STP-Paxton Turbocar, 1967

At the 1967 Indianapolis 500, STP CEO Andy Granatelli and his racing team unveiled one of the most innovative and controversial cars ever to race at the Brickyard. The STP Paxton Turbine Car was the first turbine-powered car to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Vince Granatelli and Joseph Granatelli constructed the car in total secrecy but within all racing regulations. The car was propelled by a Pratt and Whitney turbine engine typically used in helicopters. During practice, onlookers dubbed the quiet vehicle Silent Sam while others called it the Whooshmobile, mimicking the whooshing sound it made passing by. The car featured four-wheel drive, a centrally located fuel tank, and a side-by-side design that placed the driver beside the mid-mounted engine. Andy Granatelli promoted his racer as the world’s first truly space age car. Racing legend Parnelli Jones manned the cockpit and dominated the race, starting from the first lap and leading 171 laps. With only three and one-half laps left to victory, a transmission bearing failed, and Jones coasted into the pits while A.J. Foyt took first place. “Silent Sam” lost the race but succeeded in shaking up Indy car racing. The STP Paxton turbine car launched a brief period of turbine Indy cars marked by intense debate and controversy. Many people welcomed turbine cars as innovations while others wanted them banned from competition. The 1968 Champ Car season saw several turbine racers brought by STP, Lotus, and Shelby. By 1969 racing regulations made turbine cars noncompetitive at Indy, and dual overhead cam engines became the sport’s mainstay.
Currently not on view
date made
Granatelli Enterprises
Paxton Corp.
overall: 32 in x 72 in x 157 in; 81.28 cm x 182.88 cm x 398.78 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of STP Corporation
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Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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