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Indy 500 Roadsters

curt raitz

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Here's five of the Indy 500 roadsters from the 60's era that I've built o'er the past couple of years.

Jim Rathman, Ken-Paul Special, Watson-Offy. 1960 Indy 500...1st Place



Jim Hurtubise, Demler Special, Epperly-Offy. 1961 Indy 500...22nd Place



Ebb Rose, J.H. Rose Trucking Special, Porter-Offy. 1962 Indy 500...14th Place



Roger McClusky, Konstant Hot Special. 1963 Indy 500...14th Place



Parnelli Jones, Agajanian Willard Battery Special, Watson-Offy. 1963 Indy 500...1st Place



thanx for lookin'... :wub:

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Those look great! My trip to the Speedway museum this year got me excited to build some of these; I just wish I could find those bodies you used!

Did the Rathmann and McClusky cars require different bodies, or were they modified from the kit? They look pretty similar...

(For all of them) What brand of decals did you use?

Thanks for sharing,

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Your roadsters take me back to a much earlier time in my life! From 1966 to 1983, a small group of friends here, and I, built Indianapolis cars almost to the exclusion of anything else. Of course, just as nowadays, 1/24-1/25 scale model kits of Indy cars were scarce, hard to find, which made for an awful lot of kitbashing, learned scratchbuilding skills, and mastering the art of hand-painted graphics.

While the photo shop at the Speedway is only an hour or so away from here, in many ways, it might as well have been on the moon, as our little group of 4 (two of us were young adults, the other two were high schoolers when this all began) had jobs or school during the week, and the photo shop wasn't open on weekends, except during the month of May. Nor were photo's of Indy cars readily available in books, either. The few books that existed tended to be more text than pics, and when there were pics, they tended to be just the official qualifying photographs, in B&W (Speedway photographers didn't start taking much in the way of color until the early 1960's. So, we grabbed what pics we could, searched and dug around in antique stores for old color postcards, took lots of pics ourselves on practice days (garage and pit passes were pretty easy to come by back then, all you had to be was 21, and look clean-cut, sign the release, and walk into Gasoline Alley!). In addition, between all of us, we had every issue of the Floyd Clymer 500 Mile Race Yearbooks, every Spring issue of Racing Pictorial we could get, and the 1966 book by Jack Fox, which had small thumbnail pics of each car in each starting field, and fairly decent color information gleaned from several oldtimers around the track.

The old Best Plastics/Aurora "Famous Race Car Series" (1920 Monroe, 1922 Murphy Spl. --Jimmy Murphy bought his LeMans-winning Duesenberg at the end of the 1921 season, fitted it with a 183cid Miller straight 8, won Indy in '22--, 1931 Bowes Seal Fast Miller, 1935 Petillo Gilmore Speedway Spl, 1939-41 Maserati 8CLT, and the 1952-54 Fuel Injection Spl) meant lots of grist for accurizing, kitbashing and such. So did the AMT Watson Roadster, IMC's and AMT's Lotus Fords, the Monogram Kurtis-Kraft KK500C, and their 1/20 and 1/24th scale Kurtis Midgets. When MPC put out the 1914 Stutz Bearcat, it opened up an entirely new vista, to become the range of cars from 1911-1915 or so.

Our collection included Miller 91's (including the 1928 Packard Cable Spl front drive from the Wills Finecast metal kits), a Renault or two, a couple of Fiats, at least two Premiers, to roadsters, dirt cars that ran the 500, every era of the NOVI, from the 1941 Miller-Ford based car, to the postwar Kurtis front drives, then on to the Kurtis rear drive cars from 1956 and 1963, to the 4wd versions that last ran. Lotus Ford kits morphed into Lola's, BRP's, Coyotes, PJ Colts, even the early Eagles. AMT's 1970's Eagle and McLaren kits became not only many versions of those cars, but also the Penske PC-4, the McLaren M-26 Cosworth cars. A cheap Japanese kit of the Lotus 4wd F1 car, with a lot of epoxy/microballoon putty, and a ton of carving, became the Pennzoil "Yellow Submarine".

All of these went on display every Month of May, from 1966 through 1983 in the display window of our then-downtown hobby shop, the display base being a long wooden affair, covered with HO scale brick paper from Walthers, a pit wall, lettered and numbered, backed up by a 1/25 scale model of the old Speedway "Pagoda" timing and scoring stand. At its peak, this display collection numbered some 250 cars, each one displayed with a small block of wood on which was glued a bit of white card stock, on which was typed the year and name of the car, the driver, qualifying speed and position on the grid, and where it finished that year. In addition, the display almost always included some real race car artifacts: authentic race car wheels and tires, on one occasion a complete 270cid Offenhauser (minus most of its internals, but still almost 250lbs of iron and aluminum!), and the centerpiece backdrop of 1950's Indianapolis Starter Bill Vandewater's official starter's flags. For several years, we were honored to be able to display the very first prize ever awarded at Indianapolis, a gold medal awarded to Louis Schwitzer in 1909 (he was the founder of what is today, Schwitzer-Cummins, the turbocharger manufacturer)

The hobby shop owner kept a series of guestbooks, for visitors to sign, if they came into the store. Those guestbooks are a veritable "Who's Who" in American open wheel racing from those years, as word circulated around the Speedway that out display was something to be seen. There are signatures in those books from over 100 countries, and every US state and territory as well. Our local newspaper did a story complete with a couple of pics, that made the AP wires, and the story of the display was featured in a Carl Hungness 500 Mile Race Yearbook in the late 70's.

Most of those models now reside in a private collection in Northern California, two of the members of this unofficial little "Club" are now deceased, the other living member having moved away from here years ago. But, I still get questions from people I meet on the street here, who still remember those displays.


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Did the Rathmann and McClusky cars require different bodies, or were they modified from the kit? They look pretty similar...

(For all of them) What brand of decals did you use?

The Rathman car was built with the same body in the kit. The nose is wrong, didn't find out til after I'd built the car. Decals are from IndyCal.

The McClusky car is a vacuum formed body over the Watson chassis. Decals are from Fred Cady.

IndyCal decals were used on the Parnelli Jones car (really nice gold foil on these)

Used vacuum formed bodies and had the decals made for the Jim Hurtubise and Ebb Rose cars.

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  • 11 years later...
On 9/12/2020 at 1:28 PM, zapperx said:

Please. What scale and from what kits did you build these beauties? I love the roadsters.



They are all 1/25th scale.

Based on the AMT/MPC Watson Roadster kit.

The guy I built them for sent me a bunch of Vacuum formed bodies for the different versions.

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