In 1929, Lloyd Fisher was the shop foreman of the Cleland Motor Company when he built this race car. Fisher, a lifetime resident of Longmont, Colorado, built the entire vehicle, with the exception of the body. For that, he paid a man $500 to pound it out of 14-gauge aluminum. The body is mounted on a cut down Model T frame with a 92-inch wheelbase; it has a Model T engine with a Double Overhead Cam (DOHC) Frontenac racing head. Other accessories include; a Grant 6 radiator, a two-inch Winfield Model O downdraft carburetor, mounted outside the car because there is no room under the hood; and four 4:50 x 18 Wards Riverside tires mounted on Dayton Racing Wire Wheels.
The hauler for the car is just as unique; it started life as a 1919 Model T truck. Fisher and his wife drove it from Phoenix, Arizona, to Longmont in 1930, when it still had its original truck cab. Fisher soon replaced the cab with a touring body, which it now has. The truck sports a Frontenac Overhead Valve head; a Hudson carburetor and Bosch distributor. Fisher fashioned rail troughs out of a Model T frame on each side of the truck bed for the tires of the race car to follow when it is being loaded. Since the track of the race car and the truck are close to the same, the troughs have to go up and over the rear tires of the tow vehicle, making for a unique loading system.
Fisher raced the car all over the western United States from 1929, through 1936. Its primary driver was Clyde Gilbert who sported a couple of nicknames, “Tiny,” because of his considerable girth (Gilbert tipped the scales at various times in the neighborhood of 225 pounds) and “Cowboy,” which alluded to his driving style. He earned both nicknames as the big man was a hard charger on the race track. Morris Musick of Dallas, Texas also drove the car on occasion.
The car raced and set track records at Bakersfield, California; Belleville, Kansas; Hutchinson, Kansas; Denver, Colorado; Dupont, Colorado; Lexington, Nebraska; Lincoln, Nebraska; Neligh, Nebraska; Oakley, Kansas; Ord, Nebraska; Topeka, Kansas, San Jose, California and many other tracks lost to history. The car had many big wins during its competitive life. On a one-mile track the top speed of the car was 135 miles per hour, with an average lap of 95 miles per hour.
Typically, Fisher and Gilbert would strike out from their Longmont base when fair season started up, in mid-July each year, hitting most of the major agricultural expositions through late September, at which time the team would head to California for a series of wintertime racing events. The car was fast enough that it made a nice profit for Fisher during this time. Once the California season was over, Fisher and Gilbert would head back to Longmont where Fisher would tear the car down and freshen it for the up coming season. This scenario was repeated each year until the car was retired following the 1936 racing season.
Fisher bought a new race car for the 1937 season and built a new hauler to tow it. As a result, old number 5 and its trusty hauler were parked in the back of the shop, where they remained for the next 20 years.
In 1956, Fisher sold the tandem to Floyd Clymer, who took the matched set to Los Angeles, California. From there, they made their way to the Pacific Northwest, eventually coming into the possession of Ron Kipling. Kipling was killed in a motorcycle accident in June, 2011, and the rig was then bought by “Speedy” Bill Smith in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The amazing part of this story is that the car and its hauler have remained together since their last race in 1936. Now residing at the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed, Lloyd Fisher would be very proud of his race car hauler rig.
Mondays & Fridays: 12pm-4:30pm