Jul 23 2012

The Two Midget Racers in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Nancy DeWitt, Historian, Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, Fairbanks, Alaska: "I am doing some research on our 1935 Wetteroth-Offenshauser midget racer, which was driven by Bob Swanson. Do you know definitively what Swanson drove in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup"?

Nancy, two of the most unusual cars in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race were midget racers; the #51 Hogan Midget Special and the #53 Junior Offenhauser Special driven by Louis Tomei. Many of the race publications have confused the two cars. Here's some documentation.


Howard Kroplick


The November 1936 issue of Motor Age showed this photo of Dan Hogan working on Swanson's engine. Specifications of the 1936 racers were published in Motor Age. Both the #51 and #53 midgets had Offenhauser engines. Brock Yates book "Vanderbilt Cup Race 1936 & 1937 Photo Archive" published this photo of the #53 Offy that was originally to be driven by Vern Orenduff. Yates noted:" Small and amazingly nimble, midgets were and capable of overpowering larger cars on all types of tracks, from ovals to road circuits." Louis Tomei drove the #53 Offy during the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race. The #51 Hogan Midget started in the race in the fourth row. As published in the 1936 Motor Age, the #51 Hogan was in fourth place during lap 30 before running low in fuel. Joel Finn's excellent book "American Road Racing in 1930s" lists Swanson's #51 Hogan Midget Special as having the fifth fastest qualifying time while the #53 Offy Midget had the 22nd fastest time. Finn's chart of the 1936 race results shows that Swanson's #51 Hogan Midget Special finished 23rd and Tomei's #53 Offy Midget finished 30th.

Film of the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race


Jul 29 2012 Howard Kroplick 10:29 AM

From Robert R:

“Midgets at Vanderbilt…sir, you are a fountain of terrific knowledge.”

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