Auburn Spring

Auburn Auction Park
11 - 12 May 2018
Lot 5060

1920s Sprint Car by R.F. Blake


$13,000 USD | Sold

United States | Auburn, Indiana



Identification No.
  • Built in the 1920s by famous car builder R.F. Blake of Arlington, Virginia
  • Four-port Riley conversion with Riley carburetors
  • Very rare example of an early board track racer
  • Never fully completed, the car remains a time capsule to early racing
Addendum: Please note this vehicle is being sold on BOS only

In the early days of auto racing, board tracks popped up in many towns and cities, anywhere with enough of a population to draw a crowd. Board track racing was a dangerous business, both for the competitors and the spectators, as cars could and frequently did careen out of control. The high banks made of slick wood, combined with the narrow, hard rubber tires and engines of ever-increasing power, created a recipe for disaster. And yet, as a pure motorsports spectacle, the board track days have never been bettered.

This car is a truly amazing time capsule from that era. Built by Arlington, Virginia, builder R.F. Blake and bearing a plate inscribed with his name, the car appears to have never been completed and consequently never competed, which accounts for its survival. Many board track cars, including the car offered here, were built around the ubiquitous Ford four-cylinder engine. At first the Model T block was used, but once the more powerful Model A became available, they were quickly adopted as the engine of choice. This car features Model A power with the highly desirable four-port Riley overhead cam conversion and four Riley single-barrel carburetors. It almost boggles the mind of the modern enthusiast to think about taking this car, with the central gear shifter, almost impossibly narrow cockpit, and essentially no safety equipment, onto the board banking at speeds of 100 mph-plus.

Cars like these simply are not found today. They were used up in competition, sacrificed to World War II scrap drives, or rusted away in fields and barns across the country. Thankfully, this example was stored appropriately, retaining a rich patina that cannot be duplicated. A true time capsule, this car tells the tale of the early days of motorsports in a way that few other cars can.