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12-18 November: Motoring Milestones

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

110 years ago this week, Oldsmobile became the second company to join General Motors when Olds Motor Works was sold to General Motors [12 November 1908]……..The Model T made its world show debut at the Olympia Motor Exhibition in London, just weeks after production had begun in Detroit [13 November 1908]. With a 2.9-litre 4 cylinder engine and two-speed and reverse epicyclic transmission operated by pedals, Model T was both simple and reliable……… The Overland Company and other business interests controlled by John N Willys were consolidated as the Willys-Overland Company [18 November 1908]……. 90 years ago this week, racers Earl de Vore and Norman Batten, winning co-driver of the 1925 Indianapolis 500, were lost at sea en route to South Africa aboard SS Vestris……..Capt. George White of the Army Air Corps staged the first United States test of rocket-powered vehicles at the Velodrome in New York City [13 November 1928]. His unmanned motorcycle reached just 17 mph……..The Bayerische Motoren-Werke (BMW), an Eisenach, Germany motorcycle manufacturer, purchased the Dixi-Werke AG from Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG to enter the automobile. Industry [14

Hyde Park Corner, London c. 1928

November 1928]……..Director General of Roads in Whitehall stated that Hyde Park Corner, London was the busiest road junction in the world [15 November 1928]…….70 years ago this week, Red Byron won the final race of ‘s inaugural season at Jacksonville, Florida, US. Byron, winner of 11 of the 52 NASCAR-sanctioned events, edged Fonty Flock by 32.75 points to capture the inau­gural championship [14 November 1948]. Flock is the top winner, taking the checkered flag 15 times, but he finishes 32.75 points behind Byron. Byron collects $1250 in points fund earnings. NASCAR is the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in the United States. The three largest racing series sanctioned by NASCAR are the Sprint Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. It also oversees NASCAR Local Racing, the Whelen Modified Tour, the Whelen All-American Series, and the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 US states and Canada. NASCAR has presented exhibition races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico, and the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia. The 1948 schedule featured 52 modified dirt track races. Red Byron won the inaugural national championship……..60 years ago this week, Dr Heinz Nordhoff, President of Volkswagenwerk AG, and the late Dr Ferdinand Porsche were given the 1958 Elmer A Sperry Award for the design of the Volkswagen Beetle [13 November 1958]……… 50  years ago this week, ……the design of the Austin Maxi was signed-off for production.It was the first

Austin Maxi ‘design’ bodyshell

British five-speed five-door hatchback and the last production car designed by Alec Issigonis [15 November 1968]……..Richard Petty took the lead from David Pearson with 21 laps remaining to win the Georgia 500 at Middle Georgia Raceway’s (US) half-mile asphalt track in Macon [17 November 1968]. Petty dominated by leading 362 of 500 laps, but finished just five seconds ahead of Pearson’s pole-starting Holman-Moody Ford. James Hylton finished third, 10 laps behind the lead pair. Thirty drivers qualified for this 500-lap racing event that took three hours and eight minutes to complete. Most of the field was driving vehicles made by Ford. J.D. McDuffie ended up becoming the last-place finisher due to a problem with his engine on lap 20. Ed Negre was the lowest finishing driver to complete the race regardless of being 206 laps behind the drivers on the lead lap. Friday Hassler’s engine problems were unfortunate enough to kick him out of the race on lap 476 with a “fortunate” sixth-place finish. Six thousand excited NASCAR fans were eager to see Richard Petty defeat David Pearson by a margin of five seconds. From the halfway point (lap 251) to the end of the event, Petty and Pearson didn’t allow the lead to escape their collective grasps. David Pearson, Bobby Isaac, and Bobby Allison all dominated the opening 100 laps of this racing event. The average racing speed was 85.121 miles per hour (136.989 km/h); which was overshadowed by David Pearson’s solo qualifying speed of 95.472 miles per hour (153.647 km/h). Individual driver earnings from this racing event ranged from the winner’s share of $3,500 ($24,104.78 when considering inflation) to the lowest possible earnings of $150 ($1,033.06 when considering inflation). Organizers were authorized to hand over a grand total of $16,935 for all the qualifying drivers ($116,632.72 when considering inflation)………. 30 years ago this week, Alain Prost (cover image) recorded his 35th career win at the Australian despite suffering major handling problems after hitting debris while McLaren team-mate Ayrton Senna took second despite a malfunctioning gearbox [13 November 1988]. It was a sign of how dominant the McLarens had been that even with these handicaps the pair still finished well ahead of the field. Gerhard Berger realised his Ferrari had no chance of winning and told his fellow drivers he was out to enjoy himself. “I’m going to come past you,” he grinned at Prost, “but you don’t have to worry about it.” Berger set off at a crazy pace which ensured he would run out of fuel long before the end but in the event his race ended when he piled into a slow-going Rene Arnoux……..20 years ago this week, Daimler-Benz completed a merger with Chrysler to form Daimler-Chrysler [12 November 1998]. The merger was contentious, with investors launching lawsuits over whether the transaction was the ‘merger of equals’ that senior management claimed or actually amounted to a Daimler-Benz takeover of Chrysler. Daimler-Chrysler appeared to run as two independent product lines until 2002 when the company launched products that integrated both sides of the company, including the Chrysler Crossfire, which was based on the Mercedes SLK platform and utilised Mercedes’ 3.2L V6, and the Dodge Sprinter/Freightliner Sprinter, a re-badged Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. They demerged in 2007 when Daimler agreed to sell the Chrysler unit to Cerberus Capital Management for $6 billion………. Larry Kopp became the inaugural NHRA Pro Stock Truck champion when he qualified for the final race of the season in Pomona, California, US [14 November 1998]…….Nick Favre and Jeremy Agace drove a Bizzarini to victory in the GT class in the 24-hour historic race at Paul Ricard circuit in France [15 November 1998]. They finished nearly 10 laps ahead of the second place Porsche……… the new Ford Focus won the prestigious ‘European Car of the Year’ award [17 November

Ford Focus

1998]………the same day [17 November 1998], After many years of public debate and argument, the 9 mile Newbury (A34) bypass, Berkshire (England) was officially opened. Between January 1996 and April 1996 the clearance of approximately 360 acres (150 ha) of land including 120 acres (49 ha) of woodland, and the felling of nearly 10,000 mature trees to make way for the construction of the road, led to some of the largest anti-road protests in European history. Around 7,000 people demonstrated on the site of the bypass route in some way and over 800 arrests being made. The cost of policing the protest (known as ‘Operation Prospect’ and run jointly by Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary) had reached approximately £5 million by December 1996. An additional £30 million was spent on private security guards, security fencing, and security lighting while the works were in progress, of which only £7 million was budgeted for in the original contract. The protest was known in some quarters as the Third Battle of Newbury, a name which was also adopted by one of the main protest groups. The name was chosen in reference to the English Civil War battles that took place close to the town in 1643 and 1644……..10 years ago this week, Jimmie Johnson won his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, tying Cale Yarborough for that record. Regan Smith wins Raybestos Rookie of the Year [16 November 2008]…..Martin Brundle told the audience at the Autocar Awards in London [17 November 2008] that he would be commentating with the BBC in 2009. “I’m delighted to be able to tell you all that I’ll be joining the BBC next year,” he said. “I’ve been commentating on for the past dozen years and I briefly considered calling it a day, but in the end I decided to take up the BBC’s offer and I am now very excited about working for them next year.”

 

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