by Gordon Eliot White ISBN 7603 0910 8 Published by MBI, £29.99
In the decade aka WWII, Frank Kurtis was the most significant and prolific race-car builder in the US, with 110 Indycars (five winners) and hundreds of others to his credit. What is easy to miss is his wonderful eye for style.
Tutored by Harley Earl, GM’s style guru, Kurds had a flair for bending sheet metal into seductive, dramatic curves. Some of his pre-war custom road cars are stunning, and his race cars were always handsome. This book also reveals a forward-thinker who introduced the low, offset roadster which ruled Indy in the 1950s, and experimented with aerodynamics and disc brakes, but suffered the establishment’s lack of interest in his new ideas.
Covering sports-cars, midgets, dragsters and even rocket-sleds, this makes interesting reading. But while you’d expect a tight US perspective, it’s just not tenable to claim Kurtis invented tube-frame chassis, nor state: “now every purpose-built race-car in the world uses a tubing framework”.