Caleb Bragg

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Caleb Smith Bragg
Born (1885-11-23)November 23, 1885
Cincinnati, Ohio
Died October 24, 1943(1943-10-24) (aged 57)
Memorial Hospital
Manhattan, New York City

Caleb Smith Bragg (23 November 1885 – 24 October 1943) was an American racecar driver, speedboat racer, aviation pioneer, and automotive inventor.[1] He participated in the 1911, 1913 and 1914 Indianapolis 500. In speedboat racing, Caleb won three consecutive APBA Challenge Cup races in Detroit from 1923-1925.[2] He was a co-inventor of the Bragg-Kliesrath brake.[1]


He was born on November 23, 1885 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Cais C. Bragg and Eugenia Hofer who were wealthy.[3] While at Yale University he became interested in automobile racing.[3] He graduated from Yale in 1908 and took a post-graduate engineering course at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1909.[1] During World War I he became interested in flying airplanes and in 1916 he flew his first solo flight; he later set airplane records for speed and altitude.[3]

He developed a braking system with Victor William Kliesrath called the Bragg-Kliesrath brake. They formed a company in 1920 and Ethel Merman was his personal secretary before she became famous.[3] They sold the company to Bendix Corporation in the late 1920s.[4]

In speedboat racing, Caleb won three consecutive APBA Challenge Cup races in Detroit from 1923-1925, in 1923 with Packard Chriscraft and the 1924-1925 races with Baby Bootlegger, the 29-foot mahogany wooden speedboat designed for him in 1924 by George Crouch and built by Henry Nevins.

He died on 24 October 1943 in New York City, New York.[1]

Indy 500 results[edit]

Year Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired
1911 39 35 37 24 0 Crash in pits
1913 19 1 87.340 2 15 128 1 Pump shaft
1914 21 9 92.970 7 19 117 1 Camshaft
Totals 269 2
Starts 3
Poles 1
Front Row 1
Wins 0
Top 5 0
Top 10 0
Retired 3



  1. ^ a b c d "Caleb Smith Bragg, Dies. Flier, Auto Racer, Pioneer in Automotive Field. Also Noted as an Inventor and Speedboat Pilot". The New York Times. October 25, 1943. Retrieved 2011-04-23. Caleb S. Bragg, long a leading figure in the aviation, automobile and motorboat fields, died here on Sunday in Memorial Hospital after a long illness at the age of 56. An engineer and the inventor or co-inventor of many automobile devices, including the widely used Bragg-Kliesrath brake perfected by him and the late Victor W. Kliesrath. Mr. Bragg won fame as a pioneer automobile racing driver, and Army test pilot during the first World War, a champion altitude flier, aviation manufacturing company officer, consulting engineer and amateur sportsman. He resided at 277 Park Avenue and at Montauk Point, L.I. 
  2. ^ "Caleb Smith Bragg". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kellow, Brian (2008). Ethel Merman : a life. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143114208. 
  4. ^ Schoneberger, L.A. "Pat" Hyland ; edited by W.A. (1993). Call me Pat : the autobiography of the man Howard Hughes chose to lead Hughes Aircraft. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Co./Publishers. p. 147. ISBN 9780898658736.