Today in History: June 11, auto racing disaster at Le Mans


Today is Sunday, June 11, the 162nd day of 2023. There are 203 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On June 11, 1955, in motor racing’s worst disaster, more than 80 people were killed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France when two of the cars collided and crashed into spectators.

On this date:

In 1509, England’s King Henry VIII married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

In 1770, Captain James Cook, commander of the British ship Endeavour, “discovered” the Great Barrier Reef off Australia by running onto it.

In 1776, the Continental Congress formed a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence calling for freedom from Britain.

In 1919, Sir Barton won the Belmont Stakes, becoming horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner.

In 1938, Johnny Vander Meer pitched the first of two consecutive no-hitters as he led the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-0 victory over the Boston Bees. (Four days later, Vander Meer refused to give up a hit to the Brooklyn Dodgers, who lost, 6-0.)

In 1962, three prisoners at Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay staged an escape, leaving the island on a makeshift raft; they were never found or heard from again.

In 1985, Karen Ann Quinlan, the comatose patient whose case prompted a historic right-to-die court decision, died in Morris Plains, New Jersey, at age 31.

In 1987, Margaret Thatcher became the first British prime minister in 160 years to win a third consecutive term of office as her Conservative Party held onto a reduced majority in Parliament.

In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that people who commit hate crimes motivated by bigotry may be sentenced to extra punishment.

In 2001, Timothy McVeigh, 33, was executed by injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

In 2009, with swine flu reported in more than 70 nations, the World Health Organization declared the first global flu pandemic in 41 years.

In 2020, Louisville, Kentucky, banned the use of “no-knock” warrants and named the new ordinance for Breonna Taylor, who’d been fatally shot by officers who burst into her home.

Ten years ago: A parade of FBI and intelligence officials briefed the entire House on the government’s years-long collection of phone records and Internet usage, saying it was necessary for protecting Americans, and did not trample on their privacy rights. The American Civil Liberties Union and its New York chapter sued the federal government, asking a court to demand that the Obama administration end the program and purge the records it had collected. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks got into a bench-clearing brawl in the seventh inning that resulted in six ejections before the Dodgers won the game at home, 5-3.

Five years ago: U.S. and North Korean officials met at a hotel in Singapore to negotiate on the eve of the first summit between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader. The Supreme Court ruled that states can target people who haven’t cast ballots in a while in efforts to purge their voting rolls. Hurricane Bud grew to Category 3 force off Mexico’s Pacific coast.

One year ago: Ukrainian and British officials warned that Russian forces were relying on weapons with the potential to cause mass casualties as they tried to make headway in capturing eastern Ukraine as fierce fighting depleted resources on both sides. Thousands of people streamed to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the highest profile of demonstrations throughout the nation, marking a renewed push for gun control after a series of mass shootings. Mo Donegal defeated Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike and six other colts to win horse racing’s Belmont Stakes.

Today’s Birthdays: Former U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., is 93. International Motorsports Hall of Famer Jackie Stewart is 84. Singer Joey Dee is 83. Actor Roscoe Orman is 79. Actor Adrienne Barbeau is 78. Rock musician Frank Beard (ZZ Top) is 74. Animal rights activist Ingrid Newkirk is 74. Singer Graham Russell (Air Supply) is 73. Rock singer Donnie Van Zant is 71. Actor Peter Bergman is 70. Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana is 67. Actor Hugh Laurie is 64. TV personality and former U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, M.D., is 63. Singer Gioia (JOY’-ah) Bruno (Expose) is 60. Rock musician Dan Lavery (Tonic) is 57. Country singer-songwriter Bruce Robison is 57. Actor Clare Carey is 56. Actor Peter Dinklage is 54. Actor Lenny Jacobson is 49. Actor Joshua Jackson is 45. Americana musician Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers) is 45. U.S. Olympic and WNBA basketball star Diana Taurasi is 41. Actor Shia LaBeouf (SHY’-uh luh-BUF’) is 37.

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