Own A Significant Part Of Racing History: Offenhauser Patterns

The Mecum Auction Company specializes in selling collector car, vintage and antique cars and motorcycles throughout their various auctions in the United States. In the 29 years the company has been providing this service, we rarely see items that really generate interest in the dirt track community. However, the auction in Indy slated for May 14 – 19 of 2019 has items that have tremendous historical importance to the dirt circle track historians. A full collection of Offenhauser casting patterns from Miller, Offenhauser, Meyer, and Drake engines is open for bids.

We counted 18-different lots of original casting patterns in the collection. These patterns feature some of the most historical significant racing engines in circle track history – not just dirt track.

Harry Miller turned the racing world around in 1923 when Louis Meyer won the Indianapolis 500 in the Miller Special car. Meyer’s career was launched by the win, and Miller’s legend began when the race community realized the 9 of the top 10 cars that day were built by Harry Miller. His engine work on these cars began one of the longest eras of dominance by any engine in racing history.

We documented this legendary superiority in the article Offenhauser. The Greatest Racing Engine Ever Built? Without counting the Miller success, Offenhauser engines won 27 times out of 41 attempts in the Indianapolis 500 with Johnny Rutherford’s win in 1976. From 1947 through 1964, Offenhauser engines powered the winning cars in the Indianapolis 500 – 17 straight years. From 1950 through 1960, Offenhauser-powered cars not only won the Indy 500 but also claimed all three podium positions, winning the pole in 10 of the 11 years. From 1946 to 1969, Offenhauser engines won 245 Champ-car races.

Offenhauser’s Midget engines were unbeatable. In fact, they dominated midget racing so much that two series had to be operated, one for Offenhauser engines and one for all other engine types. This was done to give the budget racers using Ford V8-60 engines an opportunity to win. Offenhauser sold his business to Louis Meyer and Dale Drake in 1946. They continued to build engines into the 1970s. Their midget engines being the most successful for the company. Most of their midget engines were sold as 102ci variants of the original 92ci engine, but they offered the engine in displacements as large as 111 cubic-inches.

Mecum is offering the original 97ci patterns from the first engine Offenhauser ever built. Also included are the patterns for his 97ci large-valve full head case and full manifold. The other patterns and parts listed in the press release span from the 1930s to the 1970s. The collection encompasses many other known engine patterns as well. The legendary race-dominating Offy engines will forever hold their places in the history and the record books and everyone has an opportunity to own a historically significant part of that dynasty.

We’d love to see the collection kept as a set and hopefully a museum will see the value in keeping the patterns together. For more information about the auction, visit Mecum at www.mecum.com.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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