Descriptors such as visionary, entrepreneur and wunderkind certainly apply to Clessie Lyle Cummins. From humble beginnings as a rural Indiana farm boy with no formal education beyond the 8th grade, he improved on existing diesel engines, created new engine designs, was awarded 33 U.S. patents, and set five world endurance and speed records for trucks, buses and race cars.
Born on December 27, 1888, Clessie went to work as a chauffeur and mechanic in Columbus, Indiana. In 1919, he founded the Cummins Engine Co, Inc. (now Cummins, Inc.). Many credit him as the driving force that took diesel engines from farming byways to the nation’s highways.