In 1920, racecar driver John Riley Boling became the first Native American to compete in the Indianapolis 500. He finished 11th in a field of 23 drivers. (This was only the eighth running of the world-famous annual automobile race, which takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.) Boling had been born in 1895 in Bloomfield,... Continue Reading →

October 25, 1873 John North Willys, a leading automobile industrialist, was born in Canandaigua, New York. His original career involved selling bicycles, but all that changed when he saw his first automobile in 1899. Willys (pronounced Will-is), realizing the automobile’s potential, started selling models of that type of transportation instead. By 1907, Willys’ high volume... Continue Reading →

October 2, 1988 The innovative automobile designer Alexander “Alec” Arnold Constantine Issigonis died in Edgbaston, a town and suburban area of Birmingham, England, at the age of 81. In announcing his death, the London-based Guardian newspaper highlighted him as “not only a great and original car designer but someone who put his stamp on a... Continue Reading →

August 30, 1925 Two officials of the American Automobile Association (AAA) headed out of Washington, D.C., for an ambitious transcontinental motor vehicle trip to California. AAA President Thomas P. Henry and Ernest N. Smith, general manager of that organization, undertook that long drive to participate in the festivities commemorating California’s 75th anniversary as a state. Both... Continue Reading →

August 23, 1904 Harry D. Weed of Canastota, New York, was issued U.S. Patent Number 768,495 for his “Grip-Tread for Pneumatic Tires,” an innovation designed to help make driving safer in inclement winter weather or similarly adverse muddy road conditions. According to one of his great-grandsons, Weed came up with the idea for creating tire chains... Continue Reading →

August 14, 1893 With the passage of the Paris Police Ordinance, France became the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration. "Each motor vehicle shall bear on a metal plate and in legible writing the name and address of its owner, also the distinctive number used in the application for authorization,” read this ordinance.  “This plate... Continue Reading →

June 6, 1908 Construction officially began on the private toll road known as the Long Island Motor Parkway. The late-afternoon groundbreaking ceremony for the new motor vehicle route took place in what is now the Long Island hamlet of Bethpage. Approximately 500 people were in attendance, and they were formally welcomed by the Motor Parkway’s general manager... Continue Reading →

May 20, 1899 The first known official speeding infraction in the United States involving a “horseless carriage” took place in New York City. Jacob German was driving an electric taxi for the Electric Vehicle Company when city policeman John Schuessler – riding a bicycle at the time -- caught up with him. Schuessler had observed German speeding... Continue Reading →

April 1, 1909 Automobile coachbuilder Fleetwood Metal Body was formally launched in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, with Harry C. Urich serving as the new company’s president and general manager. Fleetwood Metal Body soon established itself as a leading high-quality producer of aluminum and wood automotive chassis. By 1920, the company was regularly exhibiting its creations at prestigious automobile... Continue Reading →

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