CONSTRUCTORS: KURTIS KRAFT

Name: Kurtis Kraft

Frank Kurtis began building midgets in California in the late 1940s and in the mid-1950s his front-engined roadsters were very successful at the Indianapolis 500, although their identity was usually disguised by a sponsor's name. Kurtis chassis ran at Indy with various engines but found success with the 4.2-liter Meyer-Drake Offenhauser engines. Johnnie Parsons won the firm's first 500 victory in 1950 and in 1951 Kurtis scored a 1-2-3 result. Beaten in 1952 Kurtis replied with clean sweep of the top six places in 1953. His cars won the race again in 1954 and 1955 but then began to fade.

In 1959 Rodger Ward won the Indy 500 in a Watson-built car and was encouraged to enter a car in the United States GP at Sebring that autumn. He chose a Kurtis Kraft Midget with a 1.7-liter Offenahuser engine and took it to Lime Rock to race in a small event against a Maserati 250F. He did not do too badly and so turned up at Sebring to take on the Formula 1 teams in the Leader Cards-sponsored machine. The result was embarrassingly bad, Ward lapping Sebring 43secs slower than Stirling Moss's Cooper-Climax. Fortunately the car retired after only a few laps of the race.

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