Leo Goossen is considered by most racing historians to be the nation’s outstanding designer of racing engines from the early 1920s through the mid-1970s. The mild-mannered Goossen, who evidently was perfectly happy working behind a desk and reportedly never went to any race tracks to see the results of his work, had a hand in just about every major American racing engine for five decades. One of his first major projects for Harry Miller was the design and construction of six complete race cars with 122-cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engines for the 1923 season. He remained with the company as chief engineer when it was acquired by Fred Offenhauser in 1933.
Goossen designed the 220-cubic-inch and 255-cubic-inch four-cylinder Offenhausers, and continued his engine design work after World War II when Offenhauser sold the engine business to Louis Meyer and Dale Drake. He worked with Bud Winfield on the V8 supercharged Novi, and with Art Sparks on the supercharged Sparks “six,” which broke several qualifying records and won the 1946 Indianapolis 500 race. He designed the Meyer-Drake-Scarab power plant used for Lance Reventlow’s short-lived 1960 Formula One effort. In the mid-1970s, he also was involved with the successful “Drake-Goossen-Sparks” modification of the Drake Engineering “Offy” with Patrick Racing Team drivers Gordon Johncock and Wally Dallenbach.
Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum