Peter Farnsworth is a name that may not be too familiar to many outside of our humble Lindengrove community. However, he is an ordinary man no different than you and I, who has accomplished extraordinary things and continues to inspire those lucky enough to be around him.
“Our family chose Lindengrove for our father’s care because my mother also spent time in the community years ago, and quite frankly, she received wonderful care,” Farnsworth’s family member said. “It just seemed natural to pursue care from them again because of how comfortable they’ve made our family in the past.”
For those that don’t know, Farnsworth, who is currently a Lindengrove Menomonee Falls resident, is known for his contributions to the engineering world and his involvement in breaking land speed records with the Blue Flame, a rocket-powered vehicle that set the record for the fastest land speed in the world in 1970.
But before we get to all that, It’s important to give you a little background.
Farnsworth was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, in the heart of the United States. Even as a young child, Farnsworth showed a keen interest in science, automobiles, and engineering. His mind works in a way that wants to know how things work and what more they are capable of through trial and error.
His natural curiosity and forward-thinking nature led him to pursue a degree in engineering at the University of Illinois, where he further honed his skills and continued pushing the boundaries of scientific possibility.
The Beginning of Peter Farnsworth’s Journey
With an established reputation for building, designing, and racing cars in his community, Peter Farnsworth later took a job opportunity as a truck mechanic in the Milwaukee area. Little did he know moving his family to Wisconsin would quickly change the course of his life and those around him for the better.
Because life started getting too busy for Farnsworth to give his professional and personal interests his full attention, he decided to meet himself in the middle—a compromise needed to be made.
“That’s when I decided it was time for an exhibition car,” Farnsworth said. “Something that I could take around the country that was low maintenance.”
And as luck would have it, Farnsworth re-connected with Dick Keller at an exhibition race in Illinois years after they initially met. The two hit it off and later founded Reaction Dynamics, along with Ray Dausman, which would become a noteworthy business, historic even.
In 1965, the trio of Farnsworth, Keller, and Dausman made it their goal to reach the highest land speed record. They identified that a common issue of previous record-holding cars came down to aerodynamics, which they knew they’d be able to improve.
Additionally, they felt that with a rocket engine and a little innovation, it was possible to dwarf the previous records.
So they got to work.
The trio eventually developed the first hydrogen peroxide rocket dragster, the X-1, which Chuck Suba drove. The X-1 set a national record-breaking quarter mile at 5.41 seconds in 1967.
“We gained a lot of notoriety running the X-1,” Farnsworth said. “The day our team set the world record in Oklahoma City for the quarter-mile, the gas industry had executives on hand that watched it happen. It helped launch our careers.”
Before they knew it, the American Gas Association brought them aboard with an even more significant project in mind.
The Blue Flame
Along with a small team of dedicated engineers from Reaction Dynamics, and the financial backing of the American Gas Association, Farnsworth began designing and building the Blue Flame.
This rocket-powered vehicle was the first of its kind. The Blue Flame was an incredible feat of engineering, combining cutting-edge technology with a fearless team of brilliant minds willing to take risks and push the limits of what was possible.
In 1970 it all came to fruition when the Blue Flame set the land speed record in Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah by reaching speeds of over 630 miles per hour. This record would stand for over a decade and cement Farnsworth’s place in history as one of the greatest engineers of his time.
Today, the Blue Flames engine stays idle while displayed at the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim in Germany.
But Farnsworth’s contributions to the engineering world did not end with the Blue Flame. He continued to work on innovative projects, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was possible and inspiring others to do the same.
Peter Farnsworth’s Continued Legacy
Today, Peter Farnsworth is highly regarded as one of the most intelligent and accomplished residents at Lindengrove and a great source of inspiration and pride for the entire community. Everyone around Farnsworth is smarter for getting to know him and hearing his incredible story.
The story of Peter Farnsworth and the Blue Flame is a reminder that even the smallest communities can produce great things and that curiosity, dedication, and perseverance are the keys to success.
As Lindengrove grows and evolves, residents like Farnsworth will continue to inspire and lead the way for the next generation.
The hope is that we can absorb even just a sliver of their greatness when our residents are willing to share their lives with us because everyone you cross paths with has an amazing story worth telling.