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Two-Man Indianapolis Racing Cars Star at Pebble Beach

Automobile racer, star World War I pilot, and auto manufacturer Captain Eddie Rickenbacker took over the Indianapolis Race Track in August of 1927 after purchasing it from Carl Fisher and James Allison. Determined to make his investment in the world famous Speedway pay off and turn the race into a more exciting competition for the fans, Rickenbacker went to work and wrote new rules for the “Two-Man” cars that were introduced in the 1930 race.

According to writer and racing enthusiast Jim Donnelly, who wrote, Stocks at Indy in the “Hemmings Classic Car” December 2014 issue, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson, the changes that Eddie made, and the AAA Contest Board approved in January 1929 were not due to the looming Great Depression. The new rules were enacted to increase the public’s interest in the race, involve the US Automakers, and to return the Indianapolis 500 to its original intended purpose – racing modified versions of automobiles the public could buy from their local dealer. Racing Historian and publisher Joe Freeman added, “Racing fans also were becoming bored with a parade of Miller’s in the 500-mile race.” This is basically the same problem that is affecting stock car and open wheel racing today – cookie cutter machines that all appear to be the same.

The 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance featured a special class of the “Two-Man” cars that ran in the Indianapolis 500 between the years of 1930 and 1937 when the rules were in place. The 1935 Rigling & Stevens Pirrung Special owned by Gary & Karen Schroeder of Burbank, California took the class award after the judges reached their decision.

And thanks to Richard Michael Owen, Jennifer Strong, and Steve Natale we are able to share with you this photo spread of the seven cars that made up the class.

1930 Duesenberg Special II

  • 1930 Duesenberg Special – Bruce R. McCaw.

1930 Duesenberg Special I

1931 Duesenberg Cummins Diesel Special I

  • 1931 Duesenberg Cummins Diesel Special – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

1931 Duesenberg Cummins Diesel Special

1931 Harry Miller V-16 Special

1931 Harry Miller V-16 Special –  Dana & Patti Mecum.

Miller V-16 Racing Engine

1931 Harry Miller V-16 Special II

1931 Studebaker & Rigling Hunt Special Indy Racer

1931 Studebaker Rigling & Hunt Special – Robert & Alice Valpey.

1931 Studebaker & Rigling Hunt Special Idy Racer II

1931 Rigling & Henning Wonder Bread Special

1931 Rigling & Henning Wonder Bread Special – Pat & Gina Phinny.

the-wonder-bread-duesenberg-special

1932-hudson-martz-special-i

1932 Hudson Martz Special – Eric & Gayle Andersen.

1932-hudson-martz-special

1934-rex-mays-gilmore-special-ii

1934 Rex Mays Gilmore Special – Dana & Patti Mecum.

1934-rex-mays-gilmore-special-i

1935-ford-miller-indy-racer-43

1935 Ford V-8 Miller Special – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

1935-miller-ford-indy-racer-43-i

1935-ford-v-8-miller-special

1935 Ford V-8 Miller Special – Thomas E. & Sharon J. Malloy.

1935-ford-v-8-miller-special-i

1935-rigling-stevens-pirrung-special

1935 Rigling & Stevens Pirrung Special – Gary & Karen Schroeder.

1935-rigling-stevens-pirrung-special-ii

16 responses to “Two-Man Indianapolis Racing Cars Star at Pebble Beach

      • Thanks, Dave. But who were these guys and what made their product so popular?

        A little bit of micro searching yielded the following :

        #37 chassis was constructed by the Herman Rigling shop in Indianapolis, and the body was made by “Pops” Dreyer for the Rigling shop. Hunt was a top engineer at Studebaker.

        #54 – Herman Rigling and Cotton Henning were based in Indianapolis and renowned for their race winning chassis and proven ‘Specials.’ Their specialty were using Buick straight-eight engines mounted in steel-rail frames.

  1. What a rare occasion to see all these vintage racers in one place again! If not for high-end events like Pebble Beach these cars would remain squirreled away in private collections.

    Thanks for publishing the pix.

  2. According to Cummins Inc.’s website, after the 1931 500 Cummins founders W.G. Irwin and Clessie Cummins drove it on a European tour through France, Monaco, Italy, Germany and England to promote the efficiency and reliability of the diesels.

  3. Is the paint on the right side of the winning Rigling & Stevens Pirrung Special really that bad and chipped? I wonder how that entry was judged? From all the entries it looked like there were some much better looking cars out there.

    • Dave, The paint on this car is quite old and was presevered instead of being redone. I personly know two of the three judges of this class and originality is very important to them. Provenance and originally is one of the factors all judging teams take into consideration in all cars that they judge. This was one of key ingredients that led to them selecting this car as the Best in Class winner.

      Times have changed and old or original paint is now more highly valved than overdone new paint work.

  4. I feel that most of these wonderful old racers are over restored. The V16 Miller is a case in point. I prefer to see these vehicles more or less as raced, despite their undoubted value.

  5. The Studebaker #37 car was also at the Kiwanis car show in Concord, NH on Sept. 10. It is regularly driven and participates in vintage racing events, as do several of the other Studebaker Indy cars from 1931-33. See and hear my YouTube videos of two of them by searching YouTube for “Studebaker Indy car 37” and “Studebaker Indy car 18”.

    There are many photos of the cars from the 1931-33 period, mostly taken by Kirkpatrick, on several web sites like indycar, including the ones at Pebble Beach.

    • The #37 car has a completely known history and is owned by a client-friend, who has vintage raced it for many years. I was able to drive it on the New Hampshire Speedway at a vintage oval track meet for about 10-laps and it is a easy to drive machine that as a pleasure to drive.

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