Having run the Indianapolis 500 seven times, the Sparks-Thorne special is a huge part of the event’s history. One of its previous owners describes it as a ‘gallant car that never one’. That’s probably because it came close to winning many times and a sister car in 1946 took the overall victory.
It was first driven by Jimmy Snyder in the 1938 and 1939 Indys, the later of which he placed second behind Wilbur Shaw and his Maserati. That same year the car set the average lap speed record of 130.757 mph which wasn’t matched until 1946.
With drivers Ted Horn, Harry McQuinn, Mel Hansen, Sam Hanks and Tony Bettenhausen, the Little Six was raced right up until 1949 and made a legendary career for itself.
‘Little Six’ gets it’s name from a tiny 183 cubic inch inline-6 that was supercharged like many of the Grand Prix cars of the day. Total output was 400 bhp at 6600 rpm. It was built for Art Sparks who was an employee of Joe Thorne at Thorne Engineering.
Since it extensively raced Indy, and has now completed several years of historic racing, the Sparks-Thorne is one of the most prolific Indy racers extant.