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Duesenberg 1921 GP car
 


Fred and August Duesenberg started building cars in 1907. Known as Masons after their financier of the same name they were powered by a 24 hp flat-twin. The Mason company changed its name to Maytag in 1910, and moved from Des Moines to Waterloo, Iowa. From the start the brothers were interested in building racing cars but when the owners of Maytag decided to curtail their racing efforts the brothers decided to set up their own shop. In 1914 they entered two cars in the Indianapolis 500, one of them driven by Eddie Rickenbacker. While doing no better then 10th place in the 500 they were able to win several smaller races.  After the war they fielded a 5 car team for the 1919 Indianapolis 500 but the race proved to be a disaster. Two of their drives and one mechanic were killed and all five cars failed to finish the race. The next year they had greater success when Duesenbergs came in 3rd, 4th and 6th. In 1921 they would make history when Jimmy Murphy headed a team managed by 1908 Vanderbilt Cup winner George Robertson to the French Grand Prix. Dismissed by the European teams, the Duesenbergs came in 1st, 4th and 6th. Jimmy Murphy, rebounding from injuries suffered during a crash in practice beat the best that Europe had to offer and became the only American driver in a car built in the United States to win the French Grand Prix.

Jimmy Murphy would later purchase the car and have it re-engined with a Miller. The new car christened the Murphy Special won the 1922 Indianapolis 500. The race was dominated by Duesenbergs taking 8 of the top 10 finishing positions.