We borrowed this speed demon for the weekend. It carried drivers Jimmy Bryan and A.J. Foyt around the track in the 1950s and now sits on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The roadster has a history as interesting as Bottleworks Hotel’s.
The Dean Van Lines Kuzma Roadster was built for Al Dean’s crew chief Clint Brawner and driver Jimmy Bryan for the 1955 Indianapolis 500. Bryan led the race twice for a total of 31 laps before the fuel pump on the Offenhauser engine failed on lap 90.
A tire blew around the 100th lap during the 1956 Indianapolis 500, and Bryan spun into the south infield. He returned to the pits, his crew replaced the tire and they restarted the car to rejoin the race. The driver/roadster duo were still going strong at the end of the race and finished 15 laps behind the winner, Pat Flaherty, ultimately placing 19th.
That following winter, Eddie Kuzma narrowed the chassis and built a new body for the car. Bryan qualified in the 15th starting position and ran in the top five for the last half of the 1957 Indianapolis 500. He finished third behind the winner, Sam Hanks. The roadster in front of you has been restored to its former glory, as it looked in 1957.
1958: Enter A.J. Foyt. The young rookie from Houston drove the Dean Van Lines Kuzma in the Indianapolis 500. He spun out in turn one on lap 148 after a radiator hose broke and dumped water under his tires, but Foyt still expertly managed a top 20 finish, placing 16th.
This year, we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of A.J. Foyt’s first Indianapolis 500 win in 1961. To view his first winning car and many others, take a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, which is uniquely located inside the historial 2.5-mile oval track. The museum is recognized as one of the most highly visible museums in the world dedicated to automobiles and auto racing. Through world-class storytelling, ingenuity and design, the museum brings emotional experiences alive, capturing the essence of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Want to know what the Bottleworks Hotel lobby looked like during Foyt’s rookie year? Check out the photo on the wall to the right of where you’re standing. In 1961, this was the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world, producing over 1 million bottles every week. Bottling started here in the 1920s and continued until 1964 when the plan was moved to Speedway, IN, after former Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman purchased the franchise. The building was later sold to Indianapolis Public Schools, where it served as a service center until 2016 when it was purchased by developer Hendricks Commercial Properties who pledged to create a hub for history, arts and entertainment on the site.
After years of thoughtful planning and restoration, Bottleworks Hotel has emerged as an anchor for the effervescent Bottleworks District; a classic reimagined.