Updated: Aug 1, 2020
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. The builder and driver, Alex Xydias, was an Air Crops veteran who knew belly tanks spent lots of time in the wind tunnel. These tanks were aerodynamically “slippery” and were available as war surplus for only $5!
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 yet another class record at 181 mph. Still moving to larger engines, they then 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