Tag Archives: Model T Ford Racing Car
Clarence Norske Larson appears to have started out his driving career behind the wheel of this exceptional little Model “T” Ford racing car about 1920. Like most of the Ford racing cars built at the time, this one was lowered a good six-inches by adding a flat front frame crossmember, raising the rear one and flattening out the arch in the springs. What really sets this one apart from the pack is the beautifully made body of polished aluminum complete with a custom radiator and belly pan.
Larson was from St. Paul, Minnesota and apparently started out working as a mechanic for early racing promoter J. Alex Sloan, and then raced for him on the Mid-Western IMCA circuit. He later graduated to racing big cars and won a race in 1922 at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron. He attempted to qualify for the 1931 Indianapolis 500 race in a Duesenberg but did not make the field. Later that year he died after a crash in St. Paul, at his home track at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Learn more about the Model T Ford racing car here.
We have always wondered about this car, who built, who owned it, where was it raced? The photo has enough clues so that maybe the location can possibly be pieced together or hopefully one of our readers may know more about this “Ingenuity Special”.
It is modeled on a front-drive Miller and is based on Model T components. It features a Model T engine and transmission turned around and hooked up to the center section of a T differential. Like the Miller, it is equipped with a tubular front axle possibly from an early car set on its side. Two types of U-joints are used for the half-shafts and the hubs and spindles are unknown components.
It appears to be equipped with an OHV racing head and based on the locations of the header and the down-draft Winfield carburetor, it may have been a Frontnac rocker-arm unit. It is also on a set of professional grade racing wire wheels and has rear wheel brakes on a simple tube axle. Both ends of the car are sprung on quarter-elliptic springs.
The Studebaker just behind it is about a 1930 model, which dates the photo to at least that late. Note the Model T to the left with the “Auto Races” sign on the windshield along with what appear to be a several Model T based racers in the background. Let us know what you may know.
The previous two installments we have posted here of the 1929 “Fronty-Ford” catalog showed us engines, cylinder heads and even complete cars for sale ready to race. For the great majority of racers back in that time, buying a race ready to race car was not an option.
This post at top shows us the various options all the way from a complete body to only the cowl and seat section. The chassis was also offered with a specially shortened frame equipped with spring lowering brackets, along with also being offered with the complete front end assembly and lastly with the race modified rear axle assembly.
The first page below offers several options for counterbalanced and oversize crankshafts to replace the undersized original. Also offered are stronger connecting rods with over-sized big-end bearings along with several versions of racing pistons.
The second page below offered Winfield and Zenith carburetors, a racing magneto, special exhaust manifolds for the firms cylinder heads.
The third page above covers the special oil and water pumps necessary along with all of the required parts to set up both systems. The Ford had neither an oil or water pump and both were needed for high-speed use.
The last page covers some of the chassis parts and wheels the average racer would buy to lower or make his home made car safer on the track.
At the highest level of racing, using the Model T Ford, few of the original Ford parts were used and the rest replaced with hand made or manufactured parts. The high end car usually only used the following original Ford parts which were then modified; frame, front and rear axles, torque tube, engine block, engine and transmission under pan. The transmission was modified and the original cast iron flywheel was turned down from roughly 16′ dia. to only about 10″ to lighten it and also keep it from exploding at high engine speeds.