The collection documents Granatelli's lifelong involvement with automobiles, from his youth through his career as an auto industry executive, and as a racing car owner, designer and promoter. The collection consists primarily of files, photographs, scrapbooks, and drawings. Some of the earliest files relate to Grancor, a company founded by Granatelli and his two brothers in 1945, which customized cars for clients. Other things contained in the files include meeting minutes, articles of association, business and financial records, legal records and profit and loss statements. Also included are papers relating to an organization he started called the Hurricane Hot Rod Association.
A large portion of the files relate to Granatelli's term as President of STP, a division of the Studebaker Corporation, from 1961-1974. These files detail the internal workings of the company during this period, and include papers relating to such things as strategic planning, sales, marketing, advertising and competitors' products. Additionally, this portion contains STP's Board of Directors' minutes, documents on policies and procedures, papers documenting advertising campaigns, comparative sales figures, sales manuals, and Granatelli's business correspondence. The largest part of the files relate to the Indianapolis 500 race. There are detailed files on the drivers and race teams he assembled for the annual race, but these files also include design drawings, specifications, test data, lap logs, performance statistics, and reports documenting the implementation of design changes. The scrapbooks in the collection contain clippings, biographical materials, and other documents relating to auto racing in America and especially the Indianapolis 500. Finally, the collection contains a large number of photographs covering all aspects of Granatelli's career.
Collection is arranged into nine series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1946-2006
Series 2: Granatelli Corporation, 1943-1975
Series 3: Studebaker Corporation, 1935-1991
Series 4: United States Auto Club (USAC)
Series 5: Novi Engine, 1949-1971
Series 6: Product Literature, 1949-1972
Series 7: Racing Programs, Publications, and Ephermera, 1940s-2007
Series 8: Photographs, 1932-2008
Series 9: Audiovisual Materials, 1960-2001
Biographical / Historical:
Andy Granatelli (1923-2013) was an automobile racing promoter, a race car engine designer and an automotive innovator. Two of his cars, a 1967 turbine engine race car and the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, are in National Museum of American History's Division of Work & Industry collection. More than any other racing figure, Granatelli bridged the realms of garage tinkerers and professional motorsports, and he stimulated public interest in auto racing on a national level. His STP Corporation became a high-profile sponsor of Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR race cars, with Granatelli appearing in ads and commercials. His larger-than-life personality and flair for the dramatic made him an American cultural phenomenon. His career is well summed up in the profile written for his 2003 induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Racer, entrepreneur, engineer, promoter, business executive. This is how one begins to describe the career of Andy Granatelli. But the title Mister 500 is the one that befits him most, for it describes a lifelong dream to conquer the famous 500-mile race in Indianapolis.
It was a preposterous dream for the scrappy kid growing up in the slums of Chicago, whose mother had died when he was twelve, and two years later, at the age of fourteen, dropped out of school to help his father feed the family. Andy Granatelli began his quest for Indy 500 fame at the age of 20 in 1943, when he and his brother pooled their meager, hard-earned money and purchased a Texaco gas station on the north side of Chicago, which he called Andy's Super Service. Andy, always the promoter, needed a gimmick to set himself apart from other service stations. His gimmick? Granatelli initiated the first pit stop service station, utilizing four or five mechanics to work on a car at one time.
Customers appreciated the true super service experience and would often wait in line for this unique treatment. With this unique service and Andy's P.T. Barnum style it was no wonder that the station was prosperous, and just two years later, in 1945, he formed the Granatelli Corporation, known as Grancor Automotive Specialists. As the head of Grancor, Andy Granatelli pioneered the concept of mass merchandising performance products and power and speed equipment to a generation of Americans who were discovering the joys of hot rodding.
Andy quickly learned that if you give the customer what he needs, you can make a living; give him what he wants, and you can make a fortune! Granatelli's racing career began in 1946, when he built the first rocket-powered car to race on an oval track. That same year, he took his first car to the Indianapolis 500--a pre-war Harry Miller--designed Ford.
When Andy Granatelli wasn't burning up tracks, he was tearing up the business world. In 1958, Andy and his brother Joe purchased Paxton Products, a failing engineering firm that made superchargers. With Andy at the helm, Paxton Products became profitable in seven months. In 1961, Andy sold Paxton Products to Studebaker Corporation and stayed on as Paxton's CEO. Two years later, Studebaker management wanted Granatelli to work his magic on an under-performing division called Chemical Compounds Corporation. Chemical Compounds had only one, little known product . . . STP Oil Treatment. With virtually no advertising budget, Andy created a four-pronged approach to turn the company around: a recognizable corporate logo (the STP oval), a product (oil treatment), a product spokesman (himself) and a reason for existence (racing). The STP logo became one of the best recognized in history. STP could be found in virtually every venue of speed: on land, on the water or in the air. Andy Granatelli once said that in the 1960s, virtually every kid in America had an STP sticker on his bedroom door, his notebook or his lunchbox, and he was probably right!
Back at Indianapolis, Granatelli entered a revolutionary race car of his own design - one with a turbine engine in 1967 and 1968. Even though the car failed to finish both years due to mechanical failure, the cars demonstrated superior speed and performance. At the end of the 1968 season, the U.S. Auto Club revised engine specifications, effectively outlawing Granatelli's turbine car. Undeterred, Granatelli returned to Indy the following year with a conventional car and proceeded to win his first Indianapolis 500 with Mario Andretti at the wheel. Four years later, in 1973, Andy won his second and last Indy 500 with a car driven by Gordon Johncock. Andy Granatelli's childhood dream of conquering Indy was fulfilled, not once, but twice.
Andy Granatelli Biography, Automotive Hall of Fame (last accessed January 29, 2020 https://www.automotivehalloffame.org/honoree/andy-granatelli/)
Materials in the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business American, Series: Automobile Industry (NMAH.AC.0060)
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 1: Transportation (NMAH.AC.0300)
Evan Rangeloff Collection of Punchboards and Liggett & Myers Tobacco Sales Materials (NMAH.AC.0716)
Materials at the National Museum of American History, Division of Work and Industry
The Divison holds artifacts related to STP and the STP-Paxton Turbo Car. Included are key chains, trophies, STP stickers, TuneUp Masters stickers, belt buckle, and patch. See accession 2017.3043.
STP-Paxton Turbocar, 1967. See accession 1978.0418.
Materials at the National Museum of American History, Division of Cultural and Community Life
Division holds artifacts related to Andy Grantelli's racing career such as helmets, goggles, trophies, and coveralls and vests with the STP logo. See accession 2017.0092.
Collection donated by Vincent J. Granatelli, 2017.
Collection is open for research. Viewing film and audio portion of collection requires special appointment. See repository for details.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The Benjamin Layton collection documents the life, family history, and interests of Benjamin T. Layton. Items date from circa 1865 to 1977. The collection measures 3.45 linear feet and is composed of newsletters, clippings, pamphlets, newspapers, correspondence, certificates, photographs, memorabilia, books, stamps, etchings, and programs.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the life, family history, and collecting interests of World War II veteran and federal employee Benjamin T. Layton. Layton grew up in Virginia and settled in Kensington, Maryland. Notable aspects of the collection include nineteenth-century photographs of African Americans, photographs of Layton's family, 1970s political photographs, and first editions of Richard Wright's Black Boy and Booker T. Washington's Up from Slavery and Working with the Hands. Family photographs and memorabilia reflects the family's roots in Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area. Layton's historical photograph collection draws from photographers in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
Items date from circa 1865 to 1977. The collection measures 3.45 linear feet and is composed of newsletters, clippings, pamphlets, newspapers, correspondence, certificates, photographs, memorabilia, books, stamps, etchings, and programs. It has been arranged in three series: Series I: Biographical Files, 1913-1977, Series II: Photographs, circa 1865-1977, and Series III: Printed Material, 1901-circa 1976. Some items in Series II and Series III are oversized.
Biographical / Historical:
Benjamin Thomas Layton was born on December 24, 1917, in Hanover, Virginia, to a prominent Virginia family. His maternal great-grandfather, Ballard Trent Edwards, was a freeborn African American man who opened a school for formerly enslaved people and served for eight years in the Virginia House of Delegates. His father, William Brown Layton, was the superintendent of the Negro Reformatory of Virginia (later the Virginia Manual Labor School), a reform school for African American boys located in Hanover County.
Layton was an athlete and scholar, playing varsity tennis and attending Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. He did graduate work in social sciences at the University of Chicago and Howard University, but his studies were interrupted by the draft in 1941.
Layton served with distinction in the U.S. Army during World War II, leading truck convoys carrying soldiers, supplies, weapons, and prisoners of war during the Battle of the Bulge. He also worked in military intelligence. His last active duty assignment was commanding a military detachment in Baumholder, Germany. His decorations included the Bronze Star, which he was awarded in 1977. He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring from the Army in 1963.
From 1963 to 1966 he worked in Europe, then returned to the United States in 1966, where he was an ROTC instructor at Chamberlain Vocational High School in Washington, D.C. He left in 1967 to become an equal-opportunity specialist at the United States Department of Agriculture, from which he retired in 1985. His brother William W. Layton also lived and worked in the Washington, D.C., area.
Layton had a passion for collecting and donated coins, paper money, and military artifacts to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He also donated objects relating to clubs and fraternities to the Anacostia Community Museum. He was a member of numerous organizations, including the Retired Officers Association, the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, the American Legion, the Prince Hall Masons, the Kiwanis Club of Wheaton, and the Federation Nationale des Anciens Combattants, a French veterans group.
Layton was married twice, his first marriage to Irma Goode ending in divorce. He lived in Kensington, Maryland, with his second wife Marguerite, with whom he had two daughters. He died on February 15, 2001, at age 83 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Anacostia Community Museum houses more items in the Benjamin Layton Collection, including buttons, fraternity paddles, lapel pins, and medals.
Order to Report for Induction, 1941. 1993.3172.04. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, National Museum of American History.
Notice to Appear for Physical Exam, 1940. 1993.3172.03. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, National Museum of American History.
Layton Family Collection, 228 THL, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA, USA.
The Benjamin Layton collection was donated to the Anacostia Community Museum in two accretions in 1976 and 1978 by Benjamin Layton.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
The Benjamin Layton collection is the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
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