Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage - #67. Stutz Blackhawk Special

Today, a car fit for Dieselpunk technodrama:

During 1927 Frank Lockhart established a world record of 164.28 miles per hour on the dry lakes of Muroc, CA; in a car powered by a tiny 91½ cubic-inch displacement engine. This established Lockhart as one of the most competent and skilled drivers in automobile racing. Lockhart's success was due largely to his inherent engineering ability and the ability to make changes necessary to make a racing car go faster. The specially built Stutz "Blackhawk Special" in which Lockhart was to make the assault on the world speed record was a product largely of his own creation and was considered a masterpiece of engineering.

The most recent holders of world speed records were established by massive cars, powered by two or more aircraft- type engines, having piston displacements up to 4,900 cubic inches.

The Stutz "Blackhawk Special" was in every respect much smaller, being powered by one 16-cylinder engine (two banks of 8 cylinders, set at an included angle of 30 degrees), and having only 181 cubic-inch displacement.

During the trial run at Daytona Beach on Feb. 22, 1928, at a speed of approximately 225 m.p.h., the tires apparently struck an irregularity in the sand and catapulted the "Blackhawk Special" end over end into the sea. Lockhart was rescued from the water by spectators, and was uninjured except for a few bruises and traumatic shock. The "Blackhawk Special" was retrieved and sent back to Indianapolis for repairs. The car was rebuilt and returned to Daytona in April 1928 for the next try for the world speed record.

On Wednesday April 25, 1928 all was ready for Frank to make his attempt on the 122-183 cubic inch speed record. On his first run through the measured mile Lockhart broke the existing mark into little pieces with a record shattering run of 198.29 miles per hour.

On the return run something, possibly a sharp seashell, cut a tire on Lockhart's flying missile. The Stutz Black Hawk Special, made In Indianapolis, became a flying object, crashing down on the sands of Daytona Beach killing the uneducated 25 year old genius instantly. Frank was gone, but the mark he set in his record shattering one way run for the mile stood for 39 years.

Lockhart's tragic death was devastating to the motorsports community, especially to the Stutz Motor Car Company, which declared a halt to all its racing activities.

Source: Racing Campbells (read more about Frank Lockhart and his car at the same page)

Two photos:

Blackhawk artistic impression by Stefan Marjoram:

Frank Lockhart @ Wiki

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Comment by Pilsner Panther on December 12, 2010 at 11:58pm

I would have quit after surviving that first spectacular crash, taking it as a warning from fate. 

Comment by Deven Science on December 11, 2010 at 1:19am

Makes me think that Pod Racers were modeled a bit after this car, or one like it.

Comment by Larry on December 10, 2010 at 7:38pm

Flying missile is the right phrase I think. That's a rocket on wheels. As they say, "At least he went out with his boots on."

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