December 24, 1896|
|Died||September 26, 1974
|Awards||National Sprint Car Hall of Fame|
Harry Hartz was born in Pomona, California, and grew up in the Los Angeles area. At age eighteen, he began to drive in support events for the car races of the time. He was a mechanic, but sought to be a race car driver and signed on with the Duesenberg brothers after World War I. Hartz made his debut at the 1921 Indianapolis 500 race as Eddie Hearne's riding mechanic.
The following year, Hartz was behind the wheel of the Duesenberg and finished in second place. In 1923, he finished in second place again in a Cliff Durant Special, and placed in fourth position next year. In 1925, he brought his own 121 cu in (2.0 L) Miller and finished fourth, and returned the next year with his 90 cu in (1.5 L) Miller Special to capture second place. His car had a mechanical failure in 1927. He is the only driver to come in second in the Indianapolis 500 three times, but never to win the race in his six attempts.
Hartz was successful in board track racing. He finished in the top five positions 46 times out of the 69 major events he started, and won seven championship events.
Hartz was badly burned and injured in a crash in 1927 at the Rockingham Speedway in Salem, New Hampshire, requiring him to spend the next two years in hospitals. The stock market crash of 1929 also inflicted heavy financial losses for him. He retired from racing to become a team owner and chief mechanic. Hartz bought a used 1927 Miller 91 front-drive race car, and built the car for the junk-formula by widening the chassis and installing a bored-out Miller 122 (151 cu in). Together with Billy Arnold as driver, the combination was successful, and they won the 1930 Indy 500 race and also took the national championship for the year.
Hartz worked for Studebaker for many years. After Chrysler began using auto racing as a promotional tool to sell its cars, in 1933 DeSoto recruited Hartz for a publicity stunt by driving a car backwards across the country. During mid-August 1934, he set 72 new AAA stock car records at the Bonneville Salt Flats course in Utah in a Chrysler Imperial Airflow coupe. At the end of the month, Hartz drove the same car from Los Angeles to New York City and set an economy record of 18.1 miles per US gallon (13.0 L/100 km; 21.7 mpg‑imp), and without having to add water at any time during all of these performance runs. Another source credits him with driving the newly introduced DeSoto Airflow 3,114 miles (5,011 km) from New York to San Francisco, and averaging 21.4 mpg‑US (11.0 L/100 km; 25.7 mpg‑imp), with total fuel bill of US$33.06 for the run.
After having much success, he retired in 1940. Later, Hartz had a serious automobile accident from which he never fully recovered. He died in Indianapolis, Indiana at age 77.
Indy 500 results
- "The Harry A. Miller Club Vintage Indy Car Exhibition, 2003 (with images of the car)". The Miller/Offenhauser Historical Society. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Harry Hartz". IMDb. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Duricy, Dave. "A Full History of DeSoto". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- Hyde, Charles K. (2003). Riding the Roller Coaster. Wayne State University Press. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-0-8143-3091-3. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- "National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Inductees: 1998 — Ninth annual inductees". National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- "Harry Hartz biography". Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Harry Hartz Career Stats". Indianapolis 500. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Tommy Milton Wins Automobile Title". The New York Times. 6 March 1922. p. 16. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Murphy is First in 259-mile Race". The New York Times. 4 December 1922. p. 24. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Cars by Miller". Time. 6 June 1932. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- Boland, Marvin D. (19 June 1919). "Picture of "Harry Hartz and #14 racecar". Washington State Historical Society. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- Indy's unluckiest legends: Part 1 - Racer, Robin Miller, 20 May 2013