Studebaker National Museum acquires Studebaker Indianapolis 500 race car

#34 Studebaker Special

The Studebaker National Museum

South Bend, Ind. – The Studebaker National Museum has acquired the #34 Studebaker Special, one of the five Studebaker factory-built Indianapolis 500 race cars which competed in the 1932 and 1933 Indianapolis 500.

Studebaker five-car entry in the 1932 Indianapolis 500 was one of the race’s largest factory-backed efforts. The cars were powered by Studebaker’s 337 cubic-inch President inline eight cylinder engine and featured other chassis components sourced from Studebaker’s parts bins. The Studebaker team’s top finisher took 3rd place with the rest of the team placing 6th, 13th, 15, and 16th.

The #34 Studebaker Special in action during the 1932 Indianapolis 500.

Studebaker National Museum

The Studebaker team returned for the 1933 race with new streamlined bodies designed with the aid of a wind tunnel. The #34 car finished a team-best 7th, and took home $1,300 in prize money.

#34 Studebaker Special

The Studebaker National Museum

The #34 Studebaker Special is the only surviving factory car with its streamlined 1933 coachwork. After its racing career was over, the car passed through several owners before being acquired by industrial designer Brooks Stevens in 1957. Stevens gave the car an extensive restoration and placed it in his private museum in Mequon, Wisconsin. In 1996 the #34 Studebaker Special was purchased by August Grasis of Kansas City, Missouri, following Brooks Stevens’ death. The Grasis family has campaigned the car in numerous vintage racing events since that time, most recently competing in the 2021 Weathertech International Challenge at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Studebaker had a five cars entered in the 1932 Indianapolis 500

Studebaker National Museum

Acquiring a Studebaker Indy Car has been a top priority of the Studebaker National Museum for several decades. Studebaker National Museum Executive Director, Patrick Slebonick: “Adding the #34 Car to the Collection allows the Museum to connect the history of Indiana’s signature automotive event, the Indianapolis 500, with its most prominent automotive manufacturer. When the opportunity to acquire this remarkable vehicle became available, the local community and Studebaker enthusiasts rallied to make this dream a reality. We are incredibly grateful for all of the generous supporters who made this possible.”

Andrew Beckman, Museum Archivist said: “Studebaker’s Indianapolis 500 racing team was one of the Speedway’s largest factory-backed campaigns and represents an almost mythical era of Studebaker history. The Studebaker Specials’ competition included entrants from legendary builders Harry Miller and Fred Duesenberg and the team skillfully showcased Studebaker’s top-notch engineering and reliability. This is a day I never thought would come, and am overjoyed to have #34 back home in South Bend.”

It will go on display in the Museum’s AM General Atrium Tuesday, October 24, 2023. The Museum will showcase the #34 Studebaker Special in a special exhibition the summer of 2024.

 

The Studebaker National Museum is located at 201 Chapin St., just west of downtown South Bend. It is open Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm, and Sun. Noon–5pm. Admission is $11 for adults, $9.50 for seniors over 60, and $7 for youth ages 6-18. For more information, please call the Museum at (574) 235-9714 or toll free at (888) 391-5600 or visit their website at www.studebakermuseum.org. For an additional cost, visitors can tour The History Museum, which adjoins the Studebaker National Museum.

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