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12-18 June: Motoring Milestones

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Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

125 years ago this week, designer George T. Harris demonstrated the steam-powered Harris omnibus in Baltimore, Maryland, US with limited success [12 June 1892]…… 110 years ago this week, a phenomenally large entry list of 93 cars for the inaugural Kaiser Prize Race, which replaced the Gordon Bennett race, necessitated the running of two eliminating races the day before the main event [13 June 1907: see below]. The circuit was already well-known in the

Kaiser Prize Race - 1907
Kaiser Prize Race – 1907

Taunus region of Germany and close to the Kaiser’s summer residence It was the second and last international automobile race in Germany before World War I. Vincenzo Lancia (Fiat) won the first one from Fritz Opel (Opel), Lucien Hautvast (Pipe), Paul Geller (Adler), Alessandro Cagno (Itala) and Hugo Wilhelm (Métallurgique), while the second one went to Felice Nazzaro, followed by Louis Wagner (both Fiat), C. Deplus (Pipe), Arthur Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich), Willy Pöge and Otto Salzer (both Mercedes)…….. The  following day [14 June 1907] the inaugural Kaiser Prize Race was staged in the same region that had hosted the Gordon Bennett Race three years earlier. The new course even included a section of the old circuit, although in the opposite direction of travel. Since only forty vehicles were allowed to enter the race, while ninety had signed up, two elimination trials were held on 13 June 1907. These would determine who could participate in the main event. When Emil Schmidt on a Dürkopp automobile started at around 4:10 a.m., the Kaiser himself was among those present in the stands watching the elimination proceedings. Many vehicles dropped out due to accidents or engine damage: the weather was far from fit for a Kaiser. On the day of the main race, Friday the 14th of June, 1907, the skies cleared and the roads gradually grew dusty. The race got underway at 6:00 a.m., the vehicles starting, at two minute intervals, for what was to be a five-hour battle for victory. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the race course, cheering the cars as they passed. Several drivers were forced to drop out of the race in the very first circuit: Pöge on a Mercedes, because of a defective carburettor; a cylinder in need of repair took out Florio and his Darraq; Hugo Wilhelm had a collision with a milestone; and Gabriel on his Dietrich dropped out because of a defect in its petrol tank. At the end of the first round, the Italian Felice Nazzaro on a Fiat was in the lead, with a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes. As the end of the race approached, the Kaiser had to face the fact that the leading automobiles were not of German manufacture. At the end of the 4th round, Nazzaro crossed the finish line first, with a time of 5 hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds. Five minutes later Hautvast, a Belgian, came in on a Pipe. After another five seconds, the first German car crossed the finish line: Carl Jörns driving an Opel. The winner’s average speed was 84.81 km/h. None of the highly lauded favourites had made the grade, including Camille Jenatzy on the Mercedes, the winner of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race. Jenatzy needed 32 minutes more than the winning Italian driver to finish. Of the 39 teams that had started out, 21 crossed the finish line. The Kaiserpreis, designed by the supreme leader himself, was awarded to the Italian before a cheering crowd. A large, attractive vase went to the second-placed Belgian team. Then Jörns, as the best German driver, received an almost 60-centimetre tall lidded vase from the Kaiser’s own hand. Jörns and Opel were later fêted as victors in Germany…….

Brooklands 1907
Brooklands 1907

Brooklands, the first purpose-built banked motor race circuit in the world. officially opened, having been built by Hugh Fortescue Locke King on his Weybridge estate in Surrey at a cost of £150,000 [17 June 1907]. It was the builder’s idea that the motor course would give British motor-car manufacturers a place to test their products with immunity from the 20-mph speed limit. The surface of the track took 250,000 tons of concrete and over 200 carpenters were employed to make the fences, stands etc. The motor course had a lap distance of 2 miles 1,350 yards and a finishing straight of 991 yards, making a total length of 3.25 miles, of which 2 miles were level. The track was 100 ft wide and two steep banks were built into the circuit to allow cars to corner safely at speed.A few days after the opening ceremony a twenty four hour speed record was set at Brooklands by Selwyn Francis Edge, covering 1,581 miles at an average speed of sixty six miles an hour. Then Brooklands career as a motor racing circuit began on 6th July 1907 with its first motor race. With no traditions to call upon, the atmosphere of a horse race was used to make people feel at home. The term “paddock” is still used today for the area where the teams gather as the9e4a48fcb55be100cea5c0db065e9f66y prepare for a race. This term is a distant echo of early races at Brooklands. Following World War One racing at Brooklands continued, with the first British Grand Prix being run at the track in 1926. Into the 1930s competition from Donnington Park and Crystal Palace drove the building of a new road circuit within the perimeter of the old, with some of the old course incorporated, as happened decades later at Indianapolis. Brooklands was also the base used by Malcolm Campbell for the building of his world land speed record cars of the 1930s. Brooklands was still a successful venue in 1939 when the Second World War began. But the war brought damage to the circuit. Brooklands was an important site for military aircraft manufacture, and was targeted by German bombers. The track was damaged both by bombs and by attempts to camouflage the circuit with trees. Brooklands, unable to recover as a venue following the war’s end in 1945, is no longer used as a race track, but the clubhouse, and sections of the track remain. A motor and aviation museum has been created within the old infield. There are many interesting exhibits at Brooklands, including famous racing cars and aircraft. Aviation history at Brooklands is as significant as that of motor racing. The first powered flight by an Englishman took place at Brooklands in 1908. Early aircraft manufacture then took place at Brooklands, with the film Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines being based on the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Air Race held at Brooklands in 1911. Military aircraft were built here during both First and Second World Wars. Then Brooklands became an important centre for commercial aircraft manufacture. Sections of the supersonic airliner Concorde were built here, and today the “Delta Golf” Concorde is preserved at the site. Delta Golf was used to test Concorde’s technology, and was the first aircraft to carry one hundred passengers at twice the speed of sound. Other aircraft from both the First World War and Second World War are on display. Today the area of Brooklands is virtually a motoring and aviation theme park. Mercedes Benz World is close by offering driving experiences…….100 years ago this week, the 2,000,000th Ford Model T was produced [14 June 1907]…….American Harry Miller completed the

Golden Submarine
Golden Submarine

Golden Submarine, a new kind of car with a metal roll cage inside the driver’s compartment, for renowned US racer Barney Oldfield [16 June 1917]. Aerodynamically advanced and wind-tunnel tested, the streamlined racer was years ahead of its time. The $35,000 car featured a 4.74-litre, single overhead cam, cross-flow, water-cooled, 136-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine, which would make it the forerunner of Miller’s highly successful Offenhauser racing engine of later years……. 90 years ago this week, the great Tazio Nuvolari (Bugatti 35) scored his first major win in an automobile race, the Royal Prize of Rome [12 June 1927]. Mario Lepori and Renato Balestrero (both Bugatti 35C) followed in second and third. Sadly, the race was marred by an accident which killed a spectator and an official……. 80 years ago this week, Bernd Rosemeyer driving an Auto Union Typ C won the XI Adac Eifelrennen run over 10 laps (228.1 km) of the Nürburgring [13 June 1937]……Harold T. Ames, of Chicago, IL, chief executive of Duesenberg, received a patent for a “Headlight Structure”; retractable headlamps, that became the defining detail on Cord 8 [15 June 1937]……. The following day [16 June 1937] Long Island Motor Parkway Corporation dissolved after 31 years and donated the deeds of its pioneering toll highway to the public……. 70 years ago this week, Sir Edward Holden (61) the Australian vehicle

Sir Edward Holden
Sir Edward Holden

manufacturer, ‘the father of the Australian car industry’, died.[17 June 1947]….. 50 years ago this week, Giacomo Russo (29) died [18 June 1967]. Racing under the pseudonym ‘Geki’, Russo entered Formula 1 as multiple Italian Formula Junior and Formula 3 Champion, initially by renting one of Rob Walker’s Brabham-BRMs for the 1965 Italian Grand Prix. He failed to qualify for his home GP at the time but made the grid with a third Team Lotus entry the following year. After retiring with mechanical trouble in 1965, Geki’s third try finally resulted in a good ninth place at the 1966 Italian GP. Besides racing for Alfa Romeo’s works sports car team, Geki also occasionally raced in F2 and it was in such an event that he was the victim of a tragic accident at the Caserta circuit. The Italian was the first to arrive at the scene of a massive accident when he suddenly found Beat Fehr on foot in his path. Trying – unsuccessfully – to avoid the Swiss driver, Geki’s Matra went out of control and hit a concrete wall. Both drivers died in the accident…… on the same day [18 June 1967] at the wheel of his Anglo American Racers’ Eagle T1G-Weslake V12, American Dan Gurney won the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix, setting the fastest lap and a new record average speed of 234.946 km/h. It would remain the only win in Formula 1 for the marque, as well as for engine supplier Weslake. It was the first Grand Prix victory for an American driving an American car since Jimmy Murphy won the 1921 French Grand Prix at LeMans in his Duesenberg 46 years earlier…… 20 years ago this week, the Canadian Grand Prix was marred by a big crash involving Olivier Panis, who broke his legs and would be unable to start the next seven Grands Prix [15 June 1997]. The race ended under red flag conditions on lap 54 due to this crash.Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari F310B won ahead of Jean Alesi in the Benetton and Giancarlo Fisichella in the Jordan. David Coulthard had been leading, but was delayed for over a lap by a clutch problem during his second pit stop, shortly before Panis’s crash……. On the same day [15 June 1997] Michele Alboreto, Stefan Johanson, and Tom Kristianson drive a Porsche WSC95 to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans…… 10 years ago this week, the ground-breaking BMW Hydrogen 7 car, the ‘world’s first production-ready hydrogen vehicle’, was

BMW Hydrogen 7
BMW Hydrogen 7

presented to the deputy mayor of London (Nicky Gavron) at City Hall to raise awareness of hydrogen as an alternative energy source for tomorrow’s consumers [12 June 2007]…… .Race car owner and race promoter Samuel William Traylor III, (79), died at his home [15 June 2007]. He graduated from Oxford Academy in Pleasantville, New Jersey, in 1945, and then attended Washington Jefferson College in Washington, PA, before entering the U.S. Army, from which he was honourably discharged. Sam then began a varied professional career, working at the Cement Gun Factory and Traylor Engineering in Allentown, serving as the hotel manager in his family’s Hotel Traylor in Allentown, and owning and operating his own car dealership. In the early 1950s, Sam became one of the youngest race car owners in the country and the most successful race car owner on the East Coast from 1952-1958, winning several championships in both AAA and U.S. Auto Club. Traylor cars were driven by many Indianapolis 500 stars. Eddie Sachs, Johnny Thomson, Jimmy Bryan, Bill Holland and Wally Campbell were but a few of them. Sam also promoted several racing events at the greater Allentown Fair. He was highly respected in the American auto racing fraternity and in 2002, was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. In his retirement in Florida, Sam enjoyed trap and pistol shooting and was a supportive and long-time member of the Port Malabar Gun Club. Sam and his father funded the building of the Traylor Research Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and have continued to contribute generously to this facility….. On the same day [15 June 2007] Lewis Hamilton became the first rookie to win the United States Grand Prix and the second-youngest driver to win a major event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 73-lap race was the seventh round of the 2007 Formula One season and was won by McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His teammate, Fernando Alonso, finished the race in second position whilst Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, completed the podium by finishing third. This was the debut race of the future world champion Sebastian Vettel. This race would be Formula One’s final visit to Indianapolis, after an eight-year period. The race was removed from the 2008 calendar a few months later and Formula One did not return to the United States until November 2012, at the Circuit of the Americas……. The Volkswagen Golf GTI W12 concept made its UK debut at the GTI International show, an independently organised event at Bruntingthorpe proving ground in Leicestershire [16 June 2007]. The GTI W12-650 is powered by a bi-turbo W12 engine developing 650 hp – a full 450 hp increase over the standard Golf GTI. Unlike the standard car, the W12-powered GTI channelled its drive through its rear wheels via a six-speed Tiptronic gearbox……. The History Channel began to air Ice Road Truckers, a documentary-style reality television series following truck drivers as they drive across the ice roads (frozen lakes) in the Northwest Territories in Canada to transport equipment to the diamond mines in that area [17 June 2007].

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