Tag Archives: Rigling

Shafer 8 – Rigling Buick

Like the Wonder Bread Special I looked at last year today’s featured chassis is credited as being the handy work of Herman Rigling who is said to have built no fewer than 8 of the 40 chassis that started the 1931 Indy 500.

Rigling Buick, Silverstone Classic,

Foremost of the 8 entries that Herman had a hand in building was the Buick powered #12 example driven Phil Schafer known as the Schafer 8 which started 23rd and finished 12th.

Rigling Buick, Heinz Bachmann, Silverstone Classic,

The following season Phil returned to Indy to drive the #33 Shafer 8 Rigling Buick from 26th on the grid through to an 11th place finish.

Rigling Buick, Silverstone Classic,

In 1933 Phil was absent from the Indy 500 grid having failed to qualify the #7 Abels Fink Auto Special in an officially sanctioned qualifying session, he did qualify on the morning of the race, but officials realised they had overstepped their jurisdiction by allowing the running of a qualifying session on race day morning !

However the #8 Abels Fink Auto Special, Phil’s Shafer 8 dating back to 1931 , was driven by H W Stubblefield from 10th on the grid to a fifth place finish.

Rigling Buick, Silverstone Classic,

Phil entered two Shafer 8’s for the 1934 Indy 500, it would appear his original Rigling Buick was entered as the #36 for Al Miller and his mechanician Pinky Donaldson while Phil and mechanician Earle Frost drove the #26 Shafer 8.

Rigling Buick, Silverstone Classic,

Al drove to a 6th place finish from 8th on the grid while Phil starting from an Indy 500 career high 6th on the grid recorded his only Indy 500 retirement with a broken cam shaft drive after completing 130 laps to be classified 16th in his last drive at the Brickyard.

Rigling Buick, Silverstone Classic,

Phil continued competing in the AAA championship until 1936 and continued to participate in the Pikes Peak Hillclimb until 1952.

Heinz Bachmann is seen at the wheel of a Rigling Buick above that is believed to be the Shafer 8 that Phil Shafer failed to qualify at Indy in 1933 but with which Paul won the AAA non Championship race at Elgin Illinois, as described at the end of the post by John Glenn Printz, and raced in his final Indy start in 1934.

My thanks to Vitesse2 and Michael Ferner at the Nostalgia Forum for their help with some of the details in today’s story, I highly recommend reading Michael’s retelling of the 1933 Indy 500 qualification saga part 1 of which appears linked here and part 2 linked here with the race report linked here.

Thanks for joining me on this “Shafer 8” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a DIY Backie. Don’t forget to come back now !


Wonder Bread Special – Rigling #0113S

It’s the month of May where the focus of open wheel racing fans traditionally descends on Indianapolis of the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” run, inclement weather not withstanding, on Memorial Day weekend. As in years passed this months Sunday blogs will look at some of the vehicles from Indy’s 103 year history starting with this 1933 Rigling.

Rigling & Henning Buick, Wonder Bread Special, Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea

Getting the story of US built cars that participated in the Indy 500 up to 1964 right is probably one of the more difficult challenges a motor historian can undertake, in part because the open wheel scene was largely a cottage industry with only a hand full of people in the know and in part because naming rights were sold in return for sponsorship. Identification and histories of cars from the low tech low cost so called Junkyard Formula of the post depression years 1930 – 1939 are particularly hard to discern because of the low budgets and many unannounced deals that took place to keep the grids full.

Rigling & Henning Buick, Wonder Bread Special, Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea

So far as I know the earliest appearance of a chassis credited to Herman Rigling was in the 1931 Indy 500 when 8 of the 40 starters are credited with being built by Rigling. The Rigling built cars were powered by either Buick, Miller, Studebaker, Clemons or Dusenberg motors. Top Rigling finisher was Phil Shafer in his Buick powered example known as the Shafer 8 he was classified 12th.

Rigling & Henning Buick, Wonder Bread Special, Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea

There is a photograph showing what appears to be today’s featured car, the #54 Wonder Bread Special, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1933 with rookie George Barringer at the wheel with Earl Allen his riding mechanician. George and Earl appear to have failed to qualify for the race.

Wonder Bread, a brand invented by the Indianapolis based Taggart bakery, did however sponsor the #18 Duesenburg driven by Joe Russo who classified 17th and running with 192 laps completed, while H.W. Stubblefield driving the #8 Abels and Fink Auto Rigling Buick did finish 5th in the The 21st International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race.

George Barringer made his first Indy start in 1934 driving the #18 Boyle Products Miller being classified 15th completing 161 laps before a front axle problem intervened. His best Indy 500 result came in 1939 when he finished 6th driving Bill Whites Well Offy.

Some of the above is at variance with the information displayed with the car at Concours on the Avenue in Carmel by the Sea some years ago, if you have evidence to show my information is incorrect please do not hesitate to chime in below.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photo’s of the #54 Wonder Bread Special seen at Concours on the Avenue, Carmel by the Sea in 2012.

Thanks for joining me on this “Wonder Bread Special” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me for Maserati Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


85% Stock Specials – Studebakers 1932 to 1933

Moving forward a couple of decades from yesterdays post today we are looking a couple of Studebakers that appeared at Indy in 1932 and 1933, thanks to photographs by Ed Arnaudin taken in 1962.

1962 012s

In 1932 Studebaker built and entered 5 boat tail specials for the Indianapolis 500.

Unlike most cars entered at Indianapolis at the time 85% of the mechanical parts used in these vehicles were stock items.

Indianapolis chassis specialist Hermann Rigling built the frames and bodies to accommodate the 200 hp 5.5 litre 336 cui straight 8 engines which were sourced from the Studebaker President along with most of the rest of the running gear. The finished cars were said to be capable of 140 mph.

The #22 above was entered for Cliff Bergere and riding mechanic Vern Lake who qualified 10th and finished 3rd in the highest ranking Studebaker at the end of the race.

Cliff from Toledo Ohio first ran at Indianapolis in 1927, this was his best finish which he equalled in 1939. By the end of his career in 1947 Cliff had competed in a then record 16 starts having led 25 laps of a record, at the time, 2,426 laps of racing at the Brickyard.

Cliff is remembered for having completed the 1941 race without a pit stop although he was overcome by fumes after taking the lead and dropped to 5th at the finish line.

He was due to drive a highly rated Novi in 1948, but an ill advised fuel tank enlargement rendered the car unsafe in his opinion, this was in part substantiated after he quit the team.

The popular and ultimately unfortunate Ralph Hepburn took the Novi over he ran at close to record speeds before fatally loosing control and hitting the wall.

In 1940 Bergere helped the 57 year old ‘Racing Mayor’ Ab Jenkins set a 24 hour average speed of 161 mph in the fearsome Mormon Meteor III powered by a 750 horsepower 12 cylinder Curtis aircraft engine at Bonneville.

1962 013s

After the modest 3rd place success in 1932 Studebaker returned to Indianapolis in 1933 with some improved cars.

For 1933 the factory supported cars again with a combination of Rigling chassis and and 336 cui straight 8 President motors appeared with more streamlined body work than in 1932.

The the Studebaker post race advertising and studebakerracing.com shows Studebaker entered a five car team.

The #34 shown here was driven by Tony Gulotta finished 7th highest place amongst the 5 cars with 336 cui President engines and one place behind a smaller 250 cui Studebaker Commander powered Rigling Chassis known as the Art Rose Special driven by Dave Evans.

Tony Gulotta from New Orleans finished a career high 8th in the 1927 American Championship Car Racing National Championship aboard a Miller.

Thereafter Tony focused his efforts primarily on the ‘Indy 500’ coming within 18 laps of winning the race in 1928 driving a Stutz Blackhawk Special Miller when a clogged fuel line sent him to the pits resulting in a 10th place finish. Tony’s best finish at Indianapolis from 13 starts remained his 3rd place finish in 1927.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for sending me the scans of his Dad’s slides and to E.B. of The Nostalgia Forum for identifying both vehicles.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s 85% stock special edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres and that you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !