All Press Releases for February 14, 2008

DFW Elite Toy Features Historic Troy Ruttman Car

Agajanian Racer Was The Last Dirt Track Racer to Win the Indy 500

    /24-7PressRelease/ - DALLAS, TX - February 14, 2008 - In 1952, a racecar driver by the name of Troy Ruttman made history when he became the youngest driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500. Just 22 at the time, Ruttman would also make history with that race by becoming the last driver to pilot a front engine dirt-track racecar to victory.

"It was just one of those incredible milestone victories," said Kirk F. White, a longtime antique toy collector and dealer. "About 15 years ago, [car collector] Bruce Meyer bought the original car, restored it, and now he puts it on display around the world. It's really a well-known car."

Until recently, catching Meyer's car on tour was the only way to see this bit of history. Now racing enthusiasts have another opportunity to get a rare glimpse of the racecar owned by flamboyant racing legend J.C. Agajanian and raced by Ruttman. DFW Elite Toy has one of the few remaining tin friction toy cars that were made as a tribute to Ruttman's winning car.

In addition to the car, DFW Elite Toy also has the second-place medal Ruttman won weeks later in the 1952 AAA National Championship, a race which now is known as the IndyCar Championship. Donald Davidson, track historian for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said that medals were given to the top three national champions each year.

"Even though the National Championship was the biggest race, the Indianapolis 500 was much better known," Davidson said. "There were actually a series of races that counted toward being able to compete in the National Championship, with the Indianapolis 500 being the biggest. You really aren't going to see many medals like that one floating around, and their value is quite substantial."

Ron Sturgeon, owner of DFW Elite Toy shares how the championship medal came to be part of the museum's collection: "The medal reportedly had made its way to the marketplace through Charlie Schalbaum, a renowned collector of unique auto memorabilia, after Ruttman's ex-wife offered it for sale," Sturgeon says. "I think we are very fortunate to have been able to find and buy it."

The replica of Ruttman's "Agajanian Special" bears the car's trademark red flames and the winning number 98. It measures more than 18 inches long and features a driver at the wheel. The Japanese toymaker that manufactured the limited edition racer reproduced Ruttman's car in exacting detail. "It is a beautifully done replica," White said. "To me, these cars really represent the era of the 1950s Indy cars so well. I can't think of another Indy car that is quite as handsome."

Adding to the allure for Indy fans, the museum also is home to a pit pass from the year that Ruttman won the race. The bronze badge is part of an extensive collection of Indy pit passes that begins in 1938 - the first year pit passes were handed out - and continues through 1991.

"To have one from every year, dating back to when they started making them, is extremely rare," says Pat Hozza, curator of the Penske Racing Museum in Scottsdale, Arizona. "To have all of them together is highly unusual."

Being able to see Ruttman's National Championship medal, a replica of his car and the Indy pit pass from the year that he won the 500 gives racing fans three great reasons to visit DFW Elite Toy Museum.

The Troy Ruttman memorabilia, Agajanian racers and other rare and antique toy cars are part of the regular collection at DFW Elite Toy Museum. The museum is located inside [url=DFW Elite Auto Rental[/url] at 5940 Eden in Fort Worth, Texas. Hours are 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, with weekend hours by appointment. In Fort Worth, call 817.838. RENT (7368); in Dallas call 214.247.4700. For more information, visit them online at [url=[/url

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