March 15th, 2008
The following quotes the book, Richenbacker, by Edward Richenbacker– and tells of an adventure of him and Lee Frayer back in the day….
The year was 1906, the place, Columbus, Ohio. Lee Frayer and William Miller had been building cars for two years. But this year was special because they were building three racers to enter in the Vanderbilt Cup races that year. From the start, all of their cars were air cooled. A big rotary blower in front of the engine forced a blast of air thru aluminum jackets around the cylinders. This special car they were working on had a 50 H.P. engine, a lot of power and very fast for its day. It was called the Frayer Miller car.
A young boy had been hanging around the garage watching everything that was going on. Lee Frayer asked him what he wanted and he said he wanted a job and to help them build automobiles. Mr. Frayer said “Sorry Kid, but we are real busy here; there isn’t anything you can do. The boy looked around and saw the shop was in a mess. The next morning at 7 a.m. sharp the boy was there and cleaned up the shop. When Mr., Frayer came in, he was amazed to see everything so tidy. He looked at the boy and asked “What’s you name Son?” The boy answered “Edward V. Rickenbacker Sir.” Mr. Frayer said “Well, Eddie you got a job.” At first Eddie worked in the carburetor department with an old German tool maker named Schwartz, a genius at this trade. Then he” was promoted to the engine bearing department, then the engine assembly department, all the while studying and auto and mechanical engineering course from the International Correspondence Schools. Mr. Frayer then promoted Eddie to the engineering department. Mr. Frayer took three of the cars to Long Island, New York to test them for the race and he took young Eddie with him. In fact he gave Eddie a pair of goggles and said, “You are going to be my riding mechanic.” Norm has found this account in Eddie Rickenbacker’s own words.
“Here’s what happened on our first practice run everything was going smoothly. Frayer was feeling his way around the course while I was sitting in the bucket seat. As we careened around the curves with the wind hitting my face I was exulting in the joy of motion. Suddenly we were coming to a curve and I knew we were going too fast. We were not slowing down at all. I looked over at Mr. Frayer. His right foot was holding the brake pedal flat on the floor. We had no brakes. “Hold ON!” Mr. Frayer shouted. He didn’t have to tell me. The road curved but we dept going right on straight. We went down into a ditch and up out of it. A sand dune loomed ahead of us. Frayer fried to steer around it but we were going to fast. The wheels dug into the sand and we turned over, I flew out, soared thru the air, and skidded to a stop in the sand. Mr.’ Frayer was also thrown out but was only scratched and bruised. The car still ran and we limped back to the shop.”
The nest day they took the car out again. This time on the Jericho Turnpike. This time the brakes held. Again I quote Eddie Rickenbacker’s own words, “We spun around a sharp curve at 50 m.p.h. Frayer jammed the accelerator down to the floor for a straight stretch ahead and we must have exceeded 65 or 70 m.p.h. The sensation of speed brought intense exhilaration to me.
Suddenly in front of us a guinea fowl with an unfortunate sense of timing led his flock of hens across the road. We plowed right thru them. Guineas and bit of guineas and guinea feather flew in the air. One bird was sucked up into the blower in front. Our air cooled Frayer Miller picked him up, killed him, feathered him, broiled him, and carved him up, all in a split second. What a mess? What a stench? The shop said they smelled us coming. The combination of guinea grease, meat, and feathers covered the entire engine. Every square inch of surface had to be scraped and cleaned.
Here you can check out my flickr photos of what i have regarding Frayer-Miller, Rickenbacker, First Indy race, etc…
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