The Blakely Oil Special was designed and built by Gordon Schroeder for owner John McDaniel to enter in the 1951 Indianapolis 500.
The #52 qualified 29th and finished 5th, having run has high as second, with rookie Bobby Ball at the wheel. Schroeder and Clint Brawner were on the crew led by Myron Stevens formerly of Miller who was also responsible for the fabrication of the chassis and the body work.
The Blakely Special was powered by a 4 cylinder 4.4 litre / 270 cui Offenhauser motor as were all the other cars in the 1951 Indy field apart from the two Novi powered Novi Purelube entered Kurtis chassis. Indy 500 historian Michael Ferner informs me that the The Blakely Oil Special failed to qualify for the 1952 500 after Bobby Ball crashed the car in practice.
The Blakely Oil Specials next appearance in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing came in 1953 with Jimmy Bryan at the wheel. Jimmy qualified 31st and was classified as a runner in 14th place with 183 laps completed.
In 1954 Andy Linden and Len Duncan driving for entrants Brown Motor Company and Brady qualified 23rd and 26th were classified 25th and 31st respectively driving Schroeder Offenhausers. Today’s featured car, seen in these photographs by Geoffrey Horton at last years Desert Classics Concours d’Elegance, did not qualify for the ’54 Indy 500 after Frank Mundy failed to complete his rookie orientation programme.
John McDaniel nearly had a third DNQ at Indy in 1955 when Duke Nalon failed to make the cut, but rookie Keith Andrews saved the day by qualifying 28th and was classified 20th with 120 laps completed.
Michael Ferner has also told me that Tony Bettenhausen raced the car on dirt tracks in 1954 as did Bill Cheesebourg in 1956 when the car ran as the #23 McDaniels. Dick, father of 1979 Le Mans winners Bill and Don, Whittington bought the car in 1957 and ran it in dirt events and at Pikes Peak where the #36 came home with 21st fastest time slowest of the USAC entires to complete the course.
The car has been restored by Gary Schroeder, Dick Russell and Gary McCourt the original body by Wayne Ewing and Jerry Weeks, upholstery by Darel ‘Whitey’ Morgan and the motor by Phil Reilly & Co.
My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs and to Michael Ferner at The Nostalgia Forum for sharing his wealth of knowledge.
Thanks for joining me on this “Blakely Oil Special” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !