We were truly saddened to hear that Mike Hiss passed away shortly before Christmas.
Mike raced Eagle #7209 (we believe) off-and-on in 1973 for Gerhardt Racing, and Eagle #7225 served as his backup and show car in 1974 for Penske Racing.
Over the past few years, Mike was always very helpful and wonderful to chat with when we called him regarding his time in the sport and the various cars he drove.
Mike was the 1972 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year aboard a 1970 Eagle for Page Racing, and later qualified for a further three 500's. He allso dutifully filled in for Mario Andretti in 1978 to qualify Penske's PC6 when Mario was busy in Europe.
Our condolences go out to his family and many friends.
Penske Racing assigned Eagle #7225 as Mike Hiss' backup car at Indy in 1974, though he drove a McLaren there and elsewhere that year for Penske. This rare print was signed by Hiss, AJ, Mark Donohue, Jerry Grant and Jimmy Caruthers in-period. #rip
Our own Paul Jay has had an interesting life to say the least. An Air Force One-certified loadmaster, he has lived all over the globe, raced Minis on New Zealand airfields, loaded mine-planting dolphins onto cargo carriers, and even managed to find Frank Lockhart's final resting place; a task few have been successful at.
But Paul also has a love for vintage quarter and half midgets. A few years ago, we found this 1957 Race Craft at a snowmobile swap meet in New Lothrop, Michigan. It was rough. Like driven off a roof and scattered, but it still showed some of its lines.
It wasn't a simple restoration by any means, he has said he could have rebuilt our Eagle DGF 10 times over for the amount of time and effort it took to get the Race Craft looking like new again. The simpler it seemed, the harder it was to get spot-on. And if you know Paul, he likes thing spot-on.
But he did it.
Saturday morning, shortly before we had a private celebration, the last upholstery buttons were riveted in-place and he exclaimed that it was done.
The livery was something he came up with, and the would-be sponsor of 'Deising Pontiac - Milwaukee' is in tribute to where his father worked for 12 years, before the dealership moved from the Milwaukee Market.
Well done Paul.
Its not every day Kettle Moraine Preservation & Restoration gets a phone call asking to take care of a vintage racing machine for an undetermined amount of time.
With that said, a call came to us back in August when our friend Jim Liska wanted a place to showcase and house his King Kobra enduro kart, which was purchased from Milwaukee-based King Products in the winter of 1966.
The original asking price: $229. It rolled out the door for $200, thanks to Liska’s mother Dolores talking the price down with King’s John Dentici in fine fashion. That equates to roughly $1,536 today accounting for inflation. A good deal for a new racing kart of any kind. The Kobra enduro kart was Liska’s second King Kart- he raced a King sprint kart starting in 1965 at the Badger Kart Club in Dousman, Wisconsin.
But the price isn’t what is so special about this particular chassis. This exact Kobra was the final customer chassis sold by King Karts before the stock and tooling was sold to Elmer Freber to start production of a brand that exists and thrives to this day: Margay Racing LLC.
Liska’s King Kobra was first raced in July, 1967 at Meadowdale Raceway in Carpentersville, Illinois. It was equipped with a McCullogh Mc91A engine coupled with a Horstman oil-can style muffler. Wheels were made by Precision Wheel, while the Pavesi brothers, who worked for Excalibur’s Brooks Stevens, made the fuel tanks for King. The Liska family team also added side rails to keep their ace driver from sliding around, as there had not been any considerations for that from King.
In 1968, Liska achieved the Sr. Reed Valve High Points Championship at Wisconsin State Fair Park, a three-race enduro series promoted by Badger Kart Club. Three top-five finishes locked up a hotly contested title. Following that, the kart was raced by Liska at the Fair Park in 1969 to a fourth, and would have recaptured his BKC championship at the Mile in 1970 had he been a member of the club.
That would spell the end to Jim Liska’s time on the track for a while- but not for his King Kobra. Ed Liska, Jim’s father, loaned the chassis to a family in the Milwaukee area to run at local enduro events. A new front porch was added, along with Margay spindles, Margay Type 24 wheels and a front bumper from a Margay Concept.
The kart would go on to race at Blackhawk Farms and Road America a few times before finally being parked sometime in the mid-1970s.
Today, the kart has been restored as it last raced, but with the Mc90 engine package from Liska’s King sprint chassis. It only makes sense that the last specimen from one brand has several add-ons from the new brand attached. The kart serves as a bridge between the old guard of King and new breed of Margay, forever linking the two brands and a place in-time.