1961 Cooper Climax T54 Kimberley Cooper Special - The unique T54 has a place in history as the first successful mid-engine car to compete at the Indianapolis 500, leading the switch to mid-engined layouts in the Indy series. The concept came from 1959 Indy winner Rodger Ward. Impressed by the T51 at the US Grand Prix, Ward persuaded John Cooper to bring a car over to the Brickyard for testing in 1960. With double F1 champion Jack Brabham at the wheel he ran at 128 mph on only his second lap as a result of which the Indy Chief Steward black flagged him for going too fast! After reassurance as to Brabham’s racing ability he set laps at up to 144.8 mph (vs 1960 Indy pole speed of 146 mph). Kleenex boss and racing enthusiast John Kimberley was persuaded to sponsor a car for the 1961 Indy 500 and the T54 was born. The car was designed and built in just four months. Derived from the T53 but longer and with an offset chassis to cope with the oval track, the 253bhp 2.7-litre Cooper was little more than half the weight of the 430bhp 4.4-litre competing Offenhausers and more fuel efficient. What it lacked in power it made up for in cornering ability and Brabham qualified in 13th place. The car ran as high as 3rd, but finished overall in 9th place, hampered by excessive tyre wear. The car was sold in 1962 and fitted with an Aston Martin engine, following which it raced again in the 1963 Indy 500 in the hands of Pedro Rodriguez, but this time it just failed to qualify. After this, the car was raced in various guises in the US North West ending up in the mid-70s as a Chevy powered sprint car, remarkably with many original parts, though not the engine. The Chevy car was crashed badly in 1975 and subsequently the parts were sold. In the early 90s remaining original parts and the original Indy engine were located and the car was restored to its original 1961 configuration. The car has since appeared regularly at Monterey and Goodwood and has also been driven again
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Had a really fun time covering the Honda Indy a couple months back. Photographing a sport without any bias of who to watch or cheer for allowed me to focus solely on what naturally caught my eye. But of a challenge but I had lots of fun with it. Overall, super liberating experience... other than when I forced myself to sit down at the computer and go through thousands of shots. Sharing some b/w ones in the future and might toss up a journal about it on my site soon as well!