by Michael Ferner
Harry H. Hartz began racing Cyclecars (= Midgets before the invention of the Midget) on the West Coast around 1914, and soon moved up to become a riding mechanic with Eddie Hearne on Cliff Durant’s team of 1915 Stutz racing cars. When Eddie went out on his own with a new Duesenberg in 1920, Harry initially moved with him, that is only until he had saved enough money from their winnings to get a Duesenberg of his own in late 1921. That soon developed into a trait: investing prize money in new racing cars, and sometimes new engines like in 1922 when Harry first competed on a “Hartz Special” – that was simply his Duesenberg with a new Miller 183 engine, after the fashion of the Indy-winning “Murphy Special”.
Soon Hartz drove for Durant’s latest team of Miller 122 single seaters and earned the respect of his peers. Above all, he was a “money driver”, always making sure he finished, because in those days, if you retired you did not get a cent! Harry won many, many cents, in fact he won bucketfuls of dollars: In 1926 alone, his winnings totalled $71,100, and that is 1926-DOLLARS, when you could buy a pound of meat for 10 cents, and a new car for $260! By this time, he was running a team of two, sometimes three cars of his own, and winning the AAA National Championship on top of it all.
Yet in the blink of an eye, all of this became a secondary consideration, when in October of 1927 Harry’s new Miller FD crashed and burned to the ground, with Hartz himself receiving very, very serious injuries. It took him fully two years to recover, and then he bought the sister car to his own front-drive, only for the time of the 1.5-liter formula to run out before he was completely recovered. Nothing loath, he immediately went ahead to prepare the car for the “junk era”, and to this end he went to Harry Miller’s fabled shop to order a special engine.
More than anyone else perhaps, Hartz was aware of the fact that the basic, now seven year old Miller 122 was still the most potent engine in the country, perhaps even the world. Half a decade of supercharger development had allowed the smaller 1.5-liter Miller 91 engines to catch up, but shorn of these devices, they couldn’t hold a candle to the 2-liter units. How about building a 2.5-liter version of the 122, then? And thus was born the 2483 cc Miller-Hartz 152, an economy version of a new engine, because it made use of mostly Miller 122 parts, which were readily available and relatively cheap, which must have appealed to “Thrifty Harry”.
Hartz and his crew, consisting mainly of former de Palma and Lockhart mechanic Jean Marcenac and sheet metal man Phil Sommers (or: Summers?), modified the Miller FD (ex-de Paolo) to two-man specification, and were ready in plenty of time to do some testing on the Speedway. Sadly, Harry soon discovered that all was not well – not with the car, but with himself! He couldn’t persuade himself to press the car for all that it was worth. Reluctantly, he retired for keeps and put Billy Arnold behind the wheel. The rest, as they say, is history…
Arnold drove the car in six races for Hartz, and except for one rather pointless attempt on a dirt track, was far and away the class of every one of these races. He was beaten only once in qualifying (by a much more modern car with more than half the engine capacity again), and apart from less than a dozen laps (mostly due to bad starts) he led all the laps he completed, and was several laps ahead of his nearest pursuer before either winning or… crashing! Sadly, that was very much the pattern for this famous car, for it not only won a lot of money for its owners, but probably cost almost as much in repairs. It ended its career in 1939, you guessed it, upside down in an accident.
- 1930 #4 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 152, H. H. Hartz, Billy Arnold (1st Indy, ret Detroit, 1st Altoona, 1st Altoona)
- 1931 #1 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 152, H. H. Hartz, Billy Arnold (ret Indy)
- 1932 #5 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 152, H. H. Hartz, Billy Arnold (ret Indy)
- 1933 #2 Frame-Miller, blue, Miller-Hartz 152, F. Frame, Peter Kreis (ret Indy)
- 1934 #34 Frame Front Drive, blue?, Miller-Hartz 152, F. Frame, Fred Frame (dnq Indy)
- 1935 #34 Milac Front Drive, blue, Miller-Hartz 152, F. Frame, Chet Miller (10th Indy)
- 1936 #18 Boyle Products, white/red, Miller-Hartz 152, M. J. Boyle, Chet Miller (5th Indy)
- 1937 #7 Boyle, silver/red, Miller-Hartz 152, M. J. Boyle, Chet Miller (ret Indy)
- 1938 #3 IBEW, maroon, Offenhauser 255, M. J. Boyle, Chet Miller (3rd Indy)
- 1939 #3 Boyle, maroon, Offenhauser 255, M. J. Boyle, Chet Miller (ret Indy)
With the dough won at Indy in 1930, Hartz did what he always did, he invested in hot iron: a Duesenberg two-man car, one of the converted 122 chassis with converted 91 engine. Fellow Californian Fred Frame joined the team, and pleased his new boss by finishing 2nd at Indy, then taking the car on a rampage around the country’s short tracks. Harry was impressed and thought him worthy of something more beefy, and with the money in the bank from the Duesey’s winnings he went shopping again at Miller’s.
But nothing of the ordinary for H. H., not even one of the V8 4wd machines that were just being completed at Los Angeles’s finest address for horsepower. No, Hartz wanted basically the same thing again as two years earlier: take the best thing available and add another 20-25 % of capacity, in the hope that it might add the same amount of performance. The best thing around in 1932 was his own 2.5-liter Miller-Hartz, so why not make it a 3-liter version of that beast?
Leo Goossen did much of what he had done to the 122, but now to the 152: increase the bore, valves and ports, alter a few details and keep as much of the older design as possible. This 2979 cc Miller-Hartz 182 engine was then mated to the chassis of the 1927 Miller-Detroit with its rather special front-drive transaxle, suitably modified for two-man use by Hartz, Marcenac and Jerry Houck, with a body hammered out by Curly Wetteroth. And like its older sibling, it was an instant success. It, too, had its dark sides for Peter Kreis and riding mechanic Bob Hahn were killed practicing in it in 1934, but two years later Ted Horn started his long run of Indy finishes with it: 2nd, 3rd, 4th – he may be excused for thinking that his career was heading in the wrong direction!
Anyway, after his leaving the team, success became a rare visitor to Harry Hartz, despite the addition of a supercharger in 1937 and a major face-lift to the car the following year, and he soon threw in the towel. The car soldiered on under new management for a couple more years after WW2, then motorcycle record man Roland Free spun out of the 1947 race, nearly collecting Jimmy Jackson in another front-drive antique, the 1938 Boyle. The Miller-Hartz was headed straight for the IMS museum.
- 1932 #34 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 182, H. H. Hartz, Fred Frame (1st Indy)
- 1933 #12 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 182, H. H. Hartz, Fred Frame (ret Indy), Russ Snowberger (ret Detroit)
- 1934 #14 Miller-Hartz, ?, Miller-Hartz 182, H. H. Hartz, Peter Kreis (dnq Indy)
- 1935 #19 Miller-Hartz, blue/yellow/red, Miller-Hartz 182, H. H. Hartz, Fred Frame/Frank Brisko (11th Indy)
- 1936 #22 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 182, H. H. Hartz, Ted Horn (2nd Indy)
- 1937 #3 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 182 sc*, H. H. Hartz, Ted Horn (3rd Indy)
- 1938 #2 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 182 sc, H. H. Hartz, Ted Horn (4th Indy)
- 1939 #9 Miller-Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 182 sc, H. H. Hartz, Herb Ardinger/Frank Brisko/Mel Hansen (ret Indy)
- 1940 #31 Hartz, grey/blue, Miller-Hartz 182 sc, H. H. Hartz, Mel Hansen (8th Indy)
- 1946 #42 Bristow-McManus, cream/blue, Miller-Hartz 182 sc, R. J. McManus, Tony Bettenhausen (ret Indy)
- 1947 #42 => #28 Bristow-McManus, cream/blue, Miller-Hartz 182 sc, R. J. McManus, Roland Free (ret Indy)
* supercharger may have been removed for qualifying and the race
With the relaxation of the Championship rules in 1936, Hartz commissioned Curly Wetteroth to build him a three-spring dirt car (two parallel leafs at the front, a transverse one at the rear). The car was a little bit long and at 815 kg too heavy for effective half-mile use, but excellent for the miles. Unfortunately, Ted Horn wasn’t interested too much in it and prefered to drive his 1932 Blauvelt/Miller (most often refered to as the Haskell, after its second and more prominent owner), even on the miles, so Hartz ended up selling the car to Mike Boyle who had some nice success with it.
After the war, the car was campaigned by one George L. Kuehn from Milwaukee, and Rex Mays qualified fastest at Atlanta for the race in which Robson and Barringer were killed. Kuehn sold the car to Richard L. Palmer of Indianapolis, and then just a fortnight later Al Putnam was killed in the old Hartz racer at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. According to then chief mechanic Bill Castle, the car was scrapped.
- 1936 #22 Hartz Miller, grey/blue?, Miller, H. H. Hartz, Ted Horn (ret Vanderbilt)
- 1937 #3 => #1 Hartz Miller, ?, Miller, H. H. Hartz, Ted Horn (ret Vanderbilt), Mauri Rose (5th Syracuse)
- 1939 #2 Boyle, ?, Offenhauser 255?, M. J. Boyle, Babe Stapp (1st Milwaukee, ret Syracuse)
- 1940 #9 Boyle, maroon/cream, Offenhauser 255, M. J. Boyle, Frank Wearne (7th Indy), Harry McQuinn (ret Springfield, ret Syracuse)
- 1941 #14 Boyle, maroon, Offenhauser 255, M. J. Boyle, George Connor (ret Indy, 2nd Milwaukee, 3rd Syracuse)
- 1946 #12 LGS Spring Clutches, cream/blue, Offenhauser 255, G. L. Kuehn, Al Putnam/George Connor (ret Indy), Rex Mays (ret Atlanta) => sold to Palmer Racing team
- 1946 cont. #12 Palmer, ?, Offenhauser 255, R. L. Palmer, Al Putnam (dns IN SFG)
Last updated by Michael Ferner on 24 May 2010.
All text is copyright Michael Ferner 2010 - 2023.