Sunday, March 18, 2012

Speed Channel: When a Crosley Won Sebring

Just spotted this recent Speed Channel article about the winner of the very first Sebring race back in 1950. The story of Fritz Koster and Ralph DeShon's improbable victory in a stock Crosley Hot Shot is well known to most Crosley fanatics, but the rest of the world continues to catch up.

This story pops up every so often, a potent antidote to the streams of poorly-researched 'worst car ever' type articles that plague the Hot Shot's legacy.

No, the Hot Shot never came with a self-detonating sheet metal motor. That earlier (CoBra) motor was history before the first Hot Shot rolled off the production line in 1949.

Yes, the Hot Shot was the first postwar American production sports car. Yes, it was the first American production car with disc brakes. Yes it competed at Le Mans. And, yes, it won the very first Sebring race, beating Ferrari and Allard in the process.
Crosley was never able to fully capitalize on their racing successes. There were occasional ads featuring Crosleys taking the checkered flag, but the reputation-killing manufacturing defects of the CoBra motor were so bad that they largely outweighed whatever positives that Hot Shots and other later Crosleys might have promoted.   The CoBra's failures helped kill Crosley Motors in 1952, and even 60 years later it still taints the marque's non-CoBra cars.

Kudos to the Speed Channel for helping set the Hot Shot story straight.

Tip of the hat to Bruce Sweetman and Autoweek for the nice shot of the restored #19.

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