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 →

June 19, 1971 Garfield “Gar” Arthur Wood, a champion motorboat racer who also achieved fame for various transportation-oriented innovations, died at the age of 90 in Miami, Florida. Wood was born in Mapleton, Iowa, in 1880. He and his family subsequently moved to Minnesota and young Gar Wood developed a lifelong love for boats along... Continue Reading →

During the late 19th century, Tillie Anderson established herself as a fiercely determined and highly accomplished bicyclist. Anderson was born in southern Sweden in 1875. She immigrated to the United States in 1891 and ended up living in Chicago. Anderson worked as a seamstress in a tailor’s shop. When she was 18, Anderson bought her... Continue Reading →

Janet Guthrie, who blazed new trails for women as a professional race car driver, was born in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1938. Initially, her transportation-oriented aspirations were focused on airborne travel. Guthrie earned a pilot’s license when she was only 17. After graduating from the University of Michigan, she worked for several years as a... Continue Reading →

February 7, 1914 Charlie Chaplin, the silent-film comedian and one of the greatest influences in movie history, first appeared on the big screen as his now-iconic Little Tramp character. The film in which he first played that role for moviegoers was a transportation-themed comedy called “Kid Auto Races at Venice.” The film was produced by Keystone... Continue Reading →

January 29, 1878 Bicycle and automobile racer Berna Eli “Barney” Oldfield was born in York Township in northwestern Ohio. Oldfield launched his career as a bicycle racer in 1894 when he was only 16. Oldfield’s bicycle accomplishments brought him to the attention of Henry Ford, who invited him to test-drive one of his automobiles designed for... Continue Reading →

November 27, 1975 Automotive engineer Alberto Massimino died in the city of Modena in northeast Italy at the age of 80. Massimino, who was born in Turin in 1895, developed a strong interest in mechanics at an early age. Massimino earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Technical Institute at Fribourg in Switzerland. He... Continue Reading →

Image: Portraits of three women engineers: Margaret Rowbotham, Beatrice Shilling, and Margaret Partridge Beatrice “Tilly” Shilling, who left her mark as an aeronautical engineer as well as a motorbike and car racer, was born in Waterlooville, England. At age 14, she bought her first motorbike. By that time, she had also developed a strong interest... Continue Reading →

Marshall W. "Major" Taylor (1878-1932), the first African-American to become a world-champion cyclist, departed the Australian city of Melbourne via train during the course of his second racing tour in the Land Down Under. (His first tour in Australia took place the previous year.) The Indiana-born Taylor had launched his professional cycling career at New York... Continue Reading →

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