Known as the 'Bowes Seal Fast Special', the car is actually a Stevens/Miller, the former referring to the body (built by Myron Stevens), and the latter to the chassis and 8-cylinder engine, one of many assembled by the famous Harry A. Miller. The Indy winner from 1931 was tipped as the premier lot prior to the auction held August 18-20,and didn't disappoint, easily being the top seller.
The Seal Fast car was from the collection of David V. Uihlein Snr., who had also recently offered Miller engines and other related parts at a previous Mecum auction. The car had traceable lineage back to its racing debut, and had featured in numerous events since restoration to its #23 race-winning Seal Fast livery. Seal Fast was a range of tyre puncture repair products produced by the Bowes Corporation in the US. Their involvement in car racing started in 1930 and to date, they've sponsored no fewer than 36 starters in the iconic Indianapolis 500.
Back in 1931, this car was driven to victory by Louis Schneider, with the impressively-named "Jigger Johnson" as his riding mechanic. In 1930, Schneiderfinished third in the same car, when it was running a 122ci Miller engine. For 1931, the straight-8 engine was bored out to 151ci. Despite starting from third on the grid, Schneider only lead for the latter part of the race, after the previous year's winner and favourite for the 1931 race, Billy Arnold, threw a tyre while leading. Arnold, partnered by "Spider Matlock" (cool names must have been the in thing for mechanics back then!), was also running a Miller-powered machine that year.
Despite this year's Monterey auction only being Mecum's third in the region (and held as part of the Pebble Beach Retro Auto festival), they still attracted over 700 vehicles, and had a 65 percent sell rate for a total sales result of close to US$25 million.