I Would Drive 500 Miles: Scottish Drivers at the Indy 500

Jim Clark and his Racing Team with Lotus Racer, Indianapolis 500 Race, 1965 (THF 110496)

Jim Clark and his Racing Team with Lotus Racer, Indianapolis 500 Race, 1965 (THF 110496)

This year marks the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, more commonly known as the Indy 500. Since the race’s inception in 1911, men and women from around the world have participated, but only 5 drivers have come from Scotland. With 2015 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Scottish win at Indy, here is a look at the five Scots who brought their talent from Dunfermline, Glasgow, Bathgate, Milton, and Kilmany to the Brickyard.

Jim Clark (1936-1968) became the first Scottish driver to compete at the Indy 500 in 1963, going on to start the race in five consecutive years (1963-1967). In his Indy rookie year, Clark took second place, 34.04 seconds behind Parnelli Jones.  After dropping out of the 1964 race with suspension problems, Clark rebounded the next year by crossing the finish line in his Lotus-Ford 38/1 almost two full minutes ahead of Jones. The year 1966 witnessed another second place finish, this time to Graham Hill, and 1967 saw an early exit after 35 laps due to piston problems. Unfortunately, Clark would not have the opportunity to compete the next year, as he was killed during a Formula Two race in Hockenheim, Germany on April 7, 1968. Continue reading

Mourning Lincoln with the Union League

Union Loyal League (alt)

We all have a unique and individual story, whether it started in this country before or after the Civil War, and the collective history of our past is the relevant ingredient that we all share. The social, political, technological, medical and scientific innovations from the Civil War were transformative and vast that serve as the foundation of the many attributes we still benefit from today.  As we get ready to celebrate Civil War Remembrance at The Henry Ford, we ask you to join us in honoring all veterans for their sacrifices and achievements in protecting, sustaining, and preserving the promise of the Constitution of the United States for “a more perfect Union.”

Brian Egen is Executive Producer at The Henry Ford.

Guests to Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village 2014 may have been surprised to find the Tintype Studio transformed into a living history exhibit for the weekend. The small building was outfitted as a period social club called the Loyal Union League, serving as a Lincoln campaign headquarters for the 1864 presidential race. Last year marked the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection to a second term in office and the exhibit explored how local Union Leagues throughout the country participated in the campaign.

The previous year, The Henry Ford’s Executive Producer Brian Egen and Senior Manager of Creative Programs Jim Johnson, along with members of The Petticoat Society (a living history organization), discussed the creation of a special program and interpretative scenario utilizing the Tintype Studio building. This site, because of its proximity to activities taking place at the Pavilion, Town Hall and the Village Green, was a perfect location for visitors to step back in time and experience the excitement and uncertainty of the 1864 election season. Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Blacksmith Shop Photos

EI.1929.1090

Does the building shown in this photograph look familiar to you? It might not ring a bell as the “Blacksmith Shop,” but that was its original purpose when it was built in Greenfield Village in 1929—which explains the horse being shod in this photo from the same year. Henry Ford intended the structure to be typical of 19th-century American blacksmith workshops, and had it furnished with equipment from a shop in Lapeer, Mich. Over the years, the building’s function has changed several times: it has been known as the Tinsmith Shop and the Activities Building, and currently it serves as the entrance to the Donald F. Kosch Village Playground. Visit our digital collections to see over 50 more newly-digitized photos of this building at various times in its history, and perhaps next time you visit our playground, you’ll take a second look at its historic entrance.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

The 1965 Lotus-Ford: Resources at The Henry Ford

The 1965 Lotus-Ford Type 38 established Formula One-style design at the Indianapolis 500.

The 1965 Lotus-Ford Type 38 established Formula One-style design at the Indianapolis 500.

Jim Clark changed the face of the Indianapolis 500 in 1965 when he won with a rear-engine car adapted from Formula One design. His lightweight Lotus-Ford race car broke dramatically from the heavy front-engine roadsters that dominated the race after World War II. Clark’s victory capped a three-year effort by some of the biggest names in racing. Driver Dan Gurney realized the potential of F1 technology at Indy and set the project in motion. Designer Colin Chapman put his expertise and reputation behind the chassis. Ford Motor Company provided resources, support, and a superb racing engine. And Jimmy Clark endured two years of disappointment – losing through no fault of his own – before taking the checkered flag in 1965. So complete was their triumph that no front-engine car has won the Indianapolis 500 since.

The Henry Ford’s Archive of American Innovation is proud to preserve significant artifacts, images, texts and interviews related to Clark’s groundbreaking win. Below are links to key pieces in this collection. Continue reading

An Invention’s Journey to Henry Ford Museum

siemens-1

Inspired by Thomas Edison, Oliver Kuttner has not only driven his Very Light Car into engineering history, he’s also got one parked at the Henry Ford Museum.

Creating something new is arguably one of the most satisfying achievements in life. As engineers, our careers are littered with accounts where we’ve improved designs, given life to concepts and maybe even built something brand new and impactful.

For Edison2 founder Oliver Kuttner, all of those things have happened and his X-Prize winning Very Light Car (VLC) stands in the Henry Ford Museum’s growing collection of engineering marvels.

But unlike many of the stories about engineering brilliance, Oliver’s isn’t one about a lone genius working in solitude. Instead, his story is more modern – it’s one that revolves around inspiration coupled with collaboration. Continue reading

1965 Lotus-Ford Race Car

The 1965 Lotus-Ford brought rear-engine Formula One design to the Indianapolis 500—a race where front-engine cars had dominated from the beginning. THF74940

The 1965 Lotus-Ford brought rear-engine Formula One design to the Indianapolis 500—a race where front-engine cars had dominated from the beginning. THF74940

From its first running in 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has been the most prestigious automobile race in the United States. But in the early 1960s, it was falling behind the technological times. Lithe, rear-engine cars lit up Formula One circuits everywhere, while Indy remained tied to heavy front-engine roadsters not fundamentally changed in a decade. It would take an English designer and a Scottish driver, with some help from an all-American racer and a Big Three automaker, to break the mold 50 years ago this month. Continue reading

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Dexter Press Photographs

2013.151.19

John Margolies is both a photographer and a collector of items related to American travel and its unique sights.  In preparation for our upcoming exhibit about Margolies and the American roadside, we’ve digitized a number of selections from this collection, including 35mm slides taken by John Margolies himself, and pennants and hotel/motel do-not-disturb signs he collected. This week, we add another grouping to that list: Dexter Press photographs dating between 1935 and 1950, designed to be used as postcards. The images, collected by Margolies, capture the same types of establishments he would photograph decades later: gas stations, diners, salons, and stores, such as the Dixie Liquor Store in St. Louis, MO, shown here. Browse more than 30 Dexter Press photos and postcards by visiting our collections website, and be sure to mark your calendar to come see many of our Margolies items in person in the exhibit “Roadside America: Through the Lens of John Margolies” between June 20, 2015 and January 24, 2016.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

#NationalSpaceDay Seen Through Our Collections

It’s usually a safe bet that when someone asks us, “Do you have FILL IN THE BLANK in the collections at The Henry Ford?” odds are pretty good that we do. Today is #NationalSpaceDay and, as you guessed it, we’ve got space-related artifacts in our collections to share. Digital Access & Preservation Archivist Brian Wilson took a look in our archives and found these designs from Sundber-Ferar. Take a look. – Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

Object: 95.1.1788.10, Image: THF228604

Object: 95.1.1788.10, Image: THF228604

In the early 1980s, Detroit-area industrial design firm Sundberg-Ferar, Inc. worked with the Lockheed Corporation and NASA to develop concepts for a manned space station.

Through a series of drawings, including those shown here, Sundberg-Ferar illustrated what life in space could be like for astronauts aboard the station.

Object: 95.1.1788.4, Image: THF228598

Object: 95.1.1788.4, Image: THF228598

Object: 95.1.1788.15, Image: THF228619

Object: 95.1.1788.15, Image: THF228619

The designers considered how the astronauts would perform normal earthbound tasks in the tight quarters of the space station, including the need to exercise, bathe and sleep, and how a near-zero gravity environment would affect those tasks. For example, the shower design features a retractable toe restraint in the floor, while the treadmill uses a waist belt to keep the user in place.

In addition to the space station renderings, our collection of Sundberg-Ferar material includes their work on designs for a variety of other transportation and travel vehicles dating from the 1960s-1980s, including supersonic transport and large passenger jet planes, commuter trains, and rapid transit rail cars used in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Atlanta.

Brian Wilson is Digital Access & Preservation Archivist at The Henry Ford.

Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Glass Plate Negatives

2012.26.21229

It frequently happens that we find mysteries in our collections, just waiting to be unlocked.  This is the case for a series of about 200 glass plate negatives, which were found in a Highland Park, Michigan, house and eventually donated to The Henry Ford in 2012. The negatives mostly depict scenes from the Ford Motor Company Highland Park and Rouge plants, and seem to fill a gap in our collection of material created by the Ford Motor Company Photographic Department. However, there are some outliers in the group that could certainly use context, such as the barefoot girl posing for a portrait, or the children sitting in a mule-drawn carriage. If these images or the snowy scene depicted here pique your interest as a history detective, check out all the digitized negatives on our collections website, and let us know what you recognize.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

1 2 104