The "Holy Grail" of 20th century racing
In this episode we are given a tour of one of the most significant cars in the world. When this car was sent to Harry Miller's shop in Los Angeles it started a tradition of winning and influenced just about all automotive design for decades to come.
Harry Miller – Los Angeles
His involvement with the racing side of his carburetor business led first to repairing and and then building race cars. In the early 1920s, he built his own 3.0 litre (183 in³) engine. Inspired by a Peugeot Grand Prix engine which had been serviced in his shop by Fred Offenhauser in 1914, it had 4 cylinders, dual overhead camshafts and 4 valves per cylinder. It powered Jimmy Murphy's Duesenberg to victory in the 1922 Indianapolis 500. Miller then progressed to making Miller single-seater race cars that used supercharged versions of his 2.0 and 1.5 liter (122 and 91 in³) engines. The engines took four more wins in the 500 up to 1929, twice (1926 and 1928) in Miller chassis, and won the race another seven times between 1929 and 1938 (twice again, in 1930 and 1932, in Miller chassis).
In the 1920s and 1930s, Miller engines also powered speedboats to several race wins.
Miller declared bankruptcy in 1933. His shop foreman and chief machinist Fred Offenhauser purchased the business and continued development of the engine as the Offenhauser.
After bankruptcy, Miller built race cars with Indianapolis 500 enthusiast Preston Tucker and in 1935 they formed Miller and Tucker, Inc., whose first job was to build ten modified Ford V-8 racers for Henry Ford. With insufficient time available for their development and testing, all these cars dropped out when the steering boxes, installed too close to the exhaust, overheated and locked up. The design was later perfected by privateers, and examples ran at Indianapolis through 1948. Wikipedia
The first car was built in 1911 and the results were not long in coming with Boillot winning the 1912 Grand Prix of France followed by victories at the Coupe de la Sarthe and the Indianapolis 500 the following year.
Mike "FossilMedic" Ward