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The History Of The Bobsy Sports Racers

We don't claim all the following narrative as ours.  The internet being what it is, we've copied much of it from here and there, added to it, added some neat period pictures, and fleshed out the history as new documented information has become available.  We hope that it gives a good, reasonably accurate, history of Bobsy racecars.  As always, we welcome any needed corrections or additions.

 

(Click on any image on this page to enlarge)

 

HOW IT ALL STARTED

The first Mong built race car

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Above is a picture of Jerry Mong, apparently in 1961 (here's the entry list referring to the car as a "Special"), at Cumberland in first race car he built.  That  well-documented  "first Mong car" car is now owned by Tom Miller (NJ), races with VSCCA, and is licensed for the street!  It is a mid-engined, one-off special with an aluminum alloy body, steel tube frame, and independent suspension.  For a full write up on this unique car, read the Jan./Feb. issue of the 356 Registry magazine article.  And equally amazing, click here for link to a color video of the car being raced by Floyd Sable (who purchased the car from Mong) at the Milwaukee Mile in 1962.   AMAZING!  See the photo page for current pictures of this still-active car.

 

How many of each model were built?

 

Precise numbers are hard to confirm.  Even impossible. On the Registry Page we've tried to indicate how many of each series were built, but even info straight from the horses mouth, Jerry Mong, can be conflicting because they didn't always assign a chassis a number and records weren't important. Plus, many of the SR-3s went out the door as un-numbered kits.   In 1990, an effort was made to firm up the production numbers, but as you can see from that Exhibit, even Jerry's memory isn't consistent with known numbers.  Certainly at least 90 and maybe as many as 150 were built.  But we'll never know for sure.  

 

he Original SR-1 Cars Ordered By The Heir Brothers

The "Birth of the Bobsy"

According to a wonderful  (Sept. 2010) conversation with Allyn Heir, he and his brother, Kaye, had been racing a Crosley powered Siata in '59 & '60.  They had seen the kind of work that Jerry Mong was doing (no doubt the above car now owned by Tom Miller).  They commissioned Jerry to build two cars -- the original two SR-1 cars.  They had fiberglass bodies and aluminum tube frames, unlike the above "Special."   Engine was mounted mid-ship and mated to a Hewland transaxle.  The deal was that they would supply all the materials and get one of the cars and Jerry would keep the other one. We believe the car Jerry kept was run by him at Cumberland in '62.  In the entry list for that race the car was referred to as a "Bobsy," in the HM Class.  That entry list is the earliest known use of the "Bobsy" name. 

 

Adding to the story of the origins of the Bobsy Sports Racer is the fantastic picture at the right. It was provided by Ron Mong and is apparently taken from a Mong picture album.  As the sticky note says, "Sunday afternoon at the 'hobby' shop", a wonderful insight into what it was all about in those embryonic days of Bobsy history.  Ron says the picture was taken during the construction of the first two cars being built for the Heir brothers. One could even say this picture is the "Birth of the Bobsy" (or the "Big Bang for Bobsy" if you are inclined to bad rhetorical alliteration), since it was also at this point when not only were the first aluminum tube frame, fiberglass bodied cars were built but it was also when the Bobsy moniker was coined (see below).

"The Birth of the Bobsy" -- The original Heir cars being built

 

Kaye and Allyn raced the other car but after a year converted the original DKW powerplant (which they "just couldn't deal with") with the better Saab GT engine.  Then after a couple more years sold their SR-1 car to Gordon Black in '66.  This car is now owned by Susan Paulus (George's widow)..  Ownership after Mr. Black up until Mr. Paulus is still being researched.  Any input welcome!

The other SR-1 which Jerry kept  was sold to Al Beasely who, Allyn believes, wrecked the car at some point very early on..

 

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This is a period picture (late 60s?) of what is believed to be one of those original  Heir "Bobsy Twins" SR-1 cars, now owned by George Paulus.  George may have in interest in selling this car.  Call him at 630-719-0168.

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Based on the #74 on the car, this is a picture a "Bobsy" 1962 where Gerald Mong was entered as the driver of a "Bobsy" HM.  (Photo source: Race-Cars.com).    We presume this is the other SR-1 car built at the same time as the Heir SR-1.  If so, this car was later sold by Jerry to Al Beasley.

This July 1964 issue of Sports Car Graphic has a great in-depth period titled "Technical Report - BOBSY Mk. I.  An American-built winner with a very bright future!"  The article confirms much of the history of the initial Bobsy cars (i.e. the Heir brothers' cars) and Jerry getting into volume production of the Mk. II cars.  Sorry for the poor quality of the PDF file.  Was working from a copy of a copy of the original article.  (I'd be beholding to anyone with a better copy to scan.

 

This is a very interesting 2-page article on the history of Bobsy cars printed from the Oct. 1993 issue of Vintage Motorsport magazine.   Included is very detailed info on the above mentioned original twin SR-1 cars built for (and with) the Heir brothers.   The picture at right, from that article, shows  the two cars on track a Mid-Ohio in 1963 with Mong leading Kaye Heir.  As noted above, the Heir car was apparently was later wrecked and is gone.  The surviving car, now owned by Susan Paulus, is for sale and in need of restoration.

The article is additional confirmation of how how the "Bobsy" name came about, confirming version mentioned below. 

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The "Bobsy" Name

Many have asked where and how the name "Bobsy" came about. In the same Sept 2010 conversation (noted above) with Allyn Heir, he recalls that the Bobsy name was selected by Jerry Mong as it was the nickname of his favorite uncle.  And yet, John McCollister (an early employee) says; "I believe Allyn Heir's mother was totally responsible for the Bobsy (twins) name."  The latter recollection by John turns out to be the most accurate accounting.  

Confirming John's memory, Ron Mong said, "My Dad, Allyn and Kaye Heir built the first 2 identical cars. Allyn and Kaye's Mom Mabel saw them and said something to the effect - 'Oh look the Bobsy twins' - after a book or movie from that era.   . . . . My Dad did not much care for the name, but it took hold before he could get ahead of it!"  

In fact as noted above, the Bobsy name was used on a race entry for one of those cars.  Interestingly, according to Wikipedia,  the spelling for the cars was only with one "b" The popular books were "Bobbsey" with two b's. 

 

Elite_Ad-web.jpg (116197 bytes)The Early Days of "Bobsy" Cars

An interesting accounting of the first few years of his Dad's business building what became known as Bobsy cars is found in a reprint from the 1964 Mid-Ohio yearbook.   This link will take you to that complete article hosted by  ELITE  FAB & MACHINE  LTD.   Pictures below are from that article. 

And speaking of Elite Fab & Machine, as can be seen by the recent advertisement at right, Elite Fab & Machine is Ronnie Mong's current current active business. Ronnie, as Bobsy cognoscenti know, is Jerry's son.  Elite Fab & Machine is open for business and a source of restoration servicing of Bobsy cars, especially chassis work. Their website provides more information.    Feel free to give Ron a call about working on your Bobsy.  

 

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These three pictures were taken from that 1964 Mid-Ohio yearbook which contained a feature article on the Bobsy race cars.  Click here for a link to that article.

 

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The above two pictures were provided to us by John McCollister.  John worked for Jerry back in the day.  These are circa 1966 or 1967.   John is seated in the picture at the right and standing is Louie, the machinist.    At the time, they and Jerry were the only employees.   These pictures were from a brochure for the Vanguard Formula Vees which they were then making.  John also provided a copy from a 1966  Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn) brochure featuring Sport Cars of the era where the Bobsy SR-3 was featured in the program.

 

Then Came the SR-2 Cars

Mid-Ohio_cover_web.jpg (161204 bytes)SR-2_Ad_12-63-web.gif (115702 bytes)With financial support from his uncle, C. W. Smith, Mong sold his tune-up shop and focused entirely on the race car business. His next racer, his third creation, was dubbed the SR-2 (or "Mark II" as shown in this Dec. 1963 ad).  With the advent of the SR-2, Jerry began producing cars in some volume.  As noted above they become known as "Bobsy" cars. These early cars were H-modified racers often with DKW and Saab power plants  The cars were raced in SCCA competition during the 1960s where they had moderate success.   It was based on the previous model SR-1 cars and consisted of an aluminum space frame with an adjustable coil-over suspension. A modified Ford 105E 1100cc engine was alls supplied.. The increase in displacement size moved the car in to the G-Modified class which was filled with racers powered by Coventry-Climax FWA engines. The car had been designed to accept engines up to two-liters in size. At various races, the engine was swapped out with a larger 1500cc Ford unit and raced in F-Modified competition.

Daytona_65_ARRC_web.jpg (68953 bytes)John McCollister provided this copy (above) of an SCCA  Mid-Ohio program.  We assume it was 1963, featuring a Bobsy SR-2 on the cover.   John also provided this neat photo at right of the leader board at Daytona in 1965.  The lighted sign was infield scoreboard (for the grandstand). Positions were changed by hand, but they ran various info in lights. Jerry had just won the HM ARRC championship race ('65).

In March of 1964 Tony Hogg of Road & Track wrote up a nice five-page review of the "Bobsy II"  concluding  ". . . the right combinations have been found in both design and construction.  The result is a car that can be purchased at a reasonable price and is competitive with anything in its class."  To read that complete article click here.    Period VIR pictures (see below) confirm the car featured in the Tony Hogg review was  the same one driven by Dietrich (i.e. #88 at VIR in 1963).  We believe this to be Tom Kinsman's car, now in Washington state.   Then in August of 1964 R&T published one of their quintessential  "Road Test" articles featuring an Osca powered SR-2 which was owned by Chic Gast of San Francisco.  . Click here to read that wonderful article. Current ownership of that Chic Gast car is unknown.  BUt here's a link to a RacingSportsCars.com page featuring Chic and his Bobsy-Osca..

Jim Liska in Virginia recently (2011) was kind enough to share his original Bobsy marketing materials  which he obtained "back in the day" when he was shopping for a race car.  All these years he kept the literature in perfect condition and was kind enough to allow me to copy them.  Many Bobsy owners have "copies of copies" of some of these neat historical documents, but the following PDF files were made from pristine originals so they are great copies.  Jim might have an interest is selling his originals. Contact us if you have an interest and we'll put you in contact with him.

Tri-Fold Brochure & Flyer

Bobsy Price List

Bobsy Sales Literature.

 

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Above is Gerry Warber's SR-2 purchased in kit form in 1964. He and a friend, Ron Bucklin, spent the year building the car in his basement. Powered with a1800cc BMW. Gerry then raced it in '65 and '66 finishing fourth in 1966 on the West Coast.  It was sold in 1972 to “a young man in California." Gerry and the Bobsy Registry would love to know the subsequent history of ownership on this car. If the car is still around, these and some other photos of the car would make a great addition to the car’s history. If you have any info on subsequent or current owner, please contact either Gerry gwarber@gmail.com or r.alder@earthlink.net (keeper of the Bobsy Registry).  The "pistol" gear shift grip and some details of the footbox might be clues to someone who now owns or remembers the car.  For several other photos and articles on this car, you may wish to download this 7-page PDF file.
 

 

Below, Chuck Dietrich raced a Bobsy SR-2 during the 1963 season in SCCA G-Modified competition. The combination of great driving and a potent car resulted in nine-wins and Dietrich winning the G-Modified championship. 
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Chuck Dietrich at VIR in 1963. Source:  Sports Racer Network by Tom Clayton

Here's another link to pics of the car at VIR in 1963 from Tom's great website..

And yet another neat story in a Road & Track story on Dietrich's win, circa 1963.

Al Beasley in a DKW powered SR-2, 1966 at VIR, a Championship winning season for Beasley. Source: Tom Clayton's   Sports Racer Network  Kaye Heir in his Bobsy SR-1 at VIR in 1963. (Yes, Kaye is a guy. )  Source:  racingsportscars.com.  Here's results listing showing the Heir "SR-1" at Cumberland in 1963 finishing ninth (Dietrich won in a another Bobsy)
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 Jerry Melton's recently posted neat photos, of a lot of race cars at the Steel Cities Ohio National SCCA Race in 1968. Included is the above of Beasley's DKW powered SR-2 at that race, Also in  Jerry Melton's recently posted neat photos, (race cars at the Steel Cities Ohio National SCCA Race in 1968) was this picture of Kaye Heir in a later SR-3 car.  

 

The SR-3 Cars Were Next

The Bobsy SR-3 production was in full swing by 1965 with the fist prototype being built for Millard "Rip" Ripley in 1964 (see below).   The SR-3 was the most prolifically produced model, with about 50 or so produced..  A variety of power-plants were offered including a Ford 1100cc, 1500cc, BMW 2000, Saab 850cc, Alfa 1300, BRM, and more. 

John McCollister (who worked at Vanguard "back in the cday")  recently (2016) was digging around in some of his stuff and unearthed three really nice SR-3 advertising pieces.  He was kind enough to scan them into one PDF file.   Cool stuff!   Included in the PDF (CLICK HERE)  are:

Two-sided, two-fold mailer with SR-3 kit spread out on sidewalk at "old" shop.
Two-sided, two-fold mailer with two views of SR-3 #11 on grass.
Two-fold ad offering race-ready SR-3H, picture of Jerry at speed in #11. [$6,850 with prepped and dyno tuned Saab 80HP engine]

 

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In 1964 #076410 at a Dubois (PA) airport race.  Later in Aug. at Watkins Glen  the car came in 4th.  "Rip" Ripley is the original driver/owner in this picture with Spankey Smith (Cigar smoker) in what appears to be the brand new SR-3.  See this article re: this car, which is regarded as the first SR-3 prototype.  Spankey was the founder of the “Binghamton Automobile Racing Club”  (BARC for short) of Binghamton NY. You can find out more about them at www.barcboys.com,  a website with simply amazing period photos.   The car is now owned by John Baird in California.  Chet Freeman in an SR-3 in 1967. The SR-3 was the most prolific model with some 50 (or so) produced.   Source:  racingsportscars.com.   Below is a picture of this car (Thanks to John McCollister) at the  factory, ready to deliver to Chet in 1966.

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Doc Wyllie at VIR in 1969 in an SR-3, BRM powered car placed in BSR class. 

  Jerry Melton's recently posted neat photos, of a lot of race cars  at the Steel Cities Ohio National SCCA Race in 1968. Included is  the below of Doc Wyllie's car at that race,

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The bodies were constructed in similar fashion to its predecessor; it had a fiberglass body, independent suspension, Hewland gearbox and weighed around 750 pounds. In total, there were about 50 examples produced, though the exact figure is not known. It was offered in kit form or as a complete racer. The design of the SR-3 varied slightly from the SR-2, with the front having a rounded nose that was lengthened and flowed into a point. Specifications varied as some of the cars had larger engines to accept the larger engines and portions of the car were slightly customizable to the customer's specifications and needs.  

Bobsy+SR3+bodies_web.jpg (81881 bytes)Here's a neat photograph from an article the the July 1967 issue of Speed & Custom Dealer profiling an Ohio fiberglass manufacturer, Fiberglass Unlimited, owned by Ben Shoemaker of Massillon, Ohio.  Obviously SR-3 bodies were lined up and no doubt headed for Mong's shop. (Thanks to Richard Campbell for locating this great historical information via Ben Shoemaker's sons..)

 

 

 

In competition, the SR-3 proved to be a very capable car. The cars were driven to an SCCA H-Modified championship in Daytona with the winning car being powered by a Saab powerplant. In second place was another Bobsy but with power by an OSCA unit. The Bobsy repeated its triumph two years later with John Ingleheart at the wheel and capturing the H-Sports-Racing (previously known as the H-Modified) class. 

Boyajian_SR-3-clone_BlackhawkFarms_1970-.jpg (1709536 bytes)In fact, the SR-3 cars were so well respected that there was even a "clone" made.  At one point that clone was owned and raced by Myron Boyajian (see last entry in the SR-3 section of the Registry).  The body work and maybe some of it's suspension came into the possession of Adam Chovanak.  In 2014 Myron confirmed the body work was indeed from his "clone" car when he raced it.   Here's picture of that car being raced by Myron at Blackhawk Farms in a 1970 Chicagoland Sports Car Club's event, "The Looong Race."

 

 

Wide Engine Bay SR-3 Cars

Worthy of separate  mention is the four (of which we're aware of) so-called "wide engine bay" SR-3s which were made with a wider engine bay to accommodate opposed engines. 

Anderson_SR3_pic-web.jpg (121898 bytes) One of those is, of course, Don Anderson's very well known and respected SR-3 Porsche powered car raced out of California (contemporary picture at Rennsport-Laguna Seca)

 

 

Baird_2009_Monterey-web.jpg (42572 bytes)The second would appear to be the car now owned by John Baird.  Built originally for Millard Ripley as a "wide engine bay" car, one later owner had Mong redo the engine bay back to the regular narrow engine bay for an inline engine.  It is run today in that configuration (a 4-cylinder Twin Cam) by John Baird, its current owner.

 

 

 

Herbert_Porsche_SR-3-web.jpg (592133 bytes)The third "wide engine bay" SR-3 (a period pictured at left) was originally owned by Steven Payne-Herbert.  It is now apparently owned by David Hale and is now running a Porsche power plant.  

 

 

 

Claridge_SR-3_Corondado-web.jpg (76103 bytes) A fourth "wide engine bay" SR-3 was produced and fitted with a Corvair opposed engine.  Now owned and raced by Karl Gnadinger in France.

 

 

 

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We're only aware of the one Bobsy SR-4 Prototype originally with a Lotus Twin Cam engine that was completed at the time.  Apparently Mong started designing the SR-4 Prototype in 1967.   One unit (pictured at right) was purchased and raced by Nicholss/Vaglia and then then sold to Gordon Pari in 1979.  Gordon raced it for a number of years including the Runoffs in '82.  This car is now owned by Steve Kupferman in California after having purchased it from Joe Cesare who raced it with RMVR for many years.

Evidence now indicates SR-4_Herbert_Irwin_Web.jpg (85768 bytes)another SR-4 was sold as a chassis only to Steven Payne-Herbert who fitted a Porsche engine and constructed a homemade wide body.  That car is now owned by David Irwin.  The picture at left is the car at Nelson Ledges with Steven and Uncle Dick.

 

 

  

 

Newspaper reports show that prior to any real production of the SR-4 model Mr. Mong started a VW performance accessory business and discontinued sport racer production. (Source).

SR-5, SR-6 & SR-7 Follow

In 1970 or 1971 his Vanguard Automotive Enterprises, the maker of the Bobsy restarted production of sports racers with the development of the semi-monocoque SR-5.  It had disc brakes, independent suspension, Hewland gearbox, and a fiberglass body.  Using the design principals and knowledge gained from the prior models, the SR-5 production version was introduced in 1971. We know of nine SR-5s produced.   We're not sure how many SR-6s were made, but the Registry knows of 5 still existent.   Only three SR-7s were made.. Whereabouts of all three are in the Registry.

It turns out that Jim Beltz was actively photographing races in the '80s.  Below are five of his images, all documenting the SR-5, SR-6, & SR-7 on track during the day.

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 Above Al Crookston's SR-5 pictured in 1983 at Nelson Ledges  

Neil Harrison (white #10) at the Road Atlanta SCCA RunOffs.  Neil ran those Run0ffs in '79 to '82 in his SR-6.  Jim Beltz identified the cars as Harrison leading Ed Hamburger in a Lola T497.  Ed ran the Lola Atlanta RunOffs in ''82 and '83.   So, this means this picture was in '82.  (RunOff results cataloged here.) The #57 car is an SR-5 at  Nelson Ledges National in 1983, Jim wasn't sure but thinks the driver is Bobby Wolf.
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#63 car is Barney Powers, SR-7,  Mid Ohio Runoffs 2002 #16 car is Gary Brown of Cincinnati, SR-6, Nelson Ledges National 1983.

 

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At left, on the cover of SCCA's magazine it is believed to be Jim Trueman in his very successful SR-5, undoubtedly at Road Atlanta, in 1974, leading the pack.  At right is a picture of the car at the 1975 Runoffs with Jim collecting a checkered flag with the Red Roof Inns livery.  Today this car is owned and raced by Dick Benson using the 1975 livery.  Click here for the picture of the car as it is raced today.

 

 

 

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Here's a neat picture of another historically significant SR-6.  This is the Charlie Kuhlman car that raced in during the 1974-1982 accumulating lots of trophies. 

 

 

The SR-6 was  identical to the SR-5 with exception of the body. 

 

Shown at right is the 2.0L Cosworth powered  Bobsy driven by Peter Smith in 1979 (and raced thru 1981). Here's a listing of those Smith/Bobsy entries.. Being a center seat car, we're not sure of this car's chassis designation.

 

Bobsy Sports Racer Competition Results

There's a neat web site,  RacingSportsCars.com, which has assembled race results just for Bobsy cars 1962-1976.  Please visit their site. It's an amazing collection of information!

Also, VIR entry lists are available at http://www.virhistory.com/vir/63-apr/63-04-EL.html where  Dietrich's VIR entry is documented.

While race results aren't included,  Jerry Melton has recently (2012) posted some amazing shots taken at the Steel Cities Ohio National SCCA Race in 1968.  There are a number of neat Bobsy pictures as well as the entry list for all cars in that race.    See them at his website. Pictures are SR-2s and SR-3s being driven by Beasley, Heir, Freeman, Wyllie, Lawrence, and Ganger.  

The Bobsy Formula Vee (And one lone Formula Ford)

Mong also developed a successful line of Formula Vee racers during the mid-1960's.The Bobsy Vanguard Formula Vee was introduced in 1964 and powered by a Volkswagen 1200cc engine and mated to a Volkswagen gearbox.  In total over 100 examples were constructed during its lifespan which lasted until 1966. However, we'll leave the documentation of this significant run of cars to those who are more familiar with the FVs.  Sorry, only so many hours in the day.  

Oh. There was also one Bobsy Formula Ford.  Last known to being being raced on the West Coast by Roger Pujol.

In the late seventies, Mong also constructed  five Formula Atlantic cars.

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One of those Atlantic cars, serial #5,  is now owned by Dan Finocchiaro in Delaware . He is currently offering the car for sale on ApexSpeed, see this link for details,  http://www.apexspeed.com/forums/showthread.php?t=74322

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Shown above is the 2.0L Cosworth powered  Bobsy driven by Peter Smith in 1979 (and raced thru 1981). Here's a listing of those Smith/Bobsy entries.. Being a center seat car, it is believed to be one of the five Formula Atlantic cars, here driven with Can-Am body work.

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