1938 Maserati 8CTF “The Boyle Special”
1938 Maserati 8CTF "The Boyle Special"
Date(s) of Construction
Original Owner and Use
Officine Alfieri Maserati S.A.
Grand prix competition car
Present Owner and Use
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum
Display and limited exhibition
Designer / Engineer / Builder
Ernesto Maserati/Officine Alfieri Maserati S.A.
The 1938 Maserati 8C.T.F. serial number 3032, known as the Boyle Special, is nationally significant based on its relation to four criteria. First, it is associated with important events in automotive history and culture. The Boyle Special is the most successful automobile to compete at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, having won twice, finished third twice and fourth once. Second, it is associated with significant persons in automotive and American history, including: Wilbur Shaw, a successful and prominent American racing car driver and former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President; Michael Boyle, an important American labor leader and race team owner; Ted Horn, Indianapolis racer and AAA National Championship winner; and Harry W. “Cotton” Henning, chief mechanic for Boyle Racing Headquarters who oversaw the mechanical preparation and attention for multiple Indianapolis winning cars including the Maserati 8C.T.F. Third, the Boyle Special features significant design and construction value: its engineering prowess proved itself on the Indianapolis race track for longer than most cars and is representative of the work of a master: Ernesto Maserati and the builders at Officine Alfieri Maserati S.A. Fourth, it offers informational value as one of the few racecars of the era to retain many of its original materials, components and craftsmanship. The period of significance for the Boyle Special was during its competition history at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race from 1939 to 1953.
The 1938 Maserati 8C.T.F. Boyle Special is a one-seater grand prix competition automobile. The Boyle Special features a front-engine, rear- wheel drive configuration. It has an eight-cylinder engine with the cylinders divided by two separate blocks affixed to a single alloy crankcase with a dry sump lubrication system. The engine has a fixed cylinder head, twin cams and sixteen overhead valves. Air is induced in the cylinders via two Roots superchargers each topped by a separate Memini M.A. 12 carburetor. The engine produced approximately 365 horsepower in 1939. Power is transmitted to the wheels through a multi- disc dry-clutch and a four-speed transmission. The car’s aluminum body is mounted onto a steel frame composed of two main frame-rails. The front wheels are sprung independently via torsion bars. The rear suspension is made up of quarter elliptical leaf springs and a live axle. Braking is handled by a Lockheed hydraulic brake system with sixteen- inch drums in the front and fourteen-inch drums in the rear. Nineteen- inch wire wheels with Firestone 6.00-19 tires are mounted on the front and twenty-inch wire wheels with 7.50-20 tires are on the rear of the car. Following its retirement from competition in the 1950s, the Maserati was restored to its 1940 Boyle Special livery. Slight updates have been made to minor components, however, the car retains its integrity as a historic artifact.
The Maserati 8C.T.F. serial number 3032 was constructed in September 1938 to compete as a grand prix competition car. It was raced unsuccessfully by Goffredo Zehender at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix on September 11, 1938. In 1939, Michael Boyle, a Chicago union leader and experienced Indianapolis 500 race team owner, had his mechanic and crew chief, Harry W. “Cotton” Henning, purchase the Maserati 8C.T.F. serial number 3032. The car was meticulously prepared by Henning for the 1939 running of the Indianapolis 500 where it was driven to victory by Wilbur Shaw, who had won the Indianapolis 500 in 1937. The car was deemed the Boyle Special due to its sponsorship by Michael Boyle and the Boyle Racing Headquarters. In 1940, the Boyle Special returned to Indianapolis where it once again took victory in the 500-mile race driven by Shaw. In 1941, Shaw retired on lap 152 after a wire wheel on the Boyle Special failed, sending the car careening into the wall. It was repaired by Henning and the Boyle Racing shop for the potential 1942 running of the Indianapolis contest, however, WWII postponed competition on the track until 1946. Ted Horn returned with the Boyle Special Maserati in the first post-war running and took third place. He repeated this result in 1947, but the car was then known as the Bennett Brothers Special, named for its Texas oilmen sponsors, Gene and Leo Bennett. In 1948, Horn competed for the last time in the Maserati and finished fourth. The Maserati returned in 1949 where it was campaigned by Indianapolis Race Cars, Inc. and driven by Lee Wallard. Wallard started the race but withdrew early when the transmission failed. Famed racer and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bill Vukovich used the car for his driver’s tests to determine eligibility for Indianapolis competition in 1950. The Maserati was again at Indianapolis in 1951, this time entered by Maserati Race Cars, Inc. and owned by Roger Wolcot and Sylvester Johnson, however, it retired after just 14 laps with Johnny McDowell at the wheel. It was used for practice in both 1952 and 1953 but never made the starting grid again. Subsequently the car was restored and retained by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is now a prominent feature of the Hall of Fame Museum at the Speedway.