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May 27, 1923 – The winner of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans is…
This Day

May 27, 1923 – The winner of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans is…

1923 #1 #2 #5 #6 #8 #9 The inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans ended on this day in 1923. This first of its kind automobile endurance race, held in Le Mans, France, began the day before with 33 cars on the track. All but three would still be driving when the race came to an end. The winners of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans race were Frenchmen André Lagache and René Léonard, who drove a Chenard-Walcker Sport. They completed 128 laps, while second place finished at 124.  Above: The #10 Chenard-Walcker of Dauvergne and BachmannTop: The start of the 1923 24 Hours of Le Mans The winner of the race was originally to be determined after three years of competition, combining the distance traveled at the race each year. This idea was abandoned after the first three year period. The race ha...
May 26, 1962 – Founder of BMW dies
This Day

May 26, 1962 – Founder of BMW dies

On the 29th of April, 1913, Karl Rapp, who died on this day in 1962, and a partner founded GmbH in Munich, Bavaria. The formation of the company and the capital provided by investors allowed for the acquisition of the failing Flugwerke Deutschland, an aircraft engine manufacturing company that Rapp worked at. Under new guidance, Rapp expanded the company into automotive engines as well. Of course, WWI altered things a bit. However, the production facility remained open and by 1915, the company employed nearly 400 people. An order from the Prussian army for 600 high altitude engines prompted the firm to change its name to Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH (BMW) in 1917. Karl Rapp By force of the Treaty of Versailles, the company the had to diversify its production efforts. This res...
May 25, 1950 – Chicago Green Hornet disaster kills 33
This Day

May 25, 1950 – Chicago Green Hornet disaster kills 33

Tragedy struck the streets of Chicago on this day in 1950 when 33 people died in one of the deadliest public transportation disasters in US history to date. It occurred when a Chicago Transit Authority “Green Hornet” trolley smashed into a truck, resulting in the loss of life and more than 30 injured. Green Hornet driver Paul Manning was at the helm when he either ignored or did not see a flagman who was diverting trolleys away from a flooded underpass which made the tracks impassable due to heavy rains the night before.  Trolleys moving southbound along 63rd street were being detoured to a turnaround track to avoid the flood. Manning was piloting his Green Hornet, one of the newest in the fleet, at a dangerously fast 35 mph when he blew by the flagman. Seconds later the t...
May 24, 2010 – Hummer shuts down
This Day

May 24, 2010 – Hummer shuts down

On this day in 2010, rugged off-road and military automaker Hummer went defunct. The origins of the civilian Hummer can be traced to 1979 when the US Army put out word that they were seeking a “High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle,” or HMMWV. AM General designed a vehicle that met the Army’s requirements and was the first automaker to deliver a prototype. The first production style HMMWVs were delivered to the Army’s proving grounds in April 1982. Testing of the vehicle led to the Army awarding AM General with a contract to build 55,000 of the vehicles by 1985. The monetary value of the contract was $1.2 billion. Above: A High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled VehicleTop: Hummer H3 By the 1980s, AM General, in part thanks to a pushy Arnold Schwarzenegger, had planned on sellin...
May 23, 1934 – Bonnie & Clyde are shot to death in a Ford V8
This Day

May 23, 1934 – Bonnie & Clyde are shot to death in a Ford V8

On this day in 1934 outlaws Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut “Champion” Barrow were shot to death in a police ambush while driving a stolen 1934 Ford V8 in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. The two had met in January 1930 at a mutual friend’s house and Bonnie was quickly smitten over Clyde. While she was married, her husband was also in and out of jail. Those two never crossed paths again after the fateful meeting of Bonnie and Clyde.  Above: Bonnie & Clyde just messin' around.Top: The 1934 Ford Deluxe V8 after it was ambushed. Clyde had a lengthy criminal history prior to meeting Bonnie. He had been arrested for stealing cars, cracking safes, and robberies of various businesses. While in jail he killed a fellow inmate for sexually harassing him, his first murder. ...
May 22, 1906 – Wright brothers receive a flying machine patent
This Day

May 22, 1906 – Wright brothers receive a flying machine patent

On this day in 1906, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright received their first patent related to their “flying machine.”  They originally filed for the patent prior to their first powered flight, which took place on December 17, 1903, a few miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. After the rejection of their first patent application, they hired a patent lawyer. This man found the language that ensured they would receive the proper credit for their invention and. After filing in 1903, they finally received U.S. patent number 821,393 on this day in 1906. It covered a system of aerodynamic control that manipulated a flying machine's surfaces. The brothers had been experimenting with unmanned flying machines since 1899, and manned flying the next year, when they began to test their gl...
May 21, 2003 – Automobile builder Alejandro de Tomaso dies
This Day

May 21, 2003 – Automobile builder Alejandro de Tomaso dies

Alejandro de Tomaso was born in Argentina in 1928 to a politically prominent family. In the mid 1950s he fled his country for his grandfather's homeland, Italy, after being suspected of participating in a plot to overthrow the current Argentinian president. He landed in Modena, a city rich in automotive history and racing culture, which influenced the rest of his life. De Tomaso began a career as a racing driver for companies such as Maserati and Scuderia, making his Formula One debut in 1957. He participated in four races that year, but he scored no championship points. That didn't stop him from pursuing automotive excellence. Above: De Tamaso Vallelunga. By Rikita - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0Top: Alejandro de Tomaso with a Ford powered Pantera at Ford HQ. In 1959 he founded the De...
May 20, 1899 – The first speeding ticket in USA is issued
This Day

May 20, 1899 – The first speeding ticket in USA is issued

On this day in 1899, New York City taxicab driver Jacob German became the first person in the United States to be cited for speeding while driving an automobile. German drove a cab for Electric Vehicle Company, which leased its cars to be used as taxis in the bustling city. The car German drove was known as an Electrobat (example pictured above), a fully electric vehicle invented in 1894. About 60 of these cars operated as NYC taxis in 1899. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqLTzZvKdOU At the time, New York had speed limits for horses and cars of 8 miles per hour when traveling in a straight line. When cornering, drivers had to slow to at a max speed of 4 miles per hour. German was traveling an astonishing 12 miles per hour. It was so fast that the bicycle officer who pulled Ge...
May 19, 1903 – Buick is Founded
This Day

May 19, 1903 – Buick is Founded

On this day in 1903 the Buick Motor Company was founded by David Buick as a subdivision of Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, which started business in 1899 as a manufacturer of internal combustion engines. The Model B became the first Buick to go on sale to the public when it launched in 1904, reaching total annual production of 37 units. There are no known survivors of the 1904 vehicles, but two replicas do have original 1904 engines.  Above: 1950s Buick convertibleTop: 1904 Buick Model B. Originally priced at $850 In that same year, William C. Durant became General Manager of Buick as a controlling investor. He moved Buick headquarters to Flint, Michigan. From there he used his promotional skills to make it the best selling automobile in America in its early years. Durant...
May 18, 1958 – Lotus makes its Formula One debut
This Day

May 18, 1958 – Lotus makes its Formula One debut

Team Lotus made its Formula One debut today in 1958 at the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, the opening event for the European racing season. Lotus entered two single-seat Type 12 race cars, which were driven by Cliff Allison and Graham Hill. While Ferrari was the favored team in the face, it was the Brits who took home the checkered flag thanks to the driving of Maurice Trintignant behind the wheel of his Cooper. At the same event, Maria Teresa de Filippis became the first female F1 driver. Both Lotus cars finished the race, with Allison in 6th and Hill in 26th. Anthony Chapman, founder of Lotus Engineering Company and racecar driver himself, took notes at the race and redesigned his cars based on the successes of other competitors. Just two years later a Type 18 Lotus was entered in...

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