In August 1961, what appeared to be an Indy-type racing car, but with stubby and inverted aircraft-style wings on either side of the cockpit and a vertical fin behind, set a closed-course speed record of 181.561 mph around the Daytona International Speedway. The car was Bob Osiecki’s Mad Dog IV, aka the Winged Wonder, and was driven that record-setting day by drag racer Art Malone.
Malone’s record run was more than 34 mph faster than the pole speed for the 1961 Indianapolis 500. As a reward for making the Daytona track the fastest in the world, Osiecki collected $10,000 from Bill France Sr.
The car, now owned by drag racing superstar Don Garlits, has returned to Daytona and is being displayed at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
“I honestly think that’s where the car should be, over there at the round-track museum, and the car made that speed at Daytona,” Florida resident and 90-year-0ld Garlits told the museum staff. “To me, that’s the perfect place for Mad Dog IV.”
The story goes that in 1957, the closed-course speed record had been set at 177.38 mph on the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy. While building his superspeedway in Florida, Bill France put up the $10,000 prize for anyone who would break that record at his track, which opened in 1959.
Many tried and failed, including Osiecki, who turned to Georgia Tech aerospace professor John Harper for help.
“My dad attended Georgia Tech for a while,” Osiecki’s son, Tom, is quoted in the museum’s announcement. “He did a mockup of the car and took it to the school’s wind tunnel. He thought they could invert some wings to put downforce on it and they came up with the right angles, and how big the wings needed to be, and built a stabilizer so the back of the car wouldn’t go crazy. It was a real challenge.”
With Harper’s help, the wings were devised to stabilize the car at high speed on the banked track, where centrifugal force shred tires and made steering difficult.
Tom Osiecki said his father invested $35,000 in preparing the car, a Chrysler-powered Kurtis Kraft Indy roadster that Firestone had used for tire testing, and gave the $10,000 record-run prize to Malone, but recouped at least part of the expenses by taking “The Fastest Race Car in the World” on a barnstorming tour.
“Mad Dog IV is the epitome of American innovation,” notes museum president George Levy. “Bill France wanted to claim Daytona International Speedway was the world’s fastest racetrack. When it was clear an existing race car wasn’t going to cut it, Osiecki and Harper came up with the idea of inverted wings for downforce. They broke the record and helped launch the Downforce Era.”
Fisher Guild cars at St. Louis museum
Yet another museum has opened an exhibit featuring cars crafted by members of the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild. This newest exhibit is at the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri.
From 1930 to 1968, General Motors sponsored an automotive design competition for high school students, awarding scholarships that launched many future car designers on their careers. Contestants created 1:12-scale models of their dream cars for the event, and many of those models have become cherished family heirlooms.
Georgia gets a new car museum
The newest car museum in the country has opened. The Savoy Automobile Museum is located in a new 65,000-square-foot exhibition space in Cartersville, Georgia, and is part of the Georgia Museums group. In addition to the exhibition space, the museum has a 35,000-square-foot event and auction room.
The museum takes its name from a 1954 Plymouth Savoy that was found on the 37-acre property where the museum was built. The car had been abandoned and had a tree growing through it. The car has been preserved and remains on the museum grounds.
The museum opened with American Racing, The Great American Classics, Woodies, Orphans and the Savoy Collection exhibits.
The museum also has a cafe and gift shop.
Other members of the Georgia Museums group are the Bartow History Museum, Booth Western Art Museum, and Tellus Science Museum.
Coloani Miura exhibited after 40 years
For the first time in 40 years, the Colani Miura, designer Luigi Colani’s 1970 concept vehicle based on mechanicals from the Lamborghini Miura, is on display in a special exhibit at the MAUTO, the automobile museum in Turin, Italy.
Inspired by nature, where there are no straight lines, Colani’s creations comprised curving biodesigns. For his Miura, he took the powertrain from the Miura and mounted it transversely in his fiberglass design which features a glider-style cockpit beneath a plexiglass dome.
Petersen opens supercar exhibit
“The Allure of the Extreme” is the title of newest exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles where, over the course of the next 18 months, as many as 30 supercars will take their turns on display.
The exhibit opens by showcasing the Aria FXE concept, Bugatti Veyron 16.4, Caparo T1, Devel Sixteen, Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, Hennessey Venom F5 (design model), Koenigsegg Agera RS Final Edition, McLaren Speedtail, NIO EP9, Delage D12, Pagani Huayra Hermes Edition, RAESR Tachyon Speed and Rimac Concept One.
Newport adds Tesla Roadster
While Elon Musk’s personal 2010 Tesla Roadster was shot into space and is somewhere out in the solar system, another example of the electric-powered sports car has gone on display at the Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island. The museum also has added a 2017 Audi R8 Spyder and 2017 Lamborghini Aventador SV roadster to its collection.
The museum will open the hoods on more than 85 of its vehicles the weekend of December 11-12.
Blackhawk offers an NFT
The Blackhawk Collection in Danville, California, is launching a line of NFTs on December 10, starting with a 3D render video of the 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III known as the “Copper Kettle.”
The Blackhawk says the car is the first pre-war automobile to be 3D-scanned and offered as an NFT. The NFT will be offered up for bidding through December 12 on the museum website.
Special events this weekend
Beaulieu, England, home of the National Motor Museum, and Palace House, will host a new outdoor Christmas Fair from December 10-12.
Because of damage from tornados that struck the area, activities at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, have been canceled until repairs can be made. The facility was to host the “Run, Run Rudolph 5K” at 5 p.m. December 11, a run through 3.2-miles of holiday lights. Also postponed is the Twinkle at the Track drive-through holiday light show.
The Motor bar and restaurant at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee will host ugly sweater parties from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on December 11 and 18. It will feature Breakfast with Santa events on December 12 and 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, welcomes Santa and Mrs. Clause for photo opps with visitors in a 1906 Cadillac Model K Tulip touring car from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on December 11 and 12 and again on December 18 and 19. The museum also will offer “If Alfas Could Talk,” with Fred Russell, president of the Northwest Alfa Romeo club, leading a discussion about the museum’s Alfa Romeo exhibit. December 18 also will be Family Steam Day at the museum.
Mark your calendar
The Canadian Automobile Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, offers its Third Thursday lecture at 7 p.m. December 16 on Zoom with Dumaresq de Pencier featuring “Early Electric Cars of Canada: 1897-1927.” The museum also is working on its next exhibition, “Wires to Wheels: Electric Vehicles in Canada and Beyond,” scheduled to open in July 2022.
On December 17, the MAUTO, the automobile museum in Turin, Italy, hosts a series of presentations under the banner of “The evolution of an idea,” celebrating the creation of the internal combustion engine by Father Eugenio Barsanti, a priest, physicist and mathematician who, with engineer Lucca Felice Matteucci, filed documents in Italy in 1853 describing such a 4-stroke machine nearly 15 years before Otto and Benz in Germany.
Ed Swart: From Zandvoort to Daytona will be featured from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on December 18 at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California.
The Montagu family Palace House, which shares its grounds with the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, offers a trip back to 1889 with its Victorian Christmas event from December 18 to January 2.
The grand opening of the Segerstrom Shelby museum and event center has been rescheduled for January 20, 2022, in Irvine, California.
The Canadian Automobile Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, has announced its Third Thursday lecture topics for January and February. “Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights” will be presented January 20 at 7 p.m. on Zoom by Gretchen Sorin of the State University of New York College at Oneonta, and “The Death and Legacy of Sam McLaughlin – Looking Back After 50 Years” will be offered by Samantha George of the Parkwood National Historic Site on February 17.
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