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The Online Magazine for Motoring History, Facts, News and Advice

13-19 May: Motoring Milestones

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

130 years ago this week, the Austrian Automobile Association (ARBO) was organised [16 May 1889]…………120 years ago this week, the five-day old Olds Motor Works purchased a factory site in Detroit, US as part of a planned relocation from Lansing, Michigan, US [13 May 1899]………..110 years ago this week, E.G. “Cannonball” Baker finished a transcontinental

E.G. “Cannonball” Baker

motorcycle ride from San Diego, California, to New York, a distance of 3378.9 miles, in 276 hours aboard a two-speed Indian motorcycle [14 May 1909]. His best-remembered drive was a 1933 New York City to Los Angeles trek in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, setting a 53.5 hour record that stood for nearly 40 years. This drive inspired the later Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the “Cannonball Run”, which itself inspired at least five movies and a television series. In 1941, he drove a new Crosley Covered Wagon across the nation in a trouble-free 6,517-mile (10,488 km) run to prove the economy and reliability characteristics of Crosley automobiles. Other record and near-record transcontinental trips were made in Model T Fords, Chrysler Imperials, Marmons, Falcon-Knights and Columbia Tigers, among others………Concert pianist Josef Hofmann completed the first and only Hofmann, a large six-cylinder car built at his home in Aiken, South Carolina, US [17 May 1909]……..90 years ago this week, the 10,000th Roosevelt automobile was produced [15 May 1929]. The Roosevelt was named after President Theodore Roosevelt and designed to be priced as an “affordable” automobile. The Roosevelt was the first automobile in America with a straight-eight engine to be priced under $1,000, with the sedan and coupe selling for $995. One of the unique features of the 29 Roosevelt was the horn button. It served 3 purposes. Push down and it would honk, pull up and it was the starter, and turn it, to turn the head lights on and off. It also had a cameo of Theodore Roosevelt, black and white, on the front top middle of the radiator………Construction work on the new £5 million Ford Dagenham factory began [17 May 1929]. Henry Ford’s son Edsel, then president of the company, cut the first sod using a silver spade. History records that the spade hit a stone and bent and it had to be hammered straight before the ceremony could be completed! Although the choice of Dagenham was controversial because of the water-soaked nature of the Thames-side land, the public had expressed its confidence in the entire venture by heavily over-subscribing for the shares. The factory would be built on 22,000 concrete piles that had been driven 80 feet into the marshland. When completed in 1931 the factory had its own blast furnace, foundry, jetty and power station………70 years ago this week, the 1949 British Grand Prix held over 100 laps (288.870 miles) of Silverstone was won

by Emmanuel de Graffenried driving a Maserati 4CLT [14 May 1949]………The first NASCAR-sanctioned event at the Bowman Gray Stadium (North Carolina, US) took place and was won by Fonty Flock [18 May 1949]. The track was opened by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins, and remains operated by members of the Hawkins family to this day. In 2015, Bowman Gray celebrated its 1,000th NASCAR sanctioned race………60 years ago this week, the 1957 USAC Stock Car champion, Jerry Unser (26) died [17 May 1959]. Jerry was the first of the Unser family to compete at Indianapolis. In his only start, in 1958, he was caught up in a 13-car pileup on the first lap and flew over the turn three wall, miraculously emerging unhurt. He lost his life in a practice crash before the Indianapolis 500 the following year, leaving behind a widow, Jeanne Unser, and two sons, Jerry and Johnny Unser. His brothers Al and Bobby and his nephew Al Jr. have won the “500”. His son Johnny and nephew Robby have also competed in the race……….on the same day [17 May 1959], Tom Pistone, driving a 1959 Ford Thunderbird, scored his first career win in the 100-miler at Trenton Speedway, New Jersey (US). Rookie Bob Burdick, ­making his first NASCAR Grand National start, captured the pole………50 years ago this week, the last Chevrolet Corvair produced (cover image). As the only American-designed, mass-produced passenger car to feature a rear-mounted air-cooled engine, the Corvair range included a two-door coupe, convertible, four-door sedan, and four-door station wagon body styles, as well as passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck variants [14 May 1969]. The Corvair’s legacy was affected by controversy surrounding its handling, for which it became the subject of Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed. One controversial 1972 Texas A&M University safety commission report for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the 1960–1963 Corvair possessed no greater potential for loss of control in extreme situations than its contemporaries………..In a dramatic finish to Le Mans 24 Hours, Jacky Ickx in a Ford GT mark 1 and Hans Herrmann in a Porsche repeatedly overtook [15 May 1969]. In the last lap, Ickx let Herrmann pass him early on the

Mulsanne Straight, faking he had not enough fuel anymore. Ickx used the slipstream of Herrmann to pass him again just before the end of the 5km straight. Ickx managed to hold on and beat Herrmann by a few seconds, or about 120 meters (394 feet). Ickx and Oliver won with the GT40 chassis 1075, the same car that had won the previous year. This was second time the same car had won two years in a row; a Bentley Speed Six had done it in 1929 and 1930. Joest Racing would later repeat this feat twice……….Graham Hill in a Lotus-Cosworth won the Monaco Grand Prix. His time of 1:56:59 was 17.3 seconds ahead of Piers Courage in the Brabham, who had a good drive from his ninth spot on the grid [18 May 1969]. Jo Siffert finished third after starting fifth in his lotus. Polesitter for that race was Jackie Stewart in his Matra, but a UV joint failure ended his day on lap 23. It was also the last Grand Prix for both Cooper and Reg Parnell Racing………Because of rain, for the first time in history, no car qualified for the Indy 500 on the first weekend of qualifying [18 May 1969]…………40 years ago this week, at the Belgium Grand Prix in Zolder, Ferrari driver, Jody Schecter came from seventh on the grid to win in a time of 1:39:59 over polesitter, Jacques Laffite in the Ligier. Didier Pironi in a Tyrrell finished in third [13 May 1979]. Even though he finished out of the points in 7th, Gilles Villeneuve clicked off the fastest lap of the race. Sixth place finisher, John Watson and fifth place man, Riccardo Patrese had a good drives through the streets of Monaco, starting 19 and 16th respectively. Carlos Reutemann finished fourth in a Lotus……..20 years ago this week, the Monaco Grand Prix, contested over 78 laps, was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher after starting from second position [16 May 1999]. It was Schumacher’s 16th win with Ferrari, breaking the record held by Niki Lauda. His team-mate Eddie Irvine finished second with Mika Häkkinen third for the McLaren team. The race was Schumacher’s second win of the season, his fourth at Monaco, and the result meant that he extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship, to eight points over Irvine and twelve over Häkkinen. Ferrari extended their lead in the Constructors’ Championship, twenty-four points ahead of McLaren and twenty-eight ahead of Jordan with 12 races of the season remaining………10 years ago this week, It was reported that South Korea’s top technology university has developed a system to power electric cars through recharging strips embedded in roadways that use a technology to transfer energy found in some electric toothbrushes [18 May 2009]…….President Barack Obama announced a new fuel and emission standard that he said would, at last, put the United States on the road to a cleaner environment and better fuel efficiency [19 May 2009] and Tesla, an electric car maker in San Carlos, California, US, sold a 10% stake to German auto giant Daimler.

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