Aerodynamics have been a part of the Indianapolis 500 since Ray Harroun designed the first rear view mirror on a race car in 1911. The “wedge shaped” contraption that would eventually be used on almost every automobile built was shaped like that to eliminate the drag of a flat piece sticking up from the car.
Even before that the shape of the Marmon Wasp, built in 1910, had a sleek shape compared to other race cars of the day. The 1937 winner of Wilbur Shaw was an aerodynamic piece itself. In 1955 2 cars entered (and almost a 3rd car for Bill Vukovich, winner of the past two 500’s) that were called, back in the day, “Streamliner”. The yellow Belond Miracle Power Special designed by Quinn Epperly and the blue and white Sumar Special designed by Frank Kurtis and Chapman Root started out as “fendered” cars.
The Sumar had full fenders and the both cars had enclosed cockpits. Jimmy Daywalt, driver of the Sumar car did not like the fact that he could not see the front tires and complained of being claustrophobic with the “bubble” installed. After the 1st day of practice, the team took the “fenders” and the cockpit bubble off of the car. Jimmy Qualified the car 17th and finished 9th. In 1956, Marshall Teague failed to qualify the car. In 1959, the body was put back on the car and taken to Daytona to attempt a “Land Speed Record” run with Teague. After taking the car up to over 171 mph early in the trials, Teague crashed the car attempting to break the 180mph mark and was killed. The car was not raced again. It is still in the Root family.
The #33 Belond car driven by Jim Rathmann used fairings rather than a complete body. It also started out as a covered canopy on the cockpit but that was taken off early in the month. Rathmann qualified the car 20th and finished 14th. It did not qualify in 1956.
The Keck “Streamliner” was designed and being built by Norman Timbs, Quinn Epperly, Jim Travers and Frank Coon and was to have first a Novi motor. When Lew Welch would not sell the motor to Keck, he wanted to have Leo Goosen build a new V8 Supercharged Offenhauser for the radical new car. When it looked like the car would not be completed in time for the ’55 race, Keck released Vukovich to drive for owner Lindsey Hopkins. The rest is history.
The Keck Streamliner never arrived or raced in Indy although according to Jim Travers, the car was scheduled to be driven at Indianapolis in 1956 by Jack McGrath. McGrath was killed in a racing accident in Phoenix in November of 1955. The Keck Streamliner was not completed until 1985 and it never raced.