Old time Buick racer

Lyle Haley

New Member
After looking at the interest a lot of Buick folks have in what kind of performance potential the old straight 8 Buick engines have I’d like to share my old Buick racing experience.
The picture is of a ’41 fastback that I bought in the spring of 1961 for Bruce Sparman to race at Raceway Park, a 1/3 mile asphalt track in Shakopee, Minnesota. The original owner/builder could not keep the engine from dropping exhaust valves.
The rules at Raceway Park’s early model division were really skewed toward the Buicks. Not only they allowed them to run the dual carb system, but they let the Buick’s get away with using the 320 cu in Roadmaster engine. The advantage was incredible over flathead Fords, Hudsons etc. After some time they allowed the other cars to use dual carbs but there still was not any competition for horsepower with the Buicks.
The sound of 8 straight pipes against the stainless steel “cookie sheet” I put on the door was absolutely awesome.
The engine was stock except for severe head milling for compression and a Howard flat tappet camshaft that had the profile of a roller cam. The cam was the problem as the deceleration ramps slammed the valves against the seats hard enough to cause failures. I had a friend that worked at Honeywell and had access to a xray machine. He xrayed 30+ TRW valves until he found 8 good exhaust ones. After that the engine ran from June through October and most of the following year without any problems.
This was the only money making race car I have been involved with. We used the winnings not only to pay to keep the car running, but to eat and drink after every race. Had $70 left over at the end of the season, then sold the car for what I paid for it.
Lyle Haley
The Shop Doc
1/3 mile asphalt track in Shakopee, Minnesota.

ah, a circle track deal. very nice.

man, them 8 stacked exhaust pipes sure do look strange.... :thumbsup: