The early 1930s formed the foundation for American motorsports. The Great Depression meant that few could afford the exotic machines meant for the grand prix circuits of the world, and yet motorsport still provided an opportunity for a few lucky drivers to earn some decent pocket money from week to week. Dirt horse tracks on local fairgrounds were used by racers in Ford Model T and Model A specials, sliding around on the throttle and kicking up dirt into the faces of a delighted crowd. It was cheap entertainment for the spectators, and racers had boundless opportunities to race around the country, particularly in places like Pennsylvania and the Midwest. The cars, meanwhile, were built with great creativity. Speed parts were few and far between so while a few key components could be purchased, it was down to the skill of the car builder to adapt them to whatever base machine they were using- and that was usually a cheap and ubiquitous Ford. Companies like Frontenac and Cragar offered overhead valve conversions to allow the somewhat agricultural but robust Ford four cylinder engines to breathe more deeply and rev freely. Rear axles were welded up to eliminate the differential effect and promote big power slides, while the gearboxes were even stripped of first and reverse gears to save weight. Standard bodies were ditched in favor of single-seat arrangements, sometimes purchased from a catalog, sometimes home built, depending on how deep the builder’s pockets were. These cars were the origin of the great American Midget Racers, Sprint Cars and Indy Roadsters that came to define American motorsport from the 1930s through the glory days of 1960s and through to today’s World of Outlaws and Silver Crown sprint cars. Our featured 1931 Ford “Cragar Special” gets its name from the Cragar overhead valve conversion it wears. Along with the “Fronty”, the Cragar OHV was a favored setup by many racers in the period, and as a result, a number of cars from this era carry the same nickname. This particular car has a wonderful history, passing through the hands of the father of the collector car business, Milford H. “Tiny” Gould. Tiny Gould had a successful tire recapping business, and he always had an affinity for old cars… the whole idea of “collector” cars hadn’t really become fully developed yet. Hailing from Pennsylvania, Gould raced at events such as the Giant’s Despair Hillclimb in Wilkes-Barre or on the quarter-mile asphalt oval at Bone Stadium. He soon began collecting classic cars from the 1920s and 1930s, constantly horse-trading with his friends and fellow Antique Automobile Club of America members, eventually opening “Tiny Gould Antique and Classic Cars”. He, along with the likes of Leo Gephart, formed the foundation of the collector car hobby’s transition into a legitimate business. Along with the big classics such as Duesenberg, Packard and Stutz, Gould was a champion for early American dirt race cars, so much so that he was instrumental in creating the racing car class within the AACA ranks. Along with very exotic machinery such as the 1935 Miller-Ford, he owned a number of dirt-track specials such as our featured Cragar Special, recognizing their importance from early on. During his time with this car, it earned its AACA Junior and Senior awards. Today, the Cragar Special presents in wonderful condition. The distinctive blue paint and hand-lettered graphics give it a beautiful period look and the quality of the paint and finishing is excellent. The silver frame, red wheels and red leather seat upholstery contrast nicely, ensuring she is a stand out on track. A few minor nicks and flaws are found, but overall it is a great looking piece with an abundance of charm. The car is loaded with wonderful details, from the louvered front apron, leather hood belts, manual fuel pump, and Andre Hartford friction shocks, to the exposed Model A transmission, knobby Wards Riverside Power Grip rear tires, and military surplus seat belt. The red leather seat cushion snaps into place for easy removal during service and it remains in very good condition, showing only light age. The Ford Model A engine is classically basic and tidy. The period Cragar Overhead Valve conversion remains intact and looks great with the polished alloy valve cover. The engines breathes in through a single carburetor, and out through a fabulous four-into-one exhaust that exits through the hood side and runs down the right of the car into a chrome exhaust pipe. An engine-turned alloy firewall adds a bit of racy appeal to the engine bay. The engine runs well, though the car may need some minor fettling prior to any track duty. Brakes are rear only, activated by an outside lever – a correct arrangement allowing drivers to invoke a throttle-steer slide with a quick yank of the lever. While this car’s racing history is unknown, it is regardless an important and very collectible car, thanks to its history and success in AACA events during its time with Mr. Tiny Gould. The vintage dirt car, Sprint Car and Indy Car community is an active and enthusiastic group, and they would no doubt welcome this delightful little machine into their ranks. We would love to see it in action, kicking up a rooster tail of dirt as it slides around an oval, with the distinct burble from that gutsy little Ford engine.