Eddie Rickenbacker, Part 2


While Rickenbacker's first foray into big business ended in disappointment when the Rickenbacker Motor Company he founded in 1921 failed five years later, his internal compass remained intact. After making good on substantial debts he incurred in the car business, Rickenbacker found the financial backing to purchase the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November 1927. He guided it through the Great Depression and World War II before selling to Tony Hulman in 1945.Beginning in 1928, Rickenbacker held a number of executive positions with General Motors, primarily in their aviation businesses.  In 1938 he realized his crowning achievement in business when he assembled $3 million to win a bidding war and purchase Eastern Airlines from General Motors.
Just four years later, Rickenbacker served as a consultant to Secretary of War Henry Stimson during World War II. His larger-than-life story continued when the military plane he was traveling in ran out of fuel and ditched in the middle of the Pacific. He survived an incredible life and death struggle while stranded in a raft for 24 days. His implausible rescue in October 1942 was front page news.
In 1953 Rickenbacker was appointed chairman of Eastern Airlines, a position he held for 10 years. In the final ten years of his life he completed his autobiography and lectured. He died in 1973 of heart failure while traveling in Switzerland with his wife of 51 years, Adelaide.