2021 | Pebble Beach Auctions
1951 Kurtis Kraft K4000 Indy Car
From the Donald L. Weber Collection
$250,000 - $350,000| Without Reserve
The 1953 AAA National Champion with Sam Hanks
Three-Time Indianapolis 500 Entrant; 3rd in 1953 with Sam Hanks
Known History; Raced by Two Indianapolis 500 Winners
An Extremely Desirable Indy Car Offered from 45-Year Ownership
Hilborn Mechanical Fuel Injection
Estimated 350 BHP
2-Speed Offenhauser Gearbox
4-Wheel Hydraulic Halibrand Disc Brakes
Front Independent Suspension with Transverse Leaf Spring
Rear Halibrand Live Axle with Torsion Bars
Ed Walsh, St. Louis, Missouri (acquired new via Kurtis Kraft in 1951)George Walther, Dayton, Ohio (acquired from the above circa 1954)Doug Innes, Canada (acquired from the above)Jim Mann, Elkhart, Indiana (acquired from the above)Chuck Davis (acquired from the above)Donald L. Weber (acquired via Tommy Milton III in 1986)
AAA Phoenix 100, 1951, Parsons, No. 3 (1st)AAA Bay Meadows 150, California, 1951, Parsons, No. 3 (1st)Indianapolis 500, 1952, James, No. 14 (13th)Indianapolis 500, 1953, Hanks/Carter, No. 3 (3rd)AAA Rex Mays Classic, Wisconsin, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (10th)AAA Springfield 100, Illinois, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (2nd)AAA Detroit 100, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (4th)AAA Springfield 100, Illinois, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (1st)AAA Milwaukee 200, Wisconsin, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (22nd)AAA Ted Horn Memorial, Illinois, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (1st)AAA Syracuse 100, New York, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (4th)AAA Hoosier Hundred, Indiana, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (5th)AAA Golden State 100, California, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (3rd)AAA Phoenix 100, 1953, Hanks, No. 3 (3rd)Indianapolis 500, 1954, Hanks, No. 1 (20th)USAC Dayton Speedway, Ohio, 1956, McWithey, No. 96 (14th)USAC Illinois State Fairgrounds, 1956, McWithey, No. 96 (9th)USAC Milwaukee Mile, Wisconsin, 1956, McWithey, No. 96 (DNQ)USAC DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Illinois, 1956, McWithey, No. 96 (DNQ)
Frank Kurtis’ success as a race car builder was cemented by 1950, and buying a Kurtis Kraft car was a sure way to have a competitive mount for the highest level of competition. Early iterations of Kurtis Kraft Indy Cars, the K2000 and K3000, had proven successful in both dirt and pavement races, and for 1951, the K4000 was introduced as the company’s latest and most advanced dual-purpose model. Approximately 15 examples of the K4000 were built before Kurtis introduced its K500 series of roadster-style cars, and they remained competitive in AAA championship racing through the 1950s.
This K4000, chassis 342, was built in 1951 for Ed Walsh, who had been a longtime supporter and business partner of Kurtis as both a driver and car owner. It was driven by 1950 Indy 500 winner Johnnie Parsons as the no. 3 “Wynn’s Special” in the second half of that year, winning 100-mile and 150-mile races respectively at Phoenix and Bay Meadows. Mr. Walsh secured Bardahl sponsorship for his cars in 1952, and Joe James was enlisted to drive this Kurtis at the Indianapolis 500. Wearing no. 14, James placed 13th.
For 1953, Sam Hanks drove for Mr. Walsh in the AAA championship for Indy Cars, winning the title after triumphing in two races in 342. Hanks was among the finest drivers of his era, and had among the best records in midget racing before and after WWII. For Indianapolis, Hanks drove 342 as the no. 3 Bardahl car, placing 3rd Overall, though he was replaced in the final laps by Duane Carter due to heat exhaustion that afflicted the majority of the field from temperatures over 100°. For 1954, Hanks raced the Kurtis wearing no. 1, earned from winning his AAA championship. He placed a disappointing 20th Overall at the 500 that year, which would be the final race at Indianapolis for 342. The K4000 was then sold to George Walther, and it was raced on dirt tracks until the end of its career.
The Kurtis went through two subsequent owners before being purchased by noted race car enthusiast Chuck Davis. Davis restored the car, and it no longer wears its Kurtis Kraft dash plaque. As documented by correspondence on file, Tommy Milton III brokered the purchase of the car by Donald L. Weber from Davis in 1986. With the help of marque expert Gary Schroeder, Weber ran the car in exhibition events for a number of years, and it was displayed at Sam Hanks’ memorial service upon his passing in 1994, the two men having become close friends. Schroeder has maintained the Kurtis for Weber’s entire ownership of 45 years, though the car has not run since 2019.
Retaining a lush history of championship-winning excellence and top-line drivers, this incredible Kurtis Kraft K4000 is among the most desirable cars of its type in the world. Being offered from 45 years of caring and astute stewardship, it should be on the shortest of lists for the true Indy Car enthusiast.
*Please note that this vehicle is sold on a Bill of Sale.