10-16 February: Motoring Milestones

Discover the momentous motoring events that took place this week in history ………

120 years ago this week, J.W. Packard received his first automotive patent a year after forming his company with partner George Weiss. Packard became interested in building cars after purchasing a Winton horseless carriage [12 February 1900]. The Winton proved unreliable and after nearly a year of fixing up his horseless carriage, Packard decided he would manufacture his own automobile. Among Packard’s necessary automotive innovations were the “H” gear-slot pattern and the gas pedal, begging the question would anyone ever have been able to “drop the hammer” or “step on it” without him?………100 years ago this week, Packard announced the Fuelizer, a fuel-preheating device developed by Lionel M Woolson [15 February 1920]…….60 years ago this week, the first issue of “National Dragster”, the official National Hot Rod Association magazine, was published [12 February 1960]…….. Jimmy Bryan, driving a Mercury, won the USAC stock car race on the dirt track at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona, US [13 February 1960]…….. on the same day [13 February 1960] Buzz Barton won the final IMCA Sprint Car race of the Florida State Fair series, and Pete Folse was crowned the Florida State Champion at the Florida State Fair, Tampa, Florida, US……… Junior Johnson won the second Daytona 500

by being the first stockcar driver to exploit “drafting” [14 February 1960]. He took advantage of Bobby Johns’ misfortune who had a seven second lead with 8 laps to go when the rear window of his Pontiac was sucked out. Johns spun wildly off turn 2, coming to a stop inches from Lake Lloyd as Johnson raced by. Johns still managed to finish 2nd. Tom Pistone and Tommy Herbert were injured in seperate accidents. John Masoni, owner of Johnson’s Chevrolet, gave the net earnings to charity saying that he was in racing for fun, not profit……..50 years ago this week, General Motors were reportedly redesigning its cars to run on unleaded fuel [13 February 1970]…….. 40 years ago this week, during the first of the Twin 125 qualifying race in sight of the Daytona 500, driver Ricky Knotts from Michigan lost control of his Oldsmobile , after the car’s hood suddenly blew off [14 February 1980]. Knotts crashed into the wall on the outside, bounced back to the center of the track and was violently hit by the Mercury driven by Wangerin, then spun across into the inside retainer. A total of nine competitors were involved in the accident. Knotts died instantly having struck his head into the wall…….. Richie Evans won the NASCAR 200 for Modifieds at the Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, Florida, US [15 February 1980]…….. The longest-ever reported traffic jam occurred, stretching 109 miles (176 km) from Lyon towards Paris, France [16 February 1980]……..30 years ago this week, the 1990 Chicago Auto Show offered visitors a glimpse of the 1991 model Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle, successor to the Bronco II. Mazda, which shared several vehicle designs with Ford, launched a Ford-built, Explorer-like Navajo sport-utility [10 February 1990]. Also seen at the 82nd edition of the US’s largest auto show was the Volkswagen Corrado. Equipped with a supercharged “G-Charger” engine, the four-passenger replacement for the Scirocco featured an “active” rear spoiler that extended automatically above 45 mph. Toyota’s new Lexus luxury division launched its flagship saloon packed with just about every comfort and convenience feature, plus a 4.0-liter V-8 engine……..20 years ago this week, Don Schroeder (35), a senior technical editor for Car and Driver magazine, died at Fort Stockton, Texas, following the crash of a modified vehicle that he was test driving [11 February 2000]……. on the same day [11 February 2000], at the 2000 Chicago Auto Show, Mayor Richard M. Daley stated that nothing shaped 20th century America more than the automobile, and wondered what the automobile’s role would be in the new 21st century. First Look for Charity raised more than $1 million for 12 Chicago area charities’, and a 2000 Chevrolet Suburban was the evening’s grand prize. Hot topics were hybrids and fuel cells. Rendering on the cover is of a Pontiac concept car………. Jenson Button narrowly avoided injury when his Williams hit a bird during testing in South Africa [16 February 2000]. He was travelling at over 160mph on the Kyalami track when the bird flew across his path and smashed into the car’s airbox, directly above Button’s head. He immediately returned to the pits where he parked up the car completely unhurt.

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