In 1891, Henry Ford left his small lumber business to work as a night engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. By early 1894, he was promoted to chief engineer. In 1896, Ford completed his first horseless carriage, the Quadricycle, with the help of some of his coworkers, including Ed “Spider” Huff.
In 1901 Henry and Spider Huff completed work on a 26 horsepower, two cylinder racer. In testing it clocked in at more than 75 miles per hour, a phenomenal speed at the time. The vehicle became known as the Ford Sweepstakes car, named after the type of race he built it to participate in. An October 10, 1901 event at the Grosse Pointe Race Track pitted Ford against seasoned racer Alexander Winton from Ohio. Winton who was also operating one of the largest car companies, was favored to win, but Ford had his hometown out to cheer him on.
The 10 lap race around the mile long dirt track was anything but dull. Winton pulled out to an early lead, but as Ford grew more comfortable at the tiller, he soon gained ground. The crowds cheered when Ford overtook Winton on the 8th lap. Ford held off the veteran automaker and won the race. Ford had demonstrated his capabilities as an engineer, and was once again approached by investors. Ford ended his race carrer undefeated… 1-0, as this was his only race.
After founding the Henry Ford Company in November of 1901 following the racing success, he was soon at odds with his new investors over manufacturing intent. Just five months later, in March 1902, Henry again found himself out of his own company. While the Henry Ford Company was being reorganize into Cadillac, Henry was probably uttering “The third time’s a charm!”