehicles over impressive distances to not only win prizes but also to prove the value and robustness of their antique motor vehicles.
Today there are many different versions of the race which all stem from the same origins – the Great Race of 1908. There are coast-to-coast competitions for Muscle Cars and Hot Rods and technology races where the emphasis is on higher performance fuels rather than on the cars themselves. Interestingly enough, in the 2003 race it was discovered that the 80-year-old Ford’ Model T proved to be more fuel-efficient than the current Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle. This proved the value of the competition and resulted in design changes and driver habits (as well as acceptable standards) of fuel consumption.
The specialty classic automobile events and vintage races attract visitors from across the country that enjoys watching this great annual event. So why try it yourself? The next Great American Race will be held from June 30 to July 14 2007, so be sure to add it to your calendar!
NASCAR and the Automobile Racing Club of America (“ARCA”) started at about the same point-that is towards the middle of the last century. ARCA has not been able to match the scorching growth of NASCAR, but it does have a devoted following. Why is this?
Firstly, ARCA, like the Nextel Series of NASCAR, promotes racing with stock cars. ARCA fans delight in knowing that the skills on display at an ARCA event are with cars that they can buy and drive in real life. The engineering sophistication of F1 auto racing may produce incredible acceleration, but the heroes behind the wheel may do poorly in your own car! Real car racing fans appreciate the authenticity of ARCA auto racing. Some ARCA events use cars discarded by NASCAR, and it is fascinating in auto racing terms to find out how such old machines can be driven by people with top skills.
ARCA is also a valuable stepping stone in an auto racing career with NASCAR in sight. Many drivers have started their careers in ARCA events before going on to exploits on the NASCAR circuit. ARCA plays an important supporting role in providing training grounds and exposure for future champions. You should spend time at ARCA races if you want to be the first to spot future NASCAR drivers!
There are technical aspects of car racing, in which many people believe that ARCA sets the standards for even more popular bodies such as NASCAR. ARCA’s system of awarding points for participation, consistency, and duration, are exemplary. Drivers and teams gain when they commit to race. They are rewarded in terms of points proportional to how they perform. You gain if you do especially well in a lap, and even more if you can hold on to your own performance level for more than one lap. Finally, there are bonuses for continuous participation over the course of a season. You have to work hard to move ahead in ARCA, and that is just what is required to raise NASCAR standards in turn.
You can add to your auto racing pleasure by including ARCA in your race attendance calendar for the year! ARCA includes truck racing as well for your benefit.
Imagine making a grand living from your interest in car racing! Well, love for automobiles can spawn an international business. There is a huge and a growing demand for restoring and carefully preserving classic models and famous cars. Collectors are willing to pay the kind of money that you can use to turn an auto racing hobby in to a multi-million dollar business.
The trick is to start small. Perhaps you can take a first step by restoring a car you love which a relative or a friend wants to discard. Use profits from such individual project sales to establish a garage where you can handle more than one vintage model at a time. You could even specialize in models which people love, and which have done well on car racing tracks. Incorporate a company once you establish a regular pattern of being able to sell cars you have restored at reasonable profits. You might want to branch in to boosting engine performance and undertaking major repair jobs at this stage.
Start attending auctions to boost your margins. You need resources to make the logistics pay by picking up great deals in bulk, but it will take the business to a new plane once you are able to handle multiple projects at a time, with vastly improved profit margins to boot. Partnership with another car racing enthusiast could be a good idea at this stage, because your reputation must have taken you further by this stage, and you cannot possibly attend auctions, and supervise upgrades and repairs at the same time! Do not compromise on knowledge and skills though, or you could end up sharing profits with someone who just goofs around.
Enthusiasm for auto racing is not the only skill you need at this stage, because word has to spread about the vast collection of special automobiles in your garage-perhaps you have more than one by now! You need marketing support. A person with a flair for public relations, and who can get you some media coverage, would be just right. Keep in mind that some of the most lucrative sales you can make are outside North America, so you must go global at some point.
Not everyone will make it to the same level of profits and sales, but as long as you love car racing, you can put your passion to work by establishing a small business of restoring and re-selling popular, classic and famous cars. Who knows how far it may go?