2012 Great Race Pace Car: 1936 Shafer 8 Buick, the Coker Special

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One of the things that you learn if you go to enough top shelf car events is that Barry Meguiar isn’t the only person involved in a car culture related company that’s “car crazy”. At the Concours of America I spotted Jim Grundy, whose family owns Grundy classic car insurance, driving the family’s 1909 Pierce Arrow up to the judging stand. Coker Tire is the worlds largest seller of replacement tires for collectible automobiles and not only were they one of the sponsors of the 2012 Great Race, Corky Coker’s 1936 Shafer 8 Buick Indy racer was the event’s pace car. In the video you can watch Corker roar into the Ypsilanti check point. Below the jump is Coker’s own description of his car. I think it’s a great looking car, sleek, low and menacingly black.

Phil Shafer built Indy cars from 1931 until about 1939 (about the time the cars went completely to single seat). This car is equipped with Rigling and Henning (of Indianapolis) special built chassis powered by a 284 cid Straight 8 Buick engine from a Buick series 60. Shafer had so much confidence in his Shafer 8 that he shipped one of his cars to Europe to drive in the German Gran Prix and finished 13th in 1931.

As was raced at Indy, my Shafer 8 has an original Buick 3 speed transmission. Seven of Shafer’s Buick powered racers qualified for the famed Memorial Day Classic from 1931 until 1936. “Stubby” Stubblefield’s 5th place finish in 1933 was Shafer’s high point. Al Miller started in the third row in a Shafer 8 in 1934 and finished 6th. Shafer himself made the 1931, 1932, and 1934 INDY races, finishing 11th, 12th, and 15th places respectively. Cliff Bergere, who went on to become an Indy immortal, brought a Victor Gasket Shafer 8 home to 13th place in the1935 Indianapolis 500. He ran with the front of the pack until at 196 laps, he ran out of gas.

I have rallied this Shafer 8 across the USA with the Great Race seven times (five times with my son, and twice with my wife).

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