The Circus Burner


1930 McDowel Special Sprint Racer

Deemed by previous owner Fred Sherk, director of the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing, to be a genuie period-built racer this much modified Ford Model A has undergone a full mechanical restoration at the loving hands of Belcher Engineering. 

The racer has a 1926/27 Essex chassis frame and steel body tub and the modeified engine is fitted with a special inlet over the exhaust cyclone cylinder head and twin 40mm venturi pump carburettors developing an estimated 115bhp. 

This vehicle is potentially eligible for VHRA and VSCC events. 

Circus Burner's Story

With a steel car body such as this it was evident to Fred Sherk, a member of the board of directors for The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that Circus Burner was a genuine 1920’s era racing car. The cars Essex frame was known to be popular among early race car builders because of its gracefull kick-up at the rear and tapered side rails. The nose, which strongly resembles that seen on Miller race cars and the cars original Franklin steering were popular in racers of the time and therefore indicative of a real and genuine racer. 

Prior to Fred Sherks ownership, and under the possession of Jack Hansell of New Jersey the vehicle had been restored with a McDowell DOHC engine and returned to competitive usage.

The sprint car was then purchased by Bill and Fred Sherk in conjunction with Pittsburgh dealer Jim Etter. The Sherks removed the McDowell DOHC powerplant for a Dreyer single-seater they were reviving and Etter sold the resultant rolling chassis to Joe Cagiono of New Jersey who fitted another heavily modified Ford engine and took the ‘Circus Burner’ racing again.

Purchased from Cagiono by Mike Holt who imported it to the UK on behalf of Ian Denny in 1989, the single-seater passed to F3 500cc authority Rodney Cummings eight years later and into Paul Hobb’s possession during 1999. Mr Hobbs obtained a stamped Vintage Sports Car Club Eligibility Form for the sprint car that July. 

Advertised for sale by dealer Paul Shipley in 2013, the ‘Circus Burner’ was purchased by Belcher Engineering and has undergone a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration. Specialising in pre-WW2 Fords, the restoration of the Circus Burner has been a labour of love for everyone at Belcher Engineering, we have been able to thoroughly restore the transmission, suspension and brakes whilst also building a special Ford Model A derived engine, and reworking the steel body, finishing it in period colours with hand painted detailing.

The Circus Burner is now fitted with a counterbalanced Ford Model B crankshaft and billet conrods, it also boasts: a vernier adjustable alloy cam gear, uprated oil pump, baffled sump, reprofiled sports / touring camshaft, lightened / balanced flywheel, aluminium front plate, right-angle distributor, Roof 101 Cyclone ‘inlet over exhaust’ cylinder head, full pressure lubrication, insert bearings and twin 40mm Venturi Pump carburettors. With addition of beautifully detailed 12-volt electrics, electric cooling fan and Stewart Warner gauges this racer is potentially eligible for a host of VSCC and VHRA events including the wonderful Pendine Sands meet. 

Circus Burner is offered for sale with a large history file.

For More information on Circus Burner, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Tel: 01379 673264  

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