January 12, 1904 – Ford sets new land speed record

Before the Ford Motor Company was even founded Henry Ford collaborated with a bicycle racer named Tom Cooper to build two racing cars in 1902. The vehicles were relatively interchangeable, both featuring a 1156 cu.in. (18.9 L) inline-4 engine that produced between 70 and 100 hp. Two weeks before their first scheduled race the cars would not start, so Ford sold his stake in them for $800 to Cooper and early auto racer Barney Oldfield, who learned to drive in the cars. To keep his name attached to them Henry retained rights to publicity and promotions surrounding the vehicles. Painted red and yellow and named 999 and Arrow, respectively, the bare bones cars would prove ferocious on the track. Oldfield won the first race he ever entered driving th 999, a five mile race called the Manufacturer’s Challenge Cup. Arrow, while also successful, was crashed in September 1903, killing driver Frank Day during a race. Henry Ford bought the vehicle back, repaired it and dubbed it the new 999, as the original red car had been retired. It was on this day in 1904 Henry took the car to New Baltimore, Michigan and drove the vehicle himself with mechanic Ed Huff at the throttle to a new automobile land speed record of 91.37 mph (140.05 km/h) on an ice track over Lake St. Clair. Henry Ford, standing, and Barney Oldfield in 1902, with the “999” racing automobile.The 999 at The Henry Ford Museum, by Joe Ross, cc2.0 https://flic.kr/p/QVMcf9 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode