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Made From Fuel Tanks - "Belly Tank" Racers Break Speed Records

The "Belly Tank" Lakester hit a top speed of 198 mph in 1952 & this record still stands as the fastest speed ever achieved by a normally-aspirated flathead-powered car. But why is it shaped like that? Because of this car, the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) created a special class for fuel tank cars, calling them "lakesters." The So-Cal Speed Shop "Belly Tank" was built using a 315-gallon surplus P-38 centerline fuel tank (belly tank) as its body. These tanks were aerodynamically "slippery" and were available as war surplus for only $5! The builder and driver, Alex Xydias, was an Air Crops veteran who knew belly tanks spent lots of time in the wind tunnel.

Alex and his So-Cal Speed Shop team used the V8-60 to set a class record at 145 mph. They swapped out the V8-60 for a larger 259 inch Mercury flathead and set another class record at 181 mph. Still moving to larger engines, they put in a 296 inch Mercury flathead and set a one-way speed of 198 mph! At the 1952 Bonneville Speedweek, this car was voted the "Most Honored Car in the History of Bonneville," understandably.

1952 "Belly Tank" Lakester

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