Jan 22 2018

Mystery Foto #3 Solved: The #66 Tucker ‘48 Special Racer at the 1947 Indy 500

Chuck Rudy Jr. challenged you to identify this special race car.

Answers to Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the people and companies involved in this race car

In 1947, Preston Tucker wanted to promote his future Tucker '48 automobiles by entering race cars in the 1947 Indy 500 Race. He hired veteran Indy driver 50-year old Ralph Hepburn to captain a team of three racers. The #66 Tucker '48 Special Miller Rear-Engine Racer was owned by the Tucker Corporation. The racer built initally by Harry Miller had several components similar to the planned Tucker '48 automobile including; the rear engine, independent suspension and hdraulic disc brakes.

  • Who was the driver of this race car and in which race(s) did it compete?

In 1947, the #66 Tucker '48 Special Racer was driven by Al  Miller of Standish, Michigan. For the 1947 Indy 500, Miller qualified at 124 mph, just 2 mph slower than the fastest qualifier. The race car broke down on the 34th lap after experiencing magneto trouble. The Special Racer was entered in the Milwaukee 100 race in June 1947, but was withdrawn from race "due to motor damage".

  • What other race cars are associated with the Mystery Foto racer?

Two Gulf Oil Miller Rear- Engine Racers were entered in the 1941 Indy 500 Race by Eddie Offutt. The #35 Racer twas to be driven by George Barringer, but was destroyed on race day in a historic garage fire. Its sister #12 Racer was driven by Al Miller and finished 28th and was later purchased by George Barringer.

In 1946, Preston Tucker purchased the #12 Racer from Barringer and entered it in the 1946 Indy 500 Race. It raced as the #26 Tucker Torpedo Racer and was driven to a 29th place finish by its former owner George Barringer. This was the same race car entered one year later as the #66 Tucker '48 Special Racer in the 1947 Indy 500 Race.

For the 1947 Indy 500 Race, Preston Tucker and his "partners" also entered two front-engine racers; #3 Preston Tucker Partners Special and #44 Preston Tucker Partners Special.

Comments (11)

Congrats to Ron Ridolph, Dick Gorman, Hugh, Greg O., Steve Lucas, Art Kleiner, and  Frank Femenias for identifying the 1947 Indy #66 Tucker '48 Special Racer.

Kudos to Art Kleiner and Chuck Rudy, Jr. for forwarding photos and information on last week's Mystery Foto.


Howard Kroplick

1941 Gulf Oil Miller Rear-Engine Racers (RE4WD)

Source: Georgebarringer.com

Chuck Rudy, Jr.: The first rear engine racer to qualify for the 500 was in 1941 when I *believe* they were in Gulf livery, but my memory may be wrong on that. #35 Barringer qualified one car to be the first qualifier but it was destroyed in the Indy garage fire that year and he and the car did not race. The #12 of Al Miller was the second rear-engine racer to qualify and then he was the first and only to race a rear-engine racer in the ‘41 500. 

1941 #35 Gulf Oil Miller Rear-Engine Racer (RE4WD) -George Barringer (Driver)

1941 Indy 500 -#35 destroyed in garage fire on race day

Link submitted by Chuck Rudy, Jr.

1941 #12 Gulf Oil Miller Rear-Engine Racer (RE4WD)- Al Miller (Driver)

1941 Indy 500- Finished 28th after completing 22 laps

Link submitted by Chuck Rudy, Jr.

1946 #26 Tucker Torpedo Special Racer (RE4WD) -George Barringer (Driver)

1946 Indy 500- Finished 29th after completing 27 laps

Link submitted by Chuck Rudy, Jr.

Chuck Rudy, Jr.: WW II, or the second war to end all wars, stopped the 500 till ’46 when one was apparently given a token Tucker livery as the #26 driven by Barringer and dropped out after 27 laps as the sole Miller RE4WD car in the race.  Presumably this is the same Miller RE4WD Al Miller drove in ’41, and perhaps the garage fire RE4WD was never resurrected.

Submitted by Art Kleiner from GeorgeBarringer.com

1947 #66 Tucker '48 Special Racer RE4WD -Al Miller (Driver)

Submitted by Art Kleiner

1947 Indy 500 - Finished 25th after completing 33 laps

Link submitted by Chuck Rudy, Jr.

Chuck Rudy Jr.: In ’47, as champcarstats has it, Al Miller once again drove the Tucker Miller RE4WD but as the Tucker promoted and highly touted #66 but retired after 33 laps. 

The New York Times May 22, 1947 Submitted by Art Kleiner

Submitted by Art Kleiner

Is that Preston Tucker in the straw hat?

Submitted by Art Kleiner

Chronology of Miller Rear-Engine Racers

Submitted by Chuck Rudy, Jr.

1947 #3 Preston Tucker Partners Special -Emil Andres (Driver) .

1947 Indy 500 Race- Finished 13th after completing 150 laps

Chuck Rudy Jr.:There were two other Tucker sponsored cars but they were much different configuration as they were Lencki powered and apparently conventional in design.  Both dropped out finishing 13th and 29th positions.  Don’t ask me what a Lencki is it is the first I’d heard of that engine.

1947 #44 Preston Tucker Partners Special -Charles Van Acker (Driver)

1947 Indy 500 Race- Finished 29th after completing 24 laps. Wrecked in main stretch.

Chuck Rudy Jr.: So the Tucker '48 Special Racer was historic, but not as a Tucker, and it suffered from little gremlins which prevented a real look at what it could do much like the much vaunted Novi.  It no doubt gave Tucker the exposure he desired to the American racing community.


Jan 19 2018 Ron Ridolph 1:54 AM

Preston Tucker had and enjoyed many ventures with cars and his racing was with several names such as Al Miller, George Barringer and Harry Miller. This race was at Indy in 1946 or 47.  Unless you do a lot of research reading it is all so very interesting !!!

Jan 20 2018 Dick Gorman 9:25 AM

Mystery Foto #3… Famed race car designer Harry a. Miller was commissioned by Gulf Oil to build a trio of mid engined cars for the 1938 Indy 500. (all-wheel drive, inclined six cylinder, supercharged Miller power) Only one car got to Indy but not in time to qualify. One of this trio qualified in 1939 and two in ‘41. Post-war one of these Miller designs, now entered as the Preston Tucker Special or the Tucker Torpedo Special, showed up at Indy in 1946 and ‘47. The driver was, I believe, George Barringer. In the ‘46 race it qualified 24th and ran 27 laps before a transmission failure. Too bad these cars were never fully developed. Perhaps we could have seen race cars on a par with the great Grand Prix Auto Unions.

Jan 21 2018 Hugh 12:53 AM

This is one of 3 cars Gulf Oil had Harry Miller build in a partnership with Preston Tucker. They were built in 1938 and ran at Indy in 1939, 1940 and 1946. George Bailey was one of the drivers. This car currently has a Jaguar 6 cylinder engine with a ZF automatic trans. Originally they had a Miller supercharged Six. Miller and Tucker also partnered building the 1935 FWD Ford Indy team.

Jan 21 2018 S. Berliner, III 1:32 AM

No clue - but where do you FIND these fab. things, Howard?  Sam, III

Jan 21 2018 Greg O. 2:14 PM

Identify the people and compnies involved in this race car
Preston Tucker, Harry Miller, Gulf Oil Company

Who was the driver of this race car and in which race(s) did it compete?
Al Miller in the 1947 Indy 500

What other race cars are associated with the Mystery Foto racer?
The Tucker/Ford cars in 1935

Jan 21 2018 Steve Lucas 9:48 PM

All I could find was the driver, Al Miller, who managed 33 laps in the 1947 Indy 500 (magneto problem). He also drove the car as number 12 in the 1941 Indy but left after 22 laps with transmission trouble. Very curious about the rest of the answers.

Jan 22 2018 Steve vilardi 12:26 AM

The race car looks a lot like a stubbier version of the German Audi Autocar. What irks me most is what sort of transaxle did it have. The car appears to have a straight 6 engine that is situated unusually close to the differential leaving little room for the transmission if there was one.

Jan 22 2018 Art Kleiner 7:02 AM

Identify the people and companies involved in this race car:
Al Miller (driver), George Barringer (driver) and his wife Velma, Roscoe Dunning (Mechanic), Preston Tucker, Ralph Hepburn (driver), Henry Ford and N.W. Ayers Advertising Agency (possibly earlier Tucker models). 

Who was the driver of this race car and in which race(s) did it compete?
George Barringer raced the car in the 1946 Indy and Al Miller in the 1947 Indy.  It was also slated to race in the Milwaukee 100 also in 1947 but had to withdraw due to “motor damage”.

What other race cars are associated with the Mystery Foto racer?
Cars built by Tucker and Harry Miller starting in business in 1935 and the Tucker Torpedo Special.

Jan 22 2018 Art Kleiner 8:19 AM

Here’s more people associated with the car at some point.  The pit crew included John Ley, Rocoe Dunning and Bud Henderson.  Also in 1947, Ralph Hepburn, President of the American Soc. of Professional Automobile Racecar Drivers oversaw the car.

Jan 22 2018 frank femenias 8:33 AM

This could be George Barringer’s ’47 Tucker racecar at Indy 500 before the race in 1947. Qualifying the car was life long friend Al Miller (in goggles?), at just under 125 mph. Barringer died a year earlier at 40, unfulfilling major advancements to the car. Also possible is mechanic Roscoe Dunning (another life long friend of Barringer) at left, and Preston Tucker standing by. The car would eventually be marked as #66

Jan 22 2018 Tim Ivers 2:47 PM

The Tucker Torpedo race car driven in the Indianapolis 500 race in 1946 by George Barringer.  Rear engine car originally owned by Gulf-Miller Company then by Preston Tucker.

Jan 23 2018 Michael Wuchitech 10:25 PM

One of the other cars was Joe Lencki’s running a Lencki engine.  My father was Joe’s mechanic and a good friend of Eddie Offut.  Joe’s car was #3 driven by another good friend of my Father’s - Emil Andres.

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