Oldfield - Cooper 1903

This image was captured at a race meet in October 1903 at Grosse Pointe, Michigan's horse track. Pictured leading is Barney Oldfield in the Winton Motor Carriage Company's Winton "Baby Bullet" racer with his long-time friend Tom Cooper trailing in the Cooper-Ford "999" racer. The Ford racer was designed by Henry Ford and remains one of the most famous American race cars of the first decade of the 20th century. It was Oldfield who first made it famous when he defeated Alexander Winton, a self-made millionaire and Scottish immigrant who began his entrepreneurial career in the bicycle business, at Grosse Pointe in an event called the "Manufacturer's Cup."
The victory helped Ford attract investors for launching the Ford Motor Company the following year. Despite the fact that Oldfield was leading in this picture, it was not his day. A national sensation, it was at this race meet that he would suffer one of his darkest days. After a frustrating series of mechanical failures and losses, Oldfield ended his day when a tire exploded and he plunged through a fence, injuring himself and killing a spectator by the name of Frank Shearer.

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