Monday, December 12, 2016

The Dieselpunk Roadster
Tom McGriff of Mac Miller’s Garage in Indianapolis has over 50 years of experience at the top levels of professional automobile racing as a mechanic and fabricator and has been involved in the design, construction and development of sports racing, Indianapolis and sprint cars including chassis, suspension, components, systems and bodywork.
Tom behind the wheel of the 1920's Boyle Valve Special
replica he built from the ground up at Winchester Speedway
For the last twenty-five years, Tom has worked as an independent designer and constructor of vintage style American racing cars which include nineteen twenties and thirties style speedway cars, as well as ‘big cars’ and Indianapolis style roadsters from the decades of the nineteen fifties  and nineteen sixties. 


At the 2016 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) racing trade show in Indianapolis, McGriff shared with the author his plans for a race car inspired by the ‘art deco’ era locomotives to be powered by a four-cylinder diesel engine which he calls the “dieselpunk roadster.”

McGriff hopes to use a new Cummins four-cylinder diesel, or possibly a Mazda Skyactiv diesel engine. The “dieselpunk roadster” would be a hit at car shows and  trade shows and could be used in vintage racing events such as those sanctioned by the SVRA (Sportscar Vintage Racing Association).

To learn more visit or or send Tom McGriff an email at

Monday, March 7, 2016

Indy's Bench Racing Weekend coming soon!

We are less than 2 weeks away from Bench Racing Weekend 2016 with another terrific event planned. The event starts Friday March 18 and concludes on Saturday night March 19th with a featured interview -no doubt attendees will hear some interesting racing history.

In summary, Bench Racing Weekend includes:

·         This year’s events begin on Friday evening. Dave “The King” Wilson will lead an informal conversation session from 7PM to 8PM on Friday with Terry Lingner in the Ballroom area, right next to registration. Also included in that evening event will be a display of fabulous race cars courtesy of Bob McConnell.

Barb Hellyer and the group will also provide video in the Stapleton Hospitality Suite featuring memorable videos and conversation about racing.  If you are arriving Friday night or if you are local to Indianapolis, you may want to drop by to enjoy these additional features. You can also get your registration material and avoid the rush on Saturday morning.

·         Saturday morning there are two private race shop tours including a visit to renowned race car restorer Walter Goodwin’s shop. Then the second tour of an active F2000 race team – John Cummiskey Racing.  John Cummiskey is also a restorer and will have some interesting cars in addition to his F2000 program.

·         An outdoor car show dedicated to former driver Bob Harkey.

·         A presentation of two very rare and immaculately restored Indy cars from the private collection of Bob McConnell.  A 1962 Watson roadster driven to second place by Len Sutton in the 500 and a 1970 Mongoose driven by Lloyd Ruby.

·         A small memorabilia and art exhibit.

·         Wanda Devin, mother of Al Unser Jr. will host a conversation with attendees.

·         A presentation of rare 16mm films of the Indy 500 from presented by Doak Ewing.

·         A cocktail hour, and banquet. We expect to see many former Indy 500 drivers in attendance. The main feature, will be  “A Conversation with Chief Mechanics.”  Donald Davidson will interview Paul Diatlovitch, the owner of PDM racing and Ron Dawes from Hemelgarn Racing.

Information provided by
Bench Racing Weekend 2016 Team Members
Chuck Shuman & Anne Mitchell
408-373-8701, 317-243-7288
Clare Poremsky

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A pair of must-read websites for Indy 500 fans  and racing historians 

Here at the Checkered Past, we promote the writing of racing history. Our friend William LaDow does a great job with his site Speedway Sightings which follows IndyCar happenings throughout the season, but particularly in May. The current posting is entitled "The Indianapolis 500 is a unique slice of Americana that should be on everyone's bucket list." I strongly encourage our readers to check it out

here's the link

William is also the author of Conversations with a Winner - The Ray Nichels Story which you can get details about at

Friday, February 12, 2016


By Patrick Reynolds, AARWBA Secretary & writer Motor Week Live

Founded in 1955, the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) is a motorsports organization comprised of writers, broadcasters, photographers, and other media-related professionals. The organization's charter is aimed at providing not only proper recognition for members of the motorsports media, but to recognize their work as well as the work of the competitors that they follow in print, on the air, and on film.   

AARWBA announced its first All-America Team following the 1970 season, and that annual tradition continued with the team being announced for 2015's top performers.  The association's members vote on drivers within their participating categories of racing. The driver receiving the most votes from each discipline is elected to the All-America Team.

The AARWBA 2015 All-America Team members:

Scott Dixon was the top vote getter in the Open Wheel division. Dixon claimed the Verizon Indycar Series Championship driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, as he clinched the crown with a victory at the season finale at Sonoma Raceway.

Road Racing saw the driving team of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, earn the most votes on the strength of their United SportsCar Championship with Action Express Racing. The team scored a pair of wins at Sebring and Road Atlanta during the 2015 campaign.

World of Outlaws Sprint Car kingpin Donny Schatz led the vote tally in the Short Track Division. Schatz's 31 wins, 60 top-fives and 70 top-tens highlighted his championship year. Schatz's title was his seventh crown in the last ten seasons. Schatz is also recognized as the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy winner for the driver having the most overall votes.

Kyle Busch led the way in the Stock Car category. Busch claimed his first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup championship after missing the season's first 11 events due to an injury suffered in the Daytona Xfinity Series event. He capped off the year by winning the title and the final race in Miami.

The Drag Racing category was led by Erica Enders who won her second straight NHRA Pro Stock championship. Enders scored the Las Vegas Toyota Nationals win in November and clinched her title with one event remaining in the season.

In the Touring Series, NASCAR Truck Series Champion Erik Jones earned the most votes. He won three races at Iowa, Bowmanville Canada, and Ft. Worth, TX.

Indy Lights champ Spencer Pigot was the "At Large" category's top vote earner. He swept the series' final two races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and won a scholarship to compete in the 100th Indianapolis 500 for 2016.

Rico Abreu was voted the Rising Star award on the strength of multiple open wheel dirt short track victories including back-to-back Chili Bowl wins. Abreu will compete full-time in the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Thorsport Racing.
The editor is this site is a proud member of AARWBA

Monday, January 25, 2016

A website suggestion

Although The Checkered Past is aimed at racing historians, the editor of  this site recommends fans of current racing visit The Driver's Project website at

Current articles posted on the site include outstanding feature articles written by current star drivers Paul McMahan, Bryan Clauson, Rico Abreu, Christopher Bell, and Joey Saldana.

It's worth a moment of your time to check out at least one of these fine articles.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Can you identify this mystery Indianapolis roadster?
Reader Gene Ingram of New Castle Indiana recently sent this intriguing photograph of an Indianapolis roadster. The photographer, location, year, and identity of the car is unknown. It appears to be a Watson-built car of a Watson copy.  Can one of our readers fill in some of the details?
Left double click on the photo to enlarge
Post your guesses in the comments section, or send them to

An update: historians Steve Zautke, Ron Rose and Greg Littleton all believe that this was a Watson copy built by Wayne Ewing for Al Dean's Dean Van Lines team, while historian Charles Fawcett believes that the setting is likely in the Southwest, as the flat roofs suggest that this is not snow country.  


Thursday, January 14, 2016

NSCHoF auction at the Chili Bowl

The annual National Sprint Car Hall of Fame (NSCHoF) auction was held this afternoon prior to the Thursday night program for the 30th annual Chili Bowl Nationals. Museum Executive Director Bob Baker reiterated that the Hall of Fame will be welcoming eight new members in 2106: Dale Blaney, Frankie Kerr, Gus Linder, Mark Light, Doug Clark, Bud Grimm, Shirley Kerr and Gene Crucean.

Baker also announced that the old car wash building was recently demolished to make way for the new climate-controlled Staging and Storage Building with construction scheduled to start in August 2016, one week after the Knoxville Nationals.
A view of the auction items. Photo by the author.

The auction featured over 50 items, from artwork to die-cast cars, many autographed. There were some bargains, but bidding was fierce on some of the rarer items, such as the last known signed copy of the late Bob Trostle’s book Life’s Tough on the Circuit which sold for $1100.00.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A tribute to Dale Fairfax

Racing historian and track roadster racing expert Dale Fairfax passed away in Indianapolis on January 5 2016. Dale was born in Akron, Ohio but as a young man he and his family moved to Delphos, Ohio. 

During that time, there was a race track near Delphos called Landeck Speedway which according to Allan Brown’s reference The History of America’s Speedways operated as a half-mile dirt track from 1947 to 1953.

Dale Fairfax wrote and sent the editor an entertaining article about roadster racing at Landeck Speedway during the years from 1949 to 1952, which is reproduced below as a tribute to Dale. To enlarge each page, simply left double click.

Dale also wrote an article for The Checkered Past in December 2014 regarding Landeck Speedway race George Place's Hudson sprint, which can be located in the site archive. 


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Columbus (IN) Racers Reunion March 26

Greg Littleton, the promoter of the Columbus Racers Reunion has announced March 26 2016 as the date for the 18th annual gathering at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds. This event honors racers from the Columbus and 25th Street Speedways.

The best thing about this event besides the bench racing, memorabilia show and sale door prizes and the race cars on display is the admission price- it's FREE!     

Please click to enlarge