Iconic Indianapolis 500 roadster removed from landmark perch at Safety Auto Glass
New owners pledge to restore car
Last Updated: 245 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - A 1950s roadster is leaving its recognizable roost on the top of an east side Indianapolis building.
Sam Hanks drove the car to a second-place finish in the 1956 Indianapolis 500.
But since 1961, the car has sat atop Safety Auto Glass at 1122 Southeastern Avenue, greeting customers and passersby.
After years of turning down offers from prospective buyers, Safety Auto Glass President Steve Perkins has agreed to sell the roadster.
A crowd gathered Tuesday as the car was lifted off the roof by crane.
Gary Schroeder of Burbank, Calif., one of the buyers, says the renovation work is expected to take several years.
Auto historian Donald Davidson said being perched atop a business did seem like a sad place for such "a glorious racing car."
"But it became such a landmark, such a talking point. I myself sometimes detoured past it just to see that it was still there," he said.
The race car was built in 1954 by Kurtis Kraft and driven briefly by Bill Vukovich, the two-time 500 winner who some consider the greatest driver at Indianapolis.
Hanks, the 1957 winner, drove the car in the 1955 and 1956 races.
His widow, Alice Hanks, said in an email from her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., that her husband was never happy about the car being on the roof.
"Sam had a lot of sentiment about some of the cars he drove, especially the ones he did well in. Sam said that 1956 was one of the hardest races he ever drove," she said.
Perkins and the two buyers, Schroeder and Indianapolis resident Chris Paulsen, would not disclose the sale price.
Perkins said in 2004, he had turned down an offer of $20,000 for the car.
Several fully restored cars have sold in the $200,000 range in recent years, Davidson said.
Perkins has batted away "40 or 50 offers" to buy the oddly positioned car since taking over the business started by his father, who died in 1991.
"But now it's just time," he said. "It's the right thing to do and these are the right people."
Paulsen and Schroeder plan to take the roadster to car shows and take turns driving it in vintage car races.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.