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Harry Hartz’s Vanderbilt Cup Race Baby Cars

We have been following and posting photos and information for a number of years about early “Baby Cars” that were constructed during and after the 1912-’14 cycle car fad for racing, entertainment, and general use. Of particular interest are those which were used in the Junior Racing Series of America, a supporting series for the Vanderbilt Cup Races held in California in 1914 and 1916 at Santa Monica, and 1915 in San Francisco.

Other events ran at Ascot Park, Culver City, and Fresno, all in California and other cities on the Pacific Coast as far north as Tacoma, Washington.

The largest number of photos that have survived of these cars are the V-twin Indian motorcycle-engined racers built and driven by Harry Hartz. The Vic-Mac Garage Co. car pictured at that facility located in Los Angeles was his first car and with it he drove to a win in a race at Culver City. His second car, the first he constructed with a wooden frame, was used to win in 1915 at the San Francisco Vanderbilt Cup Race.

The photo below apparently shows the third version of his racer in Santa Monica. It was a new design using a wooden frame, attractive streamlined bodywork and it appears Harry had picked up Indian, U.S. Tire, and Puente Oil Co. as sponsors.

The lead photo above shows the fourth and possibly his last “Baby Car,” likely an updated version of the third car with a taller radiator, shorter hood, and cowl with the seat located closer to the center and a streamlined tapered tail. Harry continued to use his number twenty-two, but it appears he had picked up a teammate, who is unidentified at this point and both used cars sharing the same general appearance.

The photos are via our friend in France, Isabelle Bracquemond.

  • Harry Hartz and his Indian powered “Baby Car” at a Santa Monica Vanderbilt Cup Race.

Harry Hartz Indian Baby Vanderbilt Racing Car I

11 responses to “Harry Hartz’s Vanderbilt Cup Race Baby Cars

  1. Indian had some very hot motors in those days before WW1. Indian fought Harley-Davidson, and Excelsior with a 8 valve twin cylinder, 1000 cc motors on the notorious board track around the country. I have to believe that these baby race cars were also used on those tracks. Great pictures, thank you.

  2. You mentioned that Culver City was also a site for these baby racers. Culver City also hosted the fasted track in the US at that time. In 1927 Frank Lockhart set a speed record of 144 mph at that track, a record finally broken at Indy in 1956! he drove a 91 c.i. Miller, Culver City being the center of the universe for hot rodders (including Miller) at that time. Halibrand, Isky Cams, Edelbrock and more all thrived in the general area, though the track finally became Desilou Studios. Oh yeah, Carroll Shelby took over the Lance Reventlow grounds in the same general area. Of ancillary interest, perhaps, there was also another smaller Culver City Track closer to the beach and an earlier board track in Playa Del Rey right next to the beach area. Fast and popular, but burned down not long after opening.

  3. The “radiator” indicates WATER JACKETED CYLINDERS for the normally AIR cooled V-twin , OR: It could be an OIL COOLER ( not a bad idea for a “cooped up” Air cooled motor)! OR: Somewhere along the way — Indian began manufacturing air cooled INLINE 4 bangers (these cars are small and a perfect size for that later(small) In-line Four ! On the V- twins a “THUNDER BIKE” racing modification was used, – which allowed Radial VENTING holes for the exhaust to escape! when the TOP of each piston was near the bottom of its stroke, to ADD FREE HORSEPOWER!!!, without benefit of exhaust pipe. Of course, any carbon monoxide would have to be diverted away from the Driver! Perhaps someone has a picture/pictures or drawing of what’s in the engine compartment , but many car’s “Innards” were kept as a speed secret.

  4. Very much doubt Hart would have had 4 cars in fewer years. See my book Power Without Glory for more details and photos and even more by Jim Chini Distant Thunder. Happy to provide more . For some reason not been getting your stuff in while.

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