On this day in auto history – June 17th

Thu 17th Jun 2021

It was on this day in 1994 that hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide watched live footage of fugitive celebrity O.J Simpson attempting to shake off police on a Los Angeles freeway in what was to become perhaps the most famous car chase in history.

The former NFL superstar turned actor, was a ‘person of interest’ in the fatal stabbing of his wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman but refused to turn himself in to police.

Instead, he became the object of a low-speed pursuit in a white Ford Bronco SUV, owned and driven by his friend Al Cowlings who was to later to say that Simpson was pointing a gun to his head throughout the ordeal.

Televised live from a helicopter, footage of the low-speed chase was watched by over 95 million viewers in the US alone before it eventually ended, almost one hour later, at Simpson’s Brentwood home. The dramatic footage was picked up around the world and helped fuel enormous global interest in the ensuing murder trial, even though Simpson was largely unknown outside of North America.

Simpson was eventually acquitted - to the surprise of many - after a high-profile trial in 1995 but was found liable for the wrongful deaths of both Brown and Goldman at a subsequent civil trial, resulting in him losing much of his fortune.

In 2007, Simpson received a custodial sentence after he was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping before being released on parole in October 2017.

The notorious Ford Bronco getaway car synonymous with the murder trial was featured on an episode of the US reality show Pawnstars but failed to reach a buyer at a $1.25 million asking price.