African American Automotive History

February 4th, 2020 by

In celebration of Black History month, we wanted to recognize the contributions of African Americans to automotive history.

Photo Credit: Historical Society of Greenfield Ohio

Leonard Miller, founded the Black American Racers Association in 1972 and helped form Vanguard Racing, the first African-American team to enter a car in the Indianapolis 500. Miller and his son formed the Miller Racing group and won a NASCAR championship in 2005. Miller was inducted into the Black Athletes Hall of fame.

Garrett Morgan, an engineer invented the yellow caution light signal, the technology for turn signals, and the automatic car washer.

CR Patterson, born a slave was a carriage manufacturer including a gas-powered horseless carriage. His company, C.R. Patterson & Sons Company is considered the world’s first and only African-American automobile company. His son, converted the company to automobile manufacturing and eventually produced trucks, buses and other utility vehicles.

Homer Roberts, owned Robert Motors, the first African-American owned car dealership in the U.S. He eventually owned a Ford franchise showroom, service, parts and body shop and a gas station. He added Hupmobile and Rickebacker to his lineup and was in the top three sales of both of those vehicles nationally.

Edward Welburn, was the first African-American automobile designer who rose to be General Motors’ Vice-President of Global Design.

Charlie Wiggins, built his own racecar, “the Wiggins Special” but was ineligible to compete in the Indianapolis 500 because he was black. Together with other drivers, they formed their own racing league and established the Gold and Glory Sweepstake. He continued to fight for African-American participation in motor racing until his death in 1979.

Did we forget anyone? Let us know in the Comments.