This rare 1928 Van Blerck Midget Racer is the real deal. It is well documented by the Harrah Automobile Collection dating back to 1970 which is included. The Harrah Automobile Collection is now known as the National Automobile Museum. It has been completely restored to show quality standards. It retains an original aluminum body and 1920’s Van Blerck “Junior” aluminum OHC 4cyl engine.
The first midget race car meets in which records were kept were held at the American Legion (Ascot) Speedway in Los Angeles, CA dating back to April 1914. Midget racing continued until interrupted by World War I and did not resume until 1933, when an organization was formed to race a few existing midgets. Loyola Stadium in Los Angeles, CA became the first site for midget racing as an individual sport. The history of midget racing is well reviewed in the book “The Mighty Midgets” which was written by midget racing expert Jack C. Fox. Included with the sale of this 1928 Van Blerck Midget Racer is an authentic “The Mighty Midgets” book that was signed by Jack C. Fox. This 1928 Van Blerck midget racer is believed to have been built by Leo Faulkner based on his design and comparisons to photos in “The Mighty Midgets” book. Leo “Pop” Faulkner is considered to be one of the California’s midget racing pioneers. He was an active builder, tuner, owner and driver until the 1950’s. As stated by Jack C. Fox in “The Mighty Midgets” book, “Faulkner was one of the most important men behind the development of midget racing”. Since the builders didn’t brand the midget racers it was common they were referred to by the engine manufacturer such as this one.
As documented with the paperwork provided by The National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV on February 20th, 2012 this 1928 Van Blerck Midget Racer was sold to Alex Koral by Richard Kazar. The date of this transaction is unclear. On August 27th, 1970 The Harrah Automobile Collection reached out to Alex Koral in regards to an ad he placed in Hemmings Magazine for this 1928 Van Blerck Midget Racer. Alex Koral completed a check list of details requested by The Harrah Automobile Collection. On September 8th, 1970 The Harrah Automobile Collection requested an inspection which was signed by Bill Harrah. On September 17th, 1970 The Harrah Automobile Collection made an offer which was accepted by Alex Koral on September 23rd, 1970. On September 25th, 1970 the purchase was made which was signed by Bill Harrah. On October 2, 1970 a Bill of Sale was signed by both parties and a check was issued to Alex Koral. On September 29th, 1970 The Harrah Automobile Collection sent the check. They wanted a detailed description and indicated they would arrange to have it picked up. On December 13th, 1970 Alex Koral reached out to charge a storage fee since the car had not been picked up. On December 21st, 1970 The Harrah Automobile Collection sent a check for storage. The midget racer was eventually picked up and they assigned it stock #986 for inventory purposes. On March 12th, 1971 The Harrah Automobile Collection reached out to get more information. When the midget racer arrived it was in fair condition and painted blue. As indicated in the check list it had a Van Blerck OHC 4cyl aluminum engine. The engine number is #L-1123 and the oil filler number is #L-1570. At some point which is unclear The Harrah Automobile Collection did a light cosmetic restoration. It was painted red with the number 36. In 1986, The Harrah Automobile Collection sold this midget racer at auction in 1986. It was sold Mike Moore from Reno, NV. It was then sold to well-known car collector George Shelley. The time of the sale is unclear. It was completely restored to show quality standards. George Shelley entered the Amelia Island in 2007 with the assistance of Tom Straubinger. It won the Amelia Award which has been documented by the Amelia Island Concours organization. George Shelley sold the car to Jeff Brock on November 15th, 2008. It was in his personal collection until October of 2019.
This midget racer was professionally restored with an open check book. It was restored as closely as it would’ve been built in the timeframe it was raced. The original aluminum body is in overall very nice condition. The panels are straight and the hood fits nicely. The hood can be removed very easily and is secured with brown leather straps. It was finished in a beautiful shade of red. The paint job is also very nice and shows well. The sides were decorated with advertisements that were hand painted. On one side the advertisement is “Gilmore Special” who was a sponsor during this era of midget racers. On the other side the advertisement is “Van Blerck – The Standard High Speed Motor” which was done since it’s equipped with a Van Blerck engine. It sits on Magnesium wheels that are gray with a red center. The wheels are wrapped with new Firestone Deluxe Champion tires that are 4.00-12 on the front and 5.00-12 on the rear.
The inside space seating area and inside paneling is wrapped with black leather. It retains the vintage steering wheel that’s been painted and wrapped for gripping. It retains the vintage Foxboro white face gas pressure gauge, oil pressure gauge and temperature gauge which are all in working order. The temperature gauge stays in the last position it was prior to shutting off but works when operating. It’s equipped with a power on/off knob which is on the instrument panel. Underneath the instrument panel is a fuel cut off lever and push start button. MS CLASSIC CARS installed the push button start for convenience. It’s powered by a new Duracell Ultra battery with plenty of cranking amps.
The engine compartment is nicely detailed throughout with many era correct parts. The aluminum fire wall was left bare and has been polished. It retains the vintage 1920’s Van Blerck “Junior” 90ci OHC 4cyl aluminum engine. The engine number is #L-1123 which matches all the documentation from the Harrah Automobile Collection. The oil filler cast #L-1570 also matches the documentation from the Harrah Automobile Collection. According to Van Blerck advertisements this engine produced 33HP and weighed 165 pounds with the gear, starter and generator. This was the perfect engine for the midget racers because it was lightweight, powerful and reliable. This engine was rebuilt during the restoration and runs beautifully. The engine has a manual pressure pump. It retains the vintage Winfield Model S carburetor that also matches the documentation from the Harrah Automobile Collection. The engine has vintage style spark plug wires, cooper lines and brass hose clamps. The engine breathes through a side exhaust pipe that sounds vicious. A section of the exhaust was wrapped with heat tape for protection. The engine is cooled by a polished brass Austin Motor Company radiator #8103. The engine is coupled to a one-speed transmission with neutral. It’s equipped with a double pressure gas cap, Austin Motor Company axles and rear brakes. The brake lever has a leather strap that acts as emergency brake when needed.
This 1928 Van Blerck Midget Racer is the “The Real Deal”. It draws a ton of attention and will be the center piece of any collection. This is a great opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.