CRUISE INTO SUMMER WITH AN EPIC LOOK THROUGH THE REARVIEW MIRROR AT THE AUTOMOBILE'S IMPACT ON AMERICAN LIFE AND CULTURE
National Geographic Channel's Two-Hour Special DRIVING AMERICA
Premieres on Memorial Day, May 25, at 9 PM ET/PT
(Washington, DC - April 29, 2015) This summer, millions of friends, families and thrill seekers will participate in a ritual that our ancestors have done for more than century: take a road trip. Trips like these wouldn't be possible today without motels, highways and fast food restaurants, and those things wouldn't be a part of the landscape if not for one driving force: the automobile. This Memorial Day weekend, National Geographic Channel invites viewers to buckle in for DRIVING AMERICA (Monday, May 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT), a two-hour ride through the social, political and economic impact of the automobile on America.
In 1773 - two years before Paul Revere proclaimed that the British were coming - inventor Oliver Evans proclaimed that he could build a steam-powered carriage. By 1805, he was driving the streets (and rivers!) of Philadelphia with it, America's first known automobile. From there it was off to the races, as a new industry, and a new obsession, was born.
"Cars, for Americans, more than anything else represent freedom," says Matt Hardigree, executive director of Jalopnik.com in the film. "It doesn't matter what you drive, you have the freedom to go wherever you want and do whatever you want, as long as you have the money for gas."
DRIVING AMERICA looks back at how car culture has changed the way we have lived, worked, traveled and socialized, through original interviews with journalists, car historians, automobile executives and general car enthusiasts. Among the fascinating stories they'll share:
· Architect Arthur Heineman added a new word to the American lexicon - motel - when he built a drive-up lodging establishment outside San Luis Obispo, California, that charged $1.50 for an overnight stay. The concept exploded, with neon motor courts soon dotting the highway.
· President Eisenhower's time in the Army's first transcontinental motor convoy in 1919 stretched on for 62 days on impassable roads. This experience no doubt inspired him to build the interstate highway system. In 1956, when ground was broken, it was the largest public works project in the history of the world: 41,000 miles and 50,000 bridges.
· During the very first Indy 500, engineer and race car driver Ray Harroun raced his way to victory when he ditched his riding mechanic, a person who rode in the car to warn of approaching traffic, and installed a mirror instead - a rearview mirror.
· In 1934, Adolph Hitler asked Ferdinand Porsche to design a German Model T. The result was the Volkswagen Beetle, which Germany made only a few of before World War II scrapped production. After the war, when the British army took control of the Volkswagen factory, they found the little bug-shaped cars, and an unexploded bomb. Thankfully the bomb was dud, otherwise the world might never have known the VW Beetle (which was the most popular car in the world by 1972).
DRIVING AMERICA also looks into the future of the automobile industry, with potential game changers like Tesla's electric cars. Through it all, one thing is clear: from urban sprawl, to drive-in movies, to OJ's Bronco and Hot Wheels, the automobile's overwhelming impact on American society is as endless as the roads we've built to drive them on.
For more information on DRIVING AMERICA, visit www.ngcpr.com or follow us on Twitter at @NGC_PR.
DRIVING AMERICA is produced by Silent Crow Arts for National Geographic Channels. For Silent Crow, Matthew Bennett is executive producer, Russell Pflueger is producer/director and Sean McCourt is supervising producer. For NGC, Kevin Tao Mohs is vice president of production, and Tim Pastore is president of original programming and production.
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