Tag Archives: Johnny

Yellow Submarine – Chaparral 2K

In 1978 Colin Chapman revolutionised Formula One car design by introducing ‘ground effect’ to the upper echelons of open wheel racing with his Lotus 79.

By 1979 many Formula One teams were making copies and variations of the Lotus 79 using curved ‘venturi’ in the side pods between the wheels to gain traction grip by controlling the airflow between the lower surfaces of the car and surface of the road to create lowered air pressure underneath the car which ‘sucked’ the car to the road as it moved, the faster these vehicles were driven the more grip there was available.

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Photo Dan Wildhirt

When, in 1978, former Taurus Super Vee designer and McLaren draftsman John Barnard was employed to build an Indy Car for Jim Hall and the Chaparral team to replace their Lola T500 Champ Car, Barnard was the first to transfer the latest Formula One thinking to the Brickyard for the Indy 500.

Al Unser Snr qualified the Chaparral 2K 3rd on it’s debut at Indy and then ran away with the race until the transmission failed on lap 104.

The following year Al Unser Snr moved to the Longhorne team who were building a car based on a design by former Super Vee engine builder Patrick Head who’s Williams FW07 design started winning formula one races in 1979 and would win the Formula One World Constructors championships in 1980 and 81.

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Photo Ed Arnaudin

Johnny Rutherford pictured here alongside Mario Andretti, became the beneficiary of Al Unsers decision to move taking the Chaparral to Victory Lane at the Brickyard in 1980 and onto the PPG Indy Car World Series championship.

In all the Chaparral 2K won six races from 27 starts over three seasons. John Barnard moved back to Formula One with McLaren in 1980 where he introduced the first Carbon Fibre Composite (CFC) chassis into the series, almost all top open wheel series run vehicles using CFC chassis these days, and later in 1989 while working for Ferrari in 1989 he introduced the worlds first paddle shift electronic gear shift mechanism.

Between them Barnard and Patrick Head were the dominant designers during the 1980’s in Formula One interestingly they once worked together for a 46 year old London Taxi driver come racing driver Ronnie Grant on his Formula Super Vee team.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for scanning his Dad’s photo.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Yellow Submarine edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Three Time Winner – McLaren Offy M16

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The McLaren M16 was designed by Gordon Coppuck in 1970 and took essential design queues from the Lotus 72, that was dominant in Formula One, including the chisel nose and side mounted radiators.

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On it’s Indy debut in 1971 M16’s of Revson, Donohue and Hulme qualified 1st, 2nd and 4th for the 500, the race was won by repeat winner Al Unser with Peter Revson coming home a career best 2nd. Mark Donohue driving for the private Penske team said of the M16 that it “…obsoleted every other car on track…” and proved it with a win in 1972.


In 1973 Johnny Rutherford, seen driving the M16C/5 here at Goodwood Festival of Speed, took pole position again in his works M16 though the Eagles of Johncock and Vukovich Jr took first and second in the race that was called early due to rain. The following season driving the same car Rutherford started 25th on the grid and went on to win the first of his three Indy 500’s.

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Photo Ed Arnaudin

In 1975 Rutherford drove the #2 Gatorade M16E/1 qualifying 7th and coming in second.

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Photo Ed Arnaudin

Lloyd Ruby drove the #7 Allied Polymer Group M16E/2 qualifying 6th and finishing 32nd in 1975 and in 1976 Rutherford dominated the Indy 500 with a victory from pole in this ex Ruby chassis. Cliff Hucul raced this same car at Indy from ’77 – ’79 qualifying a best 18th in ’79 and finishing a best 22nd in ’77.

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Photo Ed Arnaudin

Bob Harkey seen in the #33 Dayton Walther M16C/2 here in 1975 qualified 23rd for the Indy 500 and after 18 laps handed the car over to Salt Walther who’s own M16 had experienced turbo failure after 2 laps. Salt was flagged in 10th at the conclusion of the rain affected race. In 1976 David Hobbs nade his fourth and final Indy start in this car starting 31st and finishing 29th.

In 1978 Jerry Karl modified M16C/2 fitting a Chevrolet stock block motor, Karl made three starts in ’78, ’80 and ’81 recording best start positions of 28th in ’78 and ’80 and a best finish of 14th in ’78. This car still fitted with a Chevy stock block but now with orange #15 bodywork as used by Peter Revson resides in the Matthew Collection.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for scanning his Dad’s photographs and to everyone who contributed to the M16 thread on The Nostalgia Forum for providing the chassis details.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s chisel nose edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Winning in the rain – Wynn’s Friction Proofing Special

To accommodate Ferrari Friday I got a little out of sequence with my posts celebrating the Centenary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500, today we are looking at the 1950 Wynn’s Friction Proofing Special, thanks to a photograph taken by Ed Arnaudin in 1980.

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Frank Kurtis the designer of extremely successful midget, 1/4 midget, sports and sprint cars also designed and built some 120 Champ cars for the Indianapolis 500, marketed and manufactured under the Kurtis Kraft name.

His creations took five victories between 1950 to 1955, so it is no stretch to say Kurtis dominated at Indianapolis in the first half of the 1950’s.

The first Indy 500 winner Kurtis Kraft built was the Wynn’s Friction Proofing Special seen in today’s photograph, the car was powered with a ubiquitous, for the period, 4,424 cui / 270 cui 4 cylinder twin overhead cam Offenhauser motor.

Driving the Wynn’s Friction Special in 1950 was Johnnie Parsons who won the rain shortened ‘Indy 500’ on just his second attempt. Due to an engravers error, Johnnie’s name was spelt incorrectly on the Borg Warner trophy, an error that was not corrected until the trophy was refurbished in 1991. Until then I am sure Johnnie’s son Johnny probably enjoyed having his name on the trophy even though it was next to his Dad’s face.

Johnnie took part in 10 Indy 500’s from 1949 – 1958, his best finishes beside the win were 2nd in 1949 and 4th in 1956. Parsons also won the Turkey Night Grand Prix for midgets in 1955, a race won more recently by NASCAR drivers Jason Lefler in 1999 and Tony Stewart in 2000.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for scanning his Dads photograph.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s rained out edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

29 05 11 Errata, thanks to evidence provided by Tim Murray it turns out that as of 2005 the Johnny Parsons spelling error had not been corrected. Apologies for any confusion caused.


One piece at a time – Morris Minor Tourer

Way back in my school days I remember listening to Johnny Cash’s tale about taking a piece of Cadillac home from the factory in his lunch box every day and thinking ‘if only …’ Looking at this beautiful black nugget of quintessential Englishness I began to wonder if someone had managed to pull off the feat of stealing this car one piece at at time from the Morris Factory at Cowley since the sum of the parts span the entire 3 series of production of the Minor Tourer from 1948 – 1969.

The split screen is from somewhere between ’48 and ’56
but the grill is post ’54.

Not sure what’s under the bonnet, at least an eye popping 30 hp 803 cc which comes in at 49cui.

The ‘Morris Minor’ badge is almost certainly Series II.

And when we look at the back we see those big tail lights match the side lights at the front, definitely post ’62.

We know from the 8th series ‘VG’ licence plate on the boot this car was probably first registered in Norwich and it appears to have been replaced one piece at a time ever since then.

Hope today’s edition was a breath of fresh air, thanks for popping by, looking forward to putting tomorrows edition of Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres together, don’t forget to came back now !