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January 26, 1925 – Actor and racing driver Paul Newman is born
This Day

January 26, 1925 – Actor and racing driver Paul Newman is born

Paul Newman with his sleeper VW Paul Newman was an American actor, film director, and entrepreneur, as well as a passionate auto racing enthusiast. He was born on this day in 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Newman began his acting career in the 1950s and went on to star in over 50 films, including "The Hustler," "Cool Hand Luke," and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." He was nominated for an Academy Award eight times and won once, for his role in "The Color of Money." In addition to his successful acting career, Newman was also an avid auto racing enthusiast, a passion sparked by his role in the film "Winning." He began racing in the early 1970s and quickly made a name for himself on the track. He competed in various racing series, including the Sports Car Club of America's Trans-A...
December 8, 1913 – Land speed record setter Camille Jenatzy dies during hunting prank
This Day

December 8, 1913 – Land speed record setter Camille Jenatzy dies during hunting prank

Camille Jenatzy with his wife riding in/on the Jamais Contente. Belgian driver Camille Jenatzy was a force behind the wheel in the earliest days of auto racing. At the time, the sport was among the deadliest activities humans participated in, but he finished race after race unscathed and often at the front of the pack. Knowing how dangerous it was, he predicted he would die in a Mercedes, his preferred racing vehicle. This fearless racing style also allowed Jenatzy, known as The Red Devil thanks to his red beard, to set the land speed record on three different occasions. Camille Jenatzy driving a Mercedes The first record came on January 17, 1899 at Achères, Yvelines, outside of Paris. Driving a CGA Dogcart he reached a speed of 66.66 km/h (41.42 mph) over one kilometer. Gaston d...
October 11, 1928 – Alfonso de Portago is born
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October 11, 1928 – Alfonso de Portago is born

Alfonso Antonio Vicente Eduardo Angel Blas Francisco de Borja Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, Marquis of Portago, better known as Alfonso de Portago, was a Ferrari race car driver, Olympic bobsledder and stunt pilot from Spain, who was born on this day in 1928. Although a storied race car driver, one of his first transportation feats wasn’t by land but by air, when the millionaire heir flew his plane beneath a bridge at age 17, winning a $500 bet.  Above: Alfonso racing at the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix in Havana. Top: Alfonso and co-driver Edmund Nelson at the 1957 Mille Miglia. They'd die later that day. After meeting a Ferrari importer in 1953, Alfonso began a successful racing career. He took first at many prestigious events. Notable wins include the Tour de France automobile...
October 4, 1983 – Thrust 2 sets new land speed record
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October 4, 1983 – Thrust 2 sets new land speed record

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA If you found yourself in The Black Rock Desert in Nevada on this day in 1983 you would not find yourself at Burning Man. However, youwould have witnessed the land speed record being broken by Richard Noble driving the Thrust 2, a jet propelled car designed by Britain's John Ackroyd. The vehicle hit a top speed of 650.88 mph but held the record at 633.468 mph, as that was the average of its two runs held within one hour of each other.  The vehicle is powered by a single Rolls-Royce Avon jet engine from an English Electric Lightning fighter plane from the Cold War era. The land speed record set by Thrust2 held steady until Andy Green drove ThrustSSC to 714 miles per hour in September 1997. He topped that, hitting 760 miles per hour, a month later. Today bot...
September 27, 1925 – Construction on Nürburgring racing circuit begins
Automotive, This Day

September 27, 1925 – Construction on Nürburgring racing circuit begins

On this day in 1925 construction on the Nürburgring racing circuit in Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany begins. The first races would take place on June 18, 1927 for motorcycles with sidecars, which Toni Ulmen won on an English 350 cc Velocette. Rudolf Caracciola took the checkers at the first automobile race, the following day. He drove a Mercedes Compressor to victory in the 5000 cc class. Above: Vintage sports car race at the track. Top: Rudolf Caracciola drives a Mercedes-Benz SSKL Rennsportwagen to victory at the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, July 19, 1931 with his co-driver Wilhelm Sebastian. Today, the motorsports complex features a Grand Prix track built in 1984 and has a crowd capacity of more than 150,000 people. The track’s biggest weekend of the year ...
September 10, 1950 – A new diesel speed record
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September 10, 1950 – A new diesel speed record

Jackson at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his Cummins Special in 1950. (IMS) Jimmy Jackson drove his #61 Cummins Diesel Special to a new diesel land speed record of 165.23 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on this day in 1950. Nicknamed the Green Hornet by Jackson, the car had a 401ci (6.6L) six-cylinder Cummins JBS 600 truck engine. It was outfitted with supercharger mounted in front of the engine that was coupled directly to the crankshaft. Jackson ran the same car in the 1950 Indianapolis 500, but was forced to drop out after 50 laps due to mechanical issues. Like diesel? Check out this story about the first diesel road trip.
July 26, 1998 – Disaster strikes at Michigan International Speedway
This Day, Videos

July 26, 1998 – Disaster strikes at Michigan International Speedway

On lap 175 of 250 of the CART series U.S. 500 on this day in 1998 Adrian Fernandez hit the wall at Michigan International Speedway, causing a tire and suspension parts to break loose and fly into the crowd. The wreck resulted in the deaths of three fans. An additional six people suffered injuries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnHpeP4s5L4 Adrian Fernandez 1998 wreck at Michigan International SpeedwayTop: Moment of impact. Image courtesy ESPN Fernandez's car hit the wall going upwards of 200 mph. The race was placed under caution but was not stopped, much to the dismay of reporters covering the event. In an effort to prevent further tragedies the fencing was extended to 17 feet high around any grandstand areas.
June 21, 1947 – The first post war Mille Miglia
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June 21, 1947 – The first post war Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia was an open road endurance race that took place in Italy 24 times from 1927 to 1957. It was on this day in 1947 the first post WWII race took place. The race was won by Italians Clemente Biondetti and Emilio Romano who drove an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Berlinetta Touring. The races began in 1927 when Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti, along with a group of investors, established the race because they were upset about the Italian Grand Prix being moved from their home town of Brescia. The designed a figure-eight type course that ran approximately one thousand miles on public roads. One thousand miles in Italian is “Mille Miglia,” although the first race was actually 1,005 miles. The first event started with 77 racers, of which 51 made it to the finish line. Coming in first...
June 13, 1953 – Tony Rolt  and Duncan Hamilton win 24 Hours of Le Mans, apparently drunk
This Day

June 13, 1953 – Tony Rolt  and Duncan Hamilton win 24 Hours of Le Mans, apparently drunk

Duncan Hamilton driving the Jaguar C-Type after winning the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of the most fantastic tales in auto sports history was born on this day in 1953 when British racers Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Jaguar C-Type, drunk. That's the legend, anyway. The story goes that Hamilton and Rolt had been disqualified from the race before it began due to practicing with the wrong number on their vehicle. Figuring they would no longer be busy for the next 24 hours, they headed to a local waterhole. After a few pints, Jaguar team manager Lofty England found the boys at the bar and let them know he had got them reinstated in the race. So they stumbled back to the track and off they went. As it would go, 24 hours later, they won. The tale is up ...
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...

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