Tag Archives: 500S

Americana Paddock Questions – Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

At the end of May Geoffrey Horton popped along to the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival and kindly sent a large number of photographs, including those selected today which have an American theme.

Kurtis 500S, Tom Claridge, Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival,

Built in 1953 Tom Claridge’s Kurtis 500 S #022 was originally supplied with a de Soto motor, after an accident in 1954 the car was rebuilt with the current Chrylser Hemi # C53-8-I5990, this car has been seen at the Goodwood Revival meetings.

Chevrolet Corvette, Bruce Miller, Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival,

I am not sure of the racing provenance of Bruce Millers Sunoco liveried 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, but I understand the chassis number is #30867S118408, if you know more please chip in below.

Mercury Cougar XR7, Ike Keeler, Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival,

The racing provenance of cars raced in the 60’s is never easy, there are references pertaining to Ike Keeler’s #14 Mercury Cougar,chassis #7F91C597587, being the Bob Estes sponsored #79 driven by Mark Waco which do not tie up on the dates I have found elsewhere on the internet, a Burien Mercury sponsored #14 Cougar was driven at least twice in 1967/68 by Dave Tatom, again if you can clarify these anomalies please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Doug Schultz, Dodge Daytona, Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

I beleive Doug Schultz’s #7 Hilton Charger is a 1969 Dodge Daytona driven by 1966 and 1973 NASCAR Camping World Series West Champion Jack McCoy who recorded 54 wins during his career from the late 1950’s to early 1990’s.

Ford Boss Mustang, Jim Hague,  Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival,

Ken Epsman’s #16 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 appears to be the car Bud Moore entered for Peter Gregg in the 1971 Trans Am series.

Pontiac Firebird, William E. (Chip) Connor, Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

After an accident during practice for a Trans Am race at Road America Jerry Titus lost his life in August 1970 after crashing his #8 Terry Godsall Racing Pontiac Firebird similar to the one belonging to William-E.-Chip-Connor above.

Chevrolet Camaro, John Hildebrand, Sonoma Historic

2011 Indy Rookie of the Year JR Hildebrand was inspired to start racing after watching his Dad John race the #56 Peerless Racing Chevrolet Camaro that I believe was raced by Craig Carter from late 1978 to 1979.

If you have any additional information on any of the vehicles above please do not hesitate to chip in below. My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs.

Thanks for joining me on this “Americana Paddock Questions” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at five favorite Ferrari’s that have appeared at Silverstone Classic. Don’t forget to come back now !


Indy Winning Roadster Heritage – Kurtis 500 S

Frank Kuretich was born in the Crested Butte a Colorado mining village to Croation immigrants in 1908. At six Frank started helping in his Dads blacksmith shop, in Sunnyside Utah, fixing horse shoes and wagons and automobiles as they began to populate the neighbourhood.

The economic instability of the times saw Franks family move to California where his Dad took a job with Don Lee Coach & Body Works in 1922. Standing over 6 feet tall at 14 years old Frank claimed to be 18 years old and landed a job as a helper to his father customising cars for Hollywood stars where his and his fathers names were anglicised to Kurtis by the personnel dept.

Kurtis 500S, Silverstone Classic

While at Don Lee’s Frank started an apprenticeship at seventeen and such was his skill that he swiftly rose to become manager working in the shop for a short time with designer Harley Earl before the latter left for General Motors in 1927. After work hours Frank engaged in building numerous hot rods and special and eventually started working on midget racers with Don Lee’s son Tommy building the bodies.

In 1937 Frank went to work for the Hollywood Trailer company where he learned to how the work tubing to build vehicle frames and by 1938 Frank had set up his own shop to build “virtually unbeatable” midgets of which he would build over 1000 supplied either complete or as kits.

Kurtis 500S, Silverstone Classic

During the 1950’s Frank also built 120 champ cars for the Indy 500, building 5 winners. During this time Frank also built several road cars selling the design for on which became the Muntz Jet. The 500S, as seen in todays photographs at last years Silverstone Classic, along with the fully enclosed body 500KK and 500M models are all based on the 1953 Roadster Frame and suspension as used by Bill Vukovich to win the Indianapolis 500 that year.

Kurtis 500S, Silverstone Classic

The 500S could accommodate any motor and transmission available between 1953 and 1955 when it was manufactured. Bill Strope appears to have been one of the more successful exponents on the track with his Mercury powered 500S. Of the 20 – 20 500S known to have been built 14 are known to exist during the 1980’s a further 24 continuation models were built with the approval of Frank Kurtis son Ahren.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘indy Winning Roadster Heritage’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psych on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !