SPEEDWAY, Ind. — A piece of racing history will be revving up to Rockin’ On Main Friday night in downtown Speedway. The antique race car is from 1917, and the engine was made in Anderson, Indiana.
“[Cars like this were] originally fairground racing, horse track racing cars, where the tracks that were available,” said car creator Jim Roof.
Roof’s grandfather cofounded Laurel Motors in Anderson. His company made some of the first racing equipment on the market for a Ford Model-T engine.
“He grew up in the Muncie area, and at 16 he built his first car,” said Roof. “At the early time of 1898, he was racing started building cars. He created a 16-valve conversion overhead for the Model T engine. Made a racing head for the Chevrolet, and Wilbur Shaw used it. He attests to that in the letter saying it’s a great racing head.”
The engine in Roof’s car was manufactured by his grandfather. It took Roof five to six years build the car. Typically he won’t drive it past 40 miles per hour, but it can get up to 62.
“That’s part of driving it slow,” laughed Roof. “There are pieces so old, you can’t predict when they will fail on you.”
When Speedway Town Council officials realized that the car was in town, they asked him to bring it to their Rockin’ on Main celebration. Believe it or not, the car is older than the town of Speedway.
“Driving that car, and riding in that car, is just a piece of history,” said Gary Raikes, vice president of Speedway Town Council.
“Last year we felt like we were trying to swim with our hands tied behind out back,” said Speedway Town Council President Vincent Noblet talking about COVID capacity restrictions last year. “This year with no limitations, you can just feel the vibe.”
Rockin’ on Main goes from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Speedway. They will have two live bands, and plenty of fun for children and race fans. With no restrictions, Speedway town officials are expecting more than 4,000 people to show up.