HERSHEY, PA – The unrelenting clock ticks closer and closer to The Elegance at Hershey weekend. Preparations are underway at a frenetic pace to ensure the weekend event is a spectacular one. We have welcomed back many of our past sponsors and donors and have added a number of new ones, too. The excitement is building from every corner. Folks at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the AACA Museum and the AACA Library and Research Center have lent valued members of their staffs to assist us in completing the myriad of tasks necessary to present our weekend-long celebration. As we become more and more immersed in the task at hand, we want to take a step back, catch our breath for a minute and remember what the upcoming holiday weekend represents.
First and foremost, Memorial Day is our day to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. As officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. Through the years it has become somewhat of a holiday to celebrate rather than to reflect, and perhaps those who have gone before would agree it should be.
The second thing Memorial Day brings to mind for most people is summer. In fact, many refer to it as the unofficial start to the summer season. And, if you are a racing buff or just love the fast action of the cars on the track, you are probably aware that this weekend marks the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. Millions of us will watch in awe as 33 cars take the green flag and charge into Turn 1 in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. About three hours and 250 laps later, one will emerge as the victor.
There are several very special race cars taking part in this year’s Elegance event. Their provenance may not be associated with Indy, but they are extraordinary examples of the race cars of the past. Here are just three of the 75+ antique cars that will take part in The Elegance events from June 12-14:
David R. Addison’s Ford-Auburn Special
This race car began life as a 1933 Ford, maintaining its frame and front axle as well as the rear deck, part of the rear quarters and the internal firewall. The rear axle is from a 1940 Ford. The front brakes are from a 1941-48 Lincoln. Power comes from a 21-stud 221cid 1937 Ford flathead V-8 with aluminum Ford heads from Canada. Two Stromberg 97 carbs are mounted on a very rare Frieman intake manifold highlighted by its two brass balance tubes. A hot Isky 400 Jr. cam works the valves with aggressive timing that give the easy-starting flathead a fierce lope at idle and leaving onlookers without the slightest doubt that this is one hot engine. Drive is taken through a 1939 Ford gearbox with stock gears to a fairly aggressive rear gear of probably 3.7:1 ratio. It is in the bodywork and choice of the underlying pieces where Addison’s workmanship and design sense is particularly apparent. The long hood, short body proportions belies the short V-8 under the hood. Addison cut down the radiator shell from a front-drive L-29 Cord and mated it perfectly to the hood. The sweeping fenders, running boards, dashboard and centerlock wire wheels (adapted to Ford hubs) are the Auburn part of the Special. The instruments are correct period Auburn replacement items with curved glass. Everything is done to standards of craftsmanship rarely seen on road racing specials and is more appropriate to the show cars being assembled by California customizers. In the early 1950s, David Addison sold the car to Robert L. Louis, who raced it at Pebble Beach as the “Louis Special” through 1956. It is believed to be the only surviving veteran of all seven of the Pebble Beach Road Races. Although not totally hidden from view during the 50 years after it last appeared at Pebble Beach, actually seen as far east as Indiana in the late 1980s, it was discovered stored in a shipping container in Anaheim in 2004. After its new owners gave it an immediate and thorough restoration, it was brought to the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance during the Concours’ salute to “Cars that raced in the Forest” and it earned a class award. The car became a part of the Wayne Carini collection in 2013. Mr. Carini will also compete in the Grand Ascent on Friday and Saturday, driving his Porsche-powered purpose built VW Streamliner.
The Saylor Corvette Factory Race Car
Zora Arkus Duntov, the “Father of the Corvette,” is thought to have managed the production of 43 RPO684 1957 race cars, including this car, which was the only one known to have been built with two four-barrel carburetors. As the second to the last 1957 Corvette produced, it was originally delivered to Arthur Saylor on September 25, 1957. The car was ordered on Father’s Day weekend in June 1957, but Chevrolet resisted building the 270hp carbureted version of RPO684 even though it was offered in their sales literature. It was finally completed for delivery on September 25, 1957. More than a week later, production lines changed over to the 1958 models. All other surviving 1957 Corvette race cars are equipped with Rochester Ramjet fuel injection and are thus rated at 283hp. In addition to Mr. Saylor, the car was driven by well-known racers Dick Guldstrand and Bob Bondurant.
Fillinger’s 1912 Mercedes-Benz
This last one is a treat for your eyes and ears. Hal Fillinger’s 1912 Mercedes-Benz is larger than life in many respects. Yes, it is 103 years old! It sports a 9.5 liter engine originally meant to power an airplane. This is truly a rare car; its early history is not well-documented. The complete chassis was found in Australia in the early ’80s and restored to what is believed to be its original configuration. Two hand-lever operated mechanical drum brakes struggle to harness this monster machine. You have to hear it to believe it. Hal doesn’t baby this beast; it’s pedal to the metal every time it roars up the hill.
So, as the holiday weekend approaches, we ask that you take pause to remember those who have served and sacrificed for this country, take some time to celebrate the beginning of summer with family and friends, and take just a few minutes to purchase your tickets for The Elegance online here..