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Hot Rods Add to the 25th Annual Miller Meet Fun

Hot Rods Add to the 25th Annual Miller Meet Fun


Words: John Gunnell

The 25th Annual Millers of Milwaukee meet on July 12-13 at the Milwaukee Mile was highlighted by hot rods on the track and in the parking lot. The event drew about 49 racing cars (including a pair of stripped-down hot-rod-like Fords). There were also a couple of hot rods and collector cars in the parking lot, as well as one “future collectible” for go-fast fans.

The Miller Meet is held at The Milwaukee Mile at the State Fairgrounds in West Allis, Wis. This facility is the oldest continuously-operating auto racing track in the USA. Race car builder Harry A. Miller also has Wisconsin in his history. Even though his race car building was done in Los Angeles, Miller was born in Menominee, Wis. His automotive creations dominated racing in the 1920s and 1930s.

Bobby Green brought his 1933 Ford Gilmore Cup car from Altadena, Calif. It was listed in the event program as “Babe Stapp’s Gilmore Cup Car.” Auctioneer Dana Mecum, of Walworth, Wis., brought his own black No. 10 1933 Ford roadster. This car was listed as the winner of the 1933 revival race in Elgin, Ill. According to the program, it was also on the pole for the 1935 and 1936 Indy 500s with Rex Mays at the wheel.

Before true “old school” hot rods started racing on the dry lakes of California, hot rod style Fords were racking up checkered flags at events such as the Elgin National Road Races in Illinois and the Gilmore cup races in California.

The Midwest events first started in 1910 and ran through 1920, but the hot rod style cars - largely Ford V8s - competed in a 1933 revival of the contest. Two famous drivers of the era competed in the 1933 race: Phil Shafer driving a Buick and Fred Frame in the Ford V8.

Around the same time, the free-for-all style Gilmore Gold Cup races on the West Coast were sponsored by Gilmore Oil Company at venues such as Mines Field Airport (LAX today) and the Legion Ascot track. They featured dust-throwing racing roadsters, the majority of which were fenderless V8 Fords.

In addition to the classic Millers and Ford V8s on the track, a number of interesting old cars and one new one were there. One of these was a Resto-Mod style 1951 Chevrolet station wagon with fake woodgrain trim (actually metal molding with what they call Di Noc fake wood trim). It was nicely done with a fairly stock look, but big wheels and a surf board on the roof.

Also seen around the parking area were a Model AA Ford wrecker that once did towing chores for Hornburg Ford of Hartland, Wis. It was equipped with a Manley Wrecking Crane made in York, Pa. Not far away was a neat 1954 Ford Customline sedan with a very nice restoration. It was parked next to a black-and-white two-toned 1956 Packard Clipper Custom two-door hardtop that was equally as nice.

It was very hot the weekend of the Miller meet and the owner of a 1963 Ford Falcon convertible in the parking lot could at least put the top down. Unfortunately, those cars didn’t offer air conditioning. This one was the cheapest convertible, not the Futura, but it was pretty nice and could easily be restored.

As for the “future collectible” at the Miller Meet, how about a Chevrolet Equinox that was an Official Vehicle for the Big Machine Vodka Brickyard 400 presented by Florida Georgia line? That’s sure a mouthful and, as it involves vodka, there may be Russian links as well. Apparently, someone from Indianapolis Motor Speedway was at the Miller this year.