by Michael Ferner
Joe Marks from Gary (IN) bought the Lou Meyer team in late 1932, when fellow Hoosier Bob Carey was on his way to the National Championship in the Meyer/Miller. With this accomplished, Marks financed a new single seater with one of the new Miller 255 engines for Carey, who unfortunately perished in an accident soon after. Undeterred, the team continued and had a measure of success with the old two-man car and the repaired single seater, then decided to build a new car for the 1934 Indy 500, sharing the engine with the monoposto. Kelly Petillo qualified for the pole position with a new track record and led the early laps, but dropped back with oil problems to finish a disappointing 11th – which sums up the car’s career pretty well: it was very fast, but never achieved its goal of winning a race in almost two decades!
For the new formula in 1938, it was modified with a nice one-man body over the old two-man frame, and also got a new Offenhauser engine the following year. More body modifications followed in 1941 (bull nose, head rest), and after the car had gone to Dick Palmer of Indianapolis via Jimmy Chai of Joliet. It was barely recognizable by the time of the 1951 Indy 500, but almost managed to equal the record of most starts by a single car when it qualified 37th fastest, missing out by less than five seconds. Bill Castle of Indianapolis, who worked on the car in the forties as chief mechanic for Dick Palmer, helped to identify it as the #24 Oldsmobile 88 Special in NASCAR’s Speedway Division in 1952, owned and driven by Jim Sweeney, however my records show only one start for this combination, and a 12th place finish, many laps down. Racing historian Joe Heisler of Pennsylvania believes the car to have been the #95 “Sacco & Wilson” back in AAA competition 1953-55, apparently fitted with a Wayne-modified GMC engine. Owned by Gabe Sacco and George Wilson of Pennsylvania, and driven by the latter it was a regular non-qualifier in Championship events, and an occasional starter in Sprint Car races. Its best result appears to have been a 9th place finish at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids (IA) on August 21 in 1955, and thereafter its trail runs finally cold. However, unless Sacco & Wilson used two different cars I belive this to have been a car built by Bill Johnson in California, based on a small photography of it in 1953.
- 1934 #17 > #2 Red Lion, cream/red, Miller 255, J. Marks, Kelly Petillo (11th Indy), Mauri Rose (3rd Springfield, ret Syracuse), Wilbur Shaw (2nd Los Angeles)
- 1935 #17 Marks-Miller, cream/red, Miller 255, J. Marks, Babe Stapp (ret Indy), Mauri Rose (ret Saint Paul), Freddie Winnai => Shorty Cantlon (6th Syracuse), Frank Brisko (2nd Altoona), Floyd Roberts (3rd Langhorne)
- 1936 #38 Marks-Miller, white/red, Miller 255, J. Marks, George Connor (10th Indy, ret Goshen, 2nd Syracuse)
- 1937 #17 Marks-Miller, maroon/silver, Miller 262, J. Marks, George Connor (9th Indy, ret Vanderbilt, ret Syracuse)
- 1938 #15 Marks-Miller, maroon, Miller 262, J. Marks, George Connor (ret Indy), Frank Brisko (dns Syracuse)
- 1939 #18 Marks, white/red, Offenhauser 255, J. Marks, George Connor (ret Indy, ret Milwaukee, dnq Syracuse)
- 1940 #27 Marks, maroon, Offenhauser 270, J. Marks, Tommy Hinnershitz (ret Indy, ret Springfield, 3rd Syracuse)
- 1941 #29 Marks, blue/silver, Offenhauser 270, J. Marks, Tommy Hinnershitz/George Robson (10th Indy), George Robson (7th Milwaukee, ret Syracuse)
- 1946 #28 Offenhauser, ?, Offenhauser, J. Chai, Steve Truchan (dnq Indy, 2nd Atlanta, ret IN SFG)
- 1947 #52 Palmer, blue/silver, Offenhauser 255, R. L. Palmer, Hal Robson (ret Indy, ret Langhorne), George Connor (dnq Arlington)
- 1948 #64 Palmer Const., blue/white, Offenhauser 255, R. L. Palmer, Hal Robson (ret Indy), Bill Cantrell (7th Du Quoin), Ken Fowler (dns Springfield)
- 1949 #64 Palmer, ?, Offenhauser, R. L. Palmer, Bayliss Levrett (dns Indy)
- 1950 #24 Palmer, red/silver, Offenhauser 270, R. L. Palmer, Bayliss Levrett/Bill Cantrell (ret Indy), Andy Linden (5th Springfield, 3rd Milwaukee, 8th Detroit, dnq Springfield), Neal Carter (ret Sacramento), Bayliss Levrett (dns Phoenix, dns Bay Meadows, dns Darlington)
- 1951 #24 Palmer, ?, Offenhauser 270, R. L. Palmer, Jackie Holmes (dns Indy)
For the 1940 season, the team built a new car to supplement the aging former two-man car, but it was an ill-starred venture from the start. Generally qualifying slower than the old car, it retired from every one of the three National Championship races it competed in (although Harry McQuinn scored a couple of good results in Sprint Car races with it), killing its driver Lou Webb at the New York State Fair. It was repaired and entered for the 1941 Indy 500, but did not qualify and eventually perished in the flames that swept through the garage area on race day morning.
- 1940 #21 Marks Offenhauser, maroon, Offenhauser 270, J. Marks, Duke Nalon (ret Indy), Lou Webb (ret Springfield, ret Syracuse)
- 1941 #56 Marks, ?, Offenhauser, J. Marks, dnq Indy
Last updated by Michael Ferner on 12 Jul 2010.
All text is copyright Michael Ferner 2010 - 2023.