1947 Kurtis Kraft Midget

Frank Kurtis infatuations with automobiles began at an early age. His father owned a blacksmith shop located in Pueblo, Colorado that repaired automobiles and horse-and-buggy. The family later moved to Los Angeles, CA where Frank got a job working with Don Lee Cadillac, after lying about his age. By the 1930's, Frank was designing, building, and repairing racers in his four car garage located behind his house.

In 1941 he had created a car to be entered in the Indianapolis race which was driven by Sam Hanks. Near the mid-1940's, he had created two other racers designed for Indy. The first was for Ross page and the second was the Novi Special. The Novi V8 Specials were racing cars designed to compete at Indianapolis from 1941 through 1965. These were very fast and powerful machines that had a reputation for their handling, which had claimed the lives of two drivers.

During the 1940's, Kurtis fostered a reputation for his midget and Indy racers. In 1946, the Kurtis Miller Ross Page Special had been created and was ready to compete in the first Indy 500 after World War II. The rear faring was constructed of Plexiglas and powered by a 183 cubic-inch Offenhauser engine. It competed in the 1946-1948 Indianapolis 500 races.

By 1947 he had created the Kurtis-Kraft Special, his personal entrant in the 1948 Indy race. This one-off was built specifically to Frank Kurtis's specification and desire. During the 1948 season, it carried Frank to a 9th place finish at Indy and 12th in points. For the 1949 season, under the name of Wynn's Oil Special, it was driven by Johnny Parson and wearing the number 1 on its side, to a first overall finish at Indianapolis. The vehicle was later sold to Jim Robbins who drove it in the 1951 Indianapolis race where he finished with an impressive 2nd overall.

During the early 1950's, Kurtis continued to built Indianapolis and midget racers. He even began building sports cars which later evolved into the Muntz Road Jet. By 1952, the majority of cars entered in the Indianapolis race were designed and built by Kurtis Kraft.

In 1952, Herb Porter and Frank Kurtis built the Wolcott Special, also known as the Kurtis 500A. It ran at Indianapolis in 1952, driven by Joie James, where it set records and lap times of 140 mph.

The 500 S was constructed in 1953 where it quickly proved its potential at sporting events around the country. The 500 S was quickly followed by the 500 M. There were six 500 X cars produced during the mid-1950's. The cars featured a four-bar torsion suspension, hand-formed aluminum panels, and a 364 cubic-inch Buick nailhead engine with Hilborn fuel injection.

In 1956, Frank left the Kurtis-Kraft Company and his business partners to begin his new company called Frank Kurtis Company. The company continued to build midget roadsters, go-karts, and sports cars. Since then, the company has shifted their focus to designing airplanes. Contracts with Lockheed Corporation lead to the construction of Start Carts for the SR-71 Blackbird.

In 1968 Frank retired from the company leaving his son Arlen in charge.

During Frank Kurtis's illustrious career, he created vehicles that dominated the midget racing series, racers that filled the grid at Indianapolis, and sports cars that were street legal Indianapolis racer variants. His custom creations, such as his 1941 Buick was sensational which ultimately led to the Muntz Jet automobiles.


by Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2006

Related Reading : Kurtis Kraft Midget History

Despite its odd proportions and relative obscurity, the Kurtis-Kraft Midget is a bigger car than its name suggests… Well, actually its name is perfectly apt at describing the cars diminutive dimensions. But that innocent little label doesnt even begin to hint at how successful and formidable a racing car the Kurtis-Kraft Midget was. Now a largely unknown car from a largely unknown maker, the Midget....
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Related Reading : Kurtis Kraft Midget History

Midget racing was gaining in popularity in the post-War era, and many racers were finding it difficult to compete due to rule changes and escalating expenses. The governing bodies had imposed and engine displacement limit of 100 to 140 cubic-inches, and for many Midget racers, the start-of-the-art Offenhauser engine was too expensive. Alternatives were found, but most were sourced from larger motors....
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1947 Kurtis Kraft Midget vehicle information

Roadster

Engine Num: 361

This 1947 Midget was Kurtis Kraft Kit Car assembled by Loran Bennett and Bob Paneratz who worked for Kurtis Kraft. The car carried #3 and was driven by Bob Breading who won 28 out of its first 33 features. He won the MRA/CMRA Championship in 1948 a....[continue reading]

1947 Kurtis Kraft Midget vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: 198

This car was purchased new by Elmer Falk in 1948 and retained by him until his death in 1994. Noted East Coast restorer, Joe Fiore, acquired the car from the estate in 1994 and it was restored for 1950s/60s sprint car owner Walter Beletsky.....[continue reading]

1947 Kurtis Kraft Midget vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: 139

This Kurtis Kraft Midget Racer is chassis number 139. It was first owned by George Bignotti, a USAC Hall of Famer who, working as a mechanic, helped win the Indianapolis 500 seven times. During the 1948 BCRA season, this Kurtis was raced over 115 tim....[continue reading]

Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: 198 
Roadster
Chassis #: 139 


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