3/3/1913 - 7/1/2001
Record updated 07-Jan-19
Epperly came up with a radical approach in racing car design in the mid 1950's. Epperly's cars featured a lower frontal area because he placed the Offy four cylinder engine on its side rather than in the upright position as was the usual custom for the old Indy roadsters of that era.
In 1957, cars built by Epperly finished first and second in the Indianapolis 500 as Sam Hanks beat Jim Rathmann. In 1958 Jimmy Bryan won the 500 in the same Belond Special that had carried Hanks to victory the previous year. Rookie George Amick finished second in another Epperly creation, while Tony Bettenhausen finished fourth in yet another car built by Epperly.
Epperly cars looked good. Most of them had neat little shark fins sticking up from the rear end of the car and were lower at the front than the cars built by A.J. Watson. Epperly's cars appeared to be smaller and lighter. Tony Bettenhausen liked the cars Quinn Epperly built and drove the red number 33 Jones & Maley Special in the 1958 500 and led for the only time in his career.
In 1959 Tony drove another Epperly "laydown," the orange Hoover Motor Express Special, to fourth place in the 500 for the second consecutive year. Bettenhausen had the fastest car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 1961. It was the Autolite Special owned by Lindsey Hopkins.
Epperly built the car in 1960 but it didn't qualify for the "500." Bettenhausen talked Hopkins into buying the car for 1961. At the time Tony was killed on Friday May 12, testing Paul Russo's car at the Speedway, he had 2 1/2 mph (149.25 ) on the rest of the field. There's little doubt in my mind Bettenhausen would've broken the one minute 150 mph barrier the following day during the opening of qualifications for the 1961 500.
During the mid 50's Quin he designed and built many top finishing Indy roadsters. He also built the body for the first "Spirit of America" land speed record car with the operation running out of his shop in Gardena Ca.
For the past 30 years he repaired both current and historical racing engine blocks. His last major project was to complete the body restoration of his own Demler Special 99 in 1998. The Demler car had finished second in the 1958 Indianapolis 500.