1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special

1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special 1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special 1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special Race Car
Engine # 56
Sold for $473,000 at 2015 Bonhams : The Scottsdale Auction.
This Auto Shipper's Special was built on a Russ Snowberger chassis and used many parts taken from the famed Miller cars, as Louis Rassey (owner of Auto Shippers) had purchased most of the Miller stock.

Running in its orange and black livery, it made a promising debut, qualifying in 1949, as driver George Lynch hurtled around the brickyard's 2.5-mile oval to achieve 8th place on the grid. His three-lap qualifying average speed was 127.823 MPH, 4 MPH faster than Duke Nalon's pole time of 123.939. However, it was set on the second weekend of qualifying and not the first like Nalon's. Unfortunately, this did not go far, as on race day Lynch hit the wall on the opening lap and spun onto the infield.

The car was rebuilt and entered for the 1950 Indy 500, this time driven by Bill Schnidler. It qualified at an average speed of 132.690 MPH, a time only bettered by three other cars. On race day, it ran well for over half the distance, but on lap 111 of 200, a universal joint broke forcing retirement. In fact, this race was stopped by rain just 27 laps later (128). The car was run for the rest of the season with mixed results of retirement and a 12th place finish at Springfield and 7th at the Darlingon races.

Louis Rassey retained the car for quite awhile and then sold it to renowned Indy car collector David V. Uimlein in the mid 70s. He had the car built with Juo Phillps rebuilding the Offenhauser engine.

The car was purchased from David Uimlein in 1998.

1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special 1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special 1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special Race Car
Engine # 56
Sold for $473,000 at 2015 Bonhams : The Scottsdale Auction.
The power plant is the inline four-cylinder Offenhauser unit. Painted in the distinctive orange and black livery at the 1949 Indy 500, George Lynch began in 8th place on the grid but only completed on lap of the race. The following year it was driven by Indy rookie and one-legged East Coast sprint specialist, Bill Schindler. It ran near the front of the field, but on lap 111 a universal joint failed, forcing the car into retirement. The car continued to race up until 1953. For many years this famous vehicle remained the property of Louis Rassey.
1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special 1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special 1949 Auto Shipper Indy Special Race Car
Engine # 56
Sold for $473,000 at 2015 Bonhams : The Scottsdale Auction.
In 1950, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it would seem a fool's errand to put Bill Schindler behind the wheel of the 1948 Automobile Shippers Special Indy Roadster. However, given Schindler's incredible success on just about any racing surface it seemed abundantly clear the team had a leg to stand on.

One leg is all that Schindler did have having suffered a terrible accident in Upstate New York in the mid-1930s. Wildly successful in midget race cars, the accident threatened Schindler's career. Nothing would be able to slow Bill down as long as he had the one good leg.

Having been successful in midget racing, he would turn to Sprint Cars and would even take part in the filming of 'To Please a Lady' that starred Clark Gable. Despite being new to Sprint Car racing, Schindler would go on to finish 2nd in his first race. It would be a remarkable performance by the veteran and would be all the convincing Lou Rassey would need leading up to the next race of the 1950 season.

Lou Rassey's Auto Shippers Special was a venerable design having been built in 1948. Initially, the car was powered by a V-16 engine. However, the design would prove troublesome and would lead to the engine being replaced by a Meyer & Drake Offenhauser four-cylinder. The switch would do little to change the fortunes of the team. In 1948, the team's qualifying attempt would be rained out. The following year, George Lynch would bury the car into the wall on just the second lap of the race. This would be terribly disappointing since Lynch had qualified 8th.

Now, in 1950, the Indy Roadster was not the spritely design it had once been and Rassey decided to 'handicap' his efforts all the more by hiring Schindler to drive the car. This decision would not be as foolish as it seemed however.

In his first attempt, Bill would set an impressive speed in qualifying at 132.690mph. By the end of qualifying Schindler would be down in 22nd on the grid. This wouldn't seem very impressive, but it was. Then, in the race, the car and driver would show their quality. After an early spin, Schindler would settle in and would steadily make his way forward in the running order. Well past the halfway mark he was running just outside of the top ten. Sadly, a universal joint failed on the car bringing the run to a premature end. This would be terribly disappointing given the fact ran showed up just 12 laps later and the race was flagged.

Tragically, Schindler would not get the opportunity to show what he could do around Indy. Suffering a terrible accident in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Bill's life and career would come to an end. That same year, Rassey would sell the roadster to Charlie Hahn.

Hahn would attempt to use the car to qualify for the 1952 Indianapolis 500, but by that point in time the car's moment had come and gone. Eventually, the roadster would end up with Brooks Stevens in his museum located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 1982, David Uihlein would purchase the Indy Roadster adding it to his impressive collection. At the same time, Uihlein would decide to restore the car to its 1950 glory. This meant the brilliant orange livery would be back on the car, right along with all of the little logos and designs that marked the times.

The car's current owner acquired the car in 1998 and would be immediately taken by its look and history. As a result of the pride and the quality of the restoration, the decision would be made to display the car as part of that year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Offered as part of Bonhams' Arizona auction in 2015, the 1948 Automobile Shippers Special Indy Roadster would draw some keen interest in bidding. The result would be a sale price of $473,000, inclusive of the buyers premium.

By Jeremy McMullen

Indianapolis Vehicles



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