The centerpiece of Ron and Sarita Coleman's race car collection is this one-of-a-kind Kurtis Kraft midget, built and raced by C.Z. Abbott of Jefferson City, Mo. Abbott created his own engine, quick change rear end and in-and-out box for the unique racer.
Displacing only 91 cubic inches, the Abbott-built powerplant in the black #65 racer was completely handcrafted by the original owner. He cast the unique double overhead cam head, which uses a bicycle chain to turn the camshafts, from aluminum along with the one-of-a-kind side-mounted injectors.
Ron Coleman bought his 1932 Ford Tudor back as a body in primer some 36 years after he sold it. It had received a chop top while it was gone and he completely rebuilt it in six months' time. `I'm glad to have it back,' Coleman says.
Coleman built the yellow #12 midget from spare parts he accumulated over the years, starting with a wrecked chassis and fabricating body panels. Rick England was the driver of this car. Coleman himself never drove competitively and is now content to get behind the wheel at vintage race events.
The biggest of the Coleman race cars is this smallblock Chevy V-8-powered CAE sprint car. Built on a 3-inch `sewer pipe' frame, it is `very, very stout,' in Coleman's words. Like most of their cars, it carries the `Wizard' nickname on the hood.
Originally set up to run a Ford 60 flathead V-8 engine, the Ron Coleman Special is now powered by a 4-cylinder Chevy II. Coleman had the all-aluminum body built from the original Kurtis Kraft bucks by Bob Willey of Moline, Ill. `It's a copy of an original, but everything on it is period correct,' Coleman says.
This is the view of the Abbott-powered midget that many competitors saw during its heyday on the dirt tracks of the Midwest -- from the rear. All of the tubing, from the nerf bars to the roll bar and suspension links, is heavily chrome plated.
The driver's view from the cockpit of Abbott midget reveals minimal instrumentation in the flat aluminum dashboard, a flat 3-spoke steering wheel, the in-and-out box lever down low and the hand-operated brake lever mounted outside the car.
Nerf bars were used to keep competitors tires away from the open wheels of midget racers. The hand pump on the outside of the cockpit was used to pressurized the fuel tank and sometimes had to be pumped during longer races to keep the gas flowing.
Only one quick-change rear end of this type was ever built, according to Coleman. The gear case was tilted at an angle, apparently to allow the car to ride closer to the race track, he said. Coleman has a box full of gear sets made specifically for this rear end.
Tucked safely in one corner of a garage is the Coleman's 1940 Chevy street rod, which features such custom touches as a lift-off Carson-style top, suicide doors, hideaway tail lights and license plate and a supercharged 400 cubic inch Chevy V-8 tucked between widened frame rails.