Paving the way: Auto giants who forged ahead when times were tough | Automotive

During this time of staying in and staying away from each other – at least as of the writing of this article – it’s good to look to those individuals who withstood tough times and came out on the other side, successful.

Innovation and creativity go hand-in-hand with “failures.” Anyone who has realized great success has realized the opposite. As most of us know, it’s our failures that help us learn and grow. It’s tough times that allow us to realize how strong we really are.

We could all use some inspiration right now. With that, I give you some inspirational quotes from some of the most successful auto innovators in the world.

“If can dream it, you can do it.” – Enzo Ferrari

As a young lad of 10, Ferrari saw his first race in Bologna, Italy. As a young man, he nearly died during a flu epidemic after World War I. He was hired as a test driver, then as racing driver and in 1924 he won the Coppa Acerbo driving an Alfa Romeo. In 1947 his name was on one of the fastest and most beautiful autos ever made.

“If one does not fail at times, then one has not challenged himself.” Ferdinand Porsche

Porsche was a successful auto engineer from the late 1800s to the early 1930s. He was a lover of everything auto and was very technology-adept. He landed his first job when he was 18 at an electrical company in Vienna, Bella Egga & Company. Higher-ups were so impressed with him, he was promoted to management and in 1897, he built an electric wheel-hub motor. In 1900, his engineering (and motor) was recognized internationally in Paris. Later he tested his engine in a race and won. In 1937, he was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science. He and his son introduced the Porsche sports car in 1950.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Henry Ford.

I couldn’t leave this guy out because he did bring wheels to us, creating the first auto that average folks could afford, which was the Model T. Always a curious lad, he was one to take things apart and put them back together. He worked as an machinist in Detroit, worked on his family farm, operated steam engines for Westinghouse and studied bookkeeping. All that knowledge and experience brought him to giving us a ride. Thanks, Henry.

Girl Power

I wanted to include females in my list. There are those who we recognize, such as Danica Patrick (all those Go-Daddy commercials) and to date, the most successful female driver in Indycar and NASCAR. Then there’s Shirley Muldowney, the “first lady of drag racing.”

Patrick said, “Even if you fail, learning and moving on is sometimes the best thing.”

Muldowney said: “Always remember, the value of persistence is in the fact that so few people have any, you’ll be left at the finish line when everyone else has quit in the middle of the race.”

Finally, Sara Christian, who way back in 1949 blazed the trail for women in a male-dominated sport and profession. Though her racing career was brief – just seven races – she charged through all those barriers. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a quote from her. Her fifth-place finish in a 1949 race remains the best finish by a female driver at NASCAR’s top level.

I bet she said something like: “How you like me now?” I do, girl and thank you.

Stay healthy and be safe out there.

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