Lot 280 - 1930 Ford V8 'Midget Racer’
|Result||Sold - £6,160|
In the 1930s and 1940s, America was gripped by a new kind of
motorsport, midget racing. Modelled on the larger cars that raced
at Indianapolis, midget racers competed across the country on
tracks in football and baseball stadia, at county fairs, on purpose
built quarter-mile ovals and even on rough tracks carved out of
cornfields. For nearly two decades, midget racing took place seven
nights a week and twice daily at weekends.
Most racing organisations set engine capacity limits between 100 and 140ci, limiting the choice of passenger car engines for constructors so that most early midgets were powered by outboard motors or motorcycle engines. In 1934, Fred Offenhauser created a powerful four-cylinder, 98ci midget engine based on the famous Miller racing engine and 'Offys' quickly became dominant in midget racing, though not all could afford them. In 1937, Ford launched a 136ci, 60hp, V8 engine intended as a more economical alternative to their larger flathead V8 engine. At last there was an alternative for 'cash-strapped' midget racers that could challenge the dominance of the 'Offy' and V8-60s remained successful in competition into the 1950s.
Very little is known about this distinctive V8 sports racer; it was imported from a museum collection in the United States. This red single seater, with original sponsorship decals and number, is sporting the handbrake outside as per the period. This example would certainly take pride of place in a collection; harking back to the days when racing and drivers perhaps had to be a lot more in tune with their machines and indeed the track!