The Franklin Institute Logo
Case Files logo

Henry Ford: Revolutionizing the Auto Industry/Industrial Leadership, 1928

The Race

Next, Ford, maintaining some financial backing, turned his attention to establishing his name in the automobile industry by developing racing engines. His lightweight, two-cylinder engines defeated the high-powered, and correspondingly heavier, four-cylinder models; in 1902 he began to win prizes and recognition in races staged in Detroit. As Ford continued his concentration on developing more powerful racing cars, his supporters, preferring the prospects for lightweight all-purpose vehicles, left to reorganize and establish the Cadillac Automobile Company.

Racing bicyclists were Ford's next partners; they had the funds and the nerve to drive machines that developed up to 80 horsepower and 60 miles per hour. Tom Cooper and Barney Oldfield joined the team. Oldfield, soon to become a racing legend, won prizes with the 1902 Ford 999 and Henry Ford himself drove the Ford Arrow to a world land speed record of 91.37 mph in 1904.