Motoramic

June 3: Barney Oldfield, the first great racer, was born on this date in 1878

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

Few high-school dropouts go on to become royalty, but Berna Eli "Barney" Oldfield used his talents to become the first Speed King. From his first race for then-struggling car builder Henry Ford — which he won after learning how to drive Ford's car the morning before — Oldfield became the country's most famous racing daredevil, running in dozens of barnstorming races across the country. From the Indianapolis 500 to state fair exhibitions against airplanes, Oldfield always wanted to go faster, and survived long enough to retire and enjoy cigars in peace. Here's a silent film of Oldfield racing his Golden Submarine, a car he designed to protect racers in crashes:

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