Discover the momentous motoring events that took place this week in history …….
120 years ago this week, James W. Packard purchased a Winton #automobile after visiting the Winton plant in Cleveland, Ohio (US) with his brother [13 August 1898]. Dissatisfied with the purchase, Packard was prompted to build his own car and establish the Packard Motor Car Company, which would later be acquired by Studebaker. Lagging sales eventually led to the discontinuation of the Packard models in 1958…….. 110 years ago this week, George Schuster, winner of the New York to Paris Race, was honoured in a parade in New York City [16 August 1908]. The “Great Race” was an international competition among teams representing Germany (Protos), Italy (Brixia-Zust), France (three
teams: DeDion-Bouton, Moto Bloc, Sizaire-Naudin) and the United States (Thomas Flyer). Schuster’s victory for the American entry still stands nearly a century later. Schuster was also the first person to drive across the United States during the winter in an automobile. The 22,000 mile course (13,341 miles driven) started February 12, 1908 in Times Square with a crowd of 250,000 watching the start of what would become a 169-day ordeal. The Race began in mid-winter at a time when there were no snowplows, few roads on the around the world route, unreliable maps, and often little food for the competitors. The original plan was to drive the cars the full distance from New York City to Paris using the frozen Bering Straits to “bridge” the Pacific. This proved impossible, requiring the competitors to cross the Pacific by ship. The Flyer arrived in Paris July 30, 1908 to win although the German Protos had been arriving there four days before. Of the six Teams that started the race, only three finished in Paris; the German Protos, the Italian Briax-Zust, and the American Thomas Flyer. Schuster was chosen to be part of the Thomas Race Team due to his proven mechanical abilities, which were put to daily use during the Race. Schuster was the only American Team member aboard the Flyer from its start in New York City to the finish in Paris…….90 years ago this
week, Fernand Charron (62), winner of the first Gordon Bennett Trophy, died [13 August 1928] The French pioneer of #motor racing and automobile manufacturing started his sporting career as a successful cyclist. In 1891 he won the French National Stayers Championships riding a bicycle around a track following a tandem. Between 1897 and 1903 he took part in 18 car races, 4 of which he won: 1898 Marseille–Nice and 1898 Paris–Amsterdam–Paris in 1898, Paris–Bordeaux in 1899 and the inaugural Gordon Bennett Cup (Paris–Lyon) in 1900. He drove mainly Panhard & Levassor cars.On one occasion, he crashed into a St Bernard dog which became wedged between the right wheel and the suspension and jammed the steering, though he still won the race. He retired after an unsuccessful season in 1903 and worked as manager of Adolphe Clément’s factory complex at Levallois-Perret. In 1901 Fernand Charron was one of the three founders of an automobile manufacturer called Charron, Girardot et Voigt (CGV). Following resignations the company was reformed in 1906 at Puteaux as Charron Ltd., the English “Ltd” suffix reflecting a large amount of investment capital that came from England. Shortly before the outbreak, in 1914, of the First World War Charron was trying to sell his auto-business, but he nevertheless was also using it at this time to build cars for the Alda company. The outbreak of peace found Carron still in ownership of the business which at the Paris Motor Show in October 1919 was offering two models, the small 6HP “Type TC” (derived from the “Charronette” of 1914) and the 15HP “Type PGM”……..The Studebaker Corporation and the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company agreed to merge [15 August 1928] …….80 years ago this week, Italian industrialist Nicola Romeo (62), the ‘Romeo’ in the legendary Italian marque, Alfa, Romeo, died in Magreglio, Italy [15 August 1938]. Romeo graduated with a degree in engineering from the Politecnico di Napoli (nowadays Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II) in 1899. After that, he worked for a couple of years abroad and completed a second bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in Liège, Belgium. In 1911 he returned to Italy and created “Ing. Nicola Romeo e Co.”. The company manufactured machines and equipment for the mining industry. As the company became successful he wanted to expand and acquired a majority of Milan based car manufacturing company A.L.F.A. in 1915. Only three years later, in 1918, Romeo owned the Romei whole company. A.L.F.A. was renamed to “Società Anonima Italiana Ing. Nicola Romeo”. The first car carrying the Alfa Romeo badge was the 1921 Torpedo 20/30 HP. The company gained a good reputation, but in 1927 came very close to liquidation. These changes “forced” him to leave in 1928. To mark the 130th anniversary of his birth, Naples dedicated a street to the memory of Nicola Romeo, called Via Nicola Romeo……. 70 years ago this week, Al Keller spanked the 48-car field in a 200-mile #NASCAR Modified race at Langhorne’s circular one-mile dirt track. Runner-up Buck Barr finished 18 laps behind Keller. Only 14 of the 48 starters manage to finish [15 August 1948]…….60 years ago this week, production of the Packard, the classic American luxury car with the famously enigmatic slogan “Ask the Man Who Owns One” came to a halt [19 August 1958]. Studebaker-Packard attributed the decision to lagging luxury car sales, but many Packard fans were disgruntled by the decision, which came shortly after Packard’s acquisition of Studebaker. Many wondered why Packard, with its reputation for high-quality cars and knowledgeable management, would buy the debt-ridden Studebaker Company. Studebaker management assumed the company reins after the merger, not Packard. Mechanical engineer James Ward Packard and his brother, William Dowd Packard, built their first automobile, a buggy-type vehicle with a single cylinder engine, in Warren, Ohio in 1899. The Packard Motor Car Company earned fame early on for a four-cylinder aluminum speedster called the “Gray Wolf,” released in 1904. It became one of the first American racing cars to be available for sale to the general public. With the 1916 release of the Twin Six, with its revolutionary V-12 engine, Packard established itself as the country’s leading luxury-car manufacturer. World War I saw Packard convert to war production earlier than most companies, and the Twin Six was adapted into the Liberty Aircraft engine, by far the most important single output of America’s wartime industry. Packards had large, square bodies that suggested an elegant solidity, and the company was renowned for its hand-finished attention to detail. In the 1930s, however, the superior resources of General Motors and the success of its V-16 engine pushed Cadillac past Packard as the premier luxury car in America. Packard diversified by producing a smaller, more affordable model, the One Twenty, which increased the company’s sales. The coming of World War II halted consumer car production in the United States. In the postwar years, Packard struggled as Cadillac maintained a firm hold on the luxury car market and the media saddled the lumbering Packard with names like “bathtub” or “pregnant elephant.”……50 years ago this week, the founder of the Cummins Engine Co., Clessie Lyle Cummins, died in Sausalito, California, US [17 August
1968]. He was an entrepreneur who improved on existing diesel engines, created new diesel engine designs, was awarded 33 United States patents for his inventions, and set five world records for endurance and speed for trucks, buses and race cars……40 years ago this week, Ronnie Peterson took his 10th and ultimately final #Grand Prix victory, winning in Austria for Lotus [13 August 1978]……..30 years ago this week, Enzo #Ferrari, founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari automobile marque, died in Maranello, Italy, aged 90 [14 August 1988]. Enzo grew up with little formal education. At the age of 10 he witnessed Felice Nazzaro’s win at the 1908 Circuit di Bologna, an event that inspired him to become a racing driver. During World War I he was assigned to the third Alpine Artillery division of the Italian Army. His father Alfredo, as well as his older brother, Alfredo Jr., died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Ferrari became severely sick himself in the 1918 flu pandemic and was consequently discharged from Italian service.Following the family’s carpentry business collapse, Ferrari started searching for a job in the car industry. He unsuccessfully volunteered his services to FIAT in Turin, eventually settling for a job as test-driver for C.M.N. (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali), a Milan-based car manufacturer which redesigned used truck bodies into small passenger cars. He was later promoted to race car driver and made his competitive debut in the 1919 Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb race, where he finished fourth in the three-litre category at the wheel of a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder C.M.N. 15/20. On November 23 of the same year, he took part in the Targa Florio but had to retire after his car’s fuel tank developed a leak. The prancing horse emblem was created when Italian fighter pilot Francesco Baracca was shot down during World War I. Baracca gave Enzo Ferrari a necklace with the prancing horse on it prior to takeoff. Baracca was tragically shot down and killed. In memory of his death, Enzo Ferrari used the prancing horse to create the emblem that would become the world famous Ferrari shield. However the world first saw this emblem on an Alfa Romeo as Ferrari was still tied up with Alfa Romeo. It was not until 1947 that the shield was first seen on a Ferrari. This was the birth of Ferrari. In 1924 Ferrari won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, a success that encouraged Alfa Romeo to offer him a chance to race in much more prestigious competitions. Deeply shocked by the death of Antonio Ascari in
1925, Ferrari turned down the opportunity to focus instead on the management and development of the factory Alfa cars, eventually building up a team of over forty drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. Ferrari himself continued racing until 1932, before he left Alfa Romeo to found Scuderia Ferrari. Alfa Romeo agreed to partner Ferrari’s racing team until 1933, when financial constraints forced them to withdraw their support – a decision subsequently retracted thanks to the intervention of Pirelli. Despite the quality of the Scuderia drivers, the team struggled to compete with Auto Union and Mercedes. Although the German manufacturers dominated the era, Ferrari’s team achieved a notable victory in 1935 when Tazio Nuvolari beat Rudolf Caracciola and Bernd Rosemeyer on their home turf at the German Grand Prix. In 1937 Alfa Romeo decided to regain full control of its racing division, retaining Ferrari as Sporting Director. Unhappy with the arrangement, Ferrari left and founded Auto-Avio Costruzioni, a company supplying parts to other racing teams. Although a contract clause restricted him from racing or designing cars for four years, Ferrari managed to manufacture two cars for the 1940 Mille Miglia, driven by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni. With the outbreak of World War II in 1943, Ferrari’s factory was forced to undertake war production for Mussolini’s fascist government. Following Allied bombing of the factory, Ferrari relocated from Modena to Maranello. At the end of the conflict, Ferrari decided to start making cars bearing his name, and founded Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947. The team’s open-wheel debut took place in Turin in 1948 and the first win came later in the year in Lago di Garda. The first major victory came at the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a Ferrari 166M driven by Luigi Chinetti and (Baron Selsdon of Scotland) Peter Mitchell-Thomson. In 1950 Ferrari enrolled in the newly-born Formula 1 World Championship and is the only team to remain present since its introduction. Ferrari won his first Grand Prix with José Froilán González at Silverstone in 1951. The first championship came in 1952, with Alberto Ascari, a task that was repeated one year later. In 1953 Ferrari made his only attempt at the Indianapolis 500 Miles. In order to finance his racing endeavours in #Formula One as well as in other events such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans, the company started selling sports cars. Ferrari’s decision to continue racing in the Mille Miglia brought the company new victories and greatly increased public recognition. However, increasing speeds, poor roads, and nonexistent crowd protection eventually spelled disaster for both the race and Ferrari. During the 1957 Mille Miglia, near the town of Guidizzolo, a 4.0-litre Ferrari 335S driven by Alfonso de Portago was traveling at 250 km/h when it blew a tyre and crashed into the roadside crowd, killing de Portago, his co-driver and nine spectators, five of whom were children. In response, Enzo Ferrari and Englebert, the tyre manufacturer, were charged with manslaughter in a lengthy criminal prosecution that was finally dismissed in 1961. Many of Ferrari’s greatest victories came at Le Mans (9 victories, including six in a row 1960–65) and in Formula One during the 1950s and 1960s, with the successes of Juan Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961) and John Surtees (1964). By the end of the 1960s, increasing financial difficulties as well as the problem of racing in many categories and having to meet new safety and clean air emissions requirement for road car production and development, caused Enzo Ferrari to start looking for a business partner. In 1969 Ferrari sold 50% of his company to FIAT, with the caveat that he would remain 100% in control of the racing activities and that FIAT would pay sizable subsidy till his death for use of his Maranello and Modena production plants. Ferrari had previously offered Ford the opportunity to buy the firm in 1963 for US$18 million but, late in negotiations, Ferrari withdrew once he realised that he would not have been able to retain independent control of the company racing program. Ferrari became joint-stock and Fiat took a small share in 1965 and then in 1969 they increased their holding to 50% of the company. (In 1988 Fiat’s holding rose to 90%). Following the agreement with FIAT, Ferrari stepped down as managing director of the road car division in 1971. In 1974 Ferrari appointed Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as Sporting Director/Formula One Team manager. (Montezemolo eventually assumed the presidency of Ferrari in 1992, a post he held until September 2014). Clay Regazzoni was deputy champion in 1974, while Niki Lauda won the championship in 1975 and 1977. After those successes and another title for Jody Scheckter in 1979, the company’s Formula One championship hopes fell into the doldrums. In 1981 Ferrari attempted to revive his team’s fortunes by switching to turbo engines. In 1982, the second turbo-powered Ferrari, the 126C2, showed great promise. However, Gilles Villeneuve was killed in May, and team mate Didier Pironi had his career cut short in a violent end over end flip on the misty back straight at Hockenheim in August after hitting the Renault of Alain Prost. Pironi was leading the driver’s championship at the time; he would lose the lead as he sat out the remaining races. The Scuderia went on to win the Constructors Championship in at the end of the season and in 1983, but the team would not see championship glory again until Ferrari’s death in 1988. The final race win for the team he saw was when Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto scored a 1-2 finish at the final round of the 1987 season in Australia…….. There were 22 miles of stationary traffic between junctions 9 and 8 on London’s (UK) orbital motorway, M25 [71 August 1988] …….20 years ago this week, as part of a yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary, a redesigned version of the Michelin Man–the corporate symbol of one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, made appearance at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in Monterey, California, began [14 August 1998]. The history of Michelin dates back to 1889, when two brothers named Edouard and Andre Michelin took over a struggling rubber factory in the French industrial city of Clermont-Ferrand. The Michelins later became France’s leading producer of pneumatic (inflatable) bicycle tires, and in June 1895 they entered the first car to be equipped with pneumatic tires in the historic Paris-Bordeaux-Paris auto race. As the story goes, their now-iconic corporate symbol originated with Edouard Michelin’s observation that a stack of tires resembled a human figure. A cartoonist named Maurice Rossillon, who signed his work O’Galop, created a series of sketches based on this idea. One depicted a man made of tires raising a glass of champagne and declaring “Nunc est bibendum” (“Now is the time to drink”). The figure’s white color mirrored the pale hue of rubber tires at the time, before manufacturers began using carbon black as a preservative around 1912. The symbol subsequently became known as Bibendum (sometimes Bibidendum or Mr. Bib), or the Michelin Man. The original poster, produced from 1898 to 1914, was followed by a variety of other posters and signs featuring Bibendum smoking a cigar, wearing gladiator garb, riding a bicycle and carrying a load of tires, among other activities. Ubiquitous in France, the logo’s fame spread along with the popularity and success of Michelin tires around the world. In 1923, the Michelin Man was redesigned, losing some of his rings to reflect the introduction of wider, low-pressure tires. During the 1980s, he grew slimmer to conform to the healthy-living trend, a process that continued with the 1998 redesign. By that time, Bibendum was one of the oldest and most recognized advertising symbols in the world. On January 1, 1998, the Michelin Man kicked off his centennial celebration by appearing on his own birthday float at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The Monterey Historic Automobile Races, held at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey that August 14-16, welcomed the Michelin Man as part of its own 25th anniversary celebration. Two years later, an international jury of 22 designers, advertising executives and branding experts voted Bibendum the winner of a competition co-sponsored by The Financial Times, proclaiming him the “greatest logo in history.”