The beginnings of what would become H Modified started in 1949 with the racing of Crosley Hotshots. By 1951, several re-bodied Crosleys were around - one ran with FIA regs at Le Mans. A very early Crosley special that was run in H Class was the Eyerly Crosley. It was built in 1953 and had Crosley axels and a custom tubing frame (many early Crosley specials used Crosley frame rails). By 1954, cars on the east coast were running in the new H-Mod class. Many were small Italian cars like 750 Stanguellines and OSCAs. They were still run in this class when cars like Martin Tanner's were first built and run about 1957. The Martin Tanner T-1 was a new departure in design, using many Fiat 500 suspension parts. Martin raced with OSCAs, etc. through about 1962 in the H-Mod class. One of the most noted OSCA H-Mod wins was a 1st by Denise McCluggage at Road America on Sept 10, 1960.
See the more complete story of H Modified at the bottom of this page.
Class H Sports Racers - The Contributions of Men and Machines
The H Modified racing class, what later morphed into D Sports Racer (DSR) and then Prototype 2 (P2), is the longest lived internationally sanctioned racing class in existence. This is not an accident of history but rather is an acknowledgement of the importance of its value as a training class for racers as well as for the mechanical innovations that regularly come out of the class. Sub-one liter displacement cars (Classes HP, HM, H Prototype) have made significant contributions to motor sports in terms of technological innovation and driver development.
By the early 1950s, interest in sports car racing in America had progressed from the odd mixture of hotrods and pre-war European machinery at the first Watkins Glen street race to a demand for increased sophistication in handling and style. For those desiring something different than the ubiquitous MGs, smaller, lighter, and lower displacement cars from Italy and France met this demand with often startling race results.
The winners of the Vero Beach endurance race in 1950 as well as the first Sebring race were H Mod cars, both using 724cc American Crosley motors. Six of the 40 cars in the Queen Catherine's Cup race at Watkins Glen in 1952 were in class H, with Candy Poole as class winner.
It was an H Modified car driven by Rene Bonnet at Sebring in 1952 that gave legitimacy to the event as an internationally sanctioned race, and was also the first foreign factory team effort seen in America. His 13th place overall finish also caught the attention and admiration of the racing world. By 1953 there were six H class cars in the event, finishing as high as 11th overall out of 60 entries and winning the index of performance.
In addition to cars built in small runs, mainly by Italian factories, enthusiasts quickly built even more limited production specials that used available production running components in highly innovative and modified lightweight bodies. Fiberglass rapidly replaced hand-formed aluminum for these, fostering the development and use of this product. In some cases these builders later drew on these early efforts to produce potent and competitive bigger cars, such as the Devin SS. As Hugh Nutting, formerly of the Art Center College of Design puts it, "There might never have been the Devin body had it not been for Bill starting out in a H Mod Crosley. The last time I visited with him, he expressed his fondness for the little cars. He basically went [from] a Crosley Special to a Ferrari in one giant leap." From the Crosley speed gear developed by Nick Brajevich through the work by Hank Rudkin, Martin Tanner and others on the Saab motors that came to be substituted for Crosleys as the latter became increasingly scarce, these builders found unique, low cost, and in many cases visually beautiful ways to push the envelope of speed.
Many later cars derived from earlier work on H Mod designs or small-bore specials. In addition to the work of Bill Devin and Don Miller on Crosley specials, the early Vignale-penned Siata 300 strongly influenced John Tojiero. His one-off design, as later executed by AC, became the Ace and then the Shelby Cobra. The success of 750cc H Modified cars against much larger displacement MGs no doubt was noticed by Donald Healey and factored into his creation of the Sprite, still a factor in H production racing.
The benefit to drivers of having a lower power, lower cost entry class with which to begin their careers or develop race management skills is both obvious and still a part of the racing scene. H Mod served that purpose for builder and team owner Briggs Cunningham and his sometime Giuar pilot Bill Spear and other drivers from Otto Linton to Carroll Shelby (both in Crosley powered Siatas). Both Jack and Ernie McAfee also raced small-bore cars in their early years. Thus from World War II to the present day, from Europe to America, and from club tracks to famous venues like Pebble Beach, Watkins Glen, and the Mille Miglia, small bore and H Modified race cars and drivers continue to do and be what they always have been, significant contributors to the world of motor sports.
SCCA's US H Modified National Champions
SCCA's US H Modified ARRC Winners
SCCA's US HSR ARRC Winners
1954 Chandler (Candy) Poole, PBX
1955 Dolph Vilardi, Bandini
1956 James Orr, Devin-Panhard
1957 Melvin Sachs, Bandini
1958 Martin Tanner, Martin T
1959 James Eichenlaub, Osca
1960 Oliver Schmidt, Osca/Lola-Osca
1961 Oliver Schmidt, Lola-Osca
1962 Glen Baldwin, Lotus 17
1963 William Greer, Zink Petite Mk II
1964 Edward Walsh, Lotus-Saab, National Champion based on season points
1964 Dan Parkinson, Dolphin-Abarth
1965 Gerald Mong, Bobsy
1966 Dan Parkinson, Dolphin-Abarth
1967 John Igleheart, Bobsy-Ford
In the years of 1966-1967, SCCA transitioned H Modified to DSR by using the H Sports Racer classification.