1961 Elder Indy Special news, pictures, and information
This example is one of two built in 1960-61 by Edgar Elder in El Monte, California. Ray Crawford, a Pasadena supermarket owner, commissioned Elder to build a car for the 1959 Indy 500. The car started 32nd and made it 115 laps before crashing. It finished in 23rd place. Elder built two new cars in 1961, both powered by Offenhauser/Meyer-Drake engines. Titanium was used extensively through the roadster, including the Watts linkage, knockoff hubs, torsion arms, front and rear hubs, front spindles and the front axle.
The car with engine number 212 was delivered to Crawford in 1961. It was painted in yellow and black for its McCullough Chain-saw sponsorship and given #94. Driver Cliff Griffith failed to qualify the car at Indy; its next appearance was at Milwaukie on June 4th of 1961 at a 100-mile USAC race, where it was piloted by Bill Cheesbourg. The roadster finished 13th and then won the 20-lap consolation event. Crawford drove it at the Phoenix one-mile dirt oval on November 19th, but unfortunately crashed.
For the following season, the car was repaired and re-painted red as the #96 'Meguiars Mirror-Glaze Special.' It made another attempt at qualifying at Indy - this time by Crawford, but was again unsuccessful. So Bob Veith took over and started in 19th place. Unfortunately, the car was forced to retire prematurely due to a cam drive failure on lap 14.
For 1963, the car was entered as the #47 McCulloch Special and it qualified at 147.62 mph but was bumped from the field. This would be the car's final appearance at Indy.
On June 9th, Al Miller qualified 11th at Milwaukee. During the race, the car brushed the wall and retired early. It was sent back to Elder's shop for repairs and upon completion, raced at the Sacramento 100-mile dirt race on October 27th, 1963. The driver, Bill Cantrell, drove it to a 14th place finish.
After its racing career was done, it spent the next six years in a glass case outside one of Crawford's supermarkets, minus its engine. After that, it passed through several collectors until 1977, when it was purchased by Mel Barlow, who owned the Stafford Springs Speedway in Connecticut.
Barlow owned Offy #174, which had run at Indy in 1955 and 1956. That engine was then installed in the restored Elder-Crawford car. It saw very little use before being parked for the next 23 years. In 2004, the car was purchased by Brock Yates who gave the car to Joe Fiore of Southbury, Connecticut for a restoration. The car was finished in its #96 red Meguiar's livery which it wears today.
The powerplant is a 252 cubic-inch Meyers-Drake/Offenhauser, DOHC four-cylinder engine fitted with a Hillborn fuel-injection system. It runs on methanol and offers around 400 horsepower. There is a two-speed transmission and four-wheel disc brakes.
In 2011, this vehicle was offered for sale at the Amelia Island Auction presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $120,000-$160,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $181,500 including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2011
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