Lee Frayer

Lee Frayer

2/10/1874 - 25/7/1938

Lee Frayer was born in La Grange, Missouri, and was a pioneer automobile builder and racing driver.

Lee began working on the four wheel buggy in the late 1800's and with his partner, William Miller. They founded the Frayer-Miller automobile construction business based in Columbus, Ohio, and developed their Electric Buggy model. In 1902 Frayer-Miller began designing and building automobiles, with the Oscar Lear Automobile Company and Columbus Buggy Company doing the manufacturing.

In 1905 Frayer-Miller released the world's first six cylinder automobile, a 36hp model. One of the things that made the Frayer engine unusual at the time was that it was air cooled. That year, Frayer took his 6 cylinder car to race in the first 24 hour road race and was the ony solo driver to successfully complete the event.

In the 1906 American Elimination Trial, he entered an inovative air-cooled Frayer-Miller with a 16-year-old Eddie Rickenbacker as his riding mechanic.

Impressed by Eddie’s driving, Lee Frayer asked him to be his relief driver the first Indianapolis 500 race held on May 30, 1911. Eddie drove over 300 miles of the race from approximately the 30th mile to the 400th mile. Frayer and Rickenbacher finished 13th, completing 197 of the 200 laps. The “Red Wing” Firestone-Columbus was still running at the end of the race when it was flagged after the first 10 cars had crossed the finish line.

Just prior to this 1912 race, Lee Frayer retired from racing and turned the Red Wing racer to Eddie. He was running fourth when a crankshaft bearing burned out ending his race. Rickenbacher finished 21st of the 23 entrants completing 44 of the 200 laps.

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