Airplane Engine, Chain Drive, And Tire Smoke – This Is What Racing Looked Like 100+ Years Ago


Airplane Engine, Chain Drive, And Tire Smoke – This Is What Racing Looked Like 100+ Years Ago

In our award winning (ok, it has not won any awards…yet) series Before Bonneville we have been showing you in still photos what the world of high performance cars looked like 100-110 years ago. It was about huge engines, huge guts, chain drives, and a general ignorance of the actual forces at work when automobiles are traveling 100+ miles per hour. That was on the speed record side, but what about the bendy, curvy side?

As it turns out, those guys were about huge engines, huge guts, and a general ignorance of the actual forces at work when cars are cornering and accelerating. We say that with all respect because these people were the true pioneers of the racing world and this video gives you an accurate portrayal of what a legitimate Grand Prix car from early in the 1900s looked and performed like. This one happens to be powered by an aircraft engine.

That aircraft engine is a Curtiss OX5 which we talked about in this story from about a month ago and while the 500ci engine makes about 100hp, it produces modo torque and it is all routed through a very favorable gear/chain drive to the skinny as hell rear tires. It is amazing to watch driver Duncan Pittaway drive this thing the way that early racing heroes would have driven it.

As I have said many times before, one of the reasons I love old trucks and tractors is because they offer a genuine, near time travel experience to the operator that is the same thing a person 50 or 100 years ago would have had. I think there is something very awesome in that. Outside of his enclosed helmet, Duncan Pittaway is driving the same way men 100 years ago drove and that is epic in our book…especially when he smolders the tire out of the corner.

100% BangShift Approved!

Press play to see racing like it was 100 years ago – aircraft engine and tire smoke!


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2 thoughts on “Airplane Engine, Chain Drive, And Tire Smoke – This Is What Racing Looked Like 100+ Years Ago

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    I was watching the SF Edge Trophy race at Goodwood Member’s Meeting this morning and there was a virtually a full grid of aero-engined monsters tearing up the sacred tarmac. Duncan was at the wheel of The Beast Of Turin that huge 13 liter 4 cylinder LSR Fiat that he usually drives to and from races complete with 3 foot long flames exiting the two gigantic open exhausts. Awesome racing from the age before seat belts and even rudimentary safety equipment where the ultimate race winning secret was to have the biggest balls on the track!

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