Bill Burke

Bill Burke Profile Image


Famous for introducing the bellytank to lakes racing, Bill Burke has always pushed the boundaries of ingenuity, design and engine building. Standing next to a P-38 bomber in the South Pacific while on active duty Burke realized a flathead would fit neatly into the reserve fuel tank. After the war Burke put a model-T frame in a belly tank along with a 1934 Ford V8 and made some respectable runs. The tank was small and his head was poking out: not the safest set up. Soon Burke was building enclosed bellytanks with his partner Don Franciso. During the 40’s and early 50’s Burke built over 13 bellytanks and raced with great success at the lakes and Bonneville (he has never missed a Bonneville meet!) Burke was also instrumental in helping Hot Rod Magazine get off the ground. He was also president of the SCTA in 1950. Always looking for an edge, Burke would go on to build such lakesters as the “Pumpkin Seed”, fiberglass streamliners with Mickey Thompson and the 1966 aluminum-skinned streamliner with a supercharged Chrysler mill.