Tag: Belly Tank

What Is a Belly Tank Racer? Drop Tank Cars and Lakesters Explained – David Fetherston @Motortrend

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Variously known as belly tank, tanker, or drop tank race cars, they’re associated with vintage dry lakes racing.

Little lozenges with wheels and a view port zip along a dry lake bed. They show up in drawings and logos. They pop up at local car shows and land speed events. People call them belly tanks, tankers, or drop tanks, and they are associated with vintage dry lakes racing. But where did they come from, and why do they look the way they do? Belly tank racers are a mix of WWII aircraft leftovers and hot-rodding ingenuity. They’re part of the early days of hot-rodding but are still in use today. Let’s start with where they came from. Answer: the sky.

What Is A Drop Tank Car?

The drop tank was designed to extend flying time by acting as a portable fuel cell that could be dropped once empty. That way, the pilot could more nimbly engage the enemy. They’re also known as belly tanks or wing tanks depending on where they were attached to the plane. During WWII, they were available for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, North American P51 Mustang, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, and other combat aircraft.

After the conflicts ended, thousands of the tanks languished in military surplus yards, and racers soon noticed. They snapped up the slickest shapes that would work the best as race machines. They were, and are, fast little suckers. Before WWII, streamliners ran just over 100 mph—today, more than 360 mph!

In early dry lakes racing, the Southern California Timing Association only recognized roadsters and coupes. They soon accepted streamliners because racers wanted to test new theories of aerodynamics. This morphed into many classes, and lakesters got their own game when they split from the streamliner class.

The attraction was that exposed-wheel lakesters were much easier to build than enclosed-wheel streamliners. The tank gave you the whole body, you could stuff bits of a Model T frame and a flathead motor inside and add Ford axles on both ends, and you were nearly done. That’s what the builder of the first recognized postwar tank, Bill Burke, did.

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Edge Motor Museum in Memphis, Tennessee Adds Glasspar G2 to its Collection – Geoffrey Hacker @undiscoveredclassics.com

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Glasspar G2

Alan and Jen Mortlock are getting ready to move back to the UK, and I’ll be sad to see them go.  I met Alan and Jen over 10 years ago when they first acquired their Glasspar G2 sports car and I was impressed with the quality of their work and the speed of which they were able to do their restoration.  I had a chance to personally see the car and Alan’s work when I stopped by in August, 2009 on my way to Bonneville with the 1946 Bill Burke Belly Tank Streamliner – but that’s a different story.  Check out the photos below from August, 2009.

Alan and Jen Mortlock at their home in Sikeston, Missouri – August, 2009.  I picked up Alan and off we went to Bonneville Speedweek with the Burke Belly Tank.  What an adventure that was for both of us.

Glasspar G2

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Related – FORGOTTEN FIBERGLASS: 1955 REPLAC DEBONNAIRE AND VENTURE