News & Multimedia

Celebration of Automobiles Entrant: 1920 Templar Experimental Roadster

A one-of-a-kind car with a unique history, Jerry Smith’s Templar Roadster made national headlines in 1920 when Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker drove it from New York to Los Angeles in a record six days, 17 hours and 33 minutes. Years later, Baker’s landmark effort inspired the outlaw Cannonball Run Sea-To-Shining Sea Memorial Race from New York to Redondo Beach, Calif., which was held four times in the 1970s. Those races were later celebrated in the Hollywood film productions “Cannonball,” “The Cannonball Run,” “Cannonball Run II,” “The Gumball Rally” and “Speed Zone.”
Two months after his triumphant cross-country journey, Baker drove the same car 1,642 miles in a record-setting two days, four hours from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Tijuana, Mexico, during the Three Flags Run.

Baker’s racing success included a win in a 10-mile motorcycle race for amateurs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, and an 11th-place finish at the 1922 Indianapolis 500 despite numerous pit stops in the first 50 miles of the race. In 1948, Baker was named the first commissioner of NASCAR, and in 1981 he was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, which is located in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

Beginning in 1917, The Templar Motors Corporation of Cleveland produced 6,000 cars in its seven years of operation, and it’s believed that less than 30 Templars remain. The company took its name from the Order of Knights Templar, which was formed during the Crusades in the 12th century.
Smith’s Templar Roadster model featured the first use of four-wheel brakes in a car, in addition to other features such as electric searchlights, tilt steering wheels and air compressors. After its record-setting excursions in 1920, the roadster owned by Smith was sent back to the Templar factory for installation of a six-cylinder engine. When he purchased the car in the 1960s, Smith was given the car’s original four-cylinder engine, which he had restored and placed back in the car.

Acquired by his father in the late 1960s, Smith said owning such a historically significant car has been an interesting experience.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “A lot of people always know about “Cannon Ball” because of the ‘Cannonball Run’ movies. They don’t really talk about him – they just always thought it was just a name, so a lot of people are surprised to learn that he was a person. He’s not quite as famous as a Barney Oldfield was, but it’s pretty cool.”

Smith will drive his Templar at the Celebration of Automobiles when all the car owners have the opportunity to take their classic cars around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval Friday, May 11. Although the car runs well, Smith only gets behind the wheel for special occasions.
“The availability of parts is pretty slim, so if something goes wrong you have to fabricate something, so it’s scary to drive it much and know you can’t buy a part for it,” he said.

Smith refurbished a 1923 Duesenberg Model A Sport Phaeton that appeared at last year’s Celebration of Automobiles, which was the same model of the Pace Car for that year’s Indianapolis 500.

“It was a pretty awesome show,” he said. “I’d never seen so many different and unique cars, including all the old vintage Indy cars, and cars that were built during the era of the first race like the old Nationals and other old street cars that you don’t see anymore. That was pretty unique.”
 

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Celebration of Automobiles Entrant: 1920 Templar Experimental Roadster
 
Celebration of Automobiles Entrant: 1920 Templar Experimental Roadster
A one-of-a-kind car with a unique history, Jerry Smith’s Templar Roadster made national headlines in 1920 when Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker drove it from New York to Los Angeles in a record six days, 17 hours and 33 minutes. Years later, Baker’s landmark effort inspired the outlaw Cannonball Run Sea-To-Shining Sea Memorial Race from New York to Redondo Beach, Calif., which was held four times in the 1970s. Those races were later celebrated in the Hollywood film productions “Cannonball,” “The Cannonball Run,” “Cannonball Run II,” “The Gumball Rally” and “Speed Zone.” Two months after his triumphant cross-country journey, Baker drove the same car 1,642 miles in a record-setting two days, four hours from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Tijuana, Mexico, during the Three Flags Run.
Read More
Related Media
Takuma Sato Marmom Wasp
 
Sato Revels in Indianapolis 500 History with Marmon Wasp
On the eve of seeing his likeness unveiled on the Borg-Warner Trophy as the latest Indianapolis 500 winner, Takuma Sato had the opportunity to sit where it all began.
Read More
Kyle Kaiser
 
Kaiser, Juncos Racing Reveal Four-Race Verizon IndyCar Series Plan for 2018
Kyle Kaiser will remain in familiar surroundings when he makes his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in 2018. Juncos Racing, the team for which Kaiser has driven the past four years as he climbed the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder, announced today that it will field the reigning Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion for four Verizon IndyCar Series races next season.
Read More
Robert Wickens
 
Wickens Joins Hinchcliffe at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for 2018 IndyCar Season
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced its lineup for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Oakville, Ontario native James Hinchcliffe has renewed his contract with the Indianapolis-based team in a multi-year extension, and the 2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year’s teammate will be countryman and friend Robert Wickens, a native of Guelph. The duo marks the first all-Canadian lineup in North American open-wheel racing since 2004 (Champ Car; Forsythe Racing: Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier).
Read More
Takuma Sato
 
Sato Shines with Gratitude during Unveiling of Likeness on Borg-Warner Trophy
Sato repeated what he had told sculptor Will Behrends when examining a clay likeness during a visit to the artist’s workshop in Tryon, N.C.: “He’s actually a better guy.” It’s the 28th likeness Behrends has sculpted.
Read More
Borg-Warner Trophy
 
Borg-Warner Trophy Has Hit Road with Varied Itinerary through the Years
The Borg-Warner Trophy is one of the most prestigious and recognized sports awards in the world, honoring every driver who has won the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil since the race’s inception in 1911.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,497
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact IMS Sales Department at (317) 492-8739 or email at hospitalitysales@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
It's Pole day on @CrownRoyal Armed Forces Weekend & we can't wait to see you! Check out details on the day: https://t.co/yKQ6Db3YRK
May 21