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Oldfield Tires – “The Most Trustworthy Tires Built”


The names of Ralph DePalma, Tommy Milton, Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmie Murphy, and Dario Resta are all writ large in the earliest days of motor racing, but none had quite the same flair for self promotion as Barney Oldfield. Whether in organized competition or barnstorming across the country in special events that he and promoters arranged, Barney gained a level of name recognition that few drivers have equaled since. So it made perfect sense that he would lend his name to a product that drivers of the day would easily identify with his well known achievements when he finally retired from racing.

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  • “Auto Trade Journal” June, 1919 – “Motor Age”, March 1919 – Auto Trade Journal, 1921 tells of racing wins

In 1919, he joined forces with Firestone and formed the Oldfield Tire Company after having used the company’s tires for years. More than just a simple celebrity endorsement of a product, he implied that the customer who bought an Oldfield tire would benefit directly from his many years of experience on both the road and track. In an interview published in the March, 1919 issue of the Automobile Journal, he’s quoted as saying, “The Oldfield tire is my idea of what a tire ought to be. It has built into it all that I’ve learned in more than half a million miles of racing and touring.” The same article states that the company was producing 2500 tires a day at the time.

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  •             “Automotive Trade Journal”,  May, 1919

The supreme confidence he expressed to potential retailers in the promotional material you can read in this post evidently wasn’t all talk. When Gaston Chevrolet won the 1920 running of the Indianapolis 500 on Oldfield tires without a single tire change, he didn’t hesitate to exploit that remarkable performance to it’s fullest as you can see in our lower photo. And while Oldfield drove a wide variety of cars during his long and illustrious career, we’re not exactly sure what he’s piloting in our top photo and invite you to give us your best guess about it’s identity. Our top photo is courtesy of Wayne Petersen great-great nephew of Barney Oldfield.


14 responses to “Oldfield Tires – “The Most Trustworthy Tires Built”

  1. David,
    Thanks for the Post as Barney would be proud to know that he is being recognized in this generation for his accomplishments.
    Best Regards, Wayne Carroll Petersen
    Barney Oldfield Great Great Nephew

    • Wayne, I have been researching a story told by my grandfather (Granville Ashton); he said that he helped build a prototype auto for Barney Oldfield (probably late teens or early twenties). My grandfather had been a blacksmith and farrier and later became an auto mechanic. He said the prototype was an “underslung” sedan with an OHV motor. Pop built the axle housings, rocker arms and other parts…forging them manually on the anvil. He said that the business deal apparently fell through and the completed auto rusted away in the Kensington section of Philadelphia where it was built. Could you have any information on this?

    • I’m looking to start a Barney Oldfield collection and/or trace my lineage to him. I’ve started with prints but I want to eventually acquire an oldfield tire and a car that can be confirmed he raced. Any help is appreciated.

      • I have a oldfield/ firestone tire on a metal rim with wood spokes . Size is 32 x 4 old field . Right below the name it has a F in red which is probaly firestone emblem. David G.

  2. I believe the car featured in the add above may well be the 1905? Benz that Barney raced. I was able to see it recently in a private collection in LA. I was told it was the first racecar ever to carry commercial sponsorship signage (firestone) Barney it seems was very much the master of product and self promotion!

  3. First of all of course my best wishes for 2014 to all readers of this car history magazine, one of my favorite sites on the net.
    Next, back to business: the car on the top photo could well be a 1918 Haynes, although the style of the top doesn’t seem to be standard.

  4. Posted for Dick Farnsworth:
    I think that the car in the picture in front of the Oldfield Tire store is a Stephens. I live in the town where the Stephens was manufactured and my Grandfather worked in the factory.

    • I fully agree , no doubt about that! It also explains the unconventional top, which appears to be standard on the Stephens around 1920.

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