Tag Archives: Barney Oldfield
By the time this interesting photo above of the Fiat Cyclone was taken, it had to have been in the racing game for close to seven or eight years. It was one of the cars in Barney Oldfield’s stable that he was using for his match and exhibition racing activities after Lincoln Beachey’s death. The car by then had been raced hard by many star drivers and crashed and repaired many times over.
Evidently Oldfield liked the small, good-handling car and so had it rebuilt yet again with new bodywork and a taller radiator. The car also had received a transplant of a 16-valve Duesenberg walking-beam racing engine. It is seen here without a hood and minus it’s tubular exhaust header, no doubt to provide additional thrills for the fans in the grandstand with flames belching out of the four exhaust ports visible at the top of the cylinder block. You can see some pictures of it and learn much more about this very unique form of engine here.
We would like to know more about the circumstances behind how this engine ended up in the Cyclone if you can add to the story. We are also interested in any period photos or literature that our readers might know of about these eight or sixteen valve walking-beam engines or the whereabouts of any others. The top photo is courtesy of Racemaker Press.
Above and below are some earlier photos of and details about the Fiat Cyclone. The 60 HP overhead valve special seems to have first appeared here in America at the hands of Emanuel Cendrino for the 1908 Ormond Beach Speed Meet, seen behind the wheel above. There are many more earlier photos of the Fiat here on The Old Motor along with details covering his all-too-short racing career.
After Cendrino’s involvement with the car, it was rebuilt. It’s next pilot was well known racing ace Ralph De Palma. who also used it in his match racing activities. The excellent article below tells all about a race meet at the Brighton Beach race track, on July 27, 1910 where he raced 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race winning driver George Robertson in the Simplex Zip. Take a few minutes to read all the interesting details about this event, as it really gives you a taste of what early match racing was all about.
As a follow up on the recent post about pioneer aviator Lincoln Beachey, we have this interesting photo of Oldfield in his Fiat Cyclone and Beachey in his plane racing around a track. Take a close look at the ticket and the printing on it that includes the upside down printing as was also seen in the recent newspaper ad in the Beachey post. Photo courtesy of Wayne Peterson, great great nephew of Barney Oldfield.
- * See the update * below from Robert Rampton covering the October 11, 1914, appearance advertised in a Salt Lake City newspaper above.
This post highlights an important effort to document the life of aerial performer Lincoln Beachey. Ralph Marrero, author of a book about him, has been actively working to try to keep the story of the famous early aviator alive a century later. Part of the pioneer’s flying career involved performing flamboyant demonstrations while circling an oval track in staged races with both Barney Oldfield and Eddie Rickenbacker. These three larger than life characters put on hundreds of performances across the land entertaining the masses before it ended with Beachey’s tragic last flight and crash.
- Lincoln Beachey and two of his airplanes, images - Wikimedia Commons
A visit with Frank Marrero will reveal the complete story behind the flying marvel and at the same time show you many of the interesting details of the routine Beachey performed with the racers. One of his favorite stunts involved gently knocking Barney’s hat off his head with the front wheel of his airplane while they were both speeding down the front straightaway.
You can also learn more here on The Old Motor about two of Oldfield’s mounts, his Christie and the Fiat Cyclone, (driven by others earlier) both which he used in many of his performances with the aviator. The newspaper ad at the top of this post is of the sort used to announce an engagement by the troupe. It and the photo below are both courtesy of Frank Marrero. A Popular Mechanics article explaining Beachey’s crash.
- * Update 2 * Read Ivan Pozgega’s comment below as it appears the motorcyclist Don Johns raced with the pair on occasion.
* Update 1 * from Robert Rampton: “Love this stuff about Beachey and Oldfield. Here is what I can add about the Lagoon ad. The Lagoon is an amusement park that is located north of Salt Lake City. It came into being in 1886 and continues to this day. From the start, it featured a 1/2 mile dirt track for horse races. During the teens and twenties the track was the scene of many auto and motorcycle races and exhibitions. On this particular date on October 11, 1914, a crowd of 2,000 spectators watched as Lincoln Beachey staged a full show of stunts. He was the hero of the day. Poor Barney did not fare so well, though. Heavy rains the day before turned the track into a sea of muck and he was unable to race the birdman with his racers. He did attempt to do an exhibition run in his Christie, but the track was so bad he could barely keep it under control. He backed off the gas in the turns so as not to crash through the fence or into the grandstand. His time for a mile was painfully slow”.
Don’t miss seeing the rare film footage below of a performance held at the Iowa State Fair in August of 1914. In it you will view an actual Lincoln Beachey – Eddie Rickenbacker “race” where Eddie appears to be piloting his Duesenberg racing car. The video is courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.