The Indianapolis 500 comes first.
The 1931 Indy 500 would bring George Hunt, Ab Jenkins and the Studebaker Motor Company together. Hunt was an engineer at Studebaker and Ab was a race car driver who set many long distance driving records in Studebaker automobiles. There were new rule changes for Indy in 1931. Manufactures where encouraged by the changes allowing larger engine displacements. A prototype race car was built, using a Studebaker President Eight 336 cubic inch motor and a chassis built at the Herman Rigling shop in Indianapolis. The original plan for the Indy race was to have Ab Jenkins drive the car on race day. Unfortunately he came down with blood poisoning in early May and was unable to drive. Tony Gulotta was selected to drive in Abs’ absence, with Carl Riscigno as the riding mechanic.
The #37 Hunt Special would qualify 19th starting on the inside on row seven. May 30th 1931 started out with rain and drizzle. There was a two hour delay for the green flag. Once racing began there were several yellow flags for the wet conditions. True racing was delayed until around lap 70, when the sun came out along with green flag conditions. At one point Gulotta was even in the lead. Things went well until lap 167 (of 200) when the “Hunt Special” slide on a patch of oil and crashed hard into the turn four wall. Neither Tony or Carl were injured, but the day was done. Final result for the team in the 1931 Indianapolis 500 would be 19th place.
(Studebaker would run five cars in the 1932 and 1933 races, including #37. Best finish for the prototype car #37 was 6th in 1933 )
The 1931 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Race.
George Hunt would make repairs and changes to the race car, in order to run the 13th annual PPHC in 1931. Adding an updated magneto, four Winfield carburetors, and a special milled head, in hopes to handle the altitude. Plus lower rear axle gears and hand grooved Firestone tires. The Studebaker Company at the last minute, selected an experienced and three time winning Pikes Peak driver, Charles “Chuck” Myers.
Limited information is available about race day in 1931. Only fourteen cars were entered in the open car class. C.H.Myers was first entered in a Willys 6, in the stock car class and later switched to the “Hunt Special” in the open class .The team had to draw a number for starting order. Some wonder if Chuck had any practice time in the Studebaker, prior to race day. What is known from race day, he set a new course record and was first overall .
Chuck Myers and the “Hunt Special” with a winning time of 17:10.3
Above is a strange result listing from “Motor Maintenance” magazine, of the 1931 PPHC race.. Almost looks like they had already decided the finish order before the times where posted. Jerry Unser and Glen Shultz were always favorites.. Chuck had won by 15 second margin.
Below are a couple of sponsors taking advantage of the win. Gas and Oil companies, Tire manufactures and others would always take the opportunity to show off their products success at Pikes Peak in local and national newspapers and magazines. ( I love to see the vintage ads ! You ? )
To see what happened to the ” Hunt Special” after Pikes Peak and today, check out part two .