Posts Tagged ‘Barney Oldfield’

Bike racers helped create Ford Motor Company

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

We’ve documented how the bicycling industry helped birth the automotive and road building industries. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that bicycle racing helped birth auto racing — and the Ford Motor Company.

In 1902, Henry Ford worked with two famous professional bicycle racers, Tom Cooper and Barney Oldfield. This partnership was instrumental in the creation of the Ford Motor Company.

The below story by Anthony J. Yanik was originally published in Winter 2009/2010 issue of WHEELS, a journal of the National Automotive History Collection, located at the Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library.

Barney Oldfield Meets Mr. Ford

YEARS AFTER HE HAD BECOME a famous racing star, Barney Oldfield would kid everyone about the day he “made” Henry Ford. “Henry Ford said “we made each other, I guess I did the better job of it,” he commented in 1915.

That he helped add to the reputation of Henry is indisputable, but the truth of the matter was that Henry Ford launched Barney Oldfield on a career that made his name a household word on the racing barnstorming circuit prior to World War I.

In April 1902, having been let go by from his second auto company, Henry Ford had become enamored of the racing scene. He asked Tom Cooper, then the most famous professional bicycle racer of the day, to join him in a new project: the build a race car and enter it in the Manufacturers Challenge Cup that would take place at Grosse Pointe, Michigan on October 25.