If tenacity is the premise for a cat’s proverbial nine lives, then it is understandable why Capt. Edward Vernon Rickenbacker survived so many catastrophic events and lived to tell about them; he was blessed with tenacity, lots of it. Whether his survival was the result of luck or Divine intervention is debatable, but the odds against him were undeniably staggering. Edward Reichenbacher—he changed his name to Rickenbacker years later—was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1890. His parents were Swiss immigrants of modest means. In 1904 his father died, leaving a wife, eight children and a grim future. With no viable options, Rickenbacker quit school and went to work. A medley of jobs followed. In 1910, while working as the branch sales manager for Columbus Buggy Company, Rickenbacker began his automotive racing career. Automobile manufacturers entered races to display their cars and Rickenbacker entered his first race to sell cars. But the smell of burning oil, the rush of wind, and the surge of adrenalin proved overpowering. A year later, on Memorial Day, he entered the first running of the Indianapolis 500.