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Leon Duray sets record in Miller 91 Packard Cable Special
June 14, 1928

Leon Duray drove his Miller 91 Packard Cable Special to a world close-coursed speed record, recording an astonishing top speed of 148.173mph, at the Packard Proving Ground in Utica, Michigan. Two weeks earlier, Duray had posted a record lap of 124mph at the Indy 500, a record that stood for 10 years until the track was banked. From a mere 91 cubic inches or 1500cc, the Miller's supercharged engine produced 230hp while weighing in at a svelte 290 pounds. The front-wheel-drive Miller Special never won an Indy 500, but its 1928-1929 results there prompted track officials to ban supercharged engines from the contest for over a decade. The 91 was engineer Harry Miller's crowning achievement. Today, one of Miller's masterpieces sits in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. After the 91s were forced out of Indy, owner Leon Duray took his two Miller cars to Europe and proceeded to set international speed records for cars of similar engine displacement. He drove the 91 at 143mph over one kilometer and 139mph over five kilometers. Ettore Bugatti was so impressed with both the Miller's front-wheel drive and its engine design that he bought the cars form Duray in order to study them. Bugatti's later engines borrowed heavily from Miller's innovations to the designs of the combustion-chamber, port, valve, and head. Miller built only 11 of his front-wheel-drive superchargers, and today they are prized antiques. The two cars that Bugatti purchased were discovered, dusty but intact, by a Danish diplomat in a Bugatti warehouse in France in 1954. Auto historian Griffith Borgeson bought the two cars in 1959 and had them shipped to his home in Los Angeles, the city in which the cars had been built. One of those cars sits in the museum at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Harry Miller was, simply put, a legendary genius in the history of American racing. The technology he pioneered with his Miller 91s is still in use today. Miller went bankrupt in 1929 and all of his assets, including his drawings and designs, were sold at auction. One of his associates, Fred Offenhauser, struggled to purchase enough of the drawings and patent rights to carry on what Miller started. From 1922 to 1965, Miller and Offenhauser engines won all but six Indy 500s.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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