Winged Mad Dog IV Returns to Daytona Where It Shattered Speed Record

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bob Osiecki’s winged wonder Mad Dog IV, which shattered the international closed-course speed record at Daytona International Speedway in 1961, now calls the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America home.

The unusual looking machine was designed (with a little help from Georgia Tech) and built by Bob Osiecki, who hired drag racer Art Malone to wheel it to a record lap of 181.561 mph.

Thomas R. Miller Photography
The current car owner, legendary drag racer Don Garlits (MSHFA Class of 1989), has put the airplane-like speed machine on display at the award-winning museum, which is only a few hundred feet from where it made its history-making run. Garlits pulled the car from his collection at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala.

“I honestly think that’s where the car should be, over there at the round-track museum and the car made that speed at Daytona,” the 90-year-old Garlits said. “To me, that’s the perfect place for Mad Dog IV.”

Mad Dog IV was placed with other notable vehicles on the racetrack exhibit, which replicates Daytona’s high-banked turns. It is truly a place of honor for Daytona-specific motorsports machines.

Thomas R. Miller Photography
“We’re so grateful to ‘Big Daddy,’ our very first inductee in the Drag Racing category back in 1989, for lending us this important vehicle and one that we know is close to his heart,” said MSHFA President George Levy. “He and Malone were great friends and on-track rivals.”

The story of Mad Dog IV’s creation is one for the ages. It was purpose-built for only one job – bring the closed-course international speed record to Daytona.

Bill France Sr. (MSHFA Class of 1990), who orchestrated NASCAR’s founding then built Daytona International Speedway, was a sports visionary with a flair for promotion.

Thomas R. Miller Photography
When the fastest, closed-track speed record was established at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (Italy) in 1957 at 177.38 mph, France wanted to get those bragging rights and put up a $10,000 prize for anyone who could top the 180 mph mark at his 2.5-mile, high-banked track, which opened in 1959.

Many tried and failed, including Osiecki, who made three attempts with various cars before seeking engineering advice from John J. Harper, who was an aerospace professor at Georgia Tech.

The Kurtis Kraft roadster with a Chrysler V8 engine was one of three used by Firestone as a test car for its tires in 1957. Osiecki bought the car from the tiremaker, figuring it had the power needed to chase France’s money.

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