Milestones in Speed - Power

Don Sherman Matthew Phenix David Yochum
Ian Dawson Getty Images IMS Photo
David Johnson

We Won't Drive 55
Think 65 mph is a low speed limit? If history repeats itself, Americans may soon be traveling even slower on highways, due to the correlation between lawful speed and energy consumption. Connecticut became the first state to establish automobile speed limits in 1901 (only 12 mph within city limits and 15 mph on rural roads), after which it was determined that each state would set its own speed limits. But when energy concerns became a priority during World War II, the U.S. government stepped in to create national speed limits. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the speed limit was set at a paltry 35 mph in an effort to reduce gasoline and rubber consumption. When the war ended, states were again free to set their own limits until 1974, when President Nixon signed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, which, says the U.S. Department of Transportation, "prohibited the Federal Highway Administration from approving [and funding] highway projects in any state having a maximum speed limit of over 55 mph." The "drive 55" movement outraged car enthusiasts and escalated the battle between inveterate speeders and law enforcement that continues to this day, even though the law was modified in 1987 to allow 65-mph speed limits and was completely repealed in 1995.

> Colin Chapman
If the United Kingdom is the manufacturing capital of the formula car world, then Colin Chapman is its principal architect. Like Enzo Ferrari, Chapman built plenty of influential road cars, but his baby, Lotus, existed primarily for racing, and it shifted the focus of Formula 1 from the continent to merry olde England. The Lotus 25 established the mid-engine, monocoque template that's used to this day. Along with wings, the Lotus 49 gave us an engine - the first Cosworth-Ford DFV - as an integral structural member of the chassis. The Lotus 72 (above) pioneered the wedge shape and side radiators. And the Lotus 78/79 advanced the ground-effects revolution.

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