INDIANAPOLIS – A roadster that finished second in the 1956 Indianapolis 500 before spending the past 50 years atop a business, becoming an iconic landmark, has been sold.
The race car, which has been at Safety Auto Glass since 1961, will be taken down today to undergo extensive renovation. Gary Schroeder of Burbank, Calif., one of the buyers, says the renovation work is expected to take several years.
Auto historian Donald Davidson said being perched atop a business did seem like a sad place for such a glorious racing car.
But it became such a landmark, such a talking point. I myself sometimes detoured past it just to see that it was still there, he said.
The race car was built in 1954 by Kurtis Kraft and driven briefly by Bill Vukovich, the two-time 500 winner who some consider the greatest driver at Indianapolis. Another highly regarded driver, Sam Hanks, the 1957 winner, drove the car in the 1955 and 1956 races.
His widow, Alice Hanks, said in an email from her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., that her husband was never happy about the car being on the roof.
Sam had a lot of sentiment about some of the cars he drove, especially the ones he did well in. Sam said that 1956 was one of the hardest races he ever drove, she said.
Safety Auto Glass President Steve Perkins and the two buyers, Schroeder and Indianapolis resident Chris Paulsen, would not disclose the sale price.
Perkins said in 2004, he had turned down an offer of $20,000 for the car.
Several fully restored cars have sold in the $200,000 range in recent years, Davidson said.
Perkins has batted away 40 or 50 offers to buy the oddly positioned car since taking over the business started by his father, who died in 1991.
But now it’s just time, he said. It’s the right thing to do and these are the right people.
Paulsen and Schroeder plan to take the roadster to car shows and take turns driving it in vintage car races.