Dennis Reinbold was running his Tonkas on a dirt pile in the
back yard when another lad was sent over to join in while the
adults conducted their business.
"Al Unser and Bobby Unser came by to talk with 'Pop,' ''
Reinbold says, referring to his maternal grandfather. "They were
blowing motors at a high rate back then in the early '70s. They
brought this kid along and we played in the dirt. It turns out it
was Al (Unser) Jr. It's kind of funny how things come around; Al
Jr. winds up driving for us at the Indy 500 (in 2006).
"That day at the house is kind of a summary of who he was. He
had a sign that said when all else fails ask Pop. I have a lot of
great memories of Pop."
Floyd "Pop" Dreyer -- motorcycle racer, race car builder,
designer, fabricator, BMW and Honda motorcycle dealer and a whole
lot more - will join 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan
and five others in being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame
of America on Aug. 29. The posthumous honor follows his induction
into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and National Sprint Car Hall
Yes, Pop, was unique, and Reinbold, who carries on the surname
in the IZOD IndyCar Series team he co-owns with Robbie Buhl (Dreyer
& Reinbold Racing) learned about business and life by his side.
He died Feb. 25, 1989.
"You kind of had to earn his respect and that was with hard
work," said Reinbold, who will present Dreyer for induction at the
ceremony in Detroit. "I started mowing his grass and I got closer
and closer to him as I grew. Then I came to realize some of the
amazing craftsmanship he possessed and his skills and all the
people who sought him out for advice. There was a long line of
people every day and he would puff on his pipe and talk with
everyone. He could do about anything; fix about anything. He just
enjoyed it, and we had big family gatherings that he enjoyed.
"He had a racetrack near Mount Meridian (in south-central
Indiana). It was a quarter-mile scramble track and in the summer as
the racers would pack up and leave my cousins and I would pile onto
the track with our motorcycles. We just kind of grew up on
motorcycles and big family functions and hosting the race events.
He was always on his bulldozer and road grader out manicuring the
track. He called it a woods run; it was before motocross. It was a
natural terrain and difficult course with lots of trees around that
occasionally my cousins and I would fly off and hit."
Pop was born on Nov. 30, 1898, in Chillicothe, Ohio, and raised
on a farm near Youngstown. In his teens, an older brother purchased
a motorcycle that evolved into quite an adventure for Pop. Through
riding the cycle, he developed skills and started working part-time
at a dealership. That led to sidecar racing, and when Pop learned
that prize money was available he struck out on his own.
Signed by the Flexible Sidecar Company of Loudonville, Ohio, he
proceeded to win national races in the late 1910s and early 1920s
(riding an Indian motorcycle). He retired from the dangerous sport
in 1923 after recovering from a broken back and, moving to
Indianapolis with his wife and three children, landed a job as a
welder for the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company.
"He was at Duesenberg until they shut down. They couldn't pay
him his last salary but he finished his work anyway," Reinbold
says. "From there he did some work with Stutz and started
building his own race cars - sprints and midgets. He didn't have
serial numbers on any so nobody knows how many he made. Then he
focused on Midgets and became the grandfather - Pop - of midgets.
He also looked like Popeye - big forearms, balding, always had a
"He made single-cylinder-powered kids cars called DREYERettes
and took out an ad in Popular Mechanics. He would ship these kits
all over the country and made one for Shirley Temple. Nationally,
he got some acclaim and that's how he got through the
Pop's business interests also included the manufacture of race
car components, and he's recognized as a pioneer in the areas of
lightweight magnesium wheels, driver headrests and overhead
conversions for Ford blocks. Two of his sprint cars won
championships (1938 AAA Eastern title with Duke Nalon driving; 1949
AAA Midwestern title with Jackie Holmes driving). Among his work in
the 1940s, Pop manufactured manifolds for aircraft engines through
the Allison division of General Motors.
In 1953, Pop opened a BMW motorcycle dealership in Indianapolis.
Six years later, he added Honda to his line, becoming the first
Honda dealership east of the Mississippi River.
Reinbold says that in March 1968 his grandfather made a call to
the BMW factory "and pretty soon we're taking the chain-link fence
down in our back yard and here's five BMWs coming off a truck.
"So my mom and dad decided to get in the car business; it was a
toss-up between that and the laundry business. The respect for him
is why my parents named our company Dreyer & Reinbold."
The same holds true for the racing outfit, which began full-time
IZOD IndyCar Series competition in 2000 by winning the season's
first event with Buhl driving. This season, veteran Indy car
competitor Oriol Servia is behind the wheel of the No. 22
"When we formed the racing team I definitely wanted to keep the
name Dreyer to perpetuate his legacy and keep him by my side as we
went IndyCar racing," Dreyer said. "He was unassuming, treated
everyone with respect. He was quite an individual."
Tickets for the 24th Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony
can be purchased by calling 248-349-7223 or at www.mshf.com. David Hobbs, a 2009
inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in the Sports
Car category and now a broadcaster, will be the emcee.