R&R Manufacturing honored with memorial marker

Don Knight | The Herald BulletinFamily members of Robert Roof and Myron Reynolds unveil a memorial marker for R&R Manufacturing at Flagship East / Purdue Polytechnic Anderson on Friday.

ANDERSON – Indiana has a rich racing heritage and Anderson over the years has contributed to that rich history.

The Indiana Racing Memorial Association (IRMA) unveiled a marker honoring the contributions of R&R Manufacturing to racing on Friday on the grounds of Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

The marker was the third placed by IRMA in Anderson. Previously markers were placed to honor Ray Harroun, the first winner of the Indianapolis 500, and Bob Carey, a national racing champion.

Only Indianapolis with five markers has more than Anderson.

Members of the Reynolds and Roof family unveiled the memorial marker.

“My grandfather believed in Mr. Roof,” Myron Reynolds said. “They had a real good relationship that went on for many years.”

James Roof said Reynolds’ business expertise allowed his grandfather to be innovative in the manufacturing of engine parts for racing cars.

Mark Eutsler, co-founder of IRMA, said the group was placing the marker to recognize Anderson’s tremendous part in Indiana’s racing history.

Brian Hasler, IRMA co-founder, said since the organization was formed four years ago there have been 26 markers placed in the state with five more scheduled to be dedicated this year.

“This marker recognizes the entrepreneurial spirit of Myron Reynolds and the genius of Robert Roof,” Hasler said.

Roof was one of the first creators of aftermarket speed equipment during the formative years of American automobile racing at the start of the 20th century.

At an early age he took an interest in the internal combustion engine, building his first car in 1898.

Although Roof helped form Laurel Motors in Anderson in 1917 with the intent to market passenger automobiles, there was more of an interest in his speed equipment designed for the Model T.

Eventually Robert Roof partnered with Myron Reynolds and formed R&R Manufacturing in 1924 and, although the partnership didn’t last long, the name was never changed.

R&R Manufacturing became renowned for manufacturing racing heads for early four- and eight-cylinder Fords.

R&R Manufacturing entered a car in the 1928 Indianapolis 500, but failed to qualify.

Donald Davidson, historian for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said beginning in 1917 Robert Roof started putting “trick” heads on Ford engines for dirt track racing.

In 1909, Roof developed an air-cooled aircraft engine that was tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Davidson said from 1925 to 1927 the R&R Special won a lot of racers with driver Bob Carey.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.