Year
1935

Tazio Nuvolari triumphs over Germans at the Nurburgring

The Italian race car driver Tazio Nuvolari wins the greatest victory of his career in the Grosser Preis von Deutschland (German Grand Prix) held on the Nurburgring racetrack in Nurburg, Germany on this day in 1935. 

Known to his fans as “Il Montavano Volante,” or the Flying Mantuan, for his home city of Mantua, Nuvolari served as a driver in the Italian army before beginning his career racing motorcycles at the age of 28; he won the Italian championship in that sport in 1924 and 1928. His first major victory in a four-wheeled vehicle came in the 1930 Mille Miglia (Thousand Miles), Italy’s most famous automobile road race. Over the course of his career, in addition to racing as part of the Alfa Romeo team (and later the German Auto Union teams), Nuvolari raced as an independent driver in cars constructed by Bugatti, Maserati and MG.

The German Grand Prix of 1935 is remembered as Nuvolari’s greatest victory, and arguably one of the most impressive auto racing victories of all time. At the time, German automakers reigned supreme in the world of race car construction, and the “home team” at the Nurburgring that July day consisted of five Mercedes and four German Auto Union vehicles, all of which overpowered Nuvolari’s older 330 bhp (brake horsepower is a unit used to measure the power of an engine by the energy needed to brake it) Alfa Romeo. An estimated 250,000 to 300,000 spectators turned up to watch the race on that rainy, foggy July day, and drama broke out from the beginning, when Nuvolari’s longtime rival, Achille Varzi, driving for the German Auto Union, hit an auto mechanic working the race.

With one lap left to go, the German driver Manfred von Brauchitsch in his 445 bhp W25 Mercedes Benz–the most powerful car of the day–took a 35-second lead over Nuvolari; the rest of the field, competitive throughout, had fallen behind. Von Brauchitsch’s left rear tire was fraying, however, and with Nuvolari in hot pursuit behind him he declined a pit stop: The tire blew, and von Brauchitsch was forced to slow to 40 mph and guide it to the rim of the track. Nuvolari blew past him for the win, to the great chagrin of the Nazi Party officials at the finish line who had already started to raise the flag of the Reich and prepare the celebration.

Though Nuvolari would later race for the German Auto Union himself, that day he broke German hearts in his little red Alfa Romeo, beating the most powerful cars on the planet on one of the world’s most demanding tracks.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Rudy Vallée is born

Before the electronic microphone became commonplace in the 1920s, the one quality that was required of every professional singer in every musical genre was a talent for vocal projection—i.e., the ability to make oneself heard over one’s instrumental accompaniment in a live or a ...read more

Worst modern earthquake

At 3:42 a.m., an earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale flattens Tangshan, a Chinese industrial city with a population of about one million people. As almost everyone was asleep in their beds, instead of outside in the relative safety of the ...read more

Bonus Marchers evicted by U.S. Army

During the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover orders the U.S. Army under General Douglas MacArthur to evict by force the Bonus Marchers from the nation’s capital.Two months before, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of some 1,000 World War I veterans ...read more

14th Amendment adopted

Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 ...read more

Hamburg suffers a firestorm

On this day in 1943, the worst British bombing raid on Hamburg so far virtually sets the city on fire, killing 42,000 German civilians.On July 24, British bombers launched Operation Gomorrah, repeated bombing raids against Hamburg and its industrial and munitions plants. Sortie ...read more

Johnson announces more troops to Vietnam

President Lyndon B. Johnson announces that he has ordered an increase in U.S. military forces in Vietnam, from the present 75,000 to 125,000. Johnson also said that he would order additional increases if necessary. He pointed out that to fill the increase in military manpower ...read more

Dennis Martinez pitches perfect game

On this day in 1991, Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos pitches a perfect game to lead his team to a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martinez was the first Latino ever to pitch a perfect game.When he debuted with the Baltimore Orioles in 1976 at age 21, Martinez, ...read more

Indian agent James McLaughlin dies

Best known today for his inadvertent role in the death of Sitting Bull, the prominent Indian agent James McLaughlin dies in Washington, D.C.Unlike some Indian agents of the later 19th century, McLaughlin genuinely liked and respected his charges. His wife was half Sioux, and she ...read more

Animal House released

On this day in 1978, National Lampoon’s Animal House, a movie spoof about 1960s college fraternities starring John Belushi, opens in U.S. theaters. Produced with an estimated budget of $3 million, Animal House became a huge, multi-million-dollar box-office hit, spawned a slew of ...read more

Plane crashes into Empire State Building

A United States military plane crashes into the Empire State Building on this day in 1945, killing 14 people. The freak accident was caused by heavy fog.The B-25 Mitchell bomber, with two pilots and one passenger aboard, was flying from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to LaGuardia ...read more

Battle of Ezra Church begins

On this day in 1864, at the Battle of Ezra Church, Georgia, Confederates under General John Bell Hood make a third attempt to break General William T. Sherman’s hold on Atlanta. Like the first two, this attack failed, destroying the Confederate Army of Tennessee’s offensive ...read more

U.S. Senate approves United Nations charter

In a ringing declaration indicating that America’s pre-World War II isolation was truly at an end, the U.S. Senate approves the charter establishing the United Nations. In the years to come, the United Nations would be the scene of some of the most memorable Cold War ...read more

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

On July 28, 1914, one month to the day after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were killed by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, effectively beginning the First World War.Threatened by Serbian ambition in the tumultuous ...read more