Everyone has a hero, and some people have several. Because many (all?) of us love the automobile to the point of pedantry, many of our four-wheeled idols aren't household names. Who's your favorite unsung car hero?

Given a choice, we'd pick Leo Goossen. Goossen was the fertile mind behind most of Harry Miller's legendary prewar circle-track racing cars, as well as the engineering brain who helped bring Fred Offenhauser's eponymous competition four-cylinder to life. Miller is often hailed as one of the most innovative men in American motorsport โ€” he introduced both front-wheel and four-wheel drive to Indianapolis before World War II, and Ettore Bugatti famously cribbed his ideas โ€” but he was no engineer. He was also known for making outlandish, seemingly impossible demands regarding his cars. Goossen listened, made everything happen, made it gorgeous, and made it work.

The Miller/Meyer-Drake Offy four, the most well-known piece of Goossen's work, was used at Indianpolis into the 1970s; if you go by influence and races won, it's as important a powerplant as the Cosworth DFV or the small-block Chevy. And yet the man is so off society's map that I was only able to find one picture of him on the Internet. Sigh.

Not everyone geeks out over little-known engineers. Who's your favorite unsung car hero?

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