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The Raceway Collection

All the images are original black and white photos from my father, Joe Gertler Sr. who took most of these photos in the 1940’s through the late 1950s. There is a sample of color photos of many of the 38 cars that my Dad & I built or restored in the mid 1970’s until he passed away in 1990.

There are many never before seen photos of Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird, various world record setting cars and race boats, 50 and 60 year old custom cars and boats that look like outer-space vehicles, (Dad’s titanium hulled hydroplane was frequently believed to be some type of “flying saucer”) as was the Hudson based car for the Arab sheik.

Some very bizarre customs, though they might be considered horrendous today, won trophies at The World’s Motor Sports Shows in Washington D.C., such as the almost unrecognizable brand new, just off the docks, Jaguar XK 120 that Dad did for beer baron, Lewis Ebling. A body of work that covered everything from dozens of competitive midgets and sprint cars to Jowet Jupiters, Le Mans winning pre-WWII Grand Prix Adler, to stretched Auburn Speedsters and Model B Ford full custom sports cars that had flowing lines and lots of louvers and race car noses. It was the day to day routine to scratch build, beautifully bodied custom sports cars, building his own frames, bodies, radiators, wheels and even his own transmissions when the job called for it.

He made dreams come true, right there, to roar out of the Raceway Garage with some happy sportsman or race driver behind the wheel of something unique. There are many popular European sports cars here that were extensively modified. Dad was one of the early guys stuffing “hopped up” Cadillac engines into Allards and full-race V-8 Fords into AC Bristols. He could form any SMOOTH shape out of steel or aluminum and was a “Whiz” at building the fastest most powerful engines of the day.

His own estimate is that he built approx 200 complete cars from 1937-1990




 

 

Click on any image below for a better view.

 

Ferrari 375

This is a rare Ferrari 375 that ran the Carrera Panamericana IV. Dad repaired all the damage from hitting the birds and rabbits on the road during the race, for Luigi Chinetti.

Mercedes 300SL Gullwing

Virtually a new car at the time, this one needed extensive repairs after a race..

1939 Adler Grand Prix Racecar

After Dad restored in in 1953..It is Currently being restored by a German collector who recently bought it from estate of man my Dad sold it to in late 1950s.

1939 Adler 105hp, 1500lb racer

This is the 1939 Adler 105hp, 1500lb racer, ran 24 hrs of Le Mans. Won first and second in class. Designed by Dr. Porsche with wind tunnel body designed by Messerschmitt. Only 47” high. Averaged 108mph for 24 hrs and 122mph for one hour and is a FULL four passenger coupe. When Dad restored this after WWII. It was in all the auto mags. Recent photos of it show a completely different nose.

1953 Motor Trend/Adler article (Long download for dial-ups)

A nice feature article (was also the Cover car)of my Dad's restoration of this important racecar.

Early Allard with “hopped up Cadillac" engine

An early Allard that Dad stuffed a “hopped up Cadillac" engine into

Late 1950's Custom Sports Racer

This is a scratch-built custom, aluminum-bodied sports racing car based on Chrysler drive train. It was ALSO recently found and is being restored by a collector.

Aston Martin

An image from the Raceway Collection.

Auburn Speedster

Dad cut this Auburn Speedster in half, yanked the giant straight 8 out of a Duesenberg touring car, added a foot to the frame in engine section & installed the Deusie,and had a car that REALLY needed power steering. He left the Duesie touring car outside the shop for months and the neighborhood kids wore it down to nothing. Dad said he sold the car to a very short man who could barely see over the steering wheel. He sold the remaining Duesie touring car, less engine for $300. Next to it is (I believe he told me) a Model B Ford in the center and then a sportscar built around it! More in later photos.

Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird

Malcolm Campbell’s famous (first car to go 300 mph) BLUEBIRD. As reported in the 1952 International Motor Sports Show program then current owners of the car, brought it to Dad to fair in the big open wheels..for the "refurbished, streamlined, and restyled" car, for its new try for the world's record."

Chrysler (custom sports)

One of those ground up, start from scratch custom sports cars with beautiful flowing body. Dad said it was a Chrysler. Dad had some Italian guys that were pretty good body men too. But every time he taught one the fine art, they left and opened their own shop . Dad had been taught by the old timers. Lessons took place from around 8 PM to 4 in the morning. The fee for these lessons was usually a case of beer and a salami.

Ferrari 375

This is a rare Ferrari 375 that ran the Carrera Panamericana IV. Dad repaired all the damage from hitting the birds and rabbits on the road during the race, for Luigi Chinetti.

Studebaker coupe

This is Dad's new Studebaker coupe getting ready to tow an open wheel Ferrari (from The Bronx) "down to Texas for Mexican road race" I guess someone was going to pick it up in Texas and deliver it the rest of the way.

Model B Ford with custom front-end

This was a custom front end for a Model B Ford. I was still working with these same hand-cut, louver dies in 1990. He made them in 1937.

Customized 1935 Ford Phaeton

A customized 1935 Ford Phaeton.

Model B Ford with new front and rear end

A really wild Model B Ford with new front and rear end. The exhaust pipes come out through openings in the rear body. Nice race car nose. I think this might have been for radio celebrity, Herb Schreiner who was a well known car buff at the time, too. Dad did some exotic stuff for Tommy Manville too. Manville was quite a character and Dad tells the tale of the time Manville stuck a gun in his nose "in front of two of his bimbos, " to show off. But Dad always won the arguments.

'Kurtis Krafts' style custom work

When Kurtis Krafts started winning just about everything at the race track, that is all anybody wanted to buy. So Dad built bodies, frames, axles, etc, KK style and no one could tell the difference.

Joe Gerler Snr. and team

Some of the guys who worked for Dad who lasted a while. Pot belly stove and winter clothes in winter, and sit on the ground outside in Summer. That's Dad upper left. Being a perfectionist, he wasn't easy to work for (I KNOW!) My first lesson in body forming is indelible in my mind. I showed him my first finished piece-a simple hand hammered gas tank end wall. I asked if it 'was good enough." He promptly threw it at my head and said, "There is no such thing as 'good enough. It's either RIGHT or it isn't!" Lesson learned…never forgotten.

Custom early Hemi-engined dragster

Early Hemi-engined dragsters didn't look like much. But Dad didn't do so bad, starting with a belly tank and STILL making it look like a race car.

Custom work on Hudson frame (with periscope!?!)

Some of these stories are so odd, even I wonder sometimes. Dad made this car about 50 years ago. (That's ME, standing there in the bottom shot) He always said he made this on a Hudson frame for an Arab Sheik and the most unique feature was a periscope!

Jowett Jupiter

If you can't afford a Ferrari, how about a Jowett Jupiter? (although, it's probably MORE rare!)

Custom work for Dr. Ceracoli

Dad became good friends with Dr. Ceracoli and even built some of the Dr's Successful medical inventions like the hydraulicly operated examination table that tilted vertical, and then hydraulically went vertical and horizontal, once the patient with back trouble was strapped on. Dad tried the first version in the shop with "screw-up" Lenny. The table shot up too fast - shot Lenny against the concrete block wall and Dad was sure glad to see him "come to" a few minutes later. The Doc had Dad modify another Lancia, a roadster, for him too. I can't find any photos, and it is the car I'll always remember as being the most beautiful race car/sports car, I've EVER seen.

Custom sports racer (Lea Francis basis)

A really nice thing to make out of a Lea Francis. A nice custom sports racer for a Dr. Ryan.

Midgets

Here are a variety of just SOME of Dad's midgets. I have photos lof LOTS more...

Midgets

See above.

Midgets

See above.

Midgets

See above.

Midgets

See above.

Midgets

See above.

Customised MGTC

One way to customize an MGTC.

Customised MGTC

Another way to customize an MGTC.

Modern era custom work

Color photos of our modern era. Some examples of the cars Dad and I built together and restored together from 1973-1990. We built frames, bodies, wheels, steering wheels , OUR OWN right angle drive transmissions for the outboards, radiators, shells. Gas tanks, cut down/narrowed Model T rear ends and front ends, made our own tubular axles, seats cowl frames, hand-filed every weld, riveted the bodies to our own compound curved mounting rails. bent the rear "kick-ups" by hand and made the frames from 12 separate pieces of steel all gas-welded and hand-filed good enough to chrome. Tapped every mounting stud hole, made detachable grilles & grille frames, ONLY using hardware from the period. Used mostly tools and machines in the shop that had belonged to my GRANDFATHER! Most cars here do not have an ounce of bondo or filler: TOTAL CAR. All aluminum and steel, no fiberglass.

Modern era custom work

See above.

Modern era custom work

See above.

Modern era sprints and original restorations

Some of our modern era sprints and original restorations.

Kurtis Kraft replacement bodies and frames

Same as the old black & whites, Dad & I kept meeting the demand for quality Kurtis Kraft replacement bodies and frames. Customers won a LOT of prizes.

Peugot

A nice Peugot that Dad bought from Herbie Heldt in Europe.

Joe Gertler Snr. with customized 41 Plymouth

Dad with a nice customized 41 Plymouth.

Bumper guards for Hoffman Motors

Dad had to go into production to supply Hoffman Motors with these bumper guards that all the Porsche customers wanted

Porsche Speedster

A tastefully customized Porsche Speedster.

Guy Lombardo racing boats

Two race boats that Dad put the engines in for Guy Lombardo. His famous "ALJOs".

Early hydro racer

Dad was popular for building great race engines for these, in this series.

J.Paul Lilly's successful racing boat

A big success. Dad did the engines for this boat. It held the world's record in Class A and took first place in five regattas and second place in 3 others. Was National High point winner for 1948. Owned by J.Paul Lilly.

George Schraft's mahogany hydroplane

This was a beautiful hydroplane owned by candy magnate George Schraft. This curved hull hydroplane was made entirely from half-inch strips of mahogany.

Record-breaking hydroplane

This wild looking hydroplane set the world's speed record in the 266 inch class. Dad made the hydroplane hull from titanium and the sponson holes were there to fill it with rubber air bladders. The driver had to lay prone with his chin on a chin rest. The first hull Dad made had to be thrown away when it buckled while heat treating in Grumman Aircraft's heat treating ovens. This second one came out okay. On the first record attempt, the boat started to porpoise and suddenly cut into the water and stuck in the bottom of Lake Okeechobee FL But FORTUNATELY the rubber air bladders contributed to it coming free again. On the next attempt, it set the world's speed record. Most places Dad towed it, he would tell curious onlookers it was a 'Flying saucer" and a lot of people BELIEVED him.

Custom work for Tony Pompeo

Dad built this for Siata buff, Tony Pompeo.

Custom work for Tony Pompeo

Another custom Siata for Tony Pompeo.

Early Raceway Garage Sprints

Dad just made a new body and frame for Al Keller's 255 Offy on the upper left.

Custom Jaguar XK 120

The Jaguar guys all wanted Dad to make their's special. Here's a custom XK 120.

Take a careful look at the BIG thick fins on the rear and the headlights and grille & bumper treatments.

Modified Jaguar XK 120

How far can you modify a Jaguar XK 120? Dad took this 0-miles, (picked it up at the docks,) XK 120 and did a full custom for NY Beer baron, Lewis Ebling for entry in Wahington D.C.s prestigious World Motor Sports Shows in early fifties.

He was a little embarrassed by the excess in later years, but still, not many others could have done that much with (TO!) a NEW Jag, It WON a trophy at the World Motor Sports show. This one was shipped down to D. C. and Dad tended to it at the show, after driving down in a Mercedes Gullwing, with a LOT of frustrated Highway Patrolmen fading in the rear view mirror!.

1937 Elto Outboard McQuinn Midget Championship car

Harry McQuinn was a notorious driver who went on to become Cheif Steward at Indy. In 1937, this car won the midget championship at THREE different Chicago area racetracks. Engine was a 4 cyl. opposed, outboard powerhead, mounted with vertical crankshaft and right-angle drive gearbox!>

Skirrow racing car

Photos of our pre-war 1936 British Skirrow open-wheel, four-wheel-drive. ALL chain-drive to front AND rear with special 1000cc JAP race engine with two carbs and two magnetos in 100% original condition.

It would be quite a spectacle at Goodwoood! Probably the only one left. Always draws a huge crowd away from the Duesenbergs and Indy cars, when I show it, here.

Skirrow racing car

See above.

 

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