Roadsters 2 Records

If you plan to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, you’ll want to check out the IMS Museum. That has been a tradition in our family for the last couple of decades. I always have at least one of my two brothers come to the race each season, they both have tickets very close to my section in Stand A – the section we sat in growing up in the sixties and seventies. Sometimes both brothers come to the race, but I’m not sure that has happened since 2018.

Regardless if it’s one or both, we always make sure we take in the IMS Museum on Legends Day – the day before the Indianapolis 500. My oldest brother is coming this year, and we will be doing it again this weekend. This was the three of us at our annual visit to the museum in 2016.


I went to the museum during the Grand Prix weekend. I wanted to see their new exhibit, Roadsters 2 Records. It is essentially about the innovation that took place throughout the sixties and early seventies – the same years that we three brothers went while growing up.

My brothers came here in 1964. I came for the first time in 1965 as a six year-old, but still have vivid memories of that day. I remember how much louder the Novi was. I recall how sleek the Lotus looked, compared to the six roadsters that were in the field that day. As someone who had just completed the first grade, I did not have the appreciation for the roadster that I do now.

We remember some of the innovations that came from that era. Some of them worked. Some didn’t.

The Roadsters 2 Records exhibit is good. I saw a lot of cars I had not seen since I saw them race. For example, I remember how ugly I thought Roger McCluskey’s Antares was, when it raced in 1972 – my last year to go as an adolescent. I thought it was the ugliest car on the track.



Fifty years later, my opinion has not changed. I’ve also heard that McCluskey, himself, was not fond of the car. As ugly as it was, I was glad to see it on display. I had not seen it in person since I saw it race to a twenty-fourth place finish in 1972, after starting twentieth. Apparently, it was on display at IMS on race weekend in 2016, but somehow I missed it.

Another car that I am certain I’ve never seen is this replica of Eddie Sach’s 1964 Halibrand-Shrike. I heard someone tell the group they were with, that this was the exact car that Sachs was fatally injured in. I wasn’t going to burst his bubble, but that car was completely destroyed in the crash and subsequent fire.



It’s always humorous to hear what comes out of the mouths of family racing experts in the museum. I don’t claim to be an expert, but don’t tell your wife or girlfriend that the rearview mirror was installed on the Marmon Wasp, so that they could remove the riding mechanic’s seat that was originally directly behind the driver. I actually heard that one, a couple of weeks ago when I was in there.

They also had the Smokey Yunick Sidecar, which crashed and failed to qualify in 1964. I had seen it before, but It’s so unique that it’s always worth another look.





Smokey Yunick’s signature black and gold paint scheme always looked good, especially on this 1967 Eagle driven by Dennis Hulme.


Another car I saw race once and attempt to qualify on several occasions was the Mallard of Jim Hurtubise. You can’t bring up roadsters without talking about Jim Hurtubise. He modified the car several times in the late sixties, trying to make the car competitive and keep the front-engine roadsters relevant in an age of wedge-shaped turbines. The car actually qualified in 1968, but the engine gave up after only nine laps. This is one of two Mallards in existence.


There is no explanation as to why the car is red, since it was always basically white. I believe I heard Donald say that Hurtubise actually crashed the Mallard at another track in one of his last races, and never rebuilt it. It has been sitting neglected for many years. They have put a dummy nose and rear-end on it, and it sits pretty much like it did the last time it raced.

I liked this shot of the two Foyt cars; the 1964 winning roadster and the 1965 pole-winning Lotus. They share the same paint scheme, but nothing else.


My father took his father and brother in 1966, so all three of us brothers sat home. So I never saw Bobby Unser’s Vita Fresh Orange Juice Special. It was a Huffaker chassis owned by Gordon Van Liew, and it finished eighth in the 500. This car is unique because it has Bobby Unser’s autograph on it.



One car that I had not seen before was the 1964 rear-engine Watson that Rodger Ward drove to second. I took my time looking all over it. I was so enamored with it I forgot to get a picture of it. But trust me, it’s there.

The winning cars of Jim Rathmann (1960) and Parnelli Jones (1963) were included in the exhibit. I had seen them a million times, but I still felt obligated to get more photos of them, just because they were there.



I also felt like I should snap a few of cars that were not a part of the exhibit. Bob Sweikert is one of my favorite drivers from the past, so I had to get a picture of the Pink Zink (1955). I wanted to get a photo of the Boyle Maserati, but there were always people standing around it. The Blue Crown Special and the Belond Special have always been some of my favorites also.




The Grand Prix weekend is the time to go to the IMS Museum, mainly because it is not crowded at all. That won’t be the case this weekend, but I’ll still be going back with my brother and his crew. If you haven’t been to the Roadsters 2 Records exhibit yet, you should too.

George Phillips

4 Responses to “Roadsters 2 Records”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    Thank you, George, for giving a tour of the museum to those of us who can’t be there in person. It is great to see these photos, though I know it is better to be there yourself.

    I believe Donald Davidson told the story that McCluskey was offered a chance to buy the Antares for a nominal sum many years after he raced it and politely declined. He really did not care for that car. I do recall seeing it in the historic car paddock tents east of the museum when I was at the 2016 race, though I don’t recall seeing it run on track during Legends Day.

    That Hurtubise Mallard, I think, is the one he wrecked on the first lap at Ontario in 1970, when Herk was sponsored by Genesee Beer (the car that year at both Indy and Ontario sported a wedge nose, not the rounded replacement one on display at the museum… it carried Genesee sponsorship at both Indy and Ontario, though it was only painted red at Ontario). His later Mallard efforts (including one that took the green at Michigan as late as 1972), I have read, came in a different car that debuted in 1971 and eventually carried boxier bodywork and wings in addition to Miller High Life and Moran Electric sponsorship. A museum in Nebraska claims it has the car he qualified in 1968, restored with the bodywork and paint scheme of the Pepsi/Frito-Lay Special, so perhaps the Mallard wrecked at Ontario and now in the IMS museum was not that one but instead was a rebuild of the Mallard Ebb Rose wrecked in practice in 1967? I’m curious…

    • In checking with Keith Majka (who is in the process of restoring this car), the one in Nebraska is the 1971 chassis with the 1968 bodywork on it. Keith acquired the 1967 chassis (used through 1970) and, as you can see, is in the process of finishing it and was in REALLY rough shape when he got it. I heard the useful remains of Ebb Rose car was used occasionally for parts. The rest of your Mallard information is very accurate.

      • billytheskink Says:

        To be honest, I don’t think I expected an answer to my wonderings. This is wonderful information, thank you very much. I hope to see the result of Keith’s hard work in the near future.

  2. Mark Wick Says:

    1972 was the first race I covered, and I spent the race standing on the grass just past the pit exit, at the entrance to Turn 1. I called the Antares “the Soap Box Derby car,” because it reminded me of the first one of those I built. I still remember watching it porpoise entering the turn every lap, particularly one on which McCluskey took the whole turn while all but rubbing along the wall.

    The 1963 winner is the only Indy car I have ever been in. I was walking through the old garage area the evening before the race with one other photographer and we noticed one partially open door. We peeked in and there sat the 98. There was one man in the garage and he invited us in. He said it was going to be driven around the track before the race the next morning and he was guarding it. He offered us the chance to sit in it and I accepted. The other photographer used my camera to take a picture of me in the car. I still have hopes of locating the slide again.
    There is no way I could have driven it. I was able to get in the seat but my legs were far too long and my upper shins were jammed against the steering wheel, and my arms were pinned to my sides making it hard to even get my hands on the wheel.
    It took special person to drive one of those into Turn One expecting to make it to turn two.

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