Pride of Lyons

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

American restorer Don Lyons has spent years rebuilding six prized Indycars.
Now they’re going under the hammer at Monterey
By Gordon Kirby

Don Lyons has enjoyed his hobby of restoring classic road and racing cars for almost half a century. A long-time Indycar fan, Lyons has personally restored a superb collection of six cars spanning the years 1909-85 and is offering them for auction to make room for his expanding classic car collection. “Between wanting to get back into classic cars and finding myself physically and emotionally not as interested in Indycars as I once was, it was time to make a change,” he says. “I still go to the [Indianapolis] 500 and the Hoosier Hundred every year, and I try to get to Springfield and make some dirt track races because, to me, dirt track racing is the best.”

Lyons lives in Dowagaic in south-eastern Michigan, about two hours from Chicago and an hour from the Indiana state line. His company manufacturers plumbing fixtures, bath tubs, showers, whirlpools and kitchen sinks. He’s the biggest supplier of plumbing fixtures to Menards, the Midwest’s largest home improvement chain owned by long-time racer John Menard. “I’m pretty well retired,” says Lyons. “My father, Dale, started the business in 1968 and my son, Lance, runs it today.”

Lyons says his biggest delight has been meeting and working with some of the great Indycar drivers and car builders from the 1950s and ’60s. “The people have been the fun part. I’ve met so many great people in this hobby. Guys like Henry Banks, Emil Andres, Duke Nalon, Lujie Lesovsky and A J Watson really took me under their wings and made me feel welcome. Lujie ended up working with us restoring his car. We made a lifelong friend because he was as sincere a fellow as you would ever want to meet. And Watson is a prince. He couldn’t be nicer.”

The six Lyons Indycars will go to Gooding & Co’s auction at Monterey on August 15/16 (see preview p75, and Auctions p113).

1909 Stoddard-Dayton Model K recreation
Driven by Jap Clemens

This is based on the car that ran in the inaugural 1909 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The only thing that’s not authentic is the body,” says Lyons. “Everything else – the motor, transmission, rear end and chassis – is original Stoddard-Dayton. [IMS founder] Carl Fisher was the Stoddard-Dayton distributor for Indiana, and he made certain it played a lead role in the 1909 races. We didn’t have the fenders and headlights to make a touring car out of it, so we made an Indycar. It’s great to drive. I say that advisedly because it has a straight-through exhaust, but I’ve driven it 20 or 30 miles at a lick and really enjoyed it.”

1951 Blue Crown Spark Plug Special
Driven by Henry Banks
Banks, 1950 AAA national champion, raced this car built by Lujie Lesovsky in ’51 and came second to Tony Bettenhausen in the AAA points that year. “Lujie’s car wasn’t ready for the Indy 500,” says Lyons. “The first race it ran was Milwaukee and it has a long history, competing without exception through 13 years. Its last year as a Champ Car was in 1963. I think this car did 95 races and it won the owners’ championship for Lindsey Hopkins in ’57 with George Amick driving. Lujie shipped 13 crates of his tools to our restoration shop. He lived with my dad for about seven weeks during the restoration, helping us get it right.” 1964 A J Watson Dean Van Lines Special
Driven by Mario Andretti

Andretti made his debut with the Dean Van Lines team in this car at Trenton in July 1964. He raced it four times that year and three times in ’65. “I finished the Blue Crown in 1988 and bought this car in 1990,” says Lyons. “I spent about five years collecting parts and doing research and it took about two years to restore it. I did most of the work myself.” Lyons was historical advisor to the Imax film about Andretti’s Indycars, and the roadster was featured. “I’d just finished the restoration but they wanted shots of the car being restored. So I had to take it apart again and put it back together for the movie. But it was a great experience.”

1966 Gerhardt turbo Offy
Driven by Jim Hurtubise

This was the first rear-engined car raced by Hurtubise, who was the fastest qualifier for the 1960 Indy 500 in his rookie year. Jim was known as ‘Hercules’, but he wasn’t able to fulfil his considerable promise after badly burning his hands and face in an accident at Milwaukee in ’64. And in ’66 the turbo Offy was too new and unreliable for him to produce results.

“I bought the Gerhardt in about ’92 and it was relatively complete,” says Lyons. “I restored it over a couple of years. It had Firestone tyres but was supposed to have Goodyears. I was online to a guy who had some Goodyears and it turned out he had a 1967 Eagle…”

1967 Eagle four-cam Ford
Driven by Denny Hulme

Hulme made the first of four Indy 500 starts in this Eagle in ’67, run by the legendary Smokey Yunick. He qualified 23rd and finished fourth, three laps behind winner A J Foyt. “I always wanted to restore a 1966 or ’67 Gurney Eagle,” says Lyons. “When this restoration project came along in late 2003 I had to have it. Like all those Eagles it had been heavily modified. I don’t think even one of those cars escaped the wrath of the remodeller. But I was able to put together a lot of good information from a couple of other Eagles from that period. I built the tooling to make the tail and engine cover and ended up with a real nice car.”

1985 Lola T900 Cosworth DFX
Driven by Mario Andretti

Andretti finished second at Indy in 1985 in this car and won at Long Beach, Milwaukee and Portland. “I had a Cosworth motor and nothing to put it in, so I was keeping an eye open for an appropriate car,” says Lyons. “The 1985 Lola that Mario drove at Indy in the ‘spin and win’ thing with Danny Sullivan became available and it needed a motor. So I picked it up. For me, a large part of the fascination with cars is the motor. I had three versions of the Offy and the four-cam Ford in the Eagle, which is an engine that really fires me up. And I had the Cosworth in Mario’s Lola, a ground-effect type of car that I felt completed my collection.”

You may also like

Related products