3.7 Origin Story: How Stock Car Racing Was Born In Los Angeles Circa 1934!
1:32:53You think you know, but you have no idea. Stock car racing in the United States was born in the south, but not the south you are think of. On this episode of the Dork-O-Motive podcast, host Brian Lohnes tells the story of the first true stock car race as we know it in America, the 1934 Mines Field Gilmore Cup race. The greatest stars of racing were gathered to compete against one another in "stock" automobiles. There was cheating, there was a wild promoter, and there was more star power in one place than the racing world had ever seen. Learn the full story of how this race changed American motorsports and understand how deadly, daring, and downright dangerous auto racing was in this era. Loads of research, period materials, and information was gathered for this exhaustive look at a race that truly changed the world.
3.6: Consumed: The First Ferris Wheel and How It Ruined The Life Of George Washington Ferris
2:50:48What if I told you that the first Ferris wheel, built in 1893 was 265ft tall, powered by a 1,000hp steam engine, and carried 2,160 people at the same time! George Washington Gale Ferris is the man who engineered this marvel and the man who's name is synonymous with this ever-present attraction at fairs and amusement parks. What if I told you that the machine simultaneously made Ferris a world-wide celebrity while destroying his life. This is a story with so many twists and turns you'll hardly believe it. It is a fascinating look at the way engineering and the American spirit converged in the late 1800s to help the fledgling country arrive on the world stage and how anyone, even someone as smart as Ferris can become obsessed to the point of destruction in their personal and professional pursuits. Did Ferris steal the idea? Where did it come from, anyway? How was it HIM that got the glory? All those questions and the amazing size of the machine are all covered here!
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3.5: Cold War Crushers: The Awesome History of The Air Force Heavy Press Program
1:36:52The US Air Force Heavy Press program, executed between 1950 and 1957 is one of the most incredible industrial achievements in history. After identifying a huge technology gap at the end of WWII, the government worked with private industry to create the world's most extensive network of heavy press capability. The machines are insane, the work they do is even cooler, and the effort it took to create them is off the charts. One of the most successful industrial programs ever, 8 of the 10 heavy presses of the 1950s are still working today, making parts for everything from cars to stealth aircraft. Here's the story told the Dork-O-Motive way!
3.4: Fastest - An Oral History of the 1992 Hot Rod Magazine Fastest Street Car Shootout
2:15:45In 1992 Hot Rod Magazine gathered a collection of the fastest street cars in America for a showdown in Memphis, Tennessee. The reverberations of this event are still being felt today as it helped to rocket the movement of "fast street cars" into the hot rodding stratosphere. This is the story of that event, as told be the editors, racers, and fans that were there. Some of the guests on this show remember the race fondly, some with regret, and some, frankly, with their teeth gritted together, even 30 years later. It is a story about an event that changed the course of drag racing, changed the course of lives, and ultimately created things like Drag Week, Sick Week, Rocky Mountain Race Week, and the entire genre of Drag-n-Drive competition.
3.3: Beating Hitler With Combines - The Epic Story of The 1944 Harvest Brigade
1:17:26This is a wonderful story from the home front of WWII. The gumption of the American farmer, the strength of industry, and the inventive nature of government to solve a big problem. That issue? The largest wheat crop in the history of the United States was coming in and there wasn't enough men or machines to properly harvest it. The answer? The Massey-Harris Harvest Brigade. This armada of 500 brand new combines swept from Texas to the Dakotas, nearly into Canada harvesting while a second team worked the fields of California and the Pacific Northwest. The relentless work and coordination resulted in a population of allied countries that were fed and armies that marched on full stomachs. A perhaps long forgotten story of horsepower, work power, and patriotism, enjoy this telling of a tale that should make your heart swell.
3.2 Small Blocks vs The World: The Wild Story of The 1971 Questor Grand Prix
1:40:08Imagine a racing event where 30 of the best drivers came from all corners of the world to clash at the nicest race track ever built. Imagine that half of them would be driving F1 cars and the other half would be driving small block V8 powered open wheeled machines with way less tech but more horsepower. Imagine it were 1971. This was the premise behind the Questor Grand Prix, a race held at Ontario Motor Speedway with a massive prize fund and more importantly bragging rights on the line. Who won and how it all went down is only half the story. There's all kinds of cool sub plots here and if you love racing history, you'll totally dig this deep dive into one of the coolest and weirdest one off races in history.
3.1: Unstable - The Deadly and Explosive History of Headlights
1:45:12The automotive headlight is not exactly the most exciting part of a car, right? Wrong. Back in the early 1900s not only were headlights new and exciting, they were explosive and deadly. This incredible look back at the early history of headlights is likely a topic you've never heard about or thought about before. Because no suitable electric bulb for cars had been invented yet, brave entrepreneurs looked for a solution and found one in the form of acetylene gas. This cheap to produce and highly flammable gas burned bright enough to shame all other available light sources. There were problems, though. Like the fact that the Prest-O-Lite company had 15 plants explode between 1907 and 1917. This episode of the Dork-O-Motive podcast looks back at these wild years, the technology behind it, how fortunes were made, buildings were leveled, and lives were lost. All to simply see a little bit better in the dark.
2.5: Rip Tide: The Incredible and Dark History of The World‘s Water Speed Record
3:50:42The world's water speed record has been held by only 9 people since 1928. It has an 85% death rate in attempts and the current record has stood since 1978 with each successive attempt to unseat it resulting in the death of the driver. This long form look back at the history of the water speed record is a blow by blow account of an activity that has captivated and killed many people over the years. The people and machines who have shot across bodies of water from Argentina to Italy to Australia are each unique in their own way but their vision was the same. To defy the laws of physics and end up on the right side of the game. To our knowledge this is the most in-depth look back at the history of the record using research materials, newspapers, period audio, and personal interviews with the subjects at hand. An amazing tale that once dominated the headlines of the 20th century and has now all but dropped off into obscurity.
2.4: 1,000 Ton Sucker Punch - The Wild Story Of WWI Q-Ships
1:49:58Imagine a single weapon of war with such vicious tactics that it nearly defeated an entire country. Such was the case with Germany's fleet of U-boats during WWI. As the U-boats sunk hundreds of ships per month, Britain was in danger of running short on food, war materials, and basic necessities of life. The mighty British Navy had no answer for these silent killers of the seas. And then someone had an idea. By creating a shadow Navy of secretly armed merchant ships, Britain created their first line of submarine defense and it was brilliant. They were called Q-ships and from the outside they looked like fishing trawlers, sailing ships, and simple tramp steamers, but they were manned by experienced gunnery crews and had powerful secrets hiding in plain sight. Starting in 1915 when U-Boat captains surfaced to attack an unsuspecting merchant ship, they were at risk of they themselves becoming the victims of these awesome new weapons. On this episode of the Dork-o-Motive podcast we examine the incredible history, bravery, and innovation that these oddball fighting ships brought to WWI and how they were a legit threat to U-boats and frustrated German commanders on the high seas. Wild history you never knew!
2.3: Too Fat To Fly: The Crazy Story Of How Super Speedway Big Rig Racing Was Born!
1:45:25In 1979 a promoter from Tennessee put on the first ever big rig super speedway race and it caused a national panic. The government, the trucking industry, the Teamsters, tire companies, and sponsors all tried to stop the event from happening. Only, they failed and it did happen. Predictions of the race being a "public suicide" or a "bloody spectacle" filled the nations newspapers. Truckers protesting the 55mph national speed limit and fuel shortages across the country were angry at the gross consumption of these 1,000hp diesel race trucks. It was crazy, it was bedlam, and it was the birth of a racing series that would run for nearly 20 years after its chaotic launch at Atlanta International Raceway in June of 1979. Through vintage audio, interviews with Charlie Baker the winningest driver in the history of the series, Bobby Doerrer the announcer for the first several races, and a myriad of newspaper clippings from sources all over the country, we tell you the story of how a promoter used a tsunami of bad news and dire outlooks to propel his event into the history books of American racing. 14,5000lb trucks with 1,000hp on the high banks of Atlanta and the Indy of the West, Ontario Motor Speedway. It's so crazy that if we didn't have the proof you wouldn't believe the story!