How I Built My One-Lung Racer

By John Rogers
Member. Dallas Micromidget Racing Club Power plant is a B.S.A. Model C-ll, a 15-cu.-in. overhead-valve air-cooled British motorcycle engine. Turning up at 5,400 r.p.m., this engine kicks out 11 blip. Built-in three-speed transmission and clutch make it ideal for midget-car building. Assembly has a kick starter.

You can combine craftsmanship with sport in micromidget racing. Here is how to get started.

you an oil-slicked WHEN in thebroadside intomidget, you've turn a one-cylinder sitting inches from ground, you know really been in something. The cars are small, but the thrills are as big as any you'll find at Indianapolis. We couldn't resist

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Seen from this angle, the brightly painted car seems to exceed its actual over-all length of 91".
5

/l6" BOLTS

4 2 " CHANNEL (14 GA. MILD STEEL)

■ SPRING

Frame measures 20" by 60". Midget has a 62 1/2" wheelbase. Front and rear spring mounts are )s" steel plate welded to top of frame. Two 3/4" bolts hold engine to the supports. Axle of Model-A front end was cut, shortened, welded in center, and planed to 1" thickness. Steering knuckles were cut down to U shape as shown, spindles shortened, and hubs modified to fit Cushman wheels. For both front and rear, Crosley springs were shortened to 22" o.c. and reverse eyes rolled in ends. Reverse eyes help to lower entire car. Radius rods were bolted to old spring-perch holes.

taking a crack at the sport after reading in POPULAR SCIENCE about the fun that Indiana club had ("Homemade Racers Hit the Dirt Track." Oct. '49, p. 186). Our Dallas club got going a year ago. All last winter and through the spring, you could see the flare of welding torches and hear the rasp of hacksaws in scattered back yards all over town. Along with spring came a new crop of one-lung midgets, many of them with interesting modifications and improvements. I'll tell you about mine. Before touching a single wrench, I sat down at the drawing board and did a little doodling. I wanted a car that could be built with a minimum of machine work and welding, one that would use mostly stock

POPULAR SCIENCE

parts. But I also wanted to maintain the beautiful proportions of an Indianapolis Special. It takes no more material to build a sleek car than a junky one. First the engine. My racer is the only one in the Dallas club with the engine in front. I am convinced that's where it should be for the best weight balance, cooling, and the long look a racer ought to have. Rules of the Dallas club allow a maximum displacement of 20 cu. in. for L-heads, 15 for overhead-valves, and 11 for two-cycles. The B.S.A. overhead-valve motorcycle engine that I chose hits the ceiling for its class. In action, this has proved a good choice. In my first meet, the car turned in the fastest time trial of the evening—11 seconds for one lap of the 1/15-mile banked clay oval. Acceleration was terrific. And out on the open road I hit up to 60 m.p.h. The engine then was still strictly stock, bought secondhand. I had been so busy completing the car that I had not had time to attempt any modifications on the engine. Engines of this size (249 c.c.) are made by nearly all loreign motorcycle firms, and frequently can be bought used in this country at a reasonable price. With built-in transmission and clutch, they put you well ahead on the construction job. In races, I start my engine by pushing, as is customary at most meets. But the kick starter could be used bv extending its

shaft so it will protrude beyond the frame. The chassis design of my car would accommodate many other engines with a few minor changes. For easy removal, my engine is held in place by only two bolts. Both front and rear ends are also bolted in place. Many of the Dallas cars use steel tubing for frames. This keeps down the frame weight, but welding usually is required to attach a part. The rear end is a big reason for the success of my car. Although simple in design, it is rugged and efficient. The solid rear axle is keyed to drive both wheels, in contrast to the one-wheel drive found in other midgets. This means there is no tendency to go into a spin when you gun it while broadsiding. In competition, bumpers or nerfing bars are needed to protect the car. A safety belt is a must for the driver. The Dallas club has worked into a very successful organization. Lights have been installed for night races. At the present time, meets are held twice monthly on Monday nights/ Admission is free. Other Texas cities have invited us to bring our cars and put on race programs under the sponsorship of such organizations as the Lions Club. For us drivers it's all just sport. And, take it from me, you couldn't find a better one anywhere.
Two more pages of construction photos follow. Solid rear axle drives both wheels. Axle, tapered to fit Crosley hubs, runs in ball bearings pressed into ends of .065"-wall tubing. Woodruff key and setscrews attach drive sprocket to right end of axle. Collar held by setscrew to brake end of axle prevents side play. Spring hangers are l"-o.d. tubing welded to axle housing. Cushman 100 tires and wheels were used at rear, Cushman 4.00 by 8s at front.

BACKING PLATE AND SHOE ASSEMBLY

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Jack shaft transfers drive from the center of frame to outside. The bearings have setserews that lock shaft firmly to inner race. Woodruff keys and setscrews hold sprockets to shaft. Sprockets must be carefully aligned with those on engine and rear end. Gear ratios can be changed by changing sprockets.

Rear radius rods were mounted on both sides like this. Front ends are above jack shaft.

Seat-back frame also serves as a roll-over bar. It was shaped from 1" thin-wall steel tubing, with steel plates welded to-ends. Sheet aluminum was screwed to front of frame. Bottom pan also was formed of aluminum, screwed outside frame from seat back to firewall. Crosley steering gear was center-mounted by lengthening control shaft and adding tubing extension on right side. Pitman arm was lengthened to 6/2" o.c. and left steering arm shortened so less than three-quarters of a turn of steering

An aluminum firewall supports coil, oil tank, and battery box. Frame for firewall, hood, and cowl was shaped from cold-rolled channel that is used for installing metal lath in buildings. This bends easily without heating. The brake lever was pivoted to side of frame. wheel moves front wheels from full cramp to full cramp position. This fast steering is needed for racing. Clutch and gas pedals are on opposite sides of the chain guard. The guard was shaped from sheet aluminum.

Gas tank made from a gallon can was strapped high on back of seat for gravity How. Filler pipe extends above tail section of the body. Tail section was made from one sheet of aluminum, attached to seat frame with 8-32 machine screws (1). Then it was cut to a curve along bottom edge ( 2 ) , and cut out at top rear ( 3 ) . Rear section was shaped with hammer and dolly and welded along seam. Weld bead was smoothed with file and emery cloth. ,- Rest of body consists of simple curves. All pieces were attached with machine screws, and the edges smoothed with a file. Radiator shell was shaped to suit grille used. Cooling louvers are needed in radiator shell and top of hood. Bright paint completed the job.