Quantity 28 was an oddity. The 1952 Indy 500 race guidelines allowed vehicles geared up with four-cycle diesel engines, twice as large as their gasoline powered counterparts, to race. “OK, so what?” you say. Clessie Cummins was a self-taught engineer and promotions whiz, very like Henry Ford (who was earlier than him) had been. Throughout his profession he’d used the Indy 500 to showcase how sturdy his diesel engines have been. By 1952, Clessie had retired, however the firm, positioned in Columbus, Indiana, nonetheless fostered his perception that their engines might compete on this planet’s most well-known race. That is the story of the well-known race automotive that dominated the Indy 500 simply to show a degree!

Cummins construct an inline-six, 401 cubic inch (6.6L), 380 horse powered, turbocharged, diesel-fueled race engine that featured an aluminum block, head and a magnesium crankcase. This was nothing in need of revolutionary for its time! Cummins constructed the engine after which, to take full benefit of this monster powerplant, turned to famend chassis builder Frank Kurtis to construct the automotive that went round it! Frank mounted the motor on its facet in a radically low chassis constructed by his store, Kurtis Kraft.

Kurtis really useful that Fred Agabashian be employed to pilot the beast. Come spring, #28 was examined in a wind tunnel after which on the Indianapolis Speedway. The automotive proved to be each bit as highly effective as anticipated and extra of an engineering success than wildly dreamed of! The three,100-lb automotive took the pole place in qualifying with a velocity of 138.010 mph! It additionally outran Ferrari’s 12-cylinder race automotive by practically 4 mph -no small accomplishment there! The one actual drawback was that the automotive ate up tires throughout qualifying. It was enormous and heavy and ran like a scalded cheetah. With that M.O., one thing would flesh out to be a weak hyperlink. That hyperlink confirmed up within the tire know-how – or lack there of.

Though qualifying tore up #28’s tires, the race day technique would consider this week hyperlink and make provisions to compensate for it. The automotive would pit as soon as in the course of the race to tactically swap tires. She had been constructed with a 50-gallon tank and will averaged 10 to 12 miles a gallon; so #28 might make 500 miles with out a gas cease in the event that they needed. Nevertheless, due to the tire change, Cummins took full benefit of the pit by planning to begin the race with sufficient gas for 80 laps after which for tires and gas in the identical pit cease! This fashion they’d benefit from a lighter beginning configuration and never tax the automotive to its design limits.

The diesel was balky at the beginning and by no means led, but it surely did run sturdy. As soon as she reached her stride, she took fifth for fairly just a few laps. However on the 70 lap, it was throughout for the diesel that might. About that point the automotive started to belch black smoke. The experimental automotive pitted on the 175-mile mark. The crew found that the engine was overheating. From there she was rolled into the storage and withdrawn from the race, formally on account of turbo failure. It turned out, poor design placement of the turbocharger allowed it to suck up rubber particles into the inlet, which clogged it up. As soon as that occurred, #28 was finished.

On the day after the race, J. Irwin Miller (Cummins Chairman of the Board) ended the vehicles racing profession. “There are not any plans for racing the automotive subsequent 12 months,” he stated. “Proper now, we need to apprise the worth of what has been finished up there and see what we have discovered earlier than we even discuss anything.” Miller went on to say “that the automotive with experimental gear has a really poor probability of successful. However we discovered what we needed whether or not the automotive gained or not.”

Years later, Don Cummins summed up the #28 contribution to Indy historical past by stating: “The entire motive for being there was to attract consideration to the truth that we have been producing these engines…If anyone thought it was a Mickey Mouse engine, we needed to have the ability to say, ‘Hey, the engine in your truck, this factor you should purchase, sat on the pole at Indianapolis.'”

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