I have to totally underline the mention of the Glenn Curtiss Museum. It's a vast hangar full of a massive cross-section of fascinating machines - cars, early bikes, aircraft - and lots of Americana for the not-so-mechanically-inclined.
The Finger Lakes region where Hammondsport happily resides is in general a little bit of paradise on earth, full of beautiful winding roads and wineries (no drinking and riding!), races at Watkins Glen and local artists. It makes for a wonderful long weekend.
(Full disclosure: I'm biased. I was born in Ithaca.)
What about Steven Jobs and Bill Gates? they revolutionized the computer industry (along with Al Gore who invented the internet.) Or Robert Goddard with rocketry and that Jarvik guy with the artificial heart. Closer to home is Eric Buell's innovative designs, or Vaughn Beals who turned HD from a crumbling dinosaur to an economic powerhouse.
I think the differance now is that from an R&D standpoint corporations own everything, so technological and medical breakthroughs become successes for the such and such corp. instead of the individual who thought them up
Also the time period from the late 1800's to the early 1900's was the peak of the industral revolution, with improvements in metalurgy, tooling , electric power generation and petroleum distillation driven by the navel arms race between England and Germany, all combining with standardized manufacturing to enable ideas to be brought from paper to reality in a consistant manner.
The developed nations at that time where at the height of their evolution from an agrarian farm based economy to the modern industrialized world we live in today.
Just what I was thinking, with his "package" surely he couldn't have gotten into a good racing tuck (Jockey style maybe?). This guys about as impressive as they come. Maybe Burt Rutan will be remembered for as broad a range of contributions and accomplishment in Aviation but then he doesn't Design, Build and Fly/Ride his creations. Curtiss (and Doolittle) put a lot more than their money where their mouth was.
Actually the Germans were very clever with mechanics. Too bad that they twice decided to try to rule the world by military means. If they'd stayed with what they did best, technology, they may very well today have been the world's preeminent industrial power.
One would have to wonder if the 40 hp claim for the v8 engine was a bit conservative. I have owned a number of unfared motor cycles in the 40 hp range. and none of them were remotely capable of 136 mph. VWW
I would guess in the range of 60-65 HP to the ground (zero wind). I have no doubt that the bicycle racer did his best to get out of the winds way (is that a chin pad on the tank?). The sand gets hard there but it's hard to imagine that they had the traction of pavement, kind of like Bonneville. Must have been quite a sight and sound.