Car (South Africa) - - SPEED -

Imag­ine how cool it would be to see Lewis Hamil­ton’s Mercedes-amg F1 car line up against Timo Bern­hard’s Le Mans-win­ning Porsche 919 Hy­brid and Will Power’s Indy 500-win­ning Team Penske Dal­lara-chevro­let. You’d pay good money to see a race like that, right? Well, that’s ex­actly what thou­sands of peo­ple did, rolling into Con­necti­cut’s Lime Rock Park road cir­cuit in July 1959 to wit­ness a start­ing line-up which in­cluded an F1ti­tle-win­ning Maserati, Le Mans-win­ning Jaguars, Targa Flo­rio-win­ning Porsche ... and a short-‘n’-tall Kur­tis-of­fen­hauser Midget with a sin­gle­speed trans­mis­sion that looked pos­i­tively an­cient against the sleek Euro­pean sportscars.

Given it was meant for an oval track, the Kur­tis was adept at straight­line speed but main­tain­ing that through a road cir­cuit’s left- and righthanders was where it was com­pro­mised. Not in Roger Ward’s hands, though. Af­ter nar­rowly los­ing to Ge­orge Con­stan­tine’s As­ton Martin DBR2 in the first 20-lap heat, Ward changed gear ra­tios for the main 60-lap­per and ha­rassed the more cel­e­brated cars be­fore tak­ing the lead from Chuck Daigh’s Maserati 250F Grand Prix car with 10 laps to go and hold­ing it un­til the che­quered flag. And it wasn’t a case of re­al­is­ing a Midget was sur­pris­ingly well suited for the cir­cuit, ei­ther; there were four other Mid­gets in the race and the next best fin­ished only eighth. That date, 25 July 1959, has sub­se­quently en­tered Amer­i­can mo­tor­sport folk­lore and is now known sim­ply as “The Race”.

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