DAN'S LITTLE RACER: BUILDING A PASSION
Story/pictures by Al Novotnik

If you were looking for a midget race car in this day and age, you would probably be looking for a space frame, cross torsion, bar chassis, coil over front ends, possibly a starter, a fuel cell and fiberglass body parts. For power, you would be considering a Gaete, Esslinger, Brayton, Fontana, Ford, and the list goes on and on.

Now if you were looking around in the 1930's things would be a little different. The chassis would be a reworked car chassis, possibly from a Ford Model T. Most parts would be from the passenger cars of that time. Power would probably be a Miller-type four-stroke cycle engine, Elto outboard motor, Saxon, Indian Four, Harley Twin or even a Gary Marine engine- most any two- or four-cylinder that would fit into the small frame.

Dan Curley of Marlboro, MA, spent quite a time looking for just the right Vintage Midget racer. Not being able to find one to his liking, he decided, "why not build one?" For Dan, who makes his living as a model maker, this seemed to be a perfect project. But where do you begin?

Dan got a copy of ~ Automobile Racing ~ , a book published in 1935 by Ray Kuns. It had just what he was looking for in an article titled, "Building the Standard Midget Racing Car".

The Midget illustrated in the article and the working drawings which accompanied the article, was given the name "Standard Midgets" for the reason that it was a composite of the best features of a number of successful racing Midgets of the era. In reality, a Midget is approximately 3/4 the size of the dirt tract racers of their time, with a wheelbase of 70" and a tire tread of 44".

Dan started collecting parts in the mid 80's, but the big push forward came in 1989, when the bulk of the work on the car got into high gear. Not only was the project an ideal one for Dan, you might say it fit him to a tee. Being about 5'6" in height, he was the ideal size for the project.

Dan cut, welded and ground to perfection the 10 gauge steel frame. All of the brackets and mounting plates were positioned in place as the car started to take shape. The front end assembly was built from early Ford components, hubs, spindles, ect. The friction shocks were hand fabricated by Dan also. The rear end was a cut down Model T with mechanical brakes installed on the rear only. It rests on 12" diameter rims and tires, Power for Dan's little jewel came from a 1937 Ford 60 V/8.

The car is unique in that Dan left the Ford transmission on, so there is no in/out box. The body components, its flat tail design and flared cowl, were formed and hammered by Dan. The finished pieces are extremely smooth, as no plastic fillers were used. The hood and grill are fabricated from aluminum, as was the bellypan. The finished product is painted dark blue with a silver trim. Very little crome is used, as in the Midgets of the 30's. The bumpers and exhaust are cad-plated.

With the car finished and ready for running, only one thing was left, a trailer. So, back to the shop, and a matching trailer now carries the little racer. Now Dan can be found around eastern Vintage races with his pride and joy.

If you're ever in the area, stop at one of the Vintage shows and talk to Dan about his 1990's-built 1930's Midget. You can't miss it! Oh! By the way, what is Dan doing Now? He's building another Vintage racer, of course.

BACK HOME* PICTURE PAGE * CONTACT PAGE
Site Created By JEMPROS.COM