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11-17 October: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, a White steamer driven by Robin H White won the 5 and 10 mile races in Detroit, Michigan, often cited as the first ‘serious’ trrck races in the US [11 October 1901]…….110 years ago this week, Sir William Crossley (67), co-founder of Crossley Brothers Ltd (later Crossley Motors Ltd), died [12 October 1911]……. The eighth Glidden Tour began in New York City, with a planned route through Atlanta, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida., US [14 October 1911]…… and on the same day, the  first road race staged in Santa Monica, California, the 220 mile Free For All, was won by Harvey Herrick in a National…….90 years ago this week, the Rover prototype called Scarab was displayed at the 1931 London Motor Show [15 October 1931]. Scarab was rear-engined and air-cooled, and designed to sell at £85, but in the end, did not go into production. It attracted the interest of Ferdinand Porsche, however, who came over to England to look at the prototype – before going on to design the Volkswagen Beetle……Henry Birkin driving a Maserati 26M won the Mountain Championship at Brooklands [17 October 1931]…….70 years ago this week, a total of 106 cars competed in the NASCAR Modified and Sportsman race at Langhorne Speedway, Pennsylvania, US [14 October 1951]. Dick Eagan, driving in relief of Hully Bunn, was declared the winner after a crash halts the race after 83 laps. Don Black was critically injured in the massive pileup, which unfolded for more than one minute. Fritz Holzhauer was badly burned in an earlier incident. Photos of the big crash appeared in the Dec. 9 issue of This Week magazine, which appeared in Sunday editions of news­papers across the US……..Hudson introduced the Hornet, and put some sting into the step-down design [16 October 1951]. The Hornet was built with a 5 litre flat head in-line six cylinder motor, producing generous torque and a substantial amount of horsepower. And it was with this popular model that Hudson first entered stock car racing in 1951…….On the same day [16 October 1951], the Austin A30 , a compact economy car, was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show, London. Introduced as the “New Austin Seven”, it was Austin’s answer to the Morris Minor. At launch the car cost £507, undercutting the Minor by £62…….The ‘Docker Daimler’, or ‘Gold Car’, appeared at the 1951 London Motor Show. Sir Bernard Docker was chairman of BSA and Daimler Motors, and his wife Lady Nora ordered several bespoke Daimler cars including the Silver Stardust (1954) and the Golden Zebra (1955) [17 October 1951]. Costing over £10,000, the Gold Car was based on the straight-8 Hopper Touring Limousine, but dramatically finished in black with its side panels speckled with gold stars, whilst everything that had hitherto been chrome was gold-plated………60 years ago this week, the 102 mph Austin A110 Westminster (cover image) was launched, costing £1271 [11 October 1961].The new A110 retained the same basic unit-construction chassis/monocoque as the original A99, but there was a 2-inch longer wheelbase (arranged by moving the back axle rearwards on its springs) which allowed modified wheelarches to be designed and more space to be provided in the back seats. Also at the rear was a newly-installed transverse shock absorber, between the axle casing and the bodyshell, to contain incipient axle sway due to all the rubber in the rear suspension linkage. After the first few months, power-assisted steering became optional. The engine was significantly more powerful, with 120bhp, this being achieved by ‘raiding’ the experience gained with Austin-Healey 3000s and involving cylinder head changes, a different camshaft profile and a twin-bore exhaust system. For this model, too, the gear-change lever was back on the floor – the steering-column change fashion now being well-and-truly gone. The only way to identify the A110 from the A99 was by the new horizontally-slatted grille and the wood-grain finish to the facia. At the same time as the A99was transformed into the A110, the Wolseley 6/99 became the 6/110…….The Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet were launched [12 October 1961]. Mark I

Riley Elf

versions of both cars used the Mini’s standard 848 cc A-series engine enlarged to 998 cc with the announcement of the Mk2 in 1963. Three years later came the Mk3, complete with wind-up windows, improved ventilation and a few other luxuries, before both models finally disappeared from the price lists in 1969, coinciding with the death of the Riley marquee……Joe Weatherly led only the final five laps, pouncing on a victory in the National 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (North Carolina, US) for his seventh win of the season [15 October 1961]. After Junior Johnson retired with a broken wheel while leading just 11 laps from the finish, Weatherly slipped by Bob Welborn in the 263rd of 267 laps and held off runner-up Richard Petty by 1 1/2 car-lengths at the checkered flag. Welborn, Weatherly’s teammate in Bud Moore-owned Pontiacs, held on for third place as the last car on the lead lap……..on the same day [15 October 1961], the Chaparral made its racing debut with designer Jim Hall finishing third in the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix in Riverside, California, US…….50 years ago this week, the Queen formally opened the 107 mile trans-Pennine section of the M62 to complete the coast-to-coast link between Liverpool in Merseyside and Hull in East Yorkshire (England); 7 miles (11 km) of the route is shared with the M60 orbital motorway around Manchester [14 October 1971]…….. Richard Petty took advantage of Bobby Allison’s misfortune to prevail in the Delaware 500 at Dover International Speedway, Delaware, US [17 October 1971]. It was the 18th of 21 victories for Petty that season, which ended in his seventh and final championship in NASCAR’s top series……..40 years ago this week, George Follmer drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory in the SCCA Trans-Am race at Laguna Seca, California, US [11 October 1981]…… British Leyland announced the closure of three factories – a move which cost nearly 3,000 people their jobs [12 October 1981]……. French Grand Prix motor racing driver Philippe Etancelin (84) who joined the new Formula One circuit at its inception, died [13 October 1981]. The sight of Philippe Etancelin with trademark cap worn back-to-front was a familiar one on the circuits of Europe for four decades. Although major success was limited to victories in the 1930 French Grand Prix and 1934 Le Mans 24 Hours, he remained a star throughout his long career……..The Las Vegas Grand Prix also referred to as the Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix was won by Alain Jones in a Ferrari. It was the final race of the 1981 Formula One season, and saw Nelson Piquet win the first of his three World Championships [17 October 1981]…….30 years ago this week, Jim White sets an NHRA Funny Car top speed record of 290.13 mph at Dallas, Texas, US [11 October 1991]…….20 years ago this week, Jean Daninos (94) constructor of Facel Vega luxury cars, died from cancer [13 October 2001]. The first Facel Vega model, designed by Daninos himself, debuted in 1954, equipped with a Chrysler engine. Daninos counted among his clients celebrities (eg Tony Curtis, Ava Gardner) and racing drivers (eg Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant). Several sports car models followed until the company’s demise in the mid-1960s. During ten years of production, Facel manufactured 3,000 automobile…….Underdog Ricky Craven took the lead in the closing stages of the Old Dominion 500 when Kevin Harvick spun Bobby Hamilton. Craven held off a late charge by Dale Jarrett to claim his first career NASCAR Winston Cup win [15 October 2001]. It was also team owner Cal Wells’ first trip to victory lane……10 years ago this week, race car driver and 2-time Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon (33) died in a fiery crash during the IndyCar world Championships at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway [16 October 2011]. He was driving one of 15 cards involved in massive crash between turns 1 and 2 or lap 11. His car flew high into the fence before landing upside down on the edge of the wall.

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