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November 11, 2016

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1939 Boyle Special, Indy 500 winner

by Mark Savage

New Replicarz 1939 Indy winner a treat …1939 Indianapolis 500 winner, Wilber Shaw, Maserati

Just prior to World War II it was rare to see European race cars competing at the Indianapolis 500. Winners usually drove Millers or a derivative thereof, with engines from Studebaker, Duesenberg or Miller, later Offenhauser.

There was one exception. Mike Boyle’s team had deep pockets (think Roger Penske today), and connections, so in 1939 it landed an Italian racer for its successful Hoosier driver, Wilbur Shaw. Shaw already had won Indy in 1937, but hooked up with Boyle, who headed a large Chicago union. It was a visible sign that money bought the best drivers, and equipment.

Replicarz now has created a gorgeous dark red, nearly maroon, Boyle Special, a Maserati  8CTF, to expand its Indy winning model lineup that includes both the larger 1/18 scale like this one, and 1/43 scale racers for those of us with limited display space.1939 Indianapolis 500 winner, Wilber Shaw, Maserati

The History

Shaw was a successful Champ car racer in the 1930s and hooked up with Boyle to drive a Maserati for an East Coast road race. Eventually that grew into Boyle and his associates buying a Maserati 8CTF for Shaw to drive in the 1939 Indy 500. Shaw was a shrewd businessman who also owned his Indy-winning car from two years earlier and hired other racers to drive it in several Indy 500s.

In 1939 Shaw and his Maserati were the talk of the track, and won Indy averaging 115 mph. He had qualified third fastest at nearly 129 mph in the 365-horse racer. Then he won again in 1940 in the same car, but with it wearing No. 1, signifying he was the national champion in 1939. Shaw was the first driver to win two consecutive Indy 500s and he notched three wins in four years.

He nearly won again in 1941 in the Maserati, but crashed out due to odd circumstances. An early morning fire in the track’s garage area caused a chalk mark to be washed from a defective tire in Shaw’s garage. Mistakenly the tire was put on his car during the race and its vibration caused his left rear wheel to fail putting him into the wall and out of the race, his last 500.1939 Indianapolis 500 winner, Wilber Shaw, Maserati

Following World War II his love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which fell into disrepair during the war, and his business savvy, led Shaw to entice wealthy Hoosier businessman Tony Hulman to buy the Speedway and refurbish it. Shaw became the track’s president and ran IMS until dying in a small plane crash in 1954.

 

The Model

Replicarz nails the body shape of the Boyle Special, including the vertical venting along the hood and body sides, plus a finely etched front grille and realistic looking tarnished tailpipe with its 8 feeder pipes running the length of the body and extending over the creamy No. 2 on the car’s tail.

Rivet detailing is nice all around the car’s body and there are fine from suspension bits you can see outside the resin body, brake cables for the front wheels plus gorgeous wire wheels and sharply detailed Firestone tires.1939 Indianapolis 500 winner, Wilber Shaw, Maserati

The one-piece hood features attached leather straps, but you don’t need to fool with these to lift the hood. Pop it off and there’s the long Maserati fixed-head 8-cylinder engine, with those big pipes out the side, spark plug wires over the top and a supercharger.

The Boyle Special also has a tiny clear windscreen in front of the driver, two body-colored side mirrors and behind the driver a large gas cap. You can be sure more than occasionally gas was spilled into the cockpit and down a driver’s back.1939 Indianapolis 500 winner, Wilber Shaw, Maserati

Inside the cockpit is a 4-spoke steering wheel with what looks like leather strips wrapped around it to give Shaw more grip during the race.

Like most front-engine, rear-drive racers the drive shaft runs under the driver and between his legs. That’s also where the bent-handled gearshift is located. Talk about awkward. Brake and gas pedals are here too, and a metallic looking firewall to keep the engine’s heat somewhat off the driver. Yet these and the other racers were brutal cars to drive on a hot May day.

A metal dash includes four gauges with dials and there’s a less-than-supporting looking plain matte red seat, but no seatbelts, nor roll bar, back in the day.

Another winning entry for Replicarz in the Indy 500 race-winning car category!

Vital Stats: 1939 Boyle Special, Indy 500 winner

Maker: Replicarz

Scale: 1/18

Stock No.: R18009

MSRP: $249.99

Link: Replicarz.com

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