13-19 July: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, Miss Wemblyn, driving a 6-hp Panhard et Levassor, won the special Ladies Race in Ranelagh – although for women only, this race is often cited as the first female racing victory in Great Britain [14 July 1900]…… F P Nehrbas, a Buffalo, New York (US) bicycle mechanic, joined the E R Thomas Motor Company to build the prototype automobile designed by Erwin Ross Thomas [16 July 1900]. The company is best known for producing the Thomas Flyer. The most famous model was a 1908 72 horsepower six cylinder Thomas Flyer (cover image) that won the New York to Paris automobile race in 1908. In the race the Thomas Flyer drove around the world in 169 days. Winning the 1908 New York to Paris race had a short but positive effect on Thomas Flyer sales……..100 years ago this week, the Fuel Research Board in London initiated research into alternatives to petrol, stating that Britain would have 0.75 million cars by 1921 [15 July 1920]…….90 years ago this week, Rudolf Caracciola won the 300-mile Grand Prix of Ireland, and with that the “Irish Times Trophy”, driving an “SSK” at an average speed of 139 km/h [18 July 1930]…….80 years ago this week, the last Hupmobile was produced [13 July 1940]. The Hupmobile was founded in 1909 in Detroit, Michigan by Robert Craig Hupp and its first automobile was shown to the public at the Detroit Auto Show. The vehicle was a two-seater roadster with an 86-inch wheelbase. The $750 sticker price included the 17 horsepower four-cylinder engine and sliding gear transmission. In its introductory year, over 1500 examples were produced. In 1910, production increased by more than 5000. Hupp understood the need to continue to invest in machinery, technology, and factories. He began investing heavily, to the point that his financial backers became nervous. They did not agree that the company should be overextended. This issue escalated to the point that in 1911, Robert Hupp sold his stock in the Hupp Motor Car Company and began pursuing another automobile production venture. A court order by the purchasers of the stock prevented Robert and Louis from using the Hupp name on any new gasoline automobile. To get around the court order, Robert began using his initials; much like Ransom E. Olds had done when forced from his company. From 1912 through 1919, Robert Hupp produced RCH electric automobiles. In 1917, Robert died. The original Hupp Company continued to enlarge and prosper, even after its founder had left. A new plant was purchased in 1924. In 1925 the company purchased the rights to produce an eight-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, the eight-cylinder engine had flaws in its design and assembly and many of the engines suffered from reliability issues. In 1926 a six-cylinder engine was introduced. By 1928, sales had reached over 65,000 units and a new plant was needed to handle the continued success the company was experiencing. So the Chandler-Cleveland Motors Corporation was purchased. The onset of the stock market crash left many manufacturers out of business and others teetering on the brink. For Hupmobile, sales fell by almost 25% in 1929, a few years before the stock market crash. The Hupmobile continued to introduce innovative designs and technology for the next few years. Racing was a great way of advertising in the early years of automobile production. The outcome of the race often determined how well sales would be. In 1932 a Hupmobile, named the Hupp Comet was entered into the Indianapolis 500 race where it emerged with a respectable fifth place finish.The depression of the early 1930’s began taking its toll on Hupmobile. Archie Andrews began convincing stockholders that the Hupmobile was mismanaged, resulting in a company takeover. By 1935, control had been regained but the damage was done. Production was halted in the latter part of 1935 and the company was forced to sell some of its plants and assets.It was not until 1938 that the Hupmobile began planning to produce automobiles. It began with bringing in new management and automotive expertise. In May of 1940, the Skylark was completed and ready for delivery to customers. Unfortunately, it had taken many years to produce and most of the orders had been canceled. Production in 1940, lasting only a couple of months, produced only 319 Skylarks. The company was financially strapped and most of the cars were sold to creditors and distributors. The comapny was forced to close its doors after over 500,000 vehicles were produced…….Harry M Rugg (61), credited with the design of the engine for the first Stanley steamer and later a design engineer with Dodge Brothers and several companies, was killed in an automobile accident, near Penfield, Pennsylvania, US [17 July 1940]……..70 years ago this week, the Volkswagen was officially introduced into the United States as New York City imported car dealer Max Hoffman unveiled his first shipment of 20 cars in his showroom at 487 Park Avenue [17July 1950]……. Darlington Raceway officials officially titled the 500-mile Labor Day race as the “Southern Five-Hundred” [18 July 1950] Harold Brasington also announced NASCAR would co-sanction the $25,000 race. The original sanctioning body, the CSRA, had struggled attracting entries. Raceway officials reported that the field will be limited to 45 cars…… 60 years ago this week, reigning World Champion Jack Brabham won the British Grand Prix and Innes Ireland

finished in third place [16 July 1960]. Between the two, multiple motorcycle Grand Prix World Champion John Surtees (in only his second ever Formula One Grand Prix) took second place…….NASCAR came to New York’s Orange County Airport (New York, US) with the Empire State 200, on a two-mile course [17 July 1960]. Rex White held off Richard Petty for the win, in front of about 5,000 fans; the mediocre attendance killed any chance of making the race an annual event, as was planned. It remains the only NASCAR event ever held in the Hudson Valley…….50 years ago this week, Jack Brabham in a Brabham-Ford held a substantial lead in the British Grand Prix until his car ran out of fuel at the last bend and Jochen Rindt went on to win the race for Lotus [18 July 1970]. The Surtees made it Formula 1 debut, but the Type TS7 driven by sponsor and designer John Surtees was forced to retire with oil pressure problems……. 40 years ago this week, Alan Jones’ victory at the British Grand Prix was his third victory in a row as he built his charge towards becoming the 1980 World Drivers’ Champion [13 July 1980]. Jones won by eleven seconds over the man becoming his arch-rival, Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet driving a Brabham BT49………on the same day [13 July 1980], Chrysler under Lee Iacocca paid off the last of its guaranteed loans totalling $1.2 billion, 7 years ahead of schedule……..Chrysler Corporation Chairman Lee Iacocca announced the pending return of the Imperial marque [18 July 1990]…….30 years ago this week, American David Campos, set both the AMA and FIM absolute speed records with an overall average speed of 518.450 km/h (322.150 mph),

David Campos

and a second, faster run at an average of 519.609 km/h (322.870 mph) [14 July 1990]. The bike was a 23 ft (7.0 m) long streamliner named Easyriders, powered by two Ruxton-Harley-Davidson 1500 cc engines with a dry weight of 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg). It has been claimed that the record drew the largest ever crowd to Bonneville Salt Flats. The bike was sponsored by individual members of the public for $25 shares, with an opportunity to attend the event and have your name somewhere on the bike. Some 10,000 took up the offer. On the third day of the sixteen it took to break the record, the bike was damaged after an accident. The team and many sponsors stayed up three days and nights to fix it. The only suitably specified front tyre for 400 mph (640 km/h) was manufactured by Firestone in 1967. The team had a small stock of second hand versions. The streamliner is owned by Joe Teresi, owner and publisher of Easyriders magazine. Campos’ record was broken by Rocky Robinson driving the Top 1 Ack Attack streamliner on September 3, 2006, only to be broken again two days later by Chris Carr. The current motorcycle land speed record belongs to Rocky Robinson and the Top 1 Ack Attack team and was set September 25, 2010 at 376.363 mph (605 km/h) with an exit speed on the final run of over 394 mph (634 km/h)……. Alain Prost secured his third successive win at the British Grand Prix to move ahead of Ayrton Senna in the drivers’ championship [15 July 1990]. The early battle had been between Senna and Nigel Mansell as the pair swapped the lead, but mechanical problems took their toll on Mansell while Senna spun off, allowing Prost to cruise home. A fuming Mansell, who eventually had to retire on the 56th lap, said afterwards that he was “much quicker than anyone else … I’m bound to wonder why these problems don’t happen to the other guys”. He then announced his retirement – “I’m not making an excuse, just a statement … I don’t want to burst into tears” – but soon changed his mind…….20 years ago this week, two men caught on camera for dangerous driving in Britain escaped prosecution [15 July 2000]. In a landmark case Judge Peter Crawford ruled that the police letter sent to motorists caught on speed cameras required them to incriminate themselves and was therefore in breach of their human rights under European law……. Finnish driver, Mika Häkkinen driving a McLaren MP4/15 took the checkered flag at the Austrian Grand Prix staged at the A1-Ring circuit [16 July 2000]. The win was Hakkinen’s second of the season and McLaren’s fifth. Hakkinen won by twelve seconds over his British team-mate David Coulthard. Third was Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello driving a Ferrari F1-2000.

 

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