Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..
140 years ago this week, Nikolaus Otto was issued with a US patent for his ‘Gas-Motor Engine’, ten days after receiving a German
patent for the same – his design defined the modern four-stroke internal combustion engine [14 August 1877]. Otto built his first gasoline-powered engine in 1861. Three years later he formed a partnership with the German industrialist Eugen Langen, and together they developed an improved engine that won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1867. In 1876 Otto built an internal-combustion engine utilizing the four-stroke cycle (four strokes of the piston for each ignition). The four-stroke cycle was patented in 1862 by the French engineer Alphonse Beau de Rochas, but since Otto was the first to build an engine based upon this principle, it is commonly known as the Otto cycle. Because of its reliability, its efficiency, and its relative quietness, Otto’s engine was an immediate success. More than 30,000 of them were built during the next 10 years, but in 1886 Otto’s patent was revoked when Beau de Rochas’ earlier patent was brought to light……. 120 years ago this week, the Paris-Trouville race was held. Sixty-four starters left St. Germain at 10:00 for the race of 173 kilometers to the French resort at Trouville [14 August 1897]. Paul Jamin in a Bollée 3 hp was first overall (light cars), with Gilles Hourgières in a Panhard (heavy cars) declared as the overall winner. He clocked an average speed of 25.2 mph for the 107.7 mile course. Following Hourgières was the Panhard of Albert Lemaître sporting a new grilled tube radiator and the 18 hp steamer of Comte de Dion……. 90 years ago this week, backed by a group of Detroit investors, Eddie Rickenbacker – America’s most successful fighter ace in World War I – purchased the Indianapolis Speedway for $700,000 [15 August 1927]. Once the Speedway
operations were under control, Rickenbacker looked for additional opportunities for entrepreneurship, including in sales for the Cadillac division of General Motors, and for various aircraft manufacturers and airlines. After the 500-mile (800 km) race in 1941, Rickenbacker closed the Speedway due to World War II. Among other things, holding the race would have been a waste of valuable gasoline and other fuels. In 1945, Rickenbacker sold the racetrack to the businessman Anton Hulman, Jr……. Ford Model T production ended in England [19 August 1927]……. 80 years ago this week, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts became the first university in the US to institute graduate study courses in traffic engineering and administration [16 August 1937]…… The Toyota Motor Company, Ltd was established [17 August 1937]. It began as a division of the Toyota Automatic Loom Works. The company was
founded by Kiichiro Toyoda as a spinoff from his father’s company Toyota Industries to create automobiles. The company underwent huge expansion in the 1960s and 1970s, exporting its smaller, more fuel-efficient cars to countless foreign markets. During this period, Toyota also acquired Hino Motors, Ltd., Nippondenso Company, Ltd., and Daihitsu Motor Company Ltd. Toyota has been Japan’s largest automobile manufacturer for several decades…….. 70 years ago this week, Ferrari made its racing debut in Pescara, Italy, finishing second [15 August 1947]. This speedy debut should have come as no surprise, for Enzo Ferrari had been a race-car driver before forming Ferrari. Although his racing stable, Scuderia Ferrari, remained Alfa Romeo’s official racing team, Ferrari began building his own cars after World War II. Ferrari soon acquired a reputation for speed and quality and went on to win many Grand Prix races…….. 60 years ago this week, H Jay Hayes (88), often credited with building the first all-metal automobile body in 1898, died in Forest Hills, New York, US [14 August 1957]…….. Stirling Moss won his first Formula One race in a British car, a Vanwall 57 at the Pescara Grand Prix, near Pescara, Italy [18 August 1957]. The race, which was the only Formula One World Championship race at
the track, is best remembered for being held at the longest ever circuit to stage a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix. The track is 25 km/16 miles long and is now part of the SR16bis on the coast of Pescara. It was also the first of the two consecutive Italian races, and after the subsequent race at Monza was complete, it became the first time that two Formula One races had been held in the same country in the same year. The temporary public road circuit used for this race was located near the picturesque town of Pescara. It was extremely dangerous; so much so that Enzo Ferrari, a man not known for compassion for his drivers, did not send his team to the race out of fear for his drivers’ safety. The main straight at Pescara ran along a 500 foot high cliff. The total lack of safety on the circuit meant that if a driver were to go off the course there, they would most likely drive off the cliff into the Adriatic Sea.The race drew a crowd in excess of 200,000 spectators…….50 years ago this week, Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and racecar driver Bob Anderson (36) died in Northampton General Hospital from chest and neck injuries sustained while testing at Silverstone (UK), in which he slid off the track in wet conditions and hit a marshal’s post [14 August 1967]…….. 40 years ago this week, the world’s longest ever rally, the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney rally, started in Covent Garden, London [14 August 1977]. The race was
won at Sydney Opera House on 28 September by the British team of Andrew Cowan, Colin Malkin and Michael Broad in a Mercedes 280E. They were followed home by team-mate Tony Fowkes in a similar car. Paddy Hopkirk, this time driving a Citroën CX, took the final podium spot. The 1977 London-Sydney Marathon was the first-ever rally to have a competing truck, several years ahead of the Paris Dakar. It had two former Grand Prix drivers; several front-line international rally drivers; Fiat entered a team of prototype diesels – the first time for a diesel works-rallycar on an international event. There were works-factory teams at one end, and privateers at the other in everything from a fibreglass kit-car, the Magenta; the first time a kit-car had ever been accepted into an international rally; a Mini Clubman and even a Mini Moke. In between, there were Range Rovers, Jeeps, Peugeots, Mercedes of various descriptions, Ford Escorts, a Mazda rotary-engined car, Datsuns, Volvos, Saabs, even a mobile-home camper van. Crews came from around the world to take part… professionals, experts, adventurers, more than one crew were on their first-ever rally, including a couple who literally drove straight from a dealer’s showroom direct to the start-ramp. It was also the first big-time rally for a Subaru 4WD.There were several instances of cheating that would have made Dick Dastardly proud, including a crew that left London and then flew their car to India, cheekily trying to check in at the time-control table set up outside the hotel in Madras without even bothering to remove the car still strapped to the back of a truck, having come straight from the airport. The route took in mountains, rivers wild enough for a Datsun to float off downstream, and several deserts – the Australia section was a marathon drive in its own right. When the ship arrived late into Freemantle, rather than cancel sections to get the rally back on schedule, it was decided to make up the lost time by simply running it non-stop – for seven days and nights……. Future World Champion Alan Jones won his first Grand Prix [14 August 1977]. The Australian driver took his Shadow DN8 to a twenty-second victory at the Austrian Grand Prix over local hero Niki Lauda in his Ferrari 312T2. It would be the only race victory for Shadow Racing Cars during its eight-year Formula One history. Third was Hans Joachim Stuck in his Brabham BT45B……..30 years ago this week, Nigel Mansell, driving a William-Honda at Zeltweg in the Austrian Grand Prix achieved the then fastest average speed for a Formula One Grand Prix, of 146.27 mph (235.4 km/h) [16 August 1987]. He led home team mate Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet by 56 seconds. It was Mansell’s third win of the season, and Williams’ fifth consecutive win. Teo Fabi finished third in the best result of the season so far for the Benetton team. It was, however, the first of only two podiums for Benetton for the 1987 season. It was also the second and final podium of Fabi’s Formula One career having previously had a third place at the 1984 Detroit Grand Prix…….20 years ago this week, Fiona Beale, of Alvaston, Derby, England, jumped her Kawasaki KX500 over 12 trucks, covering a distance of 57.9 m (190 ft 2 in). She broke the record at the Donington Park Day of Champions, Derby, England [14 August 1997]……. 10 years ago this week, driving a 2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupé, Britons Richard Meredith and Phil Colley completed the entire length of the newly completed Asian Highway – 10,000 miles from Tokyo to London [14 August 2007]. The 49-day epic journey through 18 countries raised awareness and much-needed funds for children’s-road-safety campaigns in developing countries…….. two days later [16 August 2007] Aston Martin unveiled the £160,000 6-litre V12 DBS at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. With a top speed of 191 mph it could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds. Urban fuel consumption was 11.64 mpg and CO2 emissions were 388g/km.