In the midst of “The Great Depression” what should a car company do, to turn things around ? The Hudson Motor Company had an answer. Design and release a fresh new model and take it racing at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1932 .
The new model would be called the Essex-Terraplane. A less expensive, lightweight, great value, yet powerful Hudson model . Launched with great fanfare in July of 1932. Amelia Earhart was at the special introduction ceremony and christened the first car off the assembly line. Only one car would be taken to Pikes Peak in September of 32. It was a model “K” roadster with a 193 cubic inch , (3.2 liter) six cylinder motor, with 70 horsepower.
The troubled economy had taken its toll on the Race to the Clouds. The thirty two event would only have fifteen contestants. Eleven in the Open Wheel event and four in the Stock Car Class. The Essex-Terraplane would be driven by Chet Miller a three time Indianapolis 500 veteran. Competing along with Chet in the stock car class would be two Willys 6’s and a under powered Plymouth 4. The plan for Hudson was not just to win, but to crush the current record in the stock car class on the Peak. That record was set by an Auburn 8 Speedster in 1928 with a time of 21:45.4 .
RACE DAY !
September 5, 1932 perfect weather conditions. racing starts at 10:30 with cars leaving one at a time a few minutes apart. The night before the race Walter Klauser in the Plymouth 4 drops from the Stock Car class, leaving the lone Essex Terraplane to take on the two Willys’ driven by L.L. Bowser and W.J. Sheppard. Open Class cars start off first. Glen Shultz wins in a Stutz with a time of 16:47.2. (First driver to be under the 17 minute mark). Stock Car class up next !
New Record time for the stock cars. Official results Miller 21:20.9, L.L. Bowser 23:34.6, W.J. Sheppard 23:58.7. If you notice above, the ad list the time at 20.20.9 . Either a misprint, or the official times were not posted at the time of the newspaper print deadline.
Mission accomplished for 1932, check out part two for Team Hudson-Essex-Terraplane in 1933