Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stutz Blackhawk Special

My daughter was recently invited to show her artwork at the Stutz Business Center in Indianapolis. The Stutz Business Center was formerly the home of the Stutz Motor Company. Although the building now houses mostly artist studios, it still has some examples of Stutz automobiles.
One being a favorite of mine, that I had only read about and seen in pictures, the Stutz Blackhawk Special. The Blackhawk Special was a LSR car designed and built by Frank Lockhart and the Stutz Motor Company.
In 1928, the Blackhawk Special, driven by Frank Lockhart, made its trial run at Daytona Beach. The car obtained a speed of 225 miles per hour. During the run, the car careened into the ocean after the tire hit an irregularity in the sand. If not for spectators pulling him from the crash, Frank may have drowned.
After the car was rebuilt, Frank returned for another run at the record. In his first run, Frank and his Black Hawk Special obtained a speed of 198 miles per hour. On his return run, a tire blew and catapulted the car end over end, throwing Frank from the car. Frank Lockhart was killed in the crash. Devastated by the accident, the Stutz Motor Company ended all their race endeavors.
Frank was uneducated mechanical whiz, with an ability to fine tune a car for better handling and greater speed. This car was well ahead of its time. While other heavier LSR cars were utilizing aircraft engines with high displacement, Frank designed the Blackhawk Special to be light and utilized a 16 cylinder engine( two banks of 8 cylinders, set an included angle of 30 degrees) with a total displacement of 181 inches.

The car design is inspiring and truly unbelievable for its time. Thanks Frank.

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