The Vintage Indy Registry
"THE GREATEST CARS IN RACING™"
Bill Forbes Special
Kimberly Cooper Special
Johnny Lightning Special
Ken Brenn Special
Botany 500 Special
Botany 500 Special aka Shelby Turbine
Owner: Don Devine
Chassis/Engine: Wallis/GE turbine
Builder: Wallis Engineering & Shelby American Torrance, CA
1 of 2 Turbine Indy Cars entered by Carroll Shelby in the 1968 Indy 500
Designed by Ken Wallis, who designed the 1967 STP Turbine Indy Car
Tested and practiced by Bruce McLaren for his initial Indy 500 Rookie Debut
Sponsored by Botany 500 and Goodyear
GE T-58 Shaft Drive Turbine 1,325 HP engine
Goodyear tires and Girling brakes
4-wheel hydrostatic drive developed by Einar Jonsson
In 1968 USAC regulations were revised regarding the maximum turbine inlet size to limit their power output
Shelby's cars innovated around the regulation by use of the variable anulus
The Shelby Turbine Indy Cars were withdrawn by Shelby from competition prior to the 1968 Indy 500
Turbine-powered racers have a long history in the Indianapolis 500. One of the most notable turbine entries was the 1967 STP Oil Treatment Special. Nicknamed the “Wooshmobile,” it became the first turbine-powered car to qualify for the Indy 500 and missed winning by a mere three laps when a six-dollar transmission bearing failed. The car’s designer, Englishman Ken Wallis, then approached Carroll Shelby and proposed a partnership for the 1968 race. After arranging financing through Goodyear and Botany 500, Shelby worked with Wallis to refine Wallis’ earlier design. The original plan was to build three race cars, each powered by a $75,000 turbine engine secured from General Electric and employing a brilliantly conceived hydraulic all-wheel-drive system developed by Einar Jonsson. The cars would be fabricated by Wallis’ engineering staff at his rented two-story shop in Torrance, California, throughout the autumn of 1967. They would then be tested at West Coast race tracks before shipping to Indianapolis in mid-March 1968 for further trials, followed by the 500-mile race in late May. Two cars were completed, to be driven by Can-Am stars Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, whose services had been secured through Goodyear.
The 1972 Parnelli VPJ-1 is chassis 102 as one of two chassis used by Joe Leonard during the 1972 Indycar season. Chassis 102 has been verified by John Caples, the original crew chief for Joe Leonard during the 1972 season. Chassis 102 was extensively damaged during a late season Firestone tire test caused by a right front suspension failure. The car incurred heavy damage to the right front area and when the car was acquired, the tub showed signs of repair on the right side. An attempt was made to repair the car in time for the season ending race at Phoenix, but the crew ran out of time and a backup Viceroy car was quickly painted in Samsonite colors and run at the last race of the season (chassis 104). This is the car currently owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. When chassis 102 was acquired, pieces of the damaged longhorn came with the car, and were key to accurately
reconstructing this vital component of the car.
VPJ-1/102 has been restored using all original componentry acquired directly from Parnelli Jones and is in its ‘Mk 1’ configuration incorporating dihedral wings, dual camber compensators and other details as the car would have run during early testing in the 1972 season.
The car has been restored to its original Samsonite livery, including original 'suitcase' numeral decals dating back to 1972. Joe Leonard has verified the pedal location and certain details in the tub (Joe was nearly 6’ tall and certain modifications had to be made to his cars vs. those driven by Andretti and Unser) as one of the two chassis
he drove during the ’72 racing season.
Larry Alleman has verified this chassis was one of the first two constructed of the VPJ-1 series
based on the type of rivets used in the construction of the tub.
Race History; Penned by the famed former Lotus designer Maurice Philippe the car was built during the winter of 1971-72 at the shops of Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing near the corner of 190th st. and Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance, CA under the guidance of chief mechanic George Bignotti and co-chief Johnny Capels. The VPJ1 was first raced at Trenton, NJ in April 1972 where it sported both its design unique dihedral wings and later added conventional front and rear wings. Joe Leonard started 6th at Indy in this car finishing a respectable 3rd after a month of initial teething problems. Joe would go on to win races during the season at Michigan, Milwaukee and Pocono securing the USAC National Driving Championship. Chassis #102 is currently owned and under going what promises to be a breath taking restoration in Michigan by its current owner Chuck Jones. A May 2017 debut is expected
for the Samsonite Special at Indy's Legends Day.