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Barney Oldfield – His Life and Times

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  • *Updated* L to R : Fellow record-breaker aviator Wiley Post, unknown, Mr. Oldfield, unknown, with what appears to be a 1934 Chrysler CB Custom Six Convertible Sedan. The photo was taken at the Century of Progress.

We’re quite sure that we don’t have to introduce our readers to Berna Eli “Barney” Oldfield. We can think of no other other driver who became so well known in his time that his name became part of the culture. If he had received a royalty every time a speed cop used the phrase, “Who do you think you are, Barney Oldfield?”,  he would have become a very wealthy man, indeed.

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  • L to R: Barney makes a point with two unknown gentlemen –  Two happy fellows, unknown on the right – Oldfield again in the center with two unidentified gentlemen.

The occasion of this post is to show the first in a series of photos that Wayne Peterson, Oldfield’s great-great nephew, has very generously chosen to share with us.  He hopes to do a documentary on the fabled racer and promoter and has asked us to identify, with your help, the people and settings in these images. Any information you might have will be gratefully accepted and acknowledged. All photos from the Barney Oldfield Collection used courtesy of Wayne Peterson. You can also find many more posts about Barney Oldfield here on The Old Motor. 

L to R: *Updated* by J.R. Gilmore: From left to right, Andy Henderson, Driver; Spencer T. Honig, Head of Nash California Company, Southern California Nash Distributor; Barney Oldfield; and Chris Sinsbaugh, Editor, Automotive Daily News and AAA Contest Board Honorary Referee. The photo was taken at the 1939 Gilmore-Yosemite Run.

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9 responses to “Barney Oldfield – His Life and Times

  1. Seeing this reference to Barney Oldfield prompts me to say that there is a group of racing preservationists here in Ormond Beach, Fl–The Birthplace of Speed. At the corner of A1A and Granade Blvd in Ormond Beach is The Birthplace of Speed Park with granite monuments testifying to the early speed events that took place here. Also there is a small replica of the original Ormond Garage which stood next to the Ormond Garage in 1904 and for years stored the racers and allowed a place for the mechanics to work. This replica Ormond Garage houses lifesize replicas of The Winton Bullit and The Olds Pirate. The Motor Racing Heritage Association has for sale as a fund raising means, original paving bricks from the Ormond Garage which burned to the ground in 1976. More information can be had by contacting the Ormond Beach Historical Society in Ormond Beach, Fl.

  2. Regarding the last photo… the man next to Oldfield is not Earl Gilmore (it does look like him though), it is actually Chris Sinsbaugh, Editor, Automotive Daily News and AAA Contest Board Honorary Referee.

    From left to right … Andy Henderson, Driver; Spencer T. Honig, Head of Nash California Company, Southern California Nash Distributor; Barney Oldfield; and Chris Sinsbaugh.

  3. When I was a lot younger I worked for my uncle’s optical company making lenses for glasses. One of the machines I occasionally ran was an Oldfield lap cutter and one of the “old timers” there insisted it had been invented by Barney Oldfield (he was old enough himself to have been a fan when Barney was still racing). I thought that was crazy but just now a quick google search discloses that Barney did, in fact invent the machine albeit to make pistons. It didn’t work for that but was picked up by the optical industry to make the cast iron laps that what are called “cylinder” are ground on.

  4. I would like to thank everyone that has given names to the faces and places in these photographs.
    Best regards,
    Wayne Carroll Petersen
    Barney Oldfield Great Great nephew

  5. I was surprised to see the photo of the car (in this section) identified as possibly “a 1934 Chrysler CB Custom Six Convertible Sedan”. My late father’s first car, bought in Switzerland in the fall of 1948, was a CB6 of this vintage; only 450 units were built. I have many B&W “family photos” of it, from that time.

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