Horses usually doesn’t have anything to do with hot rods, but at a shop in Chicago, we found a car unlike anything we had seen in our travels: a starting-line car for horse racing. Of the 3,305 Buick Roadmasters built in 1954, this one was ordered specifically for this purpose.
Unlike thoroughbred racing, where the horses start from a fixed gate, the gate in harness racing is mounted to a vehicle that starts the race by pulling away from the line of horses. The gates fold forward on the vehicle as it accelerates and then it turns off the track at the end of the straightaway, while the horses continue around the turn.
Nobody we spoke with knew the car’s history, but the snow tires it used to claw its way through the mud were old. Surprisingly, there were other starting-line cars at this particular auction, and by comparison, this Roadmaster looked to have led a pretty easy life.