The O’Day Offy

a.k.a. the Riverside Special and the Baldauf Offy

 

Joie Chitwood in the newly constructed O’Day Offy at Southern Ascot Speedway early in 1938 Darrin McKim collection

Unidentified driver in the newly constructed O’Day Offy at Southern Ascot Speedway early in 1938 Jelly Wilhelm collection

Pete Alberts in the O’Day Offy in 1938 – Larry Sullivan photo from the Jeff Adams collection

 Pete Alberts in the O’Day Offy in 1938 Jeff Adams collection

Joie Chitwood in the O’Day Offy with the crew and Hank O’Day’s custom Diamond T hauler in 1938

National Auto Racing News

The O’Day Offy at Lebanon, PA on April 30, 1939.  Joie Chitwood won both his heat race and the feature in this car on this date

 Jeff Adams collection

Joie Chitwood in the O’Day Offy at Springfield, IL

Jeff Adams collection

Joie Chitwood in the O’Day Offy

Ted Nyquist collection

Joie Chitwood warming up the O’Day Offy at Trenton, NJ in 1939 Don Radbruch collection

Joie Chitwood in the O’Day Offy at Langhorne, PA in 1939

Jeff Adams collection

The O’Day Offy sits on its trailer after Tony Willman flipped it at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis on August 21, 1940 Jeff Adams collection

Emil Andres in the O’Day Offy

Don Radbruch collection

Ben Musick in the O’Day Offy

Jeff Adams collection

Duke Westerhaus left and Bill Stroud in 1946 with the O’Day Offy

Darrin McKim collection

The O’Day Offy in 1948.  Note that the early color film has yellowed giving the red #1 an orange hue

Buster Warke photo in the Jelly Wilhelm collection

The O’Day Offy in 1948

Buster Warke photo in the Jelly Wilhelm collection

George Zuck (standing) with the O’Day Offy in 1948.  Note that the early color film has yellowed giving the red #1 an orange hue

Buster Warke photo

The O’Day Offy in 1948.  Note that the early color film has yellowed giving the red #1 an orange hue  – Buster Warke photo in the Jelly Wilhelm collection

Buster Warke in the O’Day Offy in 1948 – Jeff Adams collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy and #4 Charlie Van Acker at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds at West Allis on July 18, 19 48

Keith Van Elson collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy and Emory Collins in his own #7 Offy at Spencer, IA on September 17, 1949 – Keith Van Elson collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy at Sioux Falls, SD in June, 1950

Keith Van Elson collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy beside #5 Ernie Johnson at Sioux Falls, SD in June, 1950 - Keith Van Elson collection

Tommy Vardeman in the O’Day Offy Jeff Adams collection

Mickey McCormick in the Baldauf Offy Jeff Adams collection

Mickey McCormick in the Baldauf Offy Dodge City Globe newspaper

Mickey McCormick in the Baldauf Offy Jeff Adams collection

The Baldauf Offy in the foreground pitted beside the red #7 Baldauf Wayne Chevy at Hutchinson, KS in 1953 – Tommy Madison collection

Unidentified man at left with Joe Hitt in the Baldauf Offy and Jim Hitt in December, 1963 Jack Hitt collection

This photo of the now partially restored O’Day Offy was taken on September 26, 2009 at the Manifolds on Main car show in Irving, TX

Bart Stevens photo

 

Joie Chitwood in the newly constructed O’Day Offy at Southern Ascot Speedway early in 1938 Jelly Wilhelm collection

Pete Alberts in the O’Day Offy at Jungle Park on May 8, 1938

Jeff Adams collection

Pete Alberts in the O’Day Offy in May of 1938 Ed Hitze photo from the Keith Sapp collection

Pete Alberts, second from left and Hank O’Day third from left with O’Day Offy at Jungle Park in 1938 although someone has incorrectly written 1939 on the photo Darrin McKim collection

Mauri Rose in the O’Day Offy at Milwaukee, WI in 1938 Larry Sullivan photo from the Jeff Adams collection

The O’Day Offy at Lebanon, PA on April 30, 1939.  Joie Chitwood won both his heat race and the feature in this car on this date

 Jeff Adams collection

Joie Chitwood in the O’Day Offy at Springfield, IL..  Note the name painted on the toolbox in the background.

Jeff Adams collection

Joie Chitwood in the O’Day Offy at Langhorne, PA in 1939

Ed Hitze photo from the Jeff Adams collection

Joie Chitwood in the O’Day Offy followed by Tony Willman in Pop Dreyer’s car at Langhorne, PA in June of 1939 – Mike Willman collection

Race promoter Sam Nunis at right congratulating Joie Chitwood after one of his feature victories in the O’Day Offy at Lebanon, PA in 1939 – Monte Wellendorf collection

 

Tony Willman in the O’Day Offy in 1940 – Jeff Adams collection

Ben Musick in the former O’Day Offy at West Allis, WI in 1941 – Bob Mays collection

Joie Chitwood at Davenport, IA in 1942 – Jeff Adams collection

Ben Musick in the O’Day Offy at Des Moines, IA

Bob Stolze collection

Ben Musick in the O’Day Offy at West Allis, WI in 1946

Jeff Adams collection

Ben Musick in the O’Day Offy

Jack Albinson collection

Walt Ader seated in the O’Day Offy at Williams Grove Speedway at Mechanicsburg, PA - Frank Smith photo from the Roy Pulver collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy in 1947 - Jeff Adams collection

 

Buster Warke in the O’Day Offy in 1948 - Eastern Auto Racing Historical Society newsletter

The O’Day Offy in 1948 – Buster Warke photo in the Jelly Wilhelm collection

Buster Warke in the O’Day Offy at an AAA race in 1948 – Bart Stevens collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy at Wisconsin State Fairgrounds at West Allis on July 18, 1948 - Keith Van Elson collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy at Spencer, IA on September 17, 1949 – Keith Van Elson collection

Bill Hooper in the O’Day Offy and #5 Ernie Johnson at Spencer, IA on September 17, 1949 - Keith Van Elson collection

Peaches Campbell’s Offys

Ben Musick with the #5 Campbell Offy at left and Bill Cooper in the #1 O’Day Offy at right in June of 1950 at Sioux Falls, SD – Keith Van Elson collection

Tommy Vardeman in the O’Day Offy c1950 – Jeff Adams collection

Mickey McCormick in the Baldauf Offy - Jeff Adams collection

Bill Dillard left with Harvey Shane in 1961 – Bill Dillard, Jr. collection

Unidentified man in cap with Jim Hitt in the Baldauf Offy and Joe Hitt in December, 1963 - Jack Hitt collection

This photo of the now partially restored O’Day Offy was taken on September 26, 2009 at the Manifolds on Main car show in Irving, TX - Bart Stevens photo

  

In the mid 1930s, M. E. “Hank” O’Day resided at Charleston, Illinois where he owned the Hank O’Day Tavern.  The place always appeared crowded but it seemed there were never as many patrons inside as there were cars parked outside.  That was because the real drawing card at this tavern was the gambling room on the second floor.  It was mostly slot machines but gambling was illegal in Illinois at the time.  The place was popular and O’Day always seemed to have plenty of money.1,25

 

O’Day had owned other big cars before he commissioned Louis "Curley" Wetteroth, a noted racing car chassis builder in Southern California, to build a new 270 cubic inch Offenhauser powered big car over the winter of 1937 and 1938.1,7  The creation was white, trimmed in red scallops, and sported a black number 15 on the tail.2  It had the best of everything and no expense was spared.  Among the unusual extravagances were a chrome frame, chrome running gear, individually chromed spokes in each wheel, a polished aluminum grill and instrument panel.  The O’Day Offy was truly a show piece and was the talk of the racing community nation wide before it ever turned a wheel on a racetrack.  It was said to have been the most expensive big car ever built setting O’Day back somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000.1,3,20  To complete the package, O’Day had a 1938 Diamond-T truck custom built for another approximately $20,000 to haul the car around.25  The truck boasted a partially enclosed bed and sleeping quarters for the crew, rare amenities in the 1930s.2,3

 

O’Day hired Pete Alberts to drive the car in its first outing, the track opener at Jungle Park, Indiana on May 8, 1938.  Jungle Park was a half-mile racetrack located 9 miles north of Rockville, Indiana.  Alberts qualified the car fifth fastest that day and was running in fourth place in the feature race when he spun the car out triggering a four-car pileup that also involved cars driven by Larry Beckett, Johnny Crone and Charles Boye.  Although Crone’s car overturned throwing him from the cockpit, there were no injuries.  Alberts only drove the car for a few weeks before O’Day fired him.4  Alberts died the following year in a racing accident at Mt. Vernon, Illinois.5

 

O’Day took the car on the road campaigning it on the American Automobile Association (A.A.A.) Eastern Racing Circuit and in races sanctioned by the Central States Racing Association (C.S.R.A.)  Johnny McDowell and Joie Chitwood shared the driving duties for much of the rest of the 1938 racing season bringing the car home in second place in C.S.R.A. points.1,3,7,25

 

Mauri Rose made a few appearances behind the wheel that year, one of those good for fifth place in the A.A.A. 100-mile Indy car championship race at Syracuse, New York on September 10, 1938.17

 

O’Day selected Joie Chitwood to be the car’s regular chauffer for the 1939 season.  The move paid off as Chitwood won 12 features on his way to capturing the A.A.A. Eastern Championship and the prestigious Hankinson Speedway Dirt Crown all while driving the O’Day Offy.22

 

Although the car retained its 270 cubic inch Offenhauser engine, Chitwood consistently claimed the engine only had 255 cubic inches of displacement when he raced it with A.A.A.  Apparently, officials did not check to find out.22

 

Early in 1939, Chitwood persuaded good friend and racetrack announcer Jack Story to have Sam Nunis set up sponsorship for the O’Day Offy with Ward’s Riverside Tires.  Nunis was the east coast representative for Ward’s Riverside Tires and the name “Riverside Special” replaced “O’Day Special” on the car’s cowl.7,20

 

The car was repainted often during the time it was owned by O’Day with the red scallop design changed with each repainting during 1938.  To go with the new Ward’s Riverside Tires sponsorship, the car’s color was changed to maroon and its number changed to a gray color #2 reflecting the car’s position in the final C.S.R.A points standings in 1938.6,22  When the car was not on the racing on the circuit, it was parked on display in the lobby of O’Day’s Tavern.1,20

 

Chitwood found modest success in the car during the first half of the 1940 racing season.  Feeling changes needed to be made though he moved on to drive for car owner Fred Peters.  O’Day felt that changes were needed as well.  He hired John Bagley as mechanic and repainted the car again, this time in a cream paint scheme with blue scallops but still retained the number 2.21  O’Day then hired a succession of drivers including Bill Holland, Tony Willman, and Tommy Hinnershitz to drive the car.16,22  Willman flipped the car at West Allis, Wisconsin on August 21, 1940 sustaining a dislocated vertebra in his neck and Tommy Hinnershitz flipped the car just two weeks later at Rutland, Vermont suffering a broken arm.6,8,9  It was around this time that a headrest was added to the tail section of the car.  O’Day finished out that season with Mike Little, Vic Nauman, and Buddy Rusch sharing the driving duties.22

  

O’Day sold the car to I.M.C.A. race promoter John Sloan and eight-time I.M.C.A. Champion Gus Schrader early in 1941.10,18  The two men were partners in several cars at the time that they made available to drivers who would race them with I.M.C.A.18  Schrader was fatally injured in a racing accident at Shreveport, Louisiana in October of that year in another car that had also been built by Curley Wetteroth.7,11

 

When Sloan and Schrader purchased the car, they had it painted black with a red #1 on the tail.3  The car kept that color scheme for the rest of its competitive years.  They also had the 270 cubic inch Offenhauser engine (that had been in the car since it was built) replaced with a 318 cubic inch Offenhauser destroked to 310 cubic inches.  The larger engine was legal in I.M.C.A. but was not in A.A.A. or C.S.R.A. sanctioned races.  Ben Musick finished out the season driving the car for Sloan with I.M.C.A.7

 

In 1942, Joie Chitwood traveled to Dallas, Texas and obtained the car from Ben Musick.  Chitwood then began racing it with both A.A.A. and I.M.C.A.  After winning a race at the Des Moines County Fairgrounds during the Tri-State Fair at Burlington, Iowa, sheriff's officers served repossession papers on Chitwood that maintained that John Sloan was the rightful owner of the car.  The papers went on to state that Sloan had entered into a contract the previous year stipulating that Ben Musick would purchase the car but Musick was to be the car's sole driver and Musick was to race the car only in races promoted by, or with the permission of, John Sloan.  Musick had made a down payment on the car in 1941 but that was the only payment that he had made.  The court granted Sloan possession of the car and he received it just before the federal government stopped all auto racing in the country midseason in 1942 for the duration of the war.7

 

The car’s body had become the worse for wear by 1942 and needed quite a bit of repair.3

 

John Stanfield of Dallas, Texas acquired the car during World War II but it is not known if he owned it or just acted as a broker in selling the car.  Either way, Stanfield did not keep the car long before selling it to Peaches Campbell of Tulsa, Oklahoma.3,18  Campbell changed the name of the car from the Riverside Offy back to the O’Day Offy.26  When the car was delivered to Campbell, it weighed 1,170 pounds when all of the fluids were full; had a 220 cubic inch Offenhauser engine in it; and was equipped with an Offenhauser 70% second gear in-&-out box with a Model A clutch and a Miller quick-change rear-end.18

 

Campbell had Duke Westerhaus and Bill Stroud rebuild the car in Westerhaus’ body shop in Tulsa early in 1946.  Among the things Westerhaus reported he repaired were some 100 cracked welds and numerous body dents.3

 

Clarence Merritt was the first to race the car under Campbell’s ownership but it was soon running on the I.M.C.A. circuit again with a “tall-boy” Offenhauser engine, Ben Musick as driver, and Campbell as mechanic.  Musick finished second in I.M.C.A. points behind Emory Collins in 1946.3,23

 

In 1947, Ben Musick joined Jimmy Wilburn’s newly formed two-car team to chase the I.M.C.A. points championship so Campbell installed a 220 cubic inch Offenhauser engine in the car and took it east to race in a few races with A.A.A with Walt Ader driving.  Campbell then returned to the Midwest where he ran the car first with Bill Hooper and then with Red Hodges in some I.M.C.A. races.3,10,18,23

 

After the last race in 1947, Hodges took the car home to Texas with him but reports soon reached Peaches Campbell that Hodges was allowing children to play around with the car in a field behind Hodge’s home so Campbell drove to Texas, loaded up the car, and took it back to Tulsa.18

 

Campbell with, his wife and daughter, had accompanied the car on the circuit in 1946 and 1947.  Peaches split the prize money with his drivers giving them 40% of what they won or 45% if they would tow the car.18

 

1948 and 1949 found the Campbell and the car running back east again competing in a few races each year with Emil Andres and Buster Warke racing with A.A.A.16  Later in each of those years though, Campbell and driver Bill Hooper were again racing the car in the Midwest with I.M.C.A. 23

 

Peaches Campbell’s son-in-law, Tommy Vardeman, drove the car in 1950 and 1951.23

 

Campbell sold the car to Hutchinson, Kansas hotel owner and restaurateur Frank Baldauf in May of 1953.  Baldauf kept the #1, renamed the car the Baldauf Offy, and installed his son-in-law, Mickey McCormick, as driver.10,12  Under Baldauf’s ownership, McCormick raced the car with I.M.C.A. and U.M.C.A.12,13

 

The engine oil pump broke during time trials at the Kansas State Fair on September 21, 1954 ruining the 220 cubic inch Offenhauser engine so Baldauf had a 270 cubic inch Offenhauser engine installed in the car in time to chase the I.M.C.A. points championship in 1955.12

 

Mickey McCormick was seriously injured when he crashed the car at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids , Iowa on July 4, 1955.  He was back in the car by Labor Day but his chances to win the points championship that year were gone.24

 

McCormick drove the car again in 1956 and then Baldauf purchased a new tube-frame car for the 1957 season.  That car too was known as the Baldauf Offy although it carried the #4.12

 

Around 1960, Baldauf struck a deal to sell the former O’Day Offy back to Peaches Campbell minus the Offenhauser engine which Baldauf put in his tube-frame car.  Campbell then sold the former O’Day Offy with no engine to Bill Dillard of Ft. Smith, Arkansas.18  Dillard did not race the car but he and engine man Don Grant made plans to install a Ranger aircraft engine in it.  Before that could be accomplished however, Dillard was fatally injured in an accident while warming up a modified stock car at the Tulsa, Oklahoma fairgrounds.15,22  Grant then married Dillard’s widow and they sold the car (still minus an engine) to Jack Hitt of Bixby, Oklahoma for $2,500 in December of 1963.14

 

Hitt did not race the car but did have Buddy Cagle of Tulsa, Oklahoma begin restoring the body to its original condition including removal of the headrest that had been incorporated into the tail section c1940.14,16  In 1985, Hitt commissioned former driver Chuck Frame to build a new frame for the car.25

 

Around 1991, Hitt sold the original frame and fuel tank to Walt McWhorter of Wichita, Kansas.  McWhorter in turn, sold the parts to fellow Wichitan Jelly Wilhelm who wanted to build a car around them.  Before Wilhelm could do that however, he was approached by Buddy Cagle on behalf of Hitt.  Cagle asked to borrow the original frame to gather mounting hole locations for the copy frame that Hitt had.  Not wanting to affect the authenticity of the car he was having restored, Hitt struck a deal to swap the copy to Wilhelm for the original frame.19

 

Restoration of the car is currently underway again and all are hoping that the O’Day Offy regains its original splendor.  Please send any additions, corrections, or questions to Bob Lawrence.

 

Other related photos that are known:

 

There is a photo of Joie Chitwood from 1942 seated in the #1 Riverside Offy on page 227 of the book, The Illustrated History of Sprint Car Racing 1898-1942 by Jack C. Fox, Carl Hungness Publishing, Speedway, Indiana: 1985.  On page 304 of that same book is another photo of Chitwood in the #2 O’Day Offy that was taken in 1939.

 

In the book, Reading’s “flying” farmer Tommy Hinnershitz: “the cushion artist” by Carl Sweigart: 1993, there is a photo of Tony Willman and Tommy Hinnershitz standing with race promoter Ralph Hankinson after the two drivers had been injured flipping the #2 O’Day Offy in 1940.  There is also a photo of Tony Willman seated in the #2 O’Day Offy taken that same year.

 

In the book, Safe at Any Speed by Jim Russell and Ed Watson, Witness Productions, Marshall, Indiana: 1992, there is a photo on page 244 showing Hank O’Day, Joie Chitwood, and mechanic Tony Johns standing beside the #2 O’Day Offy in 1939.

 

In the book, The Eastern Bull Rings by Buzz Rose, Rose Racing Publications, Glendale, Arizona: 2005.  At the top of page 44 there is a photo taken April 19, 1947 showing Ted Horn in #1, Bill Holland in #29, Tommy Hinnershitz in #5, Mark Light in #9 and Walt Ader in the #7 O’Day Offy (with the #7 painted over the top of the car’s by then customary #1).

 

 

    

 

To view an incomplete performance record of

Hank O’Day’s

O’Day Offy

1938 - 1940

To view an incomplete performance record of

John Sloan & Gus Schrader’s

Riverside Offy

1941 - 1942

To view an incomplete performance record of Peaches Campbell’s

O’Day Offy

1946 - 1952

To view an incomplete performance record of

Frank Baldauf’s

Baldauf Offy

1953 - 1956

To view an incomplete list of Drivers and Owners, Point Standings, and Track Records of this car

 

  

Footnotes: 

 

1.

Roc’s Blackfront Restaurant & Lounge web page at: http://www.rocsblackfront.com/hankoday.php

 

 

2.

Jeff Horn, Charleston, Illinois

 

 

3.

Duke Westerhaus’ photo album

 

 

4.

Book The Ghosts of Jungle Park by Tom W. Williams, Woodangett Press, Temperance, Michigan:  2007, ISBN: 1-891-390-49-X

 

 

5.

Motorsport Memorial web site at: http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=3960

 

 

6.

Eastern Auto Racing Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. 1, 2004

 

 

7.

Book Safe at Any Speed by Jim Russell and Ed Watson, Witness Productions, Marshall, Indiana: 1992, ISBN: 0-9627653-2-5

 

 

8.

Automobile Quarterly, v.36, no.2, 1997, page 86

 

 

9.

Book Reading’s “flying” farmer Tommy Hinnershitz: “the cushion artist” by Carl Sweigart: 1993

 

 

10.

Larry Sullivan’s catalog of his photographs, Jeff Adams collection

 

 

11.

Motorsport Memorial web site at: http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=567

 

 

12.

Feature Race Winners at the Kansas State Fair web site at: http://winfield.50megs.com/Hutch_Nationals/Fair/Feature_Winners_3.htm

 

 

13.

Book Big Car Thunder, Sprint Cars on America’s Fair Circuits, Vol. I by Bob Mays, Fast Track Publishing, Lincoln, Nebraska: 2005, ISBN 0-9710805-2-6

 

 

14.

Jack Hitt, Jenks, Oklahoma

 

 

15.

Motorsport Memorial web site at: http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=7326

 

 

16.

Bart Stevens, Irving, Texas

 

 

17.

A.A.A. Championship Car Points Records: http://www.motorsport.com/stats/champ/data/ch193802.pdf

 

 

18.

Lyndon Greaney, Long Beach, California

 

 

19.

Jelly Wilhelm, Wichita, Kansas

 

 

20.

Book Tommy Hinnershitz, The Life and Times of an Auto-Racing Legend by Gary Ludwig, Basket Road Press, Ind. , Harrisburg, PA: 2009, ISBN 0-98115099-4-5

 

 

21.

Book Langhorne!  No Man’s Land by L. Spencer Riggs, Pitstop Books, Zionsville, IN: 2008, ISBN 0-9742668-1-7

 

 

22.

Official records of the American Automobile Association on microfilm

 

 

23.

Official records of the International Motor Contest Association on microfilm.

 

 

24.

Dodge City Globe newspaper clipping from September, 1955.

 

 

25.

Bob Sterling, Charleston, Illinois

 

 

26.

Monte Wellendorf, Goldfield, Iowa

 

 

 

 

To view the

Madsen Dreyer

Big Car Web Page

To view the

Black Panther

Big Car Web Page

For Links to

Other Interesting Web Pages

To contact

Bob Lawrence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to:

Jeff Adams, Lyndon and Barbara Greaney, Jack Hitt, Ed Hitze, Jeff Horn, Darrin McKim, Bob Sterling, Bart Stevens, Monte Wellendorf, Todd White, Jelly Wilhelm, Gene Willman, and Mike Willman

 

 

 

 

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