Whitey Thuesen's Solitary Wasp -- 2

Historian Ron Cummings and racing veteran Bob Falcon remember Whitey Thuesen's unique suspension design for his oval-track inspired road racing masterpiece, the "Solitary Wasp".

Don't look back, something might be gaining on you.  I don't see a rear view mirror on the car.                                                                                               (Photo by Allen Kuhn)
From Ron Cummings:

"Bob Falcon describes Whitey's torsion suspension below.  Basically he used Lord, the company who manufactured the parts, rubber WW2 radial airplane motor mounts as torsion bars.  Dick Hughes' still has the system on the front of Whitey's midget, but he replaced the rears with conventional steel torsion bars during the car's restoration.  That car is on display at Justice Brothers. I think Perry Grimm was the driver that made Whitey's Kurtis-Offenhauser so famous. I am not too familiar with midget history, so I could be wrong.   The Solitary Wasp still has Whitey's system."

From Bob Falcon:

"The suspension system was named "Torsilastic" and as I recall one of the magazines of the day did an extensive story on Whitey and the product.  It may have been Hot Rod Magazine... But I don't think they made any refer- ence to the use of an aircraft engine mount.

Whitey gave me an extensive description of the system and the benefits... Unfortunately the Midget community felt the steel torsion bars were the way to go.  All these people who had bought the early Kurtis Midgets out- fitted with quarter elliptic spring front suspensions were having problems and grabbing at straws for a solution. Also in that era, the "Gold Radiator Cap Syndrome" was in full swing! (??? TM)

The Torsilastic system was about five inches overall and had a very neat machined aluminum arm attached to one end of the steel tube that was bonded into the rubber cushion that separated the outer steel tube from the inner tube.  The unit was quite simple and afforded the ability to preload the rubber through the use of a small worm gear on the aft end of the assembly.   I'll draw you a sketch when we meet up next.

The best source for the replacement mounts in this day and age is a company located in Sun Valley CA named Aircraft Cylinder. They are the largest source of new and used spares, and complete radial engines, as used in WW2.

Lord Mount, who made the original parts ceased production decades ago, but as a supplier of radial engine spare parts, Aircraft Cylinder probably has an aftermarket source supplying the same thing. The mount would have to be adapted to the Torsilastic configuration."

Bill Krueger adds his memories...  (and contributed the photo above)

"I also remember Whitey Thuesen and his special.  Doctor Eschrich was driving a small sports car that belonged to Harry Morrow at Willow Springs (he drove the car up there from Burbank with my dad as passenger and me, my mom and brother followed in our station wagon) and Whitey was winning the race quite easily.  My dad believes that he slowed near the end to make the race look close and Doc tried to sandbag him and jump him at the end but Whitey beat him.  I believe that this was after Doc crashed the "Potus" (Porsche powered Lotus) at Pomona and had no car of his own (1957 or 58?)."

More from Bill Krueger:   (10-29-06)

Here's a picture that I took at Torrey Pines in about 1955 of  Whitey Thuesen's car."

Back to:   "Solitary Wasp" -- 1

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