John Kelsey, owner and president of Kelsey Tire Inc. in Camdenton, Mo., recently had what he termed a once in a lifetime experience. He drove the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

He did it in his 1914 Stutz Bearcat with his wife, Janice, by his side.

The Kelseys were taking part in the Celebration of Automobiles at this year’s Indianapolis 500 race. The celebration was one of the events held for the 100th anniversary of the race, which was first run on May 30, 1911. It brought together some 250 classic cars built from 1911 to 1961, which drove around the track at speeds up to 50 mph (limited by a pace car).

What made the drive even more special for John was the fact that his father, Paul Kelsey, had also driven the exact car on the Brickyard in 1952 as part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Studebaker.

The vehicle was purchased by Paul Kelsey in 1951 for $1,250, John told The Lake Sun, a newspaper that serves the Lake of the Ozarks region, which recently ran a photo feature on the car and the Kelseys’ big adventure.  

John told the newspaper that the vehicle is based on Harry C. Stutz’ 1911 Indianapolis 500 race car. The engine is 390 cubic inches with Bosch 2 spark dual ignition, and the car features four-point semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension, three-speed manual transmission and mechanical drum brakes on the rear wheels only.

“The old girl still wants to get up and run once you get her in second gear,” Kelsey told the newspaper. He also shared one of his secrets for driving the Stutz Bearcat – he drives with his right shoe off so that he can feel the small pedals, preventing him from pressing the wrong one and damaging the car.

John was inducted into the Tire Industry Association’s Tire Industry Hall of Fame in 2009. His company has the exclusive rights to replicate and sell Goodyear classic and antique tires (see www.kelseytire.com).   

In May, John and Janice drove this 1914 Stutz Bearcat around the  Indianapolis Motor Speedway track. John’s father drove the same car  around the oval in 1952.

In May, John and Janice drove this 1914 Stutz Bearcat around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track. John’s father drove the same car around the oval in 1952.

 

Author

Lori L. Mavrigian
Lori L. Mavrigian

Managing Editor

Since joining <I>Modern Tire Dealer</I> in 1979, Lori Mavrigian has held several key positions leading to her current title as managing editor. In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of magazine production, Lori writes features, contributes photography and is in charge of several of the magazines departments. She also works with the magazine's National Advisory Council for the exclusive Ludwig Report surveys. She earned a B.A. in Mass Media-Communications from the University of Akron.

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Since joining <I>Modern Tire Dealer</I> in 1979, Lori Mavrigian has held several key positions leading to her current title as managing editor. In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of magazine production, Lori writes features, contributes photography and is in charge of several of the magazines departments. She also works with the magazine's National Advisory Council for the exclusive Ludwig Report surveys. She earned a B.A. in Mass Media-Communications from the University of Akron.

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