ROBERT M. ROOF - Designer, Builder
Born in 1882, in New Castle, IN, Roof became a machinist apprentice at the age of 17 and a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1919. His career spanned five decades, primarily spent designing and producing Speed Equipment. From 1911 to 1949, Roof was granted twelve US Patents; eight were Model T speed items. As the Chief Engineer for Laurel Motors, Roof not only designed the Laurel Speedster, but also the famous Roof Racing Overheads. Roof Type A 16-valve heads owned the dirt tracks in the teens. Followed in 1918 with the Type B Head and soon atter with Type BB.
The awesome Type C 16-valve came out in 1923, followed very shortly by 8-valve cross flow heads, both of which became available in overhead cam versions in the mid-twenties. Even the famous Frank Lockhart drove a Type C overhead cam car to victory in Indiana in 1926. R&R Manufacturing was formed in 1925 as a partnership with Myron B Reynolds. By 1929 Roof held sole ownership. Ken Gross, Flathead Ford V8 Historian, credits Roof with producing the first dual carb intake for the Ford V8. Roof also produced speed equipment for the Model A and V8 Ford, Dodge Fours, Chevrolet Sixes, and was producing racing engines for Flathead V8 and boat racing when he died in 1949. Robert Roof's legacy was his ability to change as racing evolved through his five decades of manufactring racing equipment. There is no doubt he enjoyed his profession. His enthusiasm is expressed by his own comment shortly before his death: "It's a thrilling life. Everything's interesting, and there's something new every day."