The legendary Morales Brothers of Anaheim, California, shared a common passion for sprint car racing. Oldest brother Alex, who raced the original “Tamale Wagon” in 1928, continued racing at Ascot and Huntington Beach throughout the 1930s and 1940s before being interrupted by wartime service.

Undeterred by a lack of racing success through much of the 1950s, the brothers purchased a new Roger McCluskey-built sprint car chassis in 1958, powered by a 220 cubic inch “Offy” engine. Sponsored by the family business, Alex Foods Inc., the new “Tamale Wagon” quickly became a frontrunner in California Racing Association (CRA) competition, and a regular fixture at Ascot until its retirement in 1968.

Over its ten-year racing career, The “Tamale Wagon” remained successful under Offenhauser power, and was never converted to the ubiquitous Chevrolet small-block V8 engine. Both it and the Bromme “Andy Gump” Sprint Car, which is also being offered as part of Joe’s Garage, raced against each other year after year. Many famous drivers took the wheel of the “Tamale Wagon” in CRA and USAC competition, including Roger McCluskey, Parnelli Jones, Mike Mosely, Billy Vukovich, Jr. and A.J. Foyt.

However, the driver most closely associated with the “Tamale Wagon” is undoubtedly Bob Hogle, who scored two CRA driver championships in 1963 and 1968 while driving the car offered here. Hogle, who was honored at the California Roadster Association’s 14th Annual Reunion in 2008, and inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2001, is truly a legendary figure in motorsport history. While extremely successful as a driver, Hogle freely shared his expertise, mentoring younger drivers, including eventual five-time CRA driving champion, Jimmy Oskie.

As a rebellious youth, Hogle developed an early and intense interest in automobiles. Looking for a break into racing, but lacking actual experience, Hogle managed to convince a jalopy owner that he was indeed a racing driver, thereby gaining his first “ride” at Huntington Beach, California. Rising quickly through the ranks, Hogle began his sprint car career at the wheel of a car owned by Lloyd Woolever.

The Morales Brothers recognized Hogle as a skilled driver, and placed him behind the wheel for several events early in the 1960 season. Hogle returned to the “Tamale Wagon” in 1963, capturing the driver’s championship, while Morales took the car owners championship. During his induction into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1992, Morales was quoted as saying, “Hogle was the most colorful of all my drivers, the one I had the most fun with.” The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum cites CRA records indicating that Hogle, with 63 victories, ranks third in sprint car feature wins.

The Morales Brothers were extremely successful car owners. Detailed CRA records show that the McCluskey-built “Tamale Wagon” scored 77 victories during its illustrious career, and captured the car owner points title four times, in 1959, 1963, 1967 and 1968. The car was also actively campaigned in USAC events from 1960 to 1967, scoring six podium finishes, including three victories. In addition, the Morales team was well-known for the consistently outstanding appearance of the “Tamale Wagon” and their overall professionalism.

However, in sprint car competition, as in all forms of motorsport, success often comes at a price. The “Tamale Wagon” was damaged during a CRA event at Ascot on July 30, 1960, when driver Wayne Douglas hit the Turn 1 wall hard, and flipped the car several times in the process. Fortunately, Douglas was not injured severely. In 1961, while being driven by Rosie Roussel at El Centro, the race was halted at lap 13. Running in second place, and vying for the lead, Roussel lost control, colliding with the starter’s stand. Roussel was injured, and the “Tamale Wagon” was wrecked.

Soon rebuilt and returned to its original race number 25, the “Tamale Wagon” was taken east in April and May of 1961 and entered into several USAC events. There is even some speculation that the “Tamale Wagon”, the Bromme “Andy Gump” and the Urgo/Kuzma cars may have all raced together at Ascot on November 12, 1966, on that fateful night when Dick Atkins was killed while driving the Urgo/Kuzma sprint car.

Undeterred, the Morales team car reached its zenith during the 1967 and 1968 CRA seasons, scoring back-to-back victories in the car owner points standings. In addition, Bob Hogle took his second driving championship in 1968, scoring nine victories in the venerable McCluskey-built car. In fact, the old “Tamale Wagon”, facing retirement in favor of a new Don Edmunds-built car, won its last race on July 20, 1968 at the famed Ascot Speedway, with Hogle at the wheel.

Once the car was retired, Alex Morales removed the Offenhauser engine from the old warrior, and stored the engineless car upon a mezzanine in his warehouse. Eventually, Bob Coulter, a sprint car driver who competed in CRA and USAC, purchased the car, parking the Tamale Wagon for several years. When the father and son team of Bruce Bromme Sr. and Jr. finished restoring the “Andy Gump” Sprint Car, Coulter was so impressed that he engaged the Brommes to restore the Tamale Wagon for him.

Both Brommes were amazed at how complete and original The “Tamale Wagon” was, virtually unchanged from its days at the race track. The engine bay displayed all of the fuel, hoses, lines, and the magneto ground wire dangling there, awaiting a new engine. A 220 cubic inch Offenhauser engine was located and purchased for the car, expertly rebuilt by the Brommes, with the exterior refinished to its beautiful 1967/1968 livery. In 1998, Joe MacPherson purchased the car from Bob Coulter, appropriately placing the famous race car on display at Joe’s Garage, alongside its old adversaries, the Bromme “Andy Gump” and Urgo/Kuzma Sprint Cars.

An icon of the Southern California sprint car wars, the legendary “Tamale Wagon” benefits from the desirable combination of both racing success and a legendary roster of drivers. What’s more, it has a well-documented history and, as it stands expertly restored to period correct standards, certainly remains an outstanding example of sprint car history.

220 cu. in. Offenhauser dual overhead camshaft inline four-cylinder engine, “in-and-out” transmission, tubular front axle with transverse spring, cross-torsion bar rear suspension, Halibrand Championship rear end with two-inch open tube axle, and four-wheel Halibrand disc brakes.

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Tamale Wagon Sprint Car

 
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Race Car: Tamale Wagon Sprint Car
Item #:
13278
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