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
 
Sato Humbled By Hero's Welcome in Japan
Sato, the 40-year-old driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, has been living a whirlwind life since becoming the first Japanese driver to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 28. Following the Indianapolis 500 Championship Celebration on May 29, he left on a U.S. media tour for New York and Texas, then went straight to the doubleheader race weekend at Detroit’s Belle Isle. A few days later, it was on to Texas Motor Speedway.
Read More
Graham Rahal
 
Rahal Sweeps Detroit Double Header
After winning the opening race of the Verizon IndyCar Series doubleheader weekend front the pole position on Saturday, Rahal started third today in the No. 15 SoldierStrong / TurnsForTroops.com Honda. Rahal led 40 laps and beat Josef Newgarden to the checkered flag by 1.1772 seconds to claim his sixth career Indy car victory and the 25th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Read More
Takuma Sato
 
Sato Earns $2.45 Million for Winning 101st Indianapolis 500
Takuma Sato earned $2,458,129 from an overall purse of $13,178,359 for his victory Sunday in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Fernando Alonso
 
Alonso's Bid For Second Leg of Triple Crown Falls 20 Laps Short
Fernando Alonso’s attempt to win the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil went up in a puff of blue smoke today late in the 200-lap race. That’s when the promising run ended in his No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda after the Spaniard led 27 laps – the third-highest total of the day – and was in contention for the lead through much of the race.
Read More
Takuma Sato
 
Sato Wins 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil
Takuma Sato used a brave outside pass of Helio Castroneves with five laps remaining Sunday to cap a day of drama with a victory in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Sato, from Tokyo, held off three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves by .2011 of a second in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda to become the first Japanese driver to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,460
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