The 1 to Have When You’re Having More Than 1

RH129 Shaffer Photo 01

“Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.” This was the sales slogan of a New York City brewer who started making beer way back in 1842. In a way, the slogan almost fits Bill Davis’ racing car collection. Why? First, because Davis has more than one vintage racing car and secondly because one of his cars was sponsored by Shaffer & Sons Beer Distributors.

Now, that’s not the same spelling (Shaffer vs. Schaefer), but it’s close enough that you might confuse the spelling after a beer or two. Shaffer & Sons was probably a West Coast beer distributor because that’s where Davis’ pretty white car started out. It was supposedly built in 1934 and ran at tracks such as Legion Ascot Speedway with Ike Trone behind the wheel. Davis has pictures of him sitting in the car, back in the ‘80s, after it was restored. Trone was 93 then.

RH129 Shaffer Photo 06

Davis’ research shows that a man named Tommy Donald, who made his fortune doing commercial printing on the West Coast, restored the car. Donald and his brother ran sprint cars under the Corsica Racing banner. After they got out of competitive racing, Tommy Donald started doing vintage racing.

The car is a 3-spring job, which makes it a bit unique. That design gives it a longer wheelbase, so it’s almost Champ car size. It’s got a Franklin tube type front axle, which accounts for the double front springs. It also has a Franklin steering gear. The gearbox and rear axle are from a Model A Ford and 18-in. Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels are fitted.

The engine is a Miller-Schoffield based on a Ford Model B black with a Model C crank. The deep sump oil pan. Side covers and cylinder head are all Miller items. Davis-a retired General Motors product designer-says he “fell in love” with the car the first time he laid eyes on it. When Tommy Donald got to the point where he could no longer campaign the car, he told Davis, “You know, I never offered this car for sale, but I’d like you to have it because you like it so much.” Davis didn’t hesitate to buy the car. Davis’ other racing cars are far different. He has a ’34 Ford coupe with a Ford flathead V-8 that runs as a “dirt modified” racer. His other ride is the 1965 Wynn’s Indy Car that was driven by Don Branson as the No. 4 cars.

About John Gunnell 104 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.
  • oldcarman

    Nice job on Bill’s car! I was stooging for him…
    The Watson-built, Winns- Leader Card Spcl Quad Cam car came in 8th, starting at 18th.

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