Floyd “Pop” Dreyer, a major race car builder throughout the 1930s, began building “Dreyer Racers” which were miniature race cars for children in 1933. The cars were powered by various small 4-cycle engines and used parts off production cars as well. At first, he was building them just for his own children but, as word got out, people starting coming to Floyd to build cars for their children as well.
These cars became very popular and soon Floyd realized he had another revenue stream for his business. The price for a Dreyer Junior Racer was $150.00, but Floyd rarely sold one for that much. He sold one to a man with no legs, which he used as a motorized wheel chair.
Child actress, Shirley Temple, bought one of the small cars and it appeared in an ad which Temple did for Quaker Oats.
Years later, Floyd was watching the Academy Awards Show on Television when a special Oscar was given to Shirley Temple. During Temple’s introduction, film footage of Temple at home as a child, driving her Dreyer Junior Racer was shown. That was quite a pleasant surprise for Floyd!
In May 1934, Dreyer took several cars to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the “Children’s Speed Classic.” With the aid of a couple of empty fuel drums, a track was made on the main stretch of the 2 ½-mile speedway. Both of Floyd’s sons, Arnold and Floyd, Jr., were entered in the race. At the start Arnold took the lead, Junior, not to be outdone by his older sibling, started cutting inside the barrels. Once he cut the wheels to tight and was thrown out of the car! The little racer continued on, driverless, until hitting the frontstretch wall, where it came to a stop. Years later, when Floyd, Jr., would hear drivers talking about their exploits at the Speedway, would say, “Yeah, I hit the wall at Indy!”
One the best money-making ideas Floyd had, was to sell plans to build the little cars. Advertising in magazines such as Mechanix Illustrated, anyone could buy plans for building a Dreyer Racer for $1.00. Floyd would later say, this was the easiest money he ever made.
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