16-22 April Motoring Milestones

Discover the momentous motoring events that have taken place this week in history …….

110 years ago this week, the first Oakland car (cover image) was sold to a private owner [16 April 1908]. As originally conceived and introduced, the first Oakland used a vertical two-cylinder engine that rotated counterclockwise. This design by Alanson Partridge Brush, inventor of the single-cylinder Cadillac and Brush Runabout, also featured a planetary transmission. Five models were created, designated Model A–E with each subsequent letter increasing in total vehicle size. 1908, the first year of Oakland production, saw 278 vehicles roll off the line. Oakland Car Company was the creation of Edward Murphy, the founder of the Pontiac Buggy Company. Oakland ran independently for less than a year before it was purchased by William C. Durant and absorbed into General Motors. Durant’s purchase of Oakland is often regarded as mysterious, considering the company had enjoyed little success and had produced less than a 1,000 cars at the time Durant purchased it…….The first British Motor Cycle Club race was held at Brooklands, Surrey, England [20 April 1908].The attendance at

British Motor Cycle Club – Brooklands

Brooklands motorcycle events was initially quite small, being mostly knowledgeable enthusiasts, and lacking the ‘Society’ element of the car racing crowd. However, an established pattern of race meetings emerged, speeds rose, the reliability of machines improved and a growing audience became attracted to motorcycle races.Two motorcycle events were held on the Track during the First World War, both organised by the British Motor Cycle Racing Club for men serving in the Armed Forces. One of these was the ‘All Khaki’ Meeting held on 7th August 1915.When the track reopened after the First World War, Brooklands was to witness the golden age of motorcycling when the British racing motorcycle was the best and fastest in the world. In 1933 ‘The Motorcycle’ magazine instituted a Clubman’s Day Meeting which proved an enormous success. Brooklands was the home of so many motorcycle riders. Workshops sprung up around the paddock with names of men and machines painted on the doors. Eric Fernihough, who took the Motorcycle Land Speed Record at Gyon in Hungary in 1937, had a garage by the perimeter of the track on the Byfleet Road.Many epic motorcycle record breaking attempts took place at Brooklands during the 1930s. Eric Fernihough raised the Brooklands lap record to 123.58 mph in 1935 with his Brough Superior, topped in 1939 by Noel Pope at 124.51 mph……..90 years ago this week, Pietro Bordino (41), one of the three greatest racing drivers from Italy in the 1920’s (the others are Felice Nazzaro and Antonio Ascari) died from injuries suffered in the

Pietro Bordino

Targa Florio [16 April 1928]……. The Hispano-Suiza driven by Charles Weymann and Robert Bloch defeated the Stutz Black Hawk driven by Tom Rooney and Gil Anderson in a match race staged at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway [18 April 1928]…….The following day [19 April 1928] A Hispano-Suiza driven by Charles Weymann and Robert Bloch defeated a Stutz Blackhawk driven by Tom Rooney and Gil Anderson in a $25,000, 24-hour match race. The Stutz damaged its engine at the very start, fell behind as mechanics tried to fix it, and finally succumbed after 18 hours and 56 minutes…….Ray Keech set a one-mile land speed record of 207.552 mph driving the 81 litre triple-engined internal combustion White-Triplex at Daytona Beach, US [21 April 1928]. His record was broken by Henry Segrave on March 11, 1929. In 1929 Keech was asked by Triplex owner J. M. White to attempt to break the new record in the Triplex. Keech wisely declined. White hired Lee Bible, who rolled the car and died in his second attempt to set the record……. 80 years ago this week, Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, better known as Prince Bira of Siam (now Thailand) or by his nom de course B. Bira, won the second. Campbell Trophy at Brooklands, driving a ERA B-Type [18 April 1938]……..The Cork International Road Race held at Corrigrohane, the only important race to be run in Eire, was won by René Dreyfus in a Delahaye 145 at 92.5 mph [23 April 1938]……. 60 years ago this week, the Corvette Stingray made its debut at the President’s Cup Race at Maryland’s Marlboro Raceway [18 April 1958]. This car was GM designer Bill Mitchell’s personal vehicle for style

Corvette Stingray

testing of the Corvette. Richard Thompson raced it to a fourth place finish. The car was made from the last Corvette SS mule chassis, and given a new body by Bill Mitchell and Larry Shinoda…….Stirling Moss driving a Cooper-Climax T45 won the non-Championship Formula One Aintree 200 race at Aintree, Liverpool, England [19 April 1958] …….Bob Welborn survived a late race spin that erased his big lead, going on to win the NASCAR GN ‘Virginia 500’ at Martinsville Speedway [20 April 1958]. Welborn started 20th in the 47 car field on the 1/2 mile paved oval. Leader Jimmy Massey, relief driving Glen Wood’s Ford, blew a tire & crashed on lap 396 to give Welborn a lead he wouldn’t lose. But, while holding a 4 lap lead with only 30 laps to go, Welborn’s Chevy blew a tire & spun. Welborn restarted his car & pitted for a new tire, returning to the track just ahead of teammate Rex White. Welborn managed to stretch his lead slightly, taking the checkered 12 car lengths ahead of White……. On the same day [20 April 1958] “Jiggs” Peters drove the John Fray car to victory in the 30 lap USAC Eastern Division Sprint Car feature on the 1/2 dirt oval at the Reading Fairgrounds, Pennsylvania, US….. and the last Key System train left San Francisco for Oakland. Ferry service from the San Francisco Ferry Building ended when the Southern Pacific “Eureka” made its last crossing to Oakland. Train tracks were taken off the lower deck of the Bay Bridge and the lanes were paved in for car traffic……. 50 years ago this week, Bobby Isaac won the 100 mile NASCAR GN race on the 1/2 mile dirt Columbia Speedway, South Carolina, US [18 April 1968]. It was Isaac’s first win since February 1964. Isaac took the lead on lap 15 and led the rest of the way. Isaac’s lead was so great that on lap 138, he ran out of gas and coasted to the pits without losing the lead. Charlie Glotzbach got around James Hylton late in the race to take 2nd as Dodges swept the top 4 spots. Richard Petty earned no points for his 5th place finish as he failed to submit written entries for the second straight race……on the same day [18 April 1968] Joe Edwards resigned as Managing Director of British Motor Corporation……..The 14,000,000th Buick was produced [19 April 1968] ……Ray Elder drove his Dodge to victory in the 100 lap NASCAR PCLM (Pacific Coast Late Model) race on the 1/2 mile dirt Ascot Park Speedway, California [21 April 1968]. Don Noel led the first 15 laps before engine trouble set in, then Johnny Steele took over the top spot. Elder caught Steele and a great 15 lap battle took place before Elder emerged with the lead on lap 69. Steele spun trying to get back by Elder, falling to 3rd at the time and an eventual 4th place finish. Elder went on to take the win with veteran Jim Cook finishing 2nd in an Oldsmobile…….When leader LeeRoy Yarbrough blew an engine with 10 laps to go, David Pearson went on to win the NASCAR GN ‘Gwyn Staley Memorial’ on the .625 mile paved North

Proton Wira – North Pole

Wilkesboro Speedway, North Carolina [21 April 1968]. Yarbrough had a 10 second lead in the Junior Johnson Ford when the motor blew. Pearson’s Holman-Moody Ford crossed the stripe a lap ahead of Buddy Baker’s Ray Fox Dodge……. 20 years ago this week, Malaysian skydivers guided the national car, a Proton Wira, on a parachute to a landing at the North Pole, where the engine started right away [21 April 1998]. Prime Minister Mahathir Mahamad said the drop “bolsters our spirits,” but critics said it was a stunt by the government to get people’s minds off the dismal economy……. This record was previously set by a Generation II Subaru Legacy in 1993 at 249.981 km/h…….10 years ago this week, Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock and her husband were involved in a head-on crash with a drunken driver in Massachusetts, US [18 April 2008]. The actress and her husband, Jesse James of TV show Monster Garage, were being driven in a 4×4 vehicle when a people carrier hit them. Both vehicles were write-offs, but no-one was hurt. The vehicles were travelling at just 15 to 20mph. Lucille Gatchell, registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.20%, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08%, was driving the other car.

 

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