May marks the starting point for many things to different people. It’s a time to start the garden, finish plans for a summer vacation and if you Google what begins in May you’ll find odd things like the beginning of mosquito and West Nile virus season…yikes! For us interested in cars, not only is it time to get our cars out, but for a subpopulation, a time to start thinking about auto racing. Some of our members raced cars such as Jack Sarasio who competed in a ’34 Ford coupe. At Hershey, the race car class is always one of interest and a point of entertainment when the cars run on a small track there. The Indy 500 is at the end of the month and it wasn’t until recently I learned diesel-powered cars raced in the “Great American Race”.
Clessie Cummins was a crew member of the Marmon Wasp team that won the first Indy 500 in 1911. In 1919, he started the Cummins Engine Company to build diesel engines. The first engines were stationary engines mostly for farm and marine use. Since, the company has become known for its a wide array of truck and power generator diesel engines. In 1931, Cummins entered a diesel-powered car in the Indy 500 using a chassis provided by Fred Duesenberg. The car finished in third to last place. However, it did set a record. It ran the entire race without stopping for fuel or tires. In 1934, Cummins entered two cars, one with a 2-stroke diesel engine (#5 car below) and the other a 4-stroke diesel (#6 car pictured below). The #5 car finished in 12th place, but the engine seized after the race. This angered Cummins and since the company has focused on 4-stroke engines. The #6 car did not finish the race due to a transmission failure after 81 laps. Cummins did enter cars in the Indy 500 a couple more times, but not after 1952, even though the car that year won the pole position. However, the company did have a presence in 1987, sponsoring the winning car driven by Al Unser, Sr. I learned much of this from my brother who is employed by the Cummins Company and is currently working on the #6 car for this year’s Indy 500. The car is now running and was recently clocked at 60mph.
We had a great turnout for the State Capitol and Terrace Hill tours! I’m happy so many people expressed that they enjoyed these events. Both places are beautiful, and the tour guides were fantastic! There is always something new to see or learn each time these places are visited. Check out the events calendar in this Battery Post for new activities as well as some we enjoy doing every year. The Board will continue to grow the list about three months in advance as calendars to do fill with the busy lives we all have. The board is also working on long term plans such as membership. An important part of the plan is an updated website. The club currently has one as well as a Facebook page. But there are many improvements that can be made and talents in the club are being resourced for the effort.
Finally, this Memorial Day please remember those who have served and those who have served and fallen. Often we think about picnics and a long weekend, but it’s also a time to remember those who had a broader view, to protect the freedoms of our country.