Henry Ford Sets Speed Record – 1/12/1904

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Henry Ford secures a record for land-speed of 91.37 miles per hour on the frozen surface of Michigan’s Lake St. Clair on January 12th, 1904. The vehicle he drove had four wheels, which was named the “999,” containing a wooden chassis but no hood or body. Within a month at Ormond Beach, Florida, Ford’s record was broken by driver William K. Vanderbilt; regardless, Ford’s achievement gained the publicity he could use and proved valuable to the auto pioneer. The Ford Motor Company had been incorporated in June of the prior year which would enable it to eventually become just one of America’s Three Big automakers.

Henry Ford was born on July 30th, 1863 on a farm in what today is known as Dearborn, Michigan. Ford was an engineer in Detroit in 1896 where he constructed a four-wheel, self-propelled vehicle that contained a gasoline engine that he named a Quadricycle. The Detroit Automobile Company would be established three years later; unfortunately, the business failed by early 1901. Later that year, Ford got involved in racing cars as a way to promote himself while attempting to gather investors for auto making ventures in the future; the Henry Ford Company would be created later that year. Ford departed from the business a year later after clashing with Henry Leland who had been tasked with being a consultant; Leland would change the name of Ford’s company to the Cadillac Automobile Company.

Ford created a new company called the Ford Motor Company on June 16th, 1903. He would go on to set a record at Lake St. Clair in January of the following year, racing one mile in 39.4 seconds that created a speed record of 91.37 mph. Ford would continue construct race cars for the next several years that met with a variety of successes. 

Ford produced a vehicle for the masses in 1908 known as the Model T and the automotive industry would be revolutionized by it; the American society as a whole would benefit from receiving reliable and affordable transportation for the average individual. Ford entered the Model T in races in order to promote it. The Model T would win the New York-to-Seattle race in 1909 but later was disqualified because of a technicality; this did not bother Ford as the race was great advertising for the company. The Model T would go on to win around the U.S. a variety of races during the next few years. Ford would quit the sport in 1913 as it was reported he was disgusted over certain rules of auto racing; he no longer needed publicity from racing since his company was successful.

The Ford Motor Company started employing the moving assembly line in 1913 at its plant at Highland Park, Michigan; the assembly speed was reduced of a chassis from 12 hours and 8 minutes to a quicker 1 hour and 33 minutes. Ford built over 308,000 vehicles the following year which was more of an output than all of the other combined carmakers. While it was in production until 1927, the Model T was the world’s top-selling automobile until 1972 when the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed it. On April 7th, 1947, Henry Ford passed away at the age of 83.

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Meg Wong

Editor

One of the hardest working individuals, Meg sets the bar high when it comes to work ethic and being a great teammate. She learned these values at a young age while she was the captain of her high school volleyball team. Leading her team to 3 state championships and coming away victorious twice. You can still see the leader in her through everything she does for us here.