Today in History: Nürburgring opens in 1927

Today in History: Nürburgring opens in 1927

The Nürburgring is a 22.8-kilometer circuit for car and motorcycle racing located in the town of Nürburg in Germany. Some 3,000 workers helped build the “First Mountain, Race and Test Track.” The construction of the racetrack was part of a job creation program of the government for the economically weak Eifel. For decades, the Nürburgring was regarded as the most difficult racetrack in the world. In 1976, Niki Lauda barely survived a terrible accident on the Nordschleife, the “Green Hell.” After Lauda’s accident, Formula 1 races at the Nürburgring were discontinued. Lauda was the only person ever to lap the full 22,835-metre (14.189 miles) Nordschleife in under seven minutes.

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History: Africa hosts the World Cup in 2010

History: Africa hosts the World Cup in 2010

The 19th FIFA World Cup – the first ever on the African continent – opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the final, Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in overtime.

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Today in History: First Porsche in 1948

Today in History: First Porsche in 1948

71 year ago today, a hand-built aluminum prototype labeled “No. 1″ becomes the first vehicle to bear the name of one of the world’s leading luxury car manufacturers: Porsche. The Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche debuted his first design at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900. The electric vehicle set several Austrian land-speed records, reaching more than 35 mph and earning international acclaim for the young engineer. He became general director of the Austro-Daimler Company (an outpost of the German automaker) in 1916 and later moved to Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart. Daimler merged with the Benz firm in the 1920s, and Porsche was chiefly responsible for designing some of the great Mercedes racing cars of that decade.

Porsche left Daimler in 1931 and formed his own company. A few years later, Adolf Hitler called on the engineer to aid in the production of a small “people’s car” for the German masses. With his son, also named Ferdinand (known as Ferry), Porsche designed the prototype for the original Volkswagen (known as the KdF: “Kraft durch Freude,” or “strength through joy”) in 1936. During World War II, the Porsches also designed military vehicles, most notably the powerful Tiger tank.

At war’s end, the French accused the elder Porsche of war crimes and imprisoned him for more than a year. Ferry struggled to keep the family firm afloat. He built a Grand Prix race car, the Type 360 Cisitalia, for a wealthy Italian industrialist, and used the money to pay his father’s bail. When Porsche was released from prison, he approved of another project Ferry had undertaken: a new sports car that would be the first to actually bear the name Porsche. Dubbed the Type 356, the new car was in the tradition of earlier Porsche-designed race cars such as the Cisitalia. The engine was placed mid-chassis, ahead of the transaxle, with modified Volkswagen drive train components.

The 356 went into production during the winter of 1947-48, and the aluminum prototype, built entirely by hand, was completed on June 8, 1948. The Germans subsequently hired Porsche to consult on further development of the Volkswagen. With the proceeds, Porsche opened new offices in Stuttgart, with plans to build up to 500 of his company’s own cars per year. Over the next two decades, the company would build more than 78,000 vehicles. Source: history.com.

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Today is National Running Day

Today is National Running Day

Each year on the first Wednesday in June, people across the United States participate in National Running Day. This day was designated as a day for runners to reaffirm their passion for running.

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Today in History: World’s 1st Bicycle Race

Today in History: World’s 1st Bicycle Race
151 years ago today, the world’s first bicycle race was held in France. It was a 1,200 meter race at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, Paris. It was won by expatriate Englishman James Moore who rode a wooden bicycle with iron tires.

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Today in History: Kentucky Derby

Today in History: Kentucky Derby

144 years ago today, on May 17, 1875, a cheering crowd of 10,000 people watched the horse, Aristides, a Thoroughbred named after an ancient Greek general, and his rider, Oliver Lewis, cross the finish line to win the first ever Kentucky Derby. The first derby was a 1.5 mile race (the traditional 1.25 mile distance was not established until 1896). Thirteen of the fifteen jockeys in the race, including Oliver Lewis, were African-American.

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Today in History: The first modern Olympics open in Athens in 1896

Today in History: The first modern Olympics open in Athens in 1896

123 years ago today, 241 athletes from 14 countries took part in the first modern Olympiad in Athens, Greece. The event took place over 1500 years after the last ancient Olympic Games, which originated in Olympia in south-western Greece.

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