Robert M. Roof, of New Castle, Indiana was born with extraordinary mechanical aptitude and skill. At the age of 14, he began working in a foundry and by the age of 17 he had already began his career as a machinist. At just 16 years of age, Roof built his first car.
Roof built his first race car in 1908, a six-cylinder that was typical of this period in a stripped down production machine. His first successful engine design and development was a line of small stationary engines. It was his notoriety as an innovator and engine builder that allowed Roof to join the Anderson Foundry and Machine Co. in 1911.