The Great Depression affected industries on a global scale. The automobile industry was not shielded from this catastrophe; many prominent and well established businesses were forced to close their doors forever. The racing industry was the same; people were unwilling or unable to participate as either an entrant or a spectator as they had done prior to The Great Depression. To re-stimulate racing, Indy created the 'Junk Formula', which was aimed at attracting low cost racers and home-grown specials to participate. The rules were more relaxed and the response was spectacular. In 1933, a total of 42 cars lined up for top honors. This caused other problems, or at least fueled problems that were already existent, mainly safety concerns. From 1931 through 1935, there were 15 fatalities. The problems were many, such as faster racing speeds, track conditions, and an increase in drivers. To help alleviate this problem, some of the bricks in parts of the track were removed and the area was repaved with tarmac.
The supercharged 91 cubic-inch Millers and Duesenberg's of the 1920s had dominated the Indy racing scene. They were powerful, advanced and well refined. To bring competition back to Indy, and to reduce the speeds, the Junk Formula was established.
During the early 1930s, Angelo Lucenti, Roy W. Painter and John C. Saunders created Lupasa. The name was formed from the surnames of these individuals, LUcenti, PAinter, and SAunders. The group was located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the racer they created was formed mostly from spare parts. Under the bonnet was a straight-eight cylinder Graham engine that displaced 265 cubic-inches. To boost power even further, the engine was fitted with a high-lift cam and larger valves. Since the Junk Formula class did not allow superchargers, and the Graham came equipped with a centrifugal blower, it was removed and replaced with four Winfield Model SR carburetors.
The car was brought to Indianapolis for the 1932 500 race where it failed to qualify. The car had been driven by Painter and his riding mechanic, Eddie Shearn. It was later raced at Syracuse, New York with Bryan Saulspaugh at the wheel, and managed a 21st in qualifying. This was too slow to make the grid.
In 1934, Lucenti, a plumbing contractor from Pittsburgh, brought the car back to Indy using his own name to identify the vehicle. It was driven by Ardinger who was accompanied by his riding mechanic, Shearn, drove the car to a 111.722 mph qualifying speed and managed to secure a location in the middle of the fifth row. Ardinger drove most the race, relinquishing the reigns on lap number 92 to Danny Day, who drove the car the remained of the race. At the conclusion of the race, the Lucenti Special had managed a tenth place finish and had averaged 95.9 mph. The car had managed to finish the race and beat a slew of other faster competitors.
The Lucenti's next race was at Springfield, Illinois where it qualified 11th and finished 8th. It was brought to Syracuse where it qualified 9th and ran in eight-place until a bearing failed on lap number 51 and it was forced to retire prematurely.
For the 1935 season, Painter brought the car back to Indy under the name 'Frigenor Special.' It was driven by Herschell McKee who spun the car during qualifying and ran it into a wall. The car sustained minor damage. Painter drove the car on the following day, and managed a 106.6 mph effort, but did not qualify for the race.
It may have been used in minor races for the next few years throughout Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, before it was abandoned in an orphanage yard. The car was later sold to its next owner, who kep the car for over fifty-years. The car was restored to its original glory and a rocket-ship design was painted on its side. The maroon painted body was replaced with white. Other non-original features to this car are its missing tail pipes and upholstery. The rest of the car, from its aluminum body, wheels, transmission, and engine are all original.
This car was offered for sale at the 2006 Bonhams & Butterfields auction held at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, California where it was estimated to sell between $225,000 - $300,000. The lot was sold for $216,000, selling just below the vehicles estimated value. Still, a fine price for a highly-original car with a racing history that includes a tenth-place finish at Indy.Also photographed at :
This car was named after one of the owners, Angelo Lucenti, a plumbing contractor from Pittsburgh, PA. The car was based on the 1932 Graham 'Blue Streak' and built to super stock formula. In 1934, driven by Rookie Herb Andinger, the car averaged a qualifying speed of 111.722 mph and secured a spot in the middle of the fifth row. It finished 10th in the Indy 500, where it ran an average speed of 95.9 mph and won $1,425. It was powered by a straight-eight cylinder Graham engine that displaced 265 cubic-inches. It was also fitted with a Graham chassis.
It returned to Indy in 1935 under a different name. It failed to qualify after it sustained minor damage hitting a wall during qualifying runs. The following day they managed a run of 106.6 mph, but still did not qualify for the race.
This original car has been restored as it last raced at Indy.
Auto racing has always had a couple of nagging questions it has had to address: 'How can we increase competition? And, how can the cars be made simpler and less expensive?' These questions existed from the very first days of auto racing and are a big emphasis of every series in existence today.
Back in 1930, the apparent answer to those questions came to be what was not-so-loving referred to as the 'Junk Formula'.
In 1928 Indianapolis Motor Speedway invited engineers from the auto industry to a meeting to discuss attracting a new class of competitor and finding ways to involve the car industry in technical innovations. Throughout the 1920s, the 500 mile race had come down to a battle literally between just two car types, the Duesenbergs and the Miller chassis. Because only a couple of purposed-built cars were winning the big race year-after-year many other car manufacturers were turned away from racing. As with any motor racing series, the presence of many car manufacturers keeps the series healthy and wealthy because it helps to keep costs down. Purpose-built race cars are very expensive because they are few in number and replacement parts are likewise few in number.
The meeting called by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was meant to address this very real challenge and to try and increase interest and competition. What was decided was that there would be a certain number of regulations imposed. As the new regulations favored production based parts and components, the series was derogatorily called the 'Junk Formula' by many.
The new regulations were not bad in everybody's eyes. Some saw it as their opportunity to get involved in motor racing. Among those who saw this as their opportunity were three businessmen from Pittsburgh. Angelo Lucenti, Roy Painter and John Saunders started Lupasa.
The epitome of what the new regulations were intended to do, the Pittsburgh businessmen started out with a straight-eight engine from a Graham Blue Streak, and then, built a car up around it from more available production parts. When the car was finished being put together, Lupasa had a 265 cubic inch L-head inline eight cylinder engine car with a three-speed manual transmission and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Suspension for the car consisted of a solid front axle and live rear axle, both with semi-elliptic leaf springs. As could be expected, the body was narrow, but wide enough for a driver and a mechanic.
While the new regulations made it possible for just about anybody to go racing, Lupasa proved that not just anyone could go racing. In 1932, the businessmen entered their car for the Indianapolis 500 mile race. Painter would be the car's driver and Eddie Shearn riding along as mechanic. Painter ended up failing to qualify for the race.
The car proved too slow once again when it was entered in a race in Syracuse, New York. Not much was heard from the team after 1932. Then, in 1934, the car was again entered in the Indy 500, but under Lucenti's own name. Herb Ardinger managed to get the car in the race this time with a speed of 111.722 mph. This placed Ardinger on the 5th row of the grid. During the race, Danny Day took over behind the wheel on lap 92. Day ended up the race in 10th and averaged a little over 95 mph. The car achieved its best result ever for Lucenti at Springfield, Illinois when it finished 8th in a race during that year.
Painter took the car back to Indianapolis the following year and tried to enter it in the race. The car spun during qualifying, however, and lightly touched the wall. The damage was light enough that Painter tried to qualify it again the following day, but was unable to achieve a speed fast enough to make the field.
The fate handed to the Lupasa chassis would have made those who held the new regulations in such low-esteem incredibly happy. After possibly being raced a few more times, the car was donated to an orphanage and basically became a play-toy.
When the car was discovered a few years later, it was found to be in remarkable shape. All of the car's major original components were still on the car. The car was repainted and kept for over 50 years. In 2006, the Lucenti Special was sold.
Upon being purchased at auction, the car was taken and restored to the way it was when it was entered in the 1934 Indianapolis 500. The restoration work ended up garnering a class win at Amelia Island just this past year. This same class winning car was made available at this year's auction, and was expected to earn more money than it ever had while racing.
Due to 'Junk Formula' survivors being incredibly few in number, and because of the condition of this example, Lucenti's Special is more commanding of attention and worthy of awards than when it first came to be seventy years ago. Truly this 'Junk' has become another's treasure.
'The Junk Formula', (http://oilpressure.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/the-junk-formula/). OilPressure: Speed is Life. http://oilpressure.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/the-junk-formula/. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
'Buy: View Lots (Lot 255: 1932 Lucenti Indianapolis Special)', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r201&fc=0). RM Auctions Arizona. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r201&fc=0. Retrieved 12 January 2011.