Dick Vermeil “Black Beauty” 1926 Open Wheel Sprint Car

“Black Beauty” 1926 Open Wheel Sprint Car

On view from April 27 – June 11, 2015

IMG_8146Dick Vermeil, the former Eagles coach who won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams, is justly famous for his football skills. What few people know is that he’s also a journeyman auto mechanic. He was trained by the best – his father, Louis Vermeil, who operated a backyard garage in the Napa Valley town of Calistoga, where Dick Vermeil grew up. There, the younger Vermeil began working in the garage in his early teens, dismantling things and cleaning parts. He graduated to tune-ups and brake jobs, then rebuilding engines and transmissions. When he was a high school football coach, he was a mechanic during the summer. In graduate school, he worked nights and weekends at a service station. Louis Vermeil owned several race cars, but his first serious one, and favorite, was old No. 7, a.k.a. “Black Beauty,” a non-wing, open-cockpit sprint race car built in 1926. Louis Vermeil acquired the car in 1937 and began racing it in earnest after World War II. Too burly to fit into the cockpit, he delegated the driving to Jack Pacheteau. In 2007, Dick began the restoration of his father’s car, doing much of the work himself. Black Beauty is now a show car and trailer queen. In March 2009, No. 7 won first place in its class at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Vermeil also has shown the car at the Louie Vermeil Classic, a sprint-car racing extravaganza at the Calistoga Speedway.

Manufacturer: Owl Garage

Engine: Ford Model A (modified)
Four-cylinder with Miller Schofield Overhead valve conversion