Jump to content

Van the Body Man

Frank S

Recommended Posts

From the Indianapolis Star:


Friends of the late Merle VanSteenwyk, known on Gasoline Alley as "Van the Body Man," will gather Saturday at VanSteenwyk's home in Fishers to remember years of service to the sport he loved.


VanSteenwyk, who died March 18 at age 75, became hooked on racing while building a Soap Box Derby car as a Boy Scout. His first motor sports race was in 1955, when he fielded a 1937 Ford Coupe at Lakeside Speedway in Denver.


VanSteenwyk, a master fabricator, worked on the powerful Kurtis-Kraft midgets and Carroll Shelby's historic Ford GT40 sports car program. He was part of the first team to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a U.S.-built car, and one of the Cobras he built was sold at a special auction in 2009 for more than $1 million.


VanSteenwyk moved to Indianapolis in 1966 and became Indianapolis Motor Speedway's chief welder through 1980. For years, he owned a fabricating shop on Gasoline Alley, and he often came to the rescue of race teams that crashed their cars at IMS.


"There were many times when he'd work all night to get (a suspension piece) ready to go the next day," longtime 500 driver Bob Harkey said. "He could weld anything."



Van worked on the Cobras project in1963. According to a Racing History group post, actor William Shatner was his brother-in-law.


RIP another significant part of Shelby history.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...