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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...
December 2, 1916 – Uniontown Speedway holds first race, 5 die
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December 2, 1916 – Uniontown Speedway holds first race, 5 die

Uniontown Speedway In the early days of auto racing, death was simply a byproduct of the action. In many circumstances, watching a race could be as deadly as being a driver. Though cars grew faster and faster, little was done to curb the likelihood of being maimed on the track. By 1916, high performance racers zoomed around specially built tracks at speeds ranging from 60 to 100 mph with little or no safety measures in place. If anything, track designs encourage speed, not safety. Such was the case with new Uniontown Speedway just outside of Uniontown, PA, which held its first race on this day in 1916. Uniontown Speedway Construction In the days before the debut event, racers entered the track for testing and practice. During these trial runs, the new speedway claimed its first v...
October 27, 1957 – Buck Baker becomes first consecutive NASCAR champion
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October 27, 1957 – Buck Baker becomes first consecutive NASCAR champion

Buck Baker with this Black Widow Chevy The 1957 NASCAR season was capped off by a dramatic 250 lap race on this day in 1957. The action unfolded on the ⅓ mile dirt track in Greensboro, North Carolina, with theatrics beginning on lap 35. During that spin around the track, an accident sent Marvin Panch end over end in his Ford. His car landed on its wheels and he kept going! After 16 more laps before finally called it quits. The crashes kept coming, making for a slow march to the finish for the The 2,500 fans shivering in the grandstands. Those who stuck it out in the chilly temperatures were treated to a high octane duel. Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker Sr., in his Black Widow 1957 Chevrolet, and Lee Petty, in his Oldsmobile, swapped the lead four times throughout the race. Finally, on lap...
September 19, 1932 – Driving 12 cylinders for 24 hours straight
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September 19, 1932 – Driving 12 cylinders for 24 hours straight

When Pierce-Arrow entered the cylinder wars of the late 1920s and early '30s with a V-12, they had trouble pumping any more horsepower out of it than their straight 8. Notable race car driver and engineer Ab Jenkins got a call from the automaker, hoping he could help. With his assistance, the team added 45 more HP to the engine. Then Jenkins got a wild idea. Jenkins pitched the idea of driving a car with the new engine for 24 hours straight to promote the reliability and power of the Pierce-Arrow 12-cylinder. Jenkins promised he'd cover more than 2,400 miles, averaging more than 100 miles per hour, all while never leaving the driver's seat. The folks at the luxury automaker were skeptical, to say the least. This included Jenkins friend and Pierce-Arrow sales manager Roy Faulkner. I...

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