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June 14: Front-wheel-drive Packard sets a 148-mph speed record on this date in 1928


To celebrate the opening of its test track in Utica, Mich., on June 13, 1928, the Packard Motor Co. asked racer Leon Duray to attempt a top-speed run on its new oval. Duray, fresh from running from the pole at the Indianapolis 500 that year in the Miller 91 Packard Cable Special, hit 148 mph -- a record that would stand until the Monza test track opened in Italy following World War II. What's more amazing than the record was how builder Henry Miller accomplished it: with a 91-cubic-inch supercharged straight eight engine good for 250 hp driving the front wheels. In that era, front-wheel-drive meant a lower car that could better balance its weight in corners. The Miller 91 in front- and rear-wheel-drive form became a racing classic, but Duray never did win the 500.

Photo of the run from Detroit Public Library