Fred Offenhauser

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Fred H. Offenhauser, Jr.
Born(1888-10-20)October 20, 1888
DiedAugust 17, 1973(1973-08-17) (aged 84)
Spouse(s)Ethel C. Lowery
Parent(s)Martha and Frederick Offenhauser

Fred H. Offenhauser, Jr. (November 11, 1888 – August 17, 1973), was an American automotive engineer and mechanic who developed the Offenhauser racing engine, nicknamed the "Offy", which dominated competition in the Indianapolis 500 race for decades.


Frederick Offenhauser, Jr., was born November 11, 1888 in Los Angeles, California, the oldest child of Martha and Frederick Offenhauser. Both his parents were natives of Germany; his father was a barber. Frederick Jr. was married to Ethel C. Lowery.

Offenhauser began working in the shop of Harry Arminius Miller in 1913 at age 25, when the state of the art double overhead cam, four valve per cylinder Peugeot Grand Prix car, an engine design which would be contemporary even today, won the Indianapolis 500. Miller named Offenhauser the head of Miller's engine department in 1914. Bob Burman was campaigning the engine that year, but when World War I made it impossible to get parts, Miller's shop got the job of maintaining it. The design so impressed Miller and Offenhauser that they designed an engine on largely similar principles.

In 1917, Offenhauser designed and built Barney Oldfield's famous "Golden Submarine".

In 1919, Leo Goossen joined Miller’s shop and Offenhauser became plant manager. Miller's company went bankrupt in 1933. Offenhauser bought the patterns and equipment from Miller, and began developing the engine with Goossen.[1] The engine experienced great success at the Indianapolis 500, with 24 victories in 27 years. Offenhauser himself was not frequently seen in Indianapolis.

In 1934, Offenhauser built his first 97 cubic inch engine for midget car racing. The car won its first race in Curly Mills' car.[1]

Offenhauser sold the business in 1946 to Louis Meyer and Dale Drake. Meyer and Drake continued producing the motor using the Offenhauser name.[1]

He died August 17, 1973, in Los Angeles, California. He was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.



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