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Harry Sinclair – Founder of Sinclair Oil

Sinclair shaped the industry as we know it.

I remember very well the Sinclair Service Station that was in Potomac Heights. I visited the store next to it and purchased gas several times growing up in Potomac Heights. Sinclair Stations are not as common on the east coast, but are very common in the mid-west and toward the west coast. I thought I would share a little history about Sinclair below.

Sinclair Oil Corporation is an American petroleum corporation, founded by Harry F. Sinclair on May 1, 1916, as the Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation by combining the assets of 11 small petroleum companies. Originally a New York corporation, Sinclair Oil reincorporated in Wyoming in 1976.

Sinclair is a family-owned, vertically integrated oil company involved in all aspects of our industry – from oil and gas exploration to motor fuel distribution. They have executive offices in Salt Lake City, Utah; two refineries in Wyoming; and over 1,500 branded Sinclair stations in 29 states. The closest a Sinclair Station from my home is 179 N Pearl St, Bridgeton, New Jersey.

The first high-octane gasoline. In 1926, Sinclair leapt ahead of most of its competitors with H-C, the industry’s original high-octane premium gasoline for motorcars. The 72-octane auto fuel, developed at its Houston refinery, was better than anything then marketed (Lindbergh’s flight to Paris the following year was on 73-octane gasoline). H-C stood for “Houston Concentrate,” though some advertising men called it “High Compression.”

The first racing promotions. Many speedsters of the 1920s sports craze – racing internal combustion vehicles – wore tailored, white Palm Beach coveralls proclaiming the Sinclair name: Gar Wood, supreme on the water; Floyd Clymer, the fastest motorcyclist; road and track auto winners Tommy Milton, Ralph DePalma, Gaston Chevrolet, Cannonball Baker and Art Kline. The publicity moved independent service station owners to buy Sinclair franchises.

The first modern service station. The first modern service station opened in Chicago in 1922, taking maintenance out of the do-it-yourself class in back alleys. Now filling stations offered oil changes, greasing, tire repairs, wash jobs, free air, minor mechanical repairs and a profitable sideline in tires, batteries and accessories. Sinclair’s super-stations installed restrooms for the rising ranks of automobile tourists.



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