Custom Track Roadster, 1948

Dick Fraizer’s Championship Car

Construction cutaway of Fraizer's #32 Car from Hot Rod Magazine

Cutaway image of Dick Fraizer's #32 car from a 1948 issue of Hot Rod magazine

Dick Fraizer’s track roadster epitomizes grassroots motorsports culture in the post-World War II era. Fraizer assembled the roadster from various production-car parts in the winter and early spring of 1948 with assistance from Hack Winninger and Floyd Johnson. The roadster’s body consists of a 1935 Pontiac shell and grille with a 1927 Ford Model T rear deck on a 1928 Chevrolet chassis.  Its modified 1939 Mercury flathead V8 engine produced an estimated 225 horsepower. This roadster is a rare example of a postwar racer custom-built for oval tracks. Very few of these race cars survive intact because owners converted many of them into sprint cars and modified others to race as stock cars.

Track roadsters like this one represent a relatively inexpensive type of race car that entertained fans across the United States after the war. For drivers, they offered a path that could lead to the top level of championship competition and the Indianapolis 500.  Jim Rathmann, the 1960 Indy 500 winner, began his racing career in track roadsters similar to this one with the Chicago-based Hurricane Racing Association. 

Between 1948 and 1950, Fraizer drove this roadster as No. 32 on oval tracks in Indiana and as far east as Virginia. At the high-banked Funk’s Speedway in Winchester, Indiana, then known as the world’s fastest half-mile track, Fraizer set a one-lap track record on June 20, 1948 with an elapsed time of 21 seconds at a speed of 84 miles per hour. This feat landed Fraizer and his roadster on the cover of the September 1948 issue of Hot Rod magazine. Over the course of the 1948 season, Fraizer won 72 events, including a streak of 20 consecutive wins. He went on to take the 1948 Mutual Racing Association championship. Fraizer and several other drivers raced No. 32 throughout the 1949 season with moderate success.

Dick Fraizer in his Track Roadster in 1948.

Dick Fraizer in his Track Roadster in 1948

For the 1950 season, Fraizer put Everett Burton behind the wheel of this car, and Burton captured several first-place finishes. In May, at Sun Valley Speedway in Anderson, Indiana, Burton collided with another car, veered off the track, and jumped the fence into the grandstands. Amazingly, no spectators were hurt. Burton walked away from the crash with minor injuries, but No. 32 was in shambles. The roadster’s remnants were not discarded but remained out of sight for three decades before being rediscovered.

 

Racing helmet worn by Dick Fraizer at Indiana Speedway, 1948

Mutual Racing Association Rules and Regulations, 1951

Mutual Racing Association Rules and Regulations, 1951

A Roadster Reborn

In September 1981, at the Hoosier Automotive Parts Swap Meet held on the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Donald Anderson passed by a pile of parts and overheard the owner identify the bent sheet metal, chassis frame, and assorted small parts as the remains of Dick Fraizer’s track roadster. Anderson had owned track roadsters during the Mutual Racing Association era and had seen No. 32 race with his boyhood hero Fraizer behind the wheel. Anderson purchased the parts and began a meticulous reconstruction and restoration of the car. Working off and on during the next eight years, he painstakingly checked details and consulted Fraizer as No. 32 returned to its former glory.

When Anderson completed the restoration in 1990, No. 32 returned to the racetrack in vintage events with Fraizer behind the wheel. Fraizer had retired from racing in 1955 and spent most of his time on his family’s farm. In a fitting return to motorsports, he drove several ceremonial laps in No. 32 around the track at Funk’s Speedway (now Winchester Speedway) in Winchester, Indiana.

Fraizer's Ford-based Track Roadster in the museum's Road Transportation Hall

Gift of Donald and Betty Anderson

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