Oldfield and Ford race into history - TwoWheelForum: Motorcycle and Sportbike forums
 
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
 
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Oldfield and Ford race into history

Racing was in Barney Oldfield's blood long before he ever had the opportunity to race an automobile. Born in Wauseon, Ohio, Oldfield's first love was bicycling, and in 1894, he began to compete professionally. In his first year of racing, the fearless competitor won numerous bicycling events and, in 1896, was offered a coveted position on the Stearns bicycle factory's amateur team. Meanwhile in Dearborn, Michigan, the entrepreneurial inventor Henry Ford had completed his first working automobile and was searching for a way to establish his name in the burgeoning automobile industry. In the early days, it was not the practical uses of the automobile that attracted the most widespread attention, but rather the thrill of motor racing. Recognizing the public's enthusiasm for the new sport, Ford built a racer with Oliver Barthel in 1901. Ford himself even served as driver in their automobile's first race, held at the Grosse Point Race Track in Michigan later in the year. Although he won the race and the kind of public acclaim he had hoped for, Ford found the experience so terrifying that he retired as a competitive driver, reportedly explaining that "once is enough." In 1902, he joined forces with Tom Cooper, the foremost cyclist of his time, and built a much more aggressive racer, the 999, that was capable of up to 80hp. On October 25, 1902, the 23-year-old Barney Oldfield made his racing debut in the 999's first race at the Manufacturer's Challenge Cup in Grosse Point. The race was the beginning of a legendary racing career for Oldfield, who soundly beat his competition, including the famed driver Alexander Winton. The cigar-chomping Oldfield went on to become the first truly great American race-car driver, winning countless victories and breaking numerous speed and endurance records. But Oldfield's victory in the 999 was also Ford's first major automotive victory, and together they went on to become the most recognized figures in early American motoring--Ford as the builder and Oldfield as the driver
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 07:43 PM
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thanks for recognizing oldfield! glad to know wauseon is still on the map! i wish my hometown would recognize it too though.
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