I was checking out the History Channel’s “This Day in History” again, and discovered one of those things that most of us never think about.
No sooner had the horseless carriage been invented than men started seeing who’s vehicle would go the fastest. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. Man had already been having horse races; why not race against their replacements.
I would surmise that the very first machines were challenged by men on horseback, and it probably took a while before the horses began to lose.
According to the History Channel, on January 27, 1899, a Frenchman named Camille Jenatzy managed to drive his battery powered auto at the break-neck speed of 49.932 miles per hour.
(I just noticed I looked at the wrong date again. So be it! This is my post for January 28, 2009. Live with it!)
The first thing I find most interesting about his feat is that the car was battery powered. I wonder if the Energizer bunny had anything to do with it.
The second thing that fascinates me is the timing device used to determine a speed to three decimal positions. That seems extremely precise for 1899.
Whether it was intentional or not, on January 27, 1904, William K. Vanderbilt set a record in an automobile designed by Mors. It was the first major speed record set by an internal-combustion car. His speed of 76.086 miles per hour was achieved in Ablis, France.
All previous records had been set by steam or battery powered cars.
Those speeds seem so slow by today’s standards, but were probably more dangerous. Those early machines weren’t equipped with air bags and seat belts.
I doubt if ‘Fast Willie’ Parker of the Pittsburgh Steelers could outrun Vanderbilt, but he might have given Jenatzy a run for his money.
I had to work the Super Steelers in to my posts somehow. And I won’t promise it won’t happen again.