The Milhous Collection
24 - 25 February 2012
1962 Lesovsky Indianapolis Roadster
To be auctioned on Saturday, February 25, 2012
Sold for $330,000
- Chassis no. N/A
• “Sarkes Tarzian Special”
• Classic Offset Indy Roadster
• Qualified for 1962 and 1963 Indianapolis 500 races
• High-quality restoration
From 1934 into the 1960s, Indianapolis racing was dominated by the Offenhauser four-cylinder engine, racing in chassis by such craftsmen as Frank Kurtis, A.J. Watson and Quinn Epperly. The engine, developed by Fred Offenhauser and his boss, Harry Miller, continued development under new owners Lou Meyer and Dale Drake after World War II. Called “roadsters,” the Indianapolis cars were characterized by an offset driveshaft configuration that was popularized by Kurtis, which set the engine and driveline to the left, in a “lay down” configuration in which the engine was nearly horizontal. The lay down was the hallmark of Lou Salih. Among the chassis builders were other talented mechanics, such as Lujie Lesovsky.
Lesovsky had built the 1951 Indy winner for Murrell Bellanger, which was driven by Lee Wallard. Lesovsky cars were also driven by Rodger Ward, Jim Packard and George Amick, winning championship events in the late 1950s. Johnny Thompson took the pole at Indy in 1959 in a Lesovsky roadster, finishing third.
In 1962, Elmer George and his wife Mari commissioned Lesovsky to build this car, an offset Offenhauser-powered roadster. Mari George was the daughter of Anton “Tony” Hulman, then owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Elmer, an Oklahoman by birth, had driven in AAA and USAC Championship Car races from the late 1950s, including the Indy 500 in 1957. The car was dubbed the Sarkes Tarzian Special, for sponsor Sarkes Tarzian, a radio and television engineer and entrepreneur. George qualified 17th for the 500 that year, earning 17th overall when the engine seized on the 147th lap.
The car sat idle until 1963, when George qualified in it again, in 28th position, but retired after 12 laps. He sold the car to Richard Kemerly in 1964, but neither of Kemerly’s drivers for the 1963 or 1964 500 was able to qualify. The car finished fifth in the Milwaukee Mile with Mel Kenyon at the wheel. At Langhorne, Pennsylvania later that year, the engine blew, causing a crash. The car was then consigned to the second floor at Kemerly’s car dealership and never fell victim to the various modifications that such race cars received. It simply sat unmolested at the dealership for a number of years.
Noted car and antique boat collector Tom Mittler then bought the car before it was finally restored by John Hajduk in 1994. Returned to its Sarkes Tarzian livery with the distinctive nose style, it remained in a private collection until acquired by the Milhous Collection in 1998.
Since its restoration, the Sarkes Tarzian Special has been demonstrated several times, as well as displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and at the Louis Vuitton Classic at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The restoration has held up well, the body and paint remaining excellent, as is the chrome exhaust and rear nerf bar. The seat is black bolstered leather and is in very good condition. Tires are Firestone Safety Lock Cords, 7.60x16 front and 8.00x18 rear. They are completely authentic.
The Indianapolis scene is now light years apart from the ambience of the 1950s and ’60s. This car is a wonderful example from the time when the Meyer-Drake Offys ruled and roadsters owned the Brickyard.
AddendumPlease note this vehicle will be sold on a Bill of Sale only.
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