On July 21-23, today’s top cars and drivers from the IRL Indy Car Series came to Wisconsin State Fair Park to compete at the Milwaukee Mile.
On July 8-9, however, the track belonged to Indy cars of yesteryear.
That weekend, the Henry A. Miller Club hosted its annual Millers at Milwaukee-Vintage Indy Car Event, giving 31 owners of vintage open-wheel race cars the opportunity to swap stories, buy parts and open up their engines on the one-mile track.
“What we love about this meet is that it’s so laid back, and you get so much track time,” said Dana Mecum, who brought his Fred Frame 1933 Ford and his 1934 Sparks-Wierick Miller to the event.
“We went to an event at a different track one year, and all we got was 3-1/2 minutes on the track the entire weekend. Here, you can run until you don’t want to run anymore. We got 78 laps in today with our Ford.”
The Millers at Milwaukee event is laid back in the sense that there is no real competition. There are no official races and no show prizes. The track is open for the cars to drive all day.
The event is also special for fans of vintage race cars. The public is able to admire the vehicles up close in the pit areas, and then watch the cars zoom around the track at high speeds.
In all, 42 cars participated this year, with entries ranging from a 1909 Stoddard-Dayton Indy car to a 1972 Steve Stapp Championship dirt car. Kurtis cars were featured at this year’s event.
Of course, with the event hosted by the Henry A. Miller Club, there were plenty of Miller engines and designs on display, as well. Even 80 years after their construction, it’s hard not to marvel at the craftsmanship of Miller’s motors ‘ especially when they’re revving at full power.
“The mechanical excellence for the time period is unbelievable,” said Dave Hentschel, whose shop performed the restorations on a pair of 1927 Millers for Chuck Davis III, who displayed his cars at the meet.
“You have a 91-cubic-inch engine that’s putting out 257 hp in 1927,” Hentschel said. “The refinement is just fantastic. Everything is so beautifully done.
“It’s great to be able to bring them out here to run them and keep them in shape. This is the only track event we take them to every year.”