Above via: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=346099
Johnny was born with a truncated torso and appendicular legs as the result of a rare condition, and joined the circus side show in his teens.
Eck loved all things mechanical, especially automobiles. With his circus earnings along with pay from odd jobs, Eck purchased a midget racecar and converted all the foot controls to hand operation. He even went so far as to have the car licensed for operation on the streets of Baltimore. Not only did he buzz around Baltimore in this crazy contraption, he raced it all over the eastern seaboard. The car was one of Johnny's greatest joys and although he went on to own others, his first was still somehow the best, much as it is for the rest of us.