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Racing Cars at the West Texas Fair at Abilene – Part II

Recently we featured photos of a series of racing cars and Phil “Red” Shafer and his Duesenberg special at the 1921 West Texas Fair in Abilene, Texas, where auto races were run on a one-mile horse racing track. Today we return with the lead image and an enlargeable version of it above showing action in the pits, and another line up of cars on the track ready to start a race.

In the foreground of the image is an offset Model “T” Ford-based special, this modification adds more weight to the inside wheels and tires for better traction in the turns and higher cornering speeds. Behind it is a racing team in a flurry of activity working on their car with a few bystanders looking on.

Learn more about Model “T” Ford Speed and Racing Equipment and Pre-World War II racing cars here. The photographs are courtesy of The Portal to Texas History.

  • An Essex four built by Hudson fitted with an underslung front axle. Lightweight and strong Essex frames were used as the basis for many racing cars and specials built during the twenties and thirties.

  • Model “T” Ford based racing cars above and below put on a show for the fans. Most of these cars were fitted with OHV conversion heads and other speed equipment that was manufactured by a number of companies at the time.

11 responses to “Racing Cars at the West Texas Fair at Abilene – Part II

  1. I don’t think that the #23 ESSEX raced in Texas. It is a two-man race car and all of the rest if the race cars are single seaters. Also the grandstands are different.

  2. Thanks again, Dave for great stuff! What caught my eye is the low center of gravity and wide wheel bases of some of these cars.

    • I think your mean “track”, not wheelbase. Some relatively modern cars had unusual tracks – the c. 1949 Nash “bathtub” had wider track in the rear than the front, because of the front fender’s impingement on how far the wheels could be turned in steering . The “step-down” Hudsons of the era had the opposite – a so-called “crab track”, with front wheels further apart than the rears.

  3. Just looked at your earlier Ford Speed parts entry and wonder how that 4-valve head operated. Did they use the same cam(s) and a single lobe for each set of valves. Was the actuation by a single rod going through the head and working through a two valve actuator. Pretty trick! But I still don’t understand the concept of using an updraft carb.

    • Mad Dog, I assume you are referring to the Roof 16-valve head, yes it used one eight lobe cam and the pushrods come up thru the Ford valve guide.

      “I still don’t understand the concept of using an updraft carb.” This type of carb was used one most all cars and trucks until the changeover to down draft units in the early-1930s, although side drafts were also used during the period.

  4. Because “oval” and ’roundy-round’ racing are left turns Only , — you will notice the off -set axles both front & rear, to “take advantage of gravity”, & reduce centrifugal force “issues” etc.. Check out the “Campaign (Dudley Doo-right ) Hat & Leggings : (Police or Sheriff , as emotions can run high in the pits or after a race). You will also notice that a Mechanic is not required, “on board” — a harbinger of all future racing. Another popular Model T event was hill climbing . “Treadling the Pedals or moving Levers ” of a Model N, R, S, or T is an experience unique unto itself !!! Edwin W.

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