100 Years of the Indy 500 Began With the Dream of a Visionary
May 29, 2011

40 cars lined up for the 1st Indy 500; The Winner Started in the 28th position-no winner has started farther back

On This Date In History: Not all success stories are college graduates or even college drop outs. On this date in 1909, entrepreneur Carl Graham Fisher was looking ahead to a big day. In just a 3 days, he was going to stage the first race at the Indianpolis Motor Speedway . Four days later he was scratching his head because the opening of his Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a three day, 300 mile race didn’t go very well. Drivers were blinded by the dust kicked up from the gravel roadway and 5 people were killed. Fisher abruptly stopped the race. But, he didn’t give up. He had the 2.5 mile oval set with brick and in 1911, the first Indy 500 was held.

Fisher didn’t give up on a lot of things. He was born half blind but didn’t know about it until he was 31. He started a small bicycle business and promoted it by riding a bike across a tightrope. He opened what is thought to be the first auto dealership in America and promoted that business in Indianapolis by floating across the city in a hot-air balloon. Part of the reason he opened the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was that he wanted to try to make Indianapolis the hub of the auto-industry instead of Detroit. He also went into business making auto headlights. He later sold that in 1912 to Union Carbide for $9 million. Perhaps buoyed by the success of making Indianapolis Motor Speedway the “Brickyard”, he conceived of the idea and helped develop the nations first coast to coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, named for his favorite hero. He went a step farther and pushed for the Dixie Highway from Indianapolis to Florida, which John Mellencamp made famous later.

Fisher's Elephant

In Florida, he became a real estate mogul and bought an overgrown island off of Miami. He had it cleared of mangroves, filled in the swamps and built a bridge to what is now known as Miami Beach. As part of a promotion, he once used an elephant with a baseball player on its head, which I have no idea how that promotes a real estate development. But, Fisher is considered a genius while that moniker has escaped me. He also began a “Miami of the North”, developing what would become Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island. At one point he was worth $100 million in 1920’s dollars. But..easy come easy go.

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Before the hype of Global Warming, a number of hurricanes devastated Florida and just hammered the real estate market in Florida. That took a toll on Fisher’s fortune. Then the stock market crash of 1929 wiped him out. He ended up in a small cottage on Miami Beach, but he didn’t stop. He developed the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. He died in 1939 with an estate estimated at just $40,000. But, he is credited with helping to inspire President Eisenhower to develop the interstate highway system. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame and was named one of Florida’s 50 most influential people of the 20th Century.

From rags to riches to rags again….yet he left a legacy of benefit for the entire nation. Ever wonder what you can do if you try?

Advertisements

Your College Famous For Billionaires or Athletes? Carl Fisher was simply a Great Man.
August 16, 2009

Harvard Rugby Team-Any Future Billionaires?

Harvard Rugby Team-Any Future Billionaires?

Top 10 in Billionaires and Many sports-A rarity

Top 10 in Billionaires and Many sports-A rarity

A New Way to Rate Colleges: If you visit a university and talk to their alumni, you will often hear them say “we are ranked number such-and-such” or “our widget school is ranked thus-and-so.” More often, they won’t be as specific and simply say that “our widget school is one of the highest ranked.” Almost every time, in my experience, when I have gone to the US News and World Report ranking, the claims are not matched. Several times I’ve been told some great thing and found that particular discipline at that school is ranked somewhere between 100 and 150. I suppose that if you have to tell me that your school is highly ranked in academics, it’s probably won’t live up to the billing.

Not in Top Ten in Football or Billionaires

Not in Top Ten in Football or Billionaires

There are different ways of ranking schools but at least part of the criteria is based on outcome. Many undergraduate programs will encourage their better students to go on to advanced degrees because the more of their students that can attain a Masters or PhD, the better that undergraduate school looks. Beyond academic achievement, another way to grade a school’s performance is the working world performance of its graduates. There is one famous school that one always hears is so great yet I am unaware of any high-profile business successes from that school, but they are famous for football.

Gates-Richest Harvard Dropout

Gates-Richest Harvard Dropout

Forbes magazine came out with an interesting way of ranking schools. How many billionaires are products of that academic institution? The Forbes list of billionaires hailing from particular universities is headed up by Harvard with 5% of the world’s billionaires. I’m not sure, but I don’t think that it includes rich guys who dropped out like Bill Gates. New York University made this list, but also sports 5 drop outs that have gone on to great riches. The University of Pennsylvania is on the list and boasts the famous Wharton School of Business and its most famous graduate, Donald Trump.

An interesting note is that the only state schools on the list are ones that are also known for football prowess, or really athletic achievement in general.   The state schools that  round out the top 10 are USC, UCLA and The University of Texas at Austin. These schools all were tied for 9th place with nine billionaires in their ranks. I’ve often wanted to ask a university president if his objective was to entertain the alumni or to produce students who gain a quality education. It’s kinda tough to do both.

On This Date In History: Not all success stories are college graduates or even college drop outs. On this date in 1909, entrepreneur Carl Graham Fisher was looking ahead to a big day. In just a 3 days, he was going to stage the first race at the Indianpolis Motor Speedway . Four days later he was scratching his head because the opening of his Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a three day, 300 mile race didn’t go very well. Drivers were blinded by the dust kicked up from the gravel roadway and 5 people were killed. Fisher abruptly stopped the race. But, he didn’t give up. He had the 2.5 mile oval set with brick and in 1911, the first Indy 500 was held.

Fisher didn’t give up on a lot of things. He was born half blind but didn’t know about it until he was 31. He started a small bicycle business and promoted it by riding a bike across a tightrope. He opened what is thought to be the first auto dealership in America and promoted that business in Indianapolis by floating across the city in a hot-air balloon. Part of the reason he opened the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was that he wanted to try to make Indianapolis the hub of the auto-industry instead of Detroit. He also went into business making auto headlights. He later sold that in 1912 to Union Carbide for $9 million. Perhaps buoyed by the success of making Indianapolis Motor Speedway the “Brickyard”, he conceived of the idea and helped develop the nations first coast to coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, named for his favorite hero. He went a step farther and pushed for the Dixie Highway from Indianapolis to Florida, which John Mellencamp made famous later.

Fisher's Elephant

In Florida, he became a real estate mogul and bought an overgrown island off of Miami. He had it cleared of mangroves, filled in the swamps and built a bridge to what is now known as Miami Beach. As part of a promotion, he once used an elephant with a baseball player on its head, which I have no idea how that promotes a real estate development. But, Fisher is considered a genius while that moniker has escaped me. He also began a “Miami of the North”, developing what would become Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island. At one point he was worth $100 million in 1920’s dollars. But..easy come easy go.

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Before the hype of Global Warming, a number of hurricanes devastated Florida and just hammered the real estate market in Florida. That took a toll on Fisher’s fortune. Then the stock market crash of 1929 wiped him out. He ended up in a small cottage on Miami Beach, but he didn’t stop. He developed the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. He died in 1939 with an estate estimated at just $40,000. But, he is credited with helping to inspire President Eisenhower to develop the interstate highway system. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame and was named one of Florida’s 50 most influential people of the 20th Century.

From rags to riches to rags again….yet he left a legacy of benefit for the entire nation. Ever wonder what you can do if you try?

Monday Evening

Monday Evening

Weather Bottom Line: Look for another day near 90…that’s even possible on Monday too. But, the rain chances will begin to increase by Monday afternoon and then stick around for much of the week. A lazy front will sag down our way and maybe not even get through the area, but will get close enough and then lurk around long enough to cause enough of a ruckus to help focus at least scattered storms for much of the week. I suspect that its initial approach on Tuesday will bring the greatest chances. Otherwise, it will be warm and humid for the week ahead

Rain and the People’s Car
October 22, 2007


The final reports from last Thursday are out. The Clark County tornado was upgraded to an EF-3 tornado with winds between 138 to 165 mph. The estimate of the wind speed was toward the lower end. Still, a significant tornado. The total number of tornado touchdowns in the area was established at 7 with another confirmation in Bradfordville in Marion County.

Rain rain rain. We have our chance to help the plants. A rather complicated storm system is coming out of the Rockies. It develops as a cut off low, which means the low gets stuck as the jet stream lifts up and leaves it behind to meander. Some models want to take it through to the East Coast rather quickly but for now, we’ve gone with the idea that it meanders around the Southern Plains for a few days and keeps our rain chances elevated for much of the week. If it does move out, then the rain ends on Wednesday, if not, it carries through Thursday at least. Its tough to forecast but one certainty is that we will get some good, steady rain through at least Tuesday night. And that is good news….just what the Doctor ordered.

On This Date in History: The People’s Car made its debut in 1936. At that time, only one in 50 people in Germany owned a car. Adolph Hitler wanted an affordable car to help the average German get around easier and efficiently and also boost the economic development of Germany much as Henry Ford’s Model T did for the United States earlier in the century. Ferdinand Porsche developed the prototype for the Beetle and on this date it made its first test drive. The car became such a hit that even by the 1970’s it worried some Americans, not only because of its popularity as an import, but also because it was a favorite to the hippy counter-culture in the US. Eventually, Americans were more into luxury and amenities that the Beetle did not have and it fell out of favor some 50 years after its creation. However, it returned in the 1990’s in a larger souped up version with many of the features Americans are used to but its popularity never returned to its previous hey day.

Notes: Hitler also wanted a vast transportation road system so people could get around. He created the first super-highway system called the Autobahn. He ulterior motive for the Autobahn was to transport troops and military hardware quickly where needed. The allies upon invasion used the Autobahn for exactly that purpose against the Germans toward the end of WWII. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was so impressed that, when he became President, he initiated the construction of the US Interstate Highway system. It was a great aid to the economy in that it allowed for the quick and efficient distribution of goods, materials and people to their destinations. Further, in time of need, it would allow for the quick transfer of military necessities in a time of crisis.

Also….remember the Volkswagen Thing of the 1970’s? I know in the 1980’s they were still popular in Mexico as taxis. They had their inspiration from another Nazi era automobile, the German Staff car.