Nov 29 2010

Article “Rickenbacker-King Of the Dirt Track” by Damon Runyon and Walter Kiernan

In 1942, World War I "Ace of Aces" and veteran race car driver Eddie Rickenbacker was appointed by Secretary of War Henry Stimson to inspect air bases. During a late 1942 tour of bases in the Pacific, the B-17 Rickenbacker was flying in ran out of fuel. The crew ditched the plane in the ocean, but in the confusion forgot the emergency rations. The eight men then spent 22 days on three rafts without food or water and were finally discovered by a Navy patrol plane.


To celebrate the rescue, Dell Publishing commissioned a special magazine "Capt.Eddie Rickenbacker" with articles written by Damon Runyon and Walter Kiernan. In Rickenbacker- King of the Dirt Track Runyon and Kiernan described Rickenbacker's auto racing career.

Eddie didn't believe in recklessness. He asked only a fifty-fifty chance for safety and though he played with death, Eddie knew what he was doing.


Runyon and Kiernan noted that Rickenbacker's very first race was the 1906 American Elimination Trial:

In 1906, Eddie was first seen on the dust-covered track where he is now a fabulous personality. In that year he rode with Frayer in the Vanderbilt Cup Race.


In the inside cover of the magazine, Eddie Rickenbaker offered his prediction for the future of aviation:

In my opinion, all the accomplishments of the last 25 years will pale into insignificance in the next 25. We will fly 800 to 1,000 miles per hour by 1960 in giant air birds which will pick up freight and passengers in New York and deposit them in London by mid-afternoon...You will convert your plane, a deadly instrument of war, to the use of peace...Every town on the face of the globe will have air-transportation in the post-war world.


On the back cover, an ad provided a reminder to "Buy more Bonds and Stamps today"

your BONDS

will keep them


so America's Aces can

trump the Axis

Damon Runyon died at the age of 62, only four years later after this special magazine was published. His ashes were scattered over Broadway in a plane piloted by his "good friend" Eddie Rickenbacker.

Links to related and Damon Runyon posts:

Eddie Rickenbacker: America’s Ace of Aces and Vanderbilt Cup Participant

Starting Lineup: The 1906 American Elimination Race

Damon Runyon's Broadway

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Feb 08 2011 Clare Lafferty 8:22 AM

Walter Kiernan was my grandfather and this is very interesting to me. I don’t know much about his book writings, so thanks for this!

Feb 11 2011 Howard Kroplick 8:44 PM


It is a pleasure to receive feedback like yours!


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