Mad Dog IV Loaned to Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

Bob Osiecki’s winged Mad Dog IV, which broke the international closed-course speed record at Daytona International Speedway in 1961, now calls the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America home, the museum announced.

The unusual looking machine was designed (with a little help from Georgia Tech) and built by Bob Osiecki, who hired drag racer Art Malone to wheel it to a record lap of 181.561 mph.

The current car owner, legendary drag racer Don Garlits (MSHFA Class of 1989), has put the airplane-like speed machine on display at the award-winning museum, which is only a few hundred feet from where it made its history-making run. Garlits pulled the car from his collection at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala.

“I honestly think that’s where the car should be, over there at the round-track museum, and the car made that speed at Daytona,” the 90-year-old Garlits said. “To me, that’s the perfect place for Mad Dog IV.”

Mad Dog IV was placed with other notable vehicles on the racetrack exhibit, which replicates Daytona’s high-banked turns, the museum said.

“We’re so grateful to ‘Big Daddy,’ our very first inductee in the Drag Racing category back in 1989, for lending us this important vehicle and one that we know is close to his heart,” said MSHFA President George Levy. “He and Malone were great friends and on-track rivals.”

The Mad Dog IV was purpose-built to bring the closed-course international speed record to Daytona, the museum said.

When the fastest, closed-track speed record was established at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (Italy) in 1957 at 177.38 mph, Bill France Sr. (MSHFA Class of 1990), who orchestrated NASCAR’s founding then built Daytona International Speedway, put up a $10,000 prize for anyone who could top the 180-mph mark at his 2.5-mile, high-banked track, which opened in 1959, the museum said.

The Kurtis Kraft roadster with a Chrysler V8 engine was one of three used by Firestone as a test car for its tires in 1957. Osiecki bought the car from the tiremaker and consulted with the Georgia Tech aerospace department to add a pair of inverted airfoils and a stationary tail fin to stabilize the car, museum historians said.

After Osiecki completed the car, he hired 25-year-old Malone to drive. They made the record run on Aug. 28, 1961.

“Mad Dog IV is the epitome of American innovation,” Levy said. “Bill France wanted to claim Daytona International Speedway was the world’s fastest racetrack. When it was clear an existing race car wasn’t going to cut it, Osiecki and Harper came up with the idea of inverted wings for downforce. They broke the record and helped launch the Downforce Era.”

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