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Thread: Belanger Special Indy Roadster 1949

  1. #1
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    Belanger Special Indy Roadster 1949

    Murrell Belanger, Sr., the man with whom this race carís history is inextricably intertwined, was a wealthy businessman and auto dealership owner in Crown Point Indiana who spent considerable sums on his race cars to compete at Indianapolis. His cars finished in the money many times and even won the Indy 500 in 1951.

    In 1976 the supervisor of research at Harrah's Automobile Collection contacted Murrell Belanger, Sr. inquiring about the history of the Belanger Special race car owned by the collection. A copy of the letter Belanger wrote in response will go to the new owner and will be available for review in the auction office as well. All in all, the letter is a remarkable historical document, particularly since there was no reason to track changes made in a race carís history in those days, and part of what we know of its early history comes directly from Mr. Belangerís own letter. Who could have predicted that decades later restorers would treasure this information?

    It should be noted, however, that the letter erroneously claims this car to have been driven by Myron Stevens at Indianapolis in 1931 and that it won the national championship in 1932, which is incorrect because the championship-winning car is currently in another private collection. Any additional history until the late 1940s cannot be confirmed at present, but Belanger evidently purchased the car from Tony Bettenhausen in 1947, who drove for him on number 29, as the car was finished in blue and gold and named the ďBelanger Motors Special.Ē Tony drove for him again the following year, finishing 14th.

    In 1949, the blue and gold Belanger Special, #17, with Duane Carter driving, qualified in fifth position and finished 14th after spinning out due to steering trouble. For the 1950 Indianapolis 500, Mr. Belanger replaced the proven 270 cubic inch Offenhauser powerplant with a supercharged 176 cubic inch version. Sometime after race day and a stint in the motion picture To Please a Lady, the supercharged engine was removed and the 270 reinstalled. The car was stored away and remained in his possession until Tiny Gould, one of the first collectors of American open wheel race cars, purchased it. Upon arrival at Gould's shop, the need for some paint work was noted and a decision made to send the car to respected race car mechanic Buster Warke to freshen up the engine and chassis and clean out the cobwebs. Upon its return to Gould, the flaking paint on the aluminum rims was removed and the wheels were repainted. Likewise, the belly pans were repainted and the body panels were spotted in where needed. The car now looked much as it did on race day in May 1949. Ownership passed to Bill Harrah at Gouldís landmark race car auction held at the Pocono Speedway in 1975. When Harrah's collection was sold, the Belanger Special passed to B. Scott Isquick and was ultimately donated to the Crawford Museum, where it has remained ever since.

    Displaying aggressive, yet handsome, styling from the end of the wire wheel era at Indianapolis, this car represents a bygone time when talented metal fabricators and mechanics rebuilt and reconfigured race cars year after year, hoping for a chance at Brickyard glory.

    Source: RM Auctions
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    I love open-wheeled cars of this generation. I wish they could go back to the rules from the 40s-70s with all the crazy equipment that people tried to win the races with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 250gto boy View Post
    I love open-wheeled cars of this generation. I wish they could go back to the rules from the 40s-70s with all the crazy equipment that people tried to win the races with.
    I am currently making my way through one of the massive image dumps on the HAMB that has a bunch of these postwar open wheelers. They do seem to have something that today's lack.
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    HAMB? And its the styling and ingenuity that today's cars are lacking. We only have 3 engine manufacturers and 1 body style. That gets really boring after a few races

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    What I love most of all about the is that in terms of engine anything went, from a straight eight, to a normally aspirated 270 cubic inch four, to a supercharged 176 cubic inch four. Anything that could win a race was used!

    Even earlier (with the classic Bentleys) the amount of research and innovation and trying out different solutions is amazing.
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    Offenhauser was probably one of the best engine manufacturers of that time period, next to Cosworth and Climax. It's a shame they don't make engines anymore

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    Quote Originally Posted by 250gto boy View Post
    HAMB? And its the styling and ingenuity that today's cars are lacking. We only have 3 engine manufacturers and 1 body style. That gets really boring after a few races
    The Hokey-Ass Message Board
    It's a good place for info old automotive Americana, though most of the posters are old automotive Americana themselves, making them slightly-difficult to communicate with, what with their views on Japanese cars and technology more contemporary than a Holley Double Pumper. Still, it has a wealth of information, so I lurk there sometimes.

    Offies are great. It's interesting to think that the Peugeot engine from which Offenhauser and Miller got their inspiration was from the teens, yet the Offy was still competitive 50+ years later.
    "Kimi, can you improve on your [race] finish?"
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