(from owner Guy Mace)
The November 1951 issue of Mechanix Illustrated magazine, on the
cover, and feature article, detailed how you could “build a race car
in your own garage for under $500”, using a 1932 Ford. Of course
back then, a 1932 Ford cost about $50. There was a detailed
description, and you could order a complete set of plans for $2.
I purchased my “M – 1” racer about 3 years at the Kruse auction in
Auburn IN. With the car came a free entry into the Great Race, as
the Race managers wanted this type of car in the race. At that time,
I did not know the history of the car, or anything about the Great
Race. I just bought a cool car! I decided to enter the Great Race,
and as I got into the innards of the car, ended up redoing,
rebuilding or replacing about everything on the car with authentic,
1932 Ford parts, preparing for the 4,000 mile cross country race.
The body remains “original” as was built in 1952 (albeit repainted).
As I investigated the history of the car I purchased, and the
“Mechanix Illustrated” race cars, in general, I found that the car I
purchased had a “notable” race history. The car was built sometime
in 1952, in New Jersey, and raced at East Coast race tracks in the
early 1950’s, like Lime Rock, and others, with some success until
the big Jaguars, BMW’s, Austin Healey’s and other European race cars
stormed the US tracks. My car earned the nickname “The Bomb”. I have
not been able to determine whether this was a good, or bad nickname!
At any rate, as we ran the Great Race last year, across country, I
had several people come up to me and ask if this was a Mechanix
Illustrated Racer. All of these guys were in their late 50’s or
early 60’s, and remembered the Mechanix Illustrated article. I found
this surprising, that one article from an early 1950’s magazine
could make an impression like this. I do remember, however, that
back then, this magazine was one of the few that were avidly read by
mechanics, pseudo mechanics, and kids of all ages with dreams of
mechanical wizardry. I guess the dream to build your own race car,
economically has a great allure to many.
I have since run across 3-4 Mechanix Illustrated Racers. Who knows
how many others are around in garages of back yards. This car is
really a part of Americana, and forms an interesting part of the
history of American cars, as the early 1950’s was the start of the
“hot rod” craze that continues today.