Did Henry Ford say "we're making race cars, not trucks?"

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Did Henry Ford say "we're making race cars, not trucks?"
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Friday, September 18, 2015 - 07:15 pm:

I've read this quote attributed to Henry Ford prior to the 1913 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 500. However, when looking for period articles about it, found nothing. I did learn Henry Ford was on the 1913 Indy 500 Board of Judges, but nothing in 1912 or 1913 about Ford not participating due to an additional 1,000 lbs. requirement.

A few Ford racing history books attribute the quote to HF, but I'm not finding evidence in period literature. Author Beverley Rae Kimes writes on page 47 of "The Cars that Henry Ford Built" the following pertaining to the 1913 Indy 500:
"Officials had decreed the car could compete only with the addition of 1,000 pounds in order to meet the minimum weight limit. "We're building race cars, not trucks", Henry told them - and promptly forgot about the whole thing."

Tom Collins wrote in "The Legendary Model T Ford" on page 212:

"By 1913, the young and successful Ford Motor Co. was ready to compete in the All American event, the Indianapolis 500. But race officials gave the Ford team an ultimatum that was unpalatable. They wanted 1,000 pounds added to teh Model T before it could compete. As always when he was rebuffed, Henry Ford stiffened his back, brushing off the Indianapolis crow with a memorable remark.
"We're building race cars, not trucks," Ford hissed."

However, I find no period evidence to back this quote up. Is it another example of a HF quote that never happened?

Thank you for any leads,
Rob


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Friday, September 18, 2015 - 08:03 pm:

From Ford the dust and the Glory![They told him he would have to add 1,000 pounds to the car to make the minimum weight limit],"And old Hank told 'em' we're building race cars,not trucks,'and that was the end of that". I tried to copy correct but you know Bud. Frank Kulick said that so it say's and was still; alive in later years to re tell it!! Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 12:43 am:

Rob

Ford didn't enter the first or second Indianapolis 500 races.

The third, 1913 had new regulations on the engine displacement.




The Automobile 1912

So don't know what racer plans he had, and how big was the six anyway in displacement? If that is what Ford might have considered?



The last 500's used bigger displacement motors, so the racing committee decided to reduce these.

And like you said, Ford was a judge for the 1913, so entering a racer might not have been in his interest. Besides many other mfg. were dropping out of racing by 1913. National who won the 1912, and Lozier and others.



Other than contemporary stories of what Henry said, still can't find primary research of that statement.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 12:48 am:

Forgot to add, that for the 1913 500 race, three of the entries were 6 cylinders, the rest were fours.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 01:09 am:

Fun Fact

The article listed the admission ticket for the 1913 Indianapolis 500 as $2. Today that would be $48.

And parking for $7, which today would be $168.

Bet each touring car was packed with 5-7 race viewers!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 03:00 am:

Thanks Dan,
The authors above were reporting that HF said the now famous quote while attempting to enter the Ford Special, a four cylinder racer of 410 cubic inches, Bosch magneto, that had been beating larger bodied/chassis racers between 1910-1912. This racer is also at THF, although not on display. It was sometimes referred to as 999-II by the press. In 1911 Ford had the fifth most wins of all mfgs. due primarily to this racer. I'll post a few pics or articles later.

Thanks again,
Rob
Rob


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 03:03 am:

Also, I read the Ford Special weighed 1300 lbs., so it would not have needed 1,000 extra lbs. of weight, but 300. And, if the driver weight was included, maybe only about 150. Lbs.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 08:11 am:

Rob

Thanks. That makes sense. Here is one picture of the "999-II" , with Kulick at the wheel making faster time than its big brother monster, the old "999".


The Automobile 1912

Maybe Henry just didn't want to race it in the 500, or else maybe the minimum speeds required in that oval racing on brick, 75mph , was a bit more than the little 999-II could muster in official race form.

That little 999-II was fast, 33 2/5 seconds in the straight mile, probably from flying start of course, math's out to be about 109 mph!!

But running around a track, making those curves, and since the rules required were with 2 on board, driver and mechanic, the little 999-II would have to have another seat anyway, and would likely have weighted in heavier than when Kulick alone was racing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 03:07 pm:

999-II may not have been small, except that it fit the typical Henry Ford racer mold of minimum weight and no frills. While the racer was built upon a Model T style chassis, it was reinforced with truss rods (another Ford standard), and had no frills. It could be fitted with one or two seats, and did race on all racing venues. It looks as though the racer still used different style tires seen on earlier Fords, instead of clinchers?



The motor was a four cylinder, 410 cubic inch monster, and the racer routinely beat some of the greatest racers and drivers of the time. The 1911 results below show cubic inches, bore stroke, and drivers. The Ford Special stole the over several great cars and drivers:



For 1911, Ford ranked 5th in racing victories, and Frank Kulick 8th among all drivers:





And, like the six cylinder racer, this car still exists, at THF, although not on display:



It's looking to me as though the "race cars, not trucks" may be a fabrication. I believe if Henry Ford and Frank Kulick desired to run this racer in one of the first Indy 500's, they would have found a way. Additionally, the larger fuel tank required for the long distance races may have provided the additional weight needed (if cars were weighed "full").

Thank you Dan for the great information concerning the entry requirements.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 05:58 pm:

So much interesting stuff! Thank you Rob, Dan, and all!
W2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 03:58 pm:

And if you get to the Gilmore Museum in southern Mich, just outside Kalamazoo, there is a 'replica' of 999-II, well done too,




A/C brakes and receiver hitch are giveaways its not the original :-)



And Rob, you mentioned the 'wheels' on the real 999-II, as they have those extra looking "stem" inside the felloe, those are locking lugs to keep the clincher tires on fast car during racing.

They have lugs or bolts inside that bridge the tire casing, and prevent the loss of the tire from the rim. The 1909 Model T racers sent on the Ocean to Ocean race had those on the spoke wheels too. They were used on early spoke wheels as extra help to keep from loosing a tire, esp. on racing.






Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 08:48 pm:

Dan,

Aha..... Thanks for the wheel info. The six cylinder racer had them too, in 1907:




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Eric Hylen- Central Minnesota on Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 10:32 pm:

The truck vs. racing car thing may have been a common colloquialism of the era. Ettore Bugatti was noted to make fun of Bentley for building the worlds fastest trucks.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Friday, September 25, 2015 - 07:21 am:

Eric,
I'm beginning to think it may be something like that. With no period commentary about the statement, as well as the fact the Ford "special" T based racer was only around 300 lbs. below the minimum weight requirement makes me think this didn't happen, at least not with the 1910-1913 T racer.

The statement would "fit" better were it attributed to the failure of the 1500 lbs. 1907-1909 six cylinder racer not making the race, as that racer was indeed below the minimum weight by about 1,000 lbs. however, that racer also had a motor that was over 400 cu. in. too large.

Dan, it appears this article (highlight) of the 1907 Ford racer describes the same bolts to help hold the tires on as the later Ford Special racer. I don't know of most racers of the period used these? This article covers the first Kulick accident. A few weeks later Kulick would again be challenging the world record, and again Henry Ford would swear off track racing. He would enter a track race with a Model K again, but only once, in 1908, at Kalamazoo, and Kulick would win that race. It would be the last Ford sponsored race with a Model K, and resulted in one last win for the model:




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