Bobby Unser at Phoenix with the new car. Since the Olsonite graphics were not ready, this car was completely hand painted, following the basic design. All subsequent body panels used actual paint and color masking for the eagle decor, but all lettering was accomplished with stick-on printed film. At the Phoenix 200, Bobby took no prisoners, qualified on the pole and won the race running away. The car set pole at Indy with an astounding 195 MPH speed, a full 18 MPH faster than the pole speed of the previous year. Bobby easily led the race until the distributor rotor broke, the car coasting to a halt while nearly a full lap ahead of the field.

Above left, Philippe, helmeted with whatever was in the shop at the time, sits in the newly completed car in early 1972 for pictures after the initial testing. This took place at Ontario Motor Speedway where the car, driven by Unser, easily lapped at 191 MPH, a huge speed at the time, well above the 178 MPH record.
Part of the temporary paint next to one of the eagles heads had peeled off during the testing!

Many years later in 1989, Dan Gurney allowed Philippe to restore two 1972 Eagles based on unused spare tubs that remained at the All American Racers shops, to be refinished as the 1972 machines driven by Bobby Unser and Jerry Grant. All the other parts were new and used spares and used engines that came from Bobby and Jerry's 1972 cars.
The first car was completed in 2008 and is now in Dan Gurney's personal museum in Santa Ana.
Driven by Grant, the 1972 Eagle was the first Indy car to circulate on a closed course at over 200 MPH, and the car used by Jerry at Ontario Motor Speedway to set this record was painted in a purple metallic color with Olsonite sponsorship. The car had earlier in the year, been leading the 1972 Indy 500 when with 12 laps to go, it encountered a puncture in its right-side front tire.
In the ensuing rushed pit stop, the car was unnecessarily short-filled from the Bobby Unser fuel supply, a huge mistake that caused a penalty of the 11 laps covered after the stop, pushing the car back to a 12th place finish, a great disappointment for the AAR crew.

The "Mystery Eagle" as it was known, after its assembly. Every effort was made to ensure that the completed car would be as close to the original as  possible, while making it fully operational for demonstrations,

Jerry Grant and crew after setting the first 200mph lap at Ontario Motor Speedway in October 1972. This was an extraordinary accomplishment and the result of a year of hard work on the best Indy car money could buy.

Tracing the engine numbers (crankcase and cylinder block/head assembly) from old records he saved from the bin, Philippe found that the engine in the completed car had been used at the 1972 "Milwaukee 150" race in the very car driven by Jerry Grant that day. While Bobby Unser easily won the race, a turbocharger failed on Jerry's car.


The Weisman 4-speed Indy car transmission was built by Pete Weisman in his Costa Mesa shop. Pete later built 7-speed gearboxes for the McLaren Formula One team and
  was instrumental  in developing the first semi-automatic transmission for modern racing automobiles.
The picture on the left shows one of the two Drake-Offenhauser engines at Stewart Van Dyne's shop in Huntington Beach.
  All American Racers had developed changes on the engines that were exclusive to them, such as better internal lubrication through a twin pump setup, requiring different pickup points on front of the engine. The 4-cylinder, twin-cam "dinosaur", derived from the 1912 Peugeot engine, develops up to 1100HP on 120 inches of boost from its Garrett turbocharger.
This caused a slow response time, as the driver had to wait about 3 seconds for the turbo to spool and deliver full torque after application, and wait another 3 seconds after lifting for the power delivery to stop, a very unsettling way of driving a racing car. While this was improved in various ways over time, it is what 1972 Indy car drivers had to put up with, and put up they did.
    The two tubs at Philippe's shop in 1989, in the process of analysis of what would be required to assemble the cars.
Much and expensive research lasted several years. After the project dragged for years from shop to shop and with lots of optimism and wishful thinking, the two cars were finally assembled and made to run. Stewart Van Dyne, who now owns the tooling and rights to the Drake-Offy engines, repaired and assembled the special AAR "twin-pump" engines, while others transformed the huge pile of parts into functional racing automobiles.

The first car was completed and delivered to Dan Gurney at the AAR shops in 2008.


: Philippe at the firing of the Offy engine at Stewart Van Dyne shop. The engine started instantly and ran sweetly for over one hour.  No leaks, no overheating, looks like everything is A-OK!

: Dan Gurney "get the keys" to his new car while onlookers admire the final product.






In June 2010, 20 years after the difficult project had begun, the second car was completed. The Indy 500 pole-winning Olsonite-Eagle driven by Bobby Unser in 1972 was also sponsored by Ozzie Olson.
In this picture, its late crew chief, Wayne Leary guides the Eagle to the front row before the start of that race. Wayne was a slot car racing enthusiast and often came to witness the racing taking place at Buena Park Raceway in California, this until his last days.
Wayne died of complication from cancer in June 2010.



  Wayne Leary hard at work in the cockpit in preparation for the 1972 "Schaefer 500" at Pocono.  Resting on the front wheel is a 1/10 scale model of the new Eagle, the body produced by M.A.C. for the Associated RC1 radio controlled  miniature racing car. Philippe painted it like the full-size car for Car Model magazine.

By now, the car had shown to be the fastest in preliminary tests at the speedway. Unser will claim pole and will drive away from the field in the first part of the race, until the ignition distributor rotor will fall apart, ending what was looking to be a possible win.

Nevertheless, the car will make such an impression that orders will soon follow, with a total of 25 cars sold and 3 retained by the works for their own use. Chassis 72-29 and 72-30 were never sold but retained, and their tubs were used to build the two cars on this page.


The car was modified for 1973 with a new "flat-side" tub designed by Roman Slobodynskyj and improved aerodynamics by McDonnell-Douglas engineer Bob Liebeck. Here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, crew chief Wayne Leary is awaiting while Bobby Unser is warming up the engine prior to testing. The eagle graphics were slightly modified for 1973, as a "claw" was added to the design. Painted in a hurry, lack of time prevented two more colors from being applied.    


        Left: One of the few surviving pieces of artwork shows the proposed 1973 car with the upgraded "flat sides" tub, a new shorter nose with triangular front arms clearance vents and proposed improved streamlining around and over the engine. This was an effort to provide cleaner airflow to the rear wing.

Right: Jerry Grant with the new car at the 1973 Indy 500.

The added streamlining did not happen until much later, as engine man John Miller was adamantly opposed to anything that would have enclosed the Offy engine  that could make it run warmer. In 1973, McLaren already had made the move, the engine covered by a shroud that extended to the leading edge of the wing.


  Almost everything went right in 1974 as Bobby Unser won enough races to earn the USAC crown, but the Indy 500 still escaped the AAR machine, Bobby finishing in second place.
At the end of the year, Ozzie Olson ended his long-time sponsorship as a recession hit the United States. It was very unfortunate for him because under new sponsorship from Jorgensen Steel, it all came together in 1975 and Bobby, after a fierce battle with perennial on-track nemesis Johnny Rutherford in the works McLaren, won the race. When the rain fell after 350 miles, Bobby was ahead and declared the winner. This gold belt buckle (left) was given to the winning Eagle team members and was engraved  with their name.
The 1972 and 1974 Eagles were a commercial success for AAR, as besides the works cars, 3 chassis were sold in 1972, 22 more  in 1973, and another 14 in 1974, the Eagles dominating the Indy cars field.
The Eagle was the most influential Indy of the mid 1970s, racing for four straight years, winning the "500" in 1973 in the hands of Gordon Johncock, and in 1975 in those of Bobby Unser, finishing in second place in 1974.


Chassis number 29 is shown below in the process of completion  in 2008:


Attention to detail and build quality was impressive at AAR, as shown by the aircraft-style rubber mounting of the dashboard so as to minimize engine vibrations. The tub has been polished, so as to remove years of surface corrosion during storage. The suspension has been nickel plated for the same reason. While the original car had been entirely painted by hand, computer-cut colored adhesive film was used to simplify the process.




Automobile dealer and collector Kirk F. White was one of the Eagle sponsors in 1972. The graphics that were designed by Philippe in late 1971 were faithfully reproduced onto the body panels. Characteristics of the works cars were dual fuel side fillers and a Weismann 4-speed transmission, the customers cars making do with the British-built Hewland "LG400". This car is fitted with the American gearbox.



The level of quality of the restoration is second to none. Most parts were new-old-stock but others were reconditioned used works parts obtained from All American Racers.
As for the car delivered to AAR, this one is fully functional and can be run as vintage events. The engine has a history of its own, being the one that won the 1972 "Phoenix 150", driven by Bobby Unser, according to engine builder John Miller's records that were saved by Philippe.






The car was completed and delivered on July 1, 2010 at the RIAM (Riverside International Automobile Museum) where it will be on display.


  Left: The cockpit shows some
of the instrumentation that
includes a manifold pressure
gauge for the turbocharger.
Seating is very narrow and
designed for tall drivers.

Right: the side radiators were
mounted inside pods filtering
the airflow as well as providing
extra down force.




After arrival of the car at the Riverside International Automobile Museum, the engine was prepared for being started and run so that engine builder Stewart Van Dyne could check any issues or leaks.

The engine fired right up and everything worked as it should. After the engine had reached operating temperature, it was pickled for storage, using Marvel Mystery oil in the lines to preserve against methanol damage during storage.




   See and hear the engine being fired, CLICK HERE, then HERE!




  Above left, Ken Berg takes pictures of the completed car. At left, Drake family members (Beatrice Drake and her daughter) look at the finished product that uses an engine originally manufactured by the late Dale Drake and her late husband, John Drake. An emotional reunion.
This postcard was issued by the Olsonite Corporation in 1972 and represented the earlier design on the car's nose. The decor had to be raised because of the need for a Goodyear sponsor decal.


  Behind the car are the Riverside hills, and beyond the hills was the regretted and now defunct raceway. The Riverside International Automobile Museum stands to the right of this picture.


In 1972, this was the fastest Indy car money could buy, and the fastest racing car on the planet. In 2010, it is a tribute to Dan Gurney and the team of capable people he assembled to engineer, manufacture and win races with this terrific machine.

The 1972 car had relatively simple wing arrangement. In later years, more complex wings with dual elements and larger side plates were successfully used, bringing a new era of high down force. On this car, an original 1972 wing could not be located, so a later 1974 wing from the Bobby Unser car was used. This has a Bob Liebeck developed "banana" profile as they were called, to provide ultra-high down force at lower speeds.





  The AAR Drake-Offy engine uses a Hilborn full-time fuel injection that makes the adjusting of fuel mixture a difficult proposition. Many such engines blew up in spectacular fashion if the mixture was leaned too much in its midrange, especially when the throttle was applied after deceleration for a turn. The turbo boost is adjustable but not from the cockpit. There is no intercooler in these early turbocharged engines and driving such a car required constant concentration as there was a long lagging period between throttle application and actual torque delivery, as the turbo spooled itself every time from low to maximum RPM. The result was somewhat impressive when power reached the rear wheels.




  As can be seen here, those Indy cars were huge machines. The total weight is nearly 1700 lbs. While this was over 100 lbs above the minimum weight per USAC rules, the car was very strong and extremely well built by Phil Remington and his crew. Compared to the rather rough period British built McLaren or Lola Indy-car chassis, the Eagle is truly a piece of jewelry. These were such good cars that they were used quite successfully from 1972 through the early 1980s after the tubs were modified for more modern aerodynamics, first by Bill Finley, then by many other mid-field teams.
Because of these later modifications, original, unmolested chassis such as this NOS example are rather rare today, the restoration of some requiring a complete reconstruction of the center bulkhead and complete re-skinning.


  This is pretty much the view of the car that most 1972 Indy car racers had of the Olsonite Eagle, that is until something went awry on the car with the rotten racing luck Dan and his team encountered that year. Nevertheless, the car made its mark by winning 3 races and setting 10 poles.


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