1959 Martin Tanner T-2
In 1958, Martin Tanner won the SCCA H-Modified National championship with a car sporting his name- the Martin T-1.
T-1 was built up and tested in 1957- the machine was drawn up and built by a Tanner, who had zero experience building or designing cars. Suffice to say Tanner was good at everything he tried in his 62 years on this earth, from his time as an artist, kayak building, swimming chess playing- you name it. He excelled.
T-1 first was powered by a Crosley motor, but was upgraded to a 748cc Saab three-cylinder 2-strock engine for 1958. T-1 had an aluminum frame and aluminum-skin, and was thought to be one of the finest H-Mods on the grid. The red machine proved to be the car to beat.
Even before Tanner was done winning the 1958 SCCA H-Mod title, he was penning up T-2. Under the skin, it was much like T-1. Aluminum frame, Saab power plant- Fiat 500 corners- but the body was a copy of a Lotus XI. The majority of the body was aluminum, but the four corners were fiberglass, inter weaved into the aluminum.
Tanner painted T-2 a somewhat curious plum shade of matte purple, which in retrospect did little to show off his work in emulating the Lotus. Regardless of color palate, the car went just as quick as T-1, but was troubled by some teething woes. A failed finish at the Cumberland National, and at Road America after leading half of the H-Mod race at the RA 500 saw to it that Tanner failed to recapture his crown.
Furthermore, Competition Press' Dic van der Feen dubbed Tanner's Lotus copy as a “flying shoe sole." much to Tanner's annoyance. After the 1959 season, Tanner parted ways with T-2 as he began a series of cars that would all take the same shape- T-3 through T-6.
T-2 was sold to Wilmette, Illinois racer Frank Issacson, who had been running in the H-Mod ranks with his papaya orange SIAM-Crosley, which he called the ERMA.
Isaacson raced the T-2 relatively unchanged in 1960, still sporting the plum paint job, but with his #33 splashed on the side. He also renamed the car the 'Lyne Spl.' after his wife.
Before he had a turn behind the wheel, Issacson enlisted his friend (and H-Mod legend) Sandy MacArthur to wheel the car in its first outing with Isaacson as the owner. It was the June 24, 1960 SCCA Nationals at Meadowdale Raceway. Sadly, it was yet another DNF for the car.
In the ensuing years, Issacson painted the car in his familiar shade of orange and raced throughout the Midwest- Road America, Lynndale Farms, Wilmot. All close to our home base on the outskirts of Milwaukee.
In 1965, Isaacson won the H-Mod race for that weekend's Badger 200 at Road America, but with a 650cc Mercury Outboard power plant under the hood.
By the end of 1967, H-Modified was no more. The class was re-designated D Sports Racer, and Isaacson, with a growing family, moved the car on to yet another owner by the end of the decade.
We found the car in the collection of the late Gene Leasure in the summer of 2021. The body still shows signs of orange and purple, but the corners are a metallic 'pickle' green and the letter 'D' can be seen on the sides, as if it were next to a number at some point. So it seems the car lingered on into D Sports Racing competition- but where?