The Patents of Walter Christie


J. Walter Christie and his front wheel drive race car were the subjects of one of my blog posts earlier this week and I cited a Website that included a reasonable photo of Christie on his race car at the 1908 Minnesota State Fair. Just scroll down and take a look at the photo that shows Christie with the great racing champion, Ralph DePalma.
Christie was a peculiar man, someone that I think of as a bit of a mad scientist. He was an innovator extreme and not surprisingly, he marched to his own drum beat. An engineer first, Christie introduced front wheel drive for cars. He drove in the Vanderbilt Cup, the 1907 French Grand Prix, broke records at the time trial meet on the newly brick-paved Indianapolis Motor Speedway in December 1909 as well as barnstorming with Barney Oldfield.
Christie was a creative engineer, but not a particularly effective business man. He died virtually broke in 1944. He left behind a great body of work, which included numerous patents. Thanks to Bill Blaylock, a historian who posts regularly to the Yahoo Auto Racing History Group, here is an interesting link to several patents filed by Christie between 1920 and 1930. For some, this will bore the hell out of you - but for others, it is a great insight to the work of a colorful personality of early auto racing history.