Motor sport — and indeed the world of transportation and engineering — has lost a true pioneer and a crusader. William F. Milliken, Jr., after whom the famed “Milliken’s Corner” on the old race circuit at Watkins Glen, NY is named, passed away peacefully on July 28. He was 101.
A graduate of M.I.T., Mr. Milliken was an aerospace and automotive engineer — as well as a race car driver. His book, Equations of Motion – Adventure, Risk and Innovation: An Engineering Autobiography, is considered a classic. His engineering books Race Car Vehicle Dynamics and Chassis Design are said by Geoffrey Goddard, former head of Cosworth Engineering and a professor at Oxford University, to be on the shelf of every Formula One designer in the world.
During a run leading up to the 1948 circuit course race at Watkins Glen, on a course laid out by Cameron Argetsinger with his help, Bill Milliken rolled his Type 35 Bugatti race car at a sharp left turn coming down off the hill into town. Thankfully, the car was cushioned a bit by bales of hay that had been placed there for protection. Ever since then, however, that corner in the village has been famously called “Milliken’s Corner.”
Mr. Milliken’s contributions to Watkins Glen extend beyond the naming of a corner. According to Watkins Glen International:
“Milliken’s largest impact on The Glen, however, might have come off of the track as he was instrumental in the planning and designing of both the temporary and permanent tracks. His use of sweeping turns and long straight aways throughout the course that allow for high speeds has resulted in Watkins Glen International becoming known as the super speedway of road courses.”
He was also Chief Steward of the U.S. Grand Prix from 1961 to 1970. In 2011, Bill Milliken was inducted into the Legends of The Glen.
According to the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, he competed in more than 100 races in his career, “inevitably choosing race cars that exuded technical innovation and engineering challenges.”
The Milliken family has requested that memorials in his memory be made to the International Motor Racing Research Center. Mr. Milliken was the 2012 Sponsorship Team Chair for the Center.
Read the notice in the Buffalo News here.
RIP, Mr. Milliken.
Watkins Glen, NY — a location full of motor racing and motor racing history — is located 80 miles south of Rochester.
Read Connie’s blog post about Bill Milliken at Poetry in Motion: Vintage Speed.