1949 Lesovsky-Offenhauser Indianapolis "Blue Crown Special"
$250,000 - $350,000
RM | Sotheby's - ARIZONA 2019 - Offered on: Thursday, January 17, 2019
- The famous Baby Blue Crown Special
- Built for Lou Moore’s Blue Crown Spark Plug team
- Driven to 3rd overall at the 1949 Indianapolis 500 by George Connor
- Restored by vintage Indy car expert Jim Mann
- Accompanied by a collection of archival items
Lou Moore, first appearing at Indianapolis in 1926 driving a Miller 91, ran a Southern California-based operation sponsored by Blue Crown Spark Plugs, known for its first-notch equipment and preparation, resulting in its winning the Indianapolis 500 no fewer than five times.
Known in period as the “Baby Blue Crown,” this short-wheelbase car was built for the Blue Crown Spark Plug team in 1948 by Luigi Lesovsky who fabricated the tanks, body, and chassis. The running gear, provided by Pat Warren, featured a rear axle assembly with a deeply finned quick-change center section and unique independent front suspension. It is believed that Gordon Schroeder built the dual drag-link steering. The dual overhead cam Offenhauser inline four-cylinder engine came from Meyer and Drake Engineering and is fitted with two Flynn side-draft carburetors and producing an estimated 300 hp shifted through a three-speed Meyer-Drake transmission with reverse.
Making its Indianapolis debut in 1948, it failed to qualify. Lou Moore sold one-half interest in the car for $8,750 to his crew chief Charlie Marant the following year. George Connor was able to qualify the car in 6th position for the Indy 500 in 1949, finishing the race with an impressive 3rd overall. Bill Holland drove it at two subsequent AAA races that year at Milwaukee and Trenton. Connor drove the car in two more 500s for Moore, finishing 8th in 1950 and 30th in 1951. In 1952 and 1953, Charlie Marant independently entered the car at Indianapolis, but driver Bill Taylor was unable to qualify either year. In 1954, second owner Bob Christie attempted to qualify the car, however a failed magneto put an end to his Indianapolis hopes. Later, it was purchased by Malcolm Miller of Vancouver, Washington, who successfully campaigned it at Pacific Northwestern tracks with driver Bob Gregg.
An accident at Sacramento in 1955 with Len Sutton at the wheel caused the car to be retired from competition. It was sold by Miller to Donald “Duck” Collins of Portland, Oregon, who carefully preserved the components of the car over the years. A subsequent owner commissioned a complete and authentic restoration by noted vintage race car specialist Jim Mann of Elkhart, Indiana. With its classic Indy car looks, the Blue Crown Special is one of the most interesting and attractive Indianapolis racers produced in the Roadster Era. This meticulously restored and historically significant race car is an exceptional addition to any collection of historic American racing cars.