This Week in Automotive History: June 11-17

June 11, 1955

Tragic Crash at Le Mans: When Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes-Benz catapulted into the stands, 83 spectators died, as did Levegh, while 120 more were injured. In the aftermath, many motor races were canceled and Switzerland even banned racing. 

June 12, 1940

Ford Agrees to Build Airplane Engines: Edsel Ford agrees to war materials boss William Knudsen’s proposal that the Ford Motor Company build 9,000 Rolls-Royce-designed aircraft engines for use in American and British planes.  

June 13, 1895

Levassor Wins Paris-Bordeaux-Paris Race: Driving a Panhard et Lavassor car with a two-cylinder Daimler Phoenix engine, Emile Levassor wins the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race.

June 14, 1900

First Gordon-Bennet Race Held: Representing France, Fernand Charron wins the first truly international race in a Panhard over a route between Paris and Lyon in France. 

June 15, 1937

Retractable Headlamps Patented: Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg President Harold Ames is granted a patent for the retractable headlamps first seen on the Gordon Buehrig-designed Cord 810.

June 16, 1903

Ford Motor Company Founded: Articles of association are filed, establishing the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford and Alexander Malcomson are the most significant stock holders, with 25.5 percent each. 

June 17, 1907

Brooklands Opens: When it opened, the 2.75-mile motor racing circuit was the first purpose-built motor racing track in the world. It later became Britain’s aviation center. It closed in 1939 and never reopened.

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