10 More Reasons for Gearheads to Love America
It would be a little presumptuous to write an article titled "Ten Reasons for Gearheads to Love America", because the list of reasons far exceeds that amount. Additionally, there are a plethora of reasons to love America even with no interest in racing or automotive performance. With that said, we spent a little time this 4th of July week to reflect on ten more reasons that we love America, because we know without Her contributions, our company would not exist.
1. The Ford Mustang
MustangThe automobile that created the "pony car" class began production in 1964 and continues to present day, dominating the market share of the performance industry. One of the most recognizable emblems in the automotive industry, its running horse logo has become as much a part of Americana as the car itself. Mustang was the only pony car to remain in production, uninterrupted for over 50 years. Some folks like them because they're fast and relatively less expensive than other performance cars. Others like them because they look awesome. Still, others hate them because they're not Chevys.
2. The Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway puts the Indiana capital city on the map each Memorial Day weekend for a race celebrated across the world. The Indianapolis 500 or as some call it, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing held its first race in 1911. Back in those days, a riding mechanic was in tow to monitor the cars condition and make repairs during the race.
3. Berna Eli "Barney" Oldfield
OldfieldYou should be impressed with yourself if you know this one. Berna Eli "Barney" Oldfield was a racer from northwestern Ohio. In 1903 he became the first racer to drive a 1 mile track in a minute flat, or 60 mph. Pioneers like Oldfield pushed the boundaries of what was possible in a race car. Throughout his career he broke records, won races and helped establish Ford as a household name.
4. Chevy small-block V-8
Beginning in 1955, the Chevrolet small block V-8 engine has been a staple of the American automobile. The originally 265 cu in. engine was nicknamed the "Mighty Mouse" after the children's cartoon character. Different generations offered varying displacement, but the most widely used was the 350 cu. in small block. The 350 made its debut in the 1967 Chevy Camaro rated at 295 hp. Two years later, the option was extended to the entire Chevrolet line.
5. Stock Car Racing
Stock CarAmerican ingenuity is sometimes brought on by a need for an opposition to tyranny and oppression. There are however other times that it is sparked by a desire for that sweet sweet moonshine. During the prohibition era of the 1920s, moonshine runners had to upgrade their cars to outrun the authorities. When they realized that going fast was not only a necessity to stay out of prison, but also really fun, they started racing each other. Eventually man named Bill France came along to help set the guidelines for this new stock car racing and in 1948 he founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, NASCAR. In those days, the cars were true stock, and drivers often rode to the tracks in their race cars, but don't expect to see a no. 88 National Guard Chevy driving down I-95 to Daytona these days.
6. Pickup Trucks
Based of Ford's Model T, the world's first pickup trucks debuted in 1925 as a "Model T Runabout with Pickup Body". Since that time, trucks have gotten a lot stronger and a lot bigger. Across America Dodge Rams, Chevy Silverados and Ford F-Series trucks are helping us get our jobs done, and giving us some weekend recreation in the mud.
7. Drag Racing
Drag RacingDrag racing was born in the 1930s when Californians raced in dry lake beds and competed to go a short distance at the fastest speed. This migrated to back roads where a 1/4 mile was established as a short enough distance that they could judge who won and also maintain a marginal level of safety while racing illegally at high speeds. In 1943, Wally Parks established the National Hot Rod Association to help legitimize the sport. Today, drag strips have been erected across the US and across the world for sportsman and professionals making it one of America's great pastimes.
8. Bonneville Salt Flats
One of the most unique types of racing in the world takes place in the great state of Utah. There, a flat and open area of salt pan known as the Bonneville Salt Flats hosts land speed racing where records are broken and obscene speeds are achieved. One example is from 1960, when Mickey Thompson became the first American to go over 400 mph.
If you were going to demonstrate the off-road capabilities of the next great American general purpose vehicle, what would you do? In 1941, the Willys company decided to drive their new JEEP up the steps of the United States Capitol. Unfortunately back then, there were no smart phones to capture a good YouTube video. In 1945, the first civilian models were rolled out, making it the oldest brand of off-road vehicles and a symbol of the American spirit to keep on driving in harsh conditions.
10. Carroll Shelby
Carroll ShelbyThis May we lost an automotive legend, Carroll Shelby, racer, designer and founder of Shelby American. Shelby struggled with heart problems since his youth in Texas which continued throughout his career as a racer and eventually led to a 1990 heart transplant. None of this prevented him from leaving a legacy of some of the finest American cars ever produced such as the Shelby Cobra, Shelby edition Mustangs and Daytona coupes.