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Indianapolis 16th Street Speedway Jalopy Race “Doodle Bug”

Updated Mystery Solved – The 16th Street Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, located across the street from turn two of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway first opened with a midget race held May 29, 1946, on the eve of the big 500-mile race. In the early 1950s stock cars or “Jalopies” as they were referred to at the time also began running on the track.

This “Doodle Bug” apparently was partly custom built for use as a pace car for racing at the 16th Street track. The lead photo shows Ernie Wall and supporter, Mrs. Forney pacing the women’s Powder Puff Derby in the “Doodle Bug.” The second photo below is of Wall and promoter Mr. Bradley in the car during the 1st “Jalopy” heat race at the track on August 10, 1956.


These images lead to the question of who constructed this vehicle? It shares the same basic shape as the Kurtis Sports Car which was built by racing car constructor Frank Kurtis in Glendale, CA. That car was followed by the “Muntz Jet” which Kurtis designed and produced for Earl “Madman” Muntz, who later manufactured and sold about one hundred and ninety of the cars. Could this car have been custom made for the Speedway by Kurtis where many of his midget racers ran, or is it a re-bodied “Muntz Jet” constructed by a racing car body builder?

The images taken by photographer C. V. Haschel are courtesy of the Revs Institute for Automotive Research and are a part of the Bruce R. Craig Photograph Collection.

Update – Steve Lovellette commented:  My father, Hyson P. Lovellette, constructed this car in his garage when we lived at 6402 Homestead Dr. in Homecroft, IN.

13 responses to “Indianapolis 16th Street Speedway Jalopy Race “Doodle Bug”

  1. You always find the best pics.

    As the son of an owner of a Muntz, 53M-524, the wheelbase of the Doodle-Bug is longer up front than the Muntz. The proportions look like a chassis of the early 30’s with the engine behind the front axle. The two seat Kurtis was only 100″ wb, where the early four seat Muntz was 113″ and later cars are 116″. The rear of the body does have similar lines to the Kurtis/ Muntz, but the area behind the drivers arm, where the side of the body transitions into the rear deck area, looks like it is fiberglass. My suspicion is that someone saw a Kurtis, or pics of it in a magazine, and did a fine job building something like it.

    And for the record, the Muntz Registry has been going for more than 30 years, and they are absolutely certain that total production was 193-194 cars. Earl Muntz always said he made 390 some cars, but the range of vin numbers has big gaps and would not have been possible given the factory space and staff they had.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. I saw a Chrysler Newport parked on the street in c. 1949 in Washington state. Beautiful car but proportions were awkward I felt.. A very shinny green. There was no top or it was down if one at all. It did look like the featured car…long wheel base. Nice effort by Chrysler tho.

  3. I saw photos of this car several years ago and felt styling was a cross between Muntz Jet and a bloated Crosley Hotshot. It appears to be fitted with 1949-53 Crosley bumpers, which were likely split in the middle to accommodate the wider body.

  4. Judging by the TIRES— including no effort to clean the Black sidewalls — is this possibly an older Ford TRUCK FRAME with grafted tubular steel body, — King Bee Nacelle HEADLAMPS partially buried , a “high velocity” hood ornament, and the TRUNCATED ” Sp’dway” sign —MORE than enough length for the missing “EE” in “Speedway”! HUH?? Do you remember the FIRST Kaiser-Frazier’s Similar “lines”!!!? Perhaps it should be called a “Foster & Kleiser” (after the successful big public sign-boards by the roadside) Advertising Company). Being from the neighborhood of the Curtiss Chassis Company in Glendale, L.A. County, Ca., very near Atwater Village (home), we were also in the area of: Francisco Labs Racing Fuels , Weiand Speed Equipment and the Independent garage: “Norman’s Automotive” where we Road – raced a Special” with an OFFY engine! — and Max Balchowsky ‘s “Old Yaller #1, #2, etcetera, ( A friendly competitor to our shop) —who drove from our neighborhood , — 60 miles to Riverside Raceway — TAKE the PURSE away from ALL of the Europe Factories !!!— (WITH A BODY STYLE SIMILAR to what is shown above, also with hand-made panels from GMC Trucks & other sources — and drive Back home !!! SPEED SECRET: He raced on Firestone White-wall tires! It was only natural for me to become a Porsche – Audi Employee at the Main distributorship, where I trained Mechanics. At almost 78, I am honored to have touched the lives of others — as it was only giving back what was given to me, everything full circle!!! Thank you for showing this vehicle — as a lot of racing NO matter what kind — begins with filling the grandstands!!! Edwin W.

  5. I am searching for possible photos of my father, racing at the 16th Street facility
    from the late 40 s to early 50 s I have a baby pic of myself sitting in his race car in 1949
    His name was William (Bill) Eland and car name was ” The Beech Grove Hornet”
    I am told that he entered and won a few of The Backwards reverse races.
    If anyone knew of him or has a photo archived from the track I would truly like to contact them.
    Sincerely his loving son John,

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