I spoke to Robert today about the beloved 1948 Fiat 500 Topolino family race car. Robert’s cousin Harry had been racing for 10 years, and in 1968 decided to build his own race car in his garage, and the Fiat was born. Harry drag raced the car from 1968-1974, then the car was sold and sold again, and then disappeared. Robert would find out the Fiat was raced, then sat in a barn in Idaho for 20 years until 1998. Then the current owner decided to stop racing and sell all his cars including the Fiat. Robert became aware of a classified ad in a racing magazine listed as “Ex-Burkholder Brothers” race car, and it was in fact their 1948 Fiat. But Robert called too late, it had already been sold to a new owner in Seattle. Through the racing community the new owner found out about Robert and Harry, and called Robert. They started a restoration, and went to some races together. Robert and his cousin Harry were able to purchase the car back in in 2008, and they have completed a full restoration. The Fiat has a distinguished racing pedigree, spanning several decades.
The car is powered by a Chrysler 392cid FirePower Hemi that is supercharged and has 1400 horsepower. Robert and Harry plan to show the car several times a year, and are building a new Fiat similar to this one to carry on the family racing tradition.
Robert’s favorite memory of the car is from May of 1971 at the Orange County Raceway. Harry set the quickest and fastest AA Fuel Altered record in the USA in the Fiat – 7.06 second ¼ mile at 205.94mph.
Harry took Robert to his first race when he was 8, the Bakersfield March Meet. Harry won that race in March 1970. That race is still running today, and they are planning to race the new car they are building at the upcoming Bakersfield 50th Anniversary March Meet, and bring the 48 Fiat to celebrate the race’s history.