Monterey, Jet Center
12 August 2004
1932 FORD FAIRGROUNDS RACE CAR 'THE DUKE SPECIAL'
Engine No. AAB5038089
Yellow with beige interior
Engine: four-cylinder, flathead, 200ci, 3.3 liter, 67bhp at 3,100rpm; Gearbox: 3 speed Ford truck; Suspension: front, semi-adjustable leaf springs, rear, fixed leaf springs; Brakes: rear drum only. Single seat race car.
Fairground racing could essentially be considered the birth of modern racing. In the early days of the 20th Century, car enthusiasts with a two-part passion for mechanical tinkering and speed took the relatively simple everyday cars and trucks and converted them to race cars. Car racing became a popular occurrence in the vast space of the era's fairgrounds and quickly became an everyman's sport. With limited budgets and resources, parts were stripped from various cars to create a competitive entry. As time progressed, greater standards and classes evolved as did the drivers. Fairgrounds and subsequently sprint car racing can be credited for developing young drivers that later went on to race at Indianapolis. With its "blue collar" roots settled in the South and heartland of the United States, it's easy to consider fairgrounds racing as the grandfather of NASCAR.
The Ford Fairgrounds racecar offered here is a beautifully restored example of a by gone era, and was built originally for Tommy Trailer of Houston, Texas. Mr. Trailer was the owner of a small chain of auto parts stores in the Houston area during the early 1930s and campaigned the car probably as much for sport as for advertising. He was a frequent entrant in events throughout Texas and Arkansas in the 1930s and 1940s. For the period of the 1950s through the 1960s, the Ford Fairgrounds remained dormant while owned by a Midwestern trucking company. Then, in the late 1960s, it was sold to Mr. David Gibb of Oklahoma who purchased the car with aspirations of a complete restoration in his backyard barn. The opportunity or chance never presented itself fully for Mr. Gibb and in the 1980s it was sold to Mr. George Duke of Arcadia, Oklahoma. Mr. Duke immediately and completely restored the Ford Fairgrounds, possibly surpassings its original glory. The Fairgrounds still proudly displays Mr. Duke's mark shown as the "Duke Special."
The Ford Fairgrounds has been under the care of its current owner since 2003 and retains many of its original characteristics, such as: the original hand-formed body; original Whippit chassis; 1930s Ford wheels; brass fuel primer; brass gauges; adjustable dampers; 1932 Ford truck gearbox and differential; dual Stromberg carbs; Thomas intake and flathead four cylinder engine. While fairgrounds racing has evolved into stock car racing, this Ford Fairgrounds would make an interesting and likely very competitive entry in vintage racing. This particularly tidy example warrants close attention from the racing enthusiast.
Contact Client Service
New York +1 212 636 2000
London +44 (0)20 7839 9060
Asia +852 2760 1766
The watch that flew to the moon with NASA’s astronauts — a rare commemorative version of which is offered online, 24 April to 8 May
This monumental, square-format work is a major highlight of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 20 June in London