The Zerex Speical was pedaled by Roger “The Captain” Penske as he battled in the USAC Road Racing Championship, but was the car was actually based on a Cooper T53 and originally built to take part in the United States Grand Prix in 1961.
Sadly, or fortuitously, the Cooper crashed out of that race after just 14 laps, but Penske immediately bought the car. He would campaign it in Formula Libre before having it rebuilt into what we see now as the Zerex Special, with a re-engineered chassis and fender-shod body now covering a Coventry Climax straight-four engine.
Penske would campaign the car in USAC races until 1964 when it was bought by the man who had rebuilt the car, none-other than Bruce McLaren. McLaren replaced the Cooper four-cylinder with an Oldsmobile motor to campaign it in the British and Canadian Sports Car Championships, to some success. Eventually he sold the car, but he went on to use it as the basis of the first McLaren sportscars, helping to begin a legacy that would dominate Can-Am.