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April 20, 2008 – Danica Patrick becomes first woman to win IndyCar race
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April 20, 2008 – Danica Patrick becomes first woman to win IndyCar race

When the checkered flag flew at the Indy Japan 300 on this day in 2008 Danica Patrick was the first one across the finish line, making her the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race. Patrick began her career in kart racing before moving to Formula Fords in the UK. She moved back to the USA to start her Indy career where she was named the Rookie of the Year in 2005 for both the Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season. Patrick has had a diverse career working as a driver, model and advertising spokeswoman. Her life in the driver’s seat has put her on many different tracks in numerous types of automobiles. She has raced, quite successfully, in Indy, which also included a 3rd place finish at the 2009 Indianapolis 500, and in NASCAR. In 2013 she became the first female to...
April 15, 1975 – IndyCar racer Paul Dana is born
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April 15, 1975 – IndyCar racer Paul Dana is born

IndyCar racer Paul Dana was born on this day in 1975 in St. Louis Missouri. Before Paul became a racecar driver he went to school for journalism, graduating from Northwestern University. He would have automotive related articles published in AutoWeek, Sports Illustrated and Maxim. Paul’s career prior to jumping in the driver’s seat full time also included working as a mechanic, driving instructor, private racing teacher and a PR & marketing representative.  Paul won his first races in 1996 while working as a mechanic at Bridgestone Racing School. In 2005 Paul suffered a spinal fracture while running practice laps for the upcoming Indy 500, which would have him out for the rest of the season. Following his recovery he returned to the series to race for Rahal Letterman Racin...
April 13, 1931 – American racing great Dan Gurney is born
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April 13, 1931 – American racing great Dan Gurney is born

On this day in 1931 American race car driver Daniel Sexton Gurney was born in Port Jefferson, New York. Gurney would move to California as a teenager, quickly getting caught up in the hot rod culture that had taken the state by storm. By 1958 he would be on the fast track to the racing hall of fame. Gurney competed quite successfully in multiple disciplines of auto racing. He took home first place trophies in Sports Cars in 1958, Formula One in 1962, NASCAR in 1963, and Indy Car in 1967. He was the first of only three drivers to accomplish such a feat. Gurney is also credited with a few other important racing traditions and inventing some critical components. After taking home the gold at the 1967 24 hours of Le Mans with A.J. Foyt, he sprayed champagne from the podium, starting a...
April 8, 1916 – Auto racing pioneer Bob Burman dies in wreck
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April 8, 1916 – Auto racing pioneer Bob Burman dies in wreck

Daredevil. Racer. Pioneer. These are all things that describe Bob Burman, one of auto racing's early heros. He participated in many significant automotive events in the early 20th century, including winning the Prest-O-Lite Trophy Race in 1909 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the precursor to the Indy 500. Unfortunately, his love for racing is exactly what would kill him. Burman died on this day in 1916, at age 31, when he crashed his open-cockpit Peugeot on a track in Corona, California. The wreck also took the life of his riding mechanic, Erick Schrader, an on-duty policeman, and the lives of three spectators. Another five fans suffered serious injuries. Above: Bob BurmanTop: Louis Chevrolet & Bob Burman in the Buick Bugs of 1910 Leading up to that fateful wreck, Burman has...
March 25, 1982 – Danica Patrick is born
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March 25, 1982 – Danica Patrick is born

By Zach Catanzareti. Danica Patrick, one of the most successful woman in automotive racing, was born on this day in 1982. Patrick got her start in racing at age 10 after getting behind the wheel of a competition go-kart. She has since raced in numerous circuits, including Indy, starting in 2005, and top tier NASCAR beginning in 2013. A prominent highlight of her career is a win at the 2008 Indy Japan 300. This represents the only female win in the IndyCar Series. Patrick is also the only woman to win the pole position for a NASCAR race, which she did for the 2013 Daytona 500. Check out the video below featuring a selection of highlights from her racing career: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixEu3c02x5A
March 14, 1914 – NASCAR great Lee Petty is born
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March 14, 1914 – NASCAR great Lee Petty is born

The patriarch of the Petty racing family, Lee Arnold Petty, was born on this day in 1914. Petty got a late start in racing, first taking the wheel in professional competition at age 35. Soon after getting a taste for the dirt, he participated in the first sanctioned NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His beginnings did not foreshadow the success he would find on the track. During that race on June 14, 1949, Petty drove a 1948 Buick Roadmaster that he borrowed from his neighbor. He informed the neighbor that the prize money he'd earn would cover any damages the car may incur during the race. Petty rolled the car. Petty rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s as one of NASCAR’s early superstars, even winning the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. During his NASCAR career he would rack ...
February 23, 1958 – Juan Manuel Fangio is kidnapped
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February 23, 1958 – Juan Manuel Fangio is kidnapped

Argentinian race car driver Juan Manuel Fangio dominated the first decade of Formula 1, winning the World Drivers’ Championship five times in the 1950s, a record which stood for 47 years. But he wasn’t in the driver’s seat when he made headlines on this day in 1958. It was the day before the Cuban Grand Prix and two men associated with Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement entered the Lincoln Hotel in Havana and kidnapped Fangio at gunpoint. They achieved their goal of drawing attention to Castro’s cause by embarrassing the current government of President Batista. Batista ultimately canceled the race due to the hostage situation. Despite the news spreading quickly around the world Batista ordered the race to go on while police searched for Fangio. The captors allowed Fangio to ...
February 21, 1909 – Bob Burman wins 100 mile Mardi Gras race
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February 21, 1909 – Bob Burman wins 100 mile Mardi Gras race

By 1909, Mardi Gras had been drawing visitors to New Orleans, Louisiana from around the world for more than 50 years. While the crowds grew annually, complaints that parades and balls did not provide enough entertainment sparked an an effort to diversify the fun. The growth opportunity sparked an idea in the heads of the young New Orleans Automobile Club. For 1909, the club organized an a three day auto racing spectacle featuring some of the best drivers of the day. Among them, female driving sensation Joan Cuneo and Buick racer Bob Burman. Cuneo would capture the hearts and spirits of many as she won several races and set speed records over the course of the event. On day two, this day in 1909, Burman would take the trophy for the 100 mile race. Above: Joan Cuneo in her Knox Gian...
January 12, 1879 – Ray Harroun, first Indy 500 winner, is born
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January 12, 1879 – Ray Harroun, first Indy 500 winner, is born

Ray Harroun, the winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500, was born on this day in 1879 in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania. By his early 20s, Harroun had already become a successful race car and endurance driver. One of his first major accomplishments came in 1903 when he, along with three other drivers taking shifts, set the first speed record for the drive between Chicago and New York City at 76 hours. A year later the team bested that by nearly 20 hours, finishing the course in 58 hours and 35 minutes.  Harroun in the winning Indy 500 car. Note the rear view mirror. Though he collected many checkered flags, his most famous victory would come on May 30, 1911, the first Indianapolis 500. The taxi-cab yellow Marmon Wasp that he helped design and build for the race was the first open ...
December 7, 1928 – Hot rodder & racer Mickey Thompson is born
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December 7, 1928 – Hot rodder & racer Mickey Thompson is born

Marion Lee "Mickey" Thompson, born on this day in 1928, set more automotive endurance and speed records during his life than any person before or since. Among those feats: becoming the first American to travel 400 miles per hour on the ground. His journey to 400 mph begins in his native California, where he worked for the Los Angeles Times. During his time as a pressman in his early 20s, a new fad took over the SoCal streets: hot rods. Mickey became infatuated with them and speed. Mickey was a active participant in the new sport, but not just from behind the steering wheel. He wrenched tirelessly to make his cars unbeatable. Mickey even had an oath to speed, exclaiming, "I hereby solemnly swear, to stand on the gas and leave all others in my dust, undisputed, forever, until the end...

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