Photos courtesy GM Heritage Center.
We always get amped when collections display historic race cars, even if they’re necessarily re-creations. That’s frequently the case because too many early race cars were simply junked, rather than being preserved in any way. A case in point is this 1950 Cadillac Series 61, a replica of one of two Cadillacs prepared by Briggs S. Cunningham for combat during that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nicknamed the Clumsy Puppy, it placed 10th at the Sarthe that year, one spot ahead of the other Cadillac, dubbed Le Monstre, which had been custom-bodied by Long Island craftsman Bill Frick, a longtime Cunningham ally. The drivers were brothers Miles and Sam Collier.
The sole departure from dead stock on either the original racing Series 61 or its re-creation is its use of a dual-carburetor intake manifold. The original stock Cadillac – which Cunningham later used as a tow car – is in the REVS Institute collection in Florida, one of several prized Cunningham cars.
The second new addition to the GM Heritage holdings is this replica of the 1955 Chevrolet 150 that NASCAR pioneer Herb Thomas used to win the 1955 Southern 500 at Darlington. It was a hard-fought win on a brutally hot day, but more importantly, it stands as one of the first major victories for the new small-block Chevrolet OHV V-8, an engine design that’s now one more races than any other on the planet. What happened to the original? Providence only knows for sure, but we bet it was sold to another racer for the 1956 season and at some point, turned into a Modified or simply crashed. We also recognize that the original car was built and tuned by the incredible Smokey Yunick, who met Thomas when they were both running Twin-H Hudson Hornets in NASCAR. The replica car’s livery makes this fact clear.
For more information about the GM Heritage Center, visit GMHeritageCenter.com.