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Discover the momentous motoring events that have taken place this week in history …….
190 years ago this week, the first Paris omnibus began service, running every fifteen minutes between La Madeleine and la Bastille [28 April 1828]. Before long, there were one hundred omnibuses in service, with eighteen different itineraries. A journey cost twenty-five
centimes. The omnibuses circulated between seven in the morning and seven in the evening; each omnibus could carry between twelve and eighteen passengers. The busiest line was that along the Grand Boulevards; it ran from eight in the morning until midnight……. 130 years ago this week, Anglo American Oil Ltd. was registered in Great Britain – the firm would evolve into Esso UK PLC [27 April 1888]…… 110 years ago this week, Jacob M. Murdock packed his family into a 1908 Packard “Thirty” touring car and left Los Angeles. Keep in mind this was before Interstate highways (or paved roads, for that matter) [24 April 1908]. On May 26, Murdock and Co. arrived in New York City, setting a transcontinental record for the longest continuous run of a single car and driver — just over 32 days in all, although they did rest for five Sundays during the expedition. The fascinating tale of their journey, which Packard published as a book titled “A Family Tour from Ocean to Ocean,” ends with this passage: “As we drove up Broadway it was hard for us to realize that the job was over. When at last we unloaded at the Packard store on the corner of Broadway and Sixty-first
street — while the time of 32 days, 5 hours, 25 minutes for the 3693.8 miles we had come, was being spread to the rest of the world by the newspaper men — it was equally difficult for us to comprehend that simply as a family party, which on a mere caprice, had undertaken a transcontinental tour, we also had driven into the limelight as the first party of the kind to make such a journey and, in addition, were record breakers”……on the same day [24 April 1908] Ralph DePalma (cover image) made his racing debut in an Allen-Kingston at the Briarcliff Trophy Race in Westchester, New York. DePalma would go on to win nearly 2,000 races in his 25-year career, including wins at the Vanderbilt Cup, the Savannah Grand Prize, and the Indy 500 of 1915. DePalma is most famous for both his domination at Indy, and his failure to win more than once there. His record of leading 613 laps at the Brickyard over his 10-year career stood until it was broken by Al Unser in 1987. In one of the most memorable finishes in Indy history, DePalma and his riding mechanic Rupert Jenkins, while leading the 1912 race near the finish, attempted to push their fabled Mercedes “Grey Ghost” car across the finish line only to be caught yards short by Joe Dawson. DePalma became a national icon on the basis of his good looks and his grace as a competitor. Born in Italy, he immigrated to the U.S. just before the turn of the century. DePalma won races in all varieties of carsd and he even held land-speed records for brief periods of time. He is also well-known for his lucrative match race rivalry with the dashing Barney Oldfield. The rogue of the racing world Oldfield played the villain to DePalma’s white knight persona. DePalma proclaimed his greatest race his defeat of Oldfield at the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup Race. Truth be told, Oldfield was a more talented driver. But DePalma, over his career, created for the sport the paradigm of the racer as a representative for the sport. He ran his last Indy 500 in 1925, a race his nephew Peter DePaolo won…….Ludwig ‘Louis’ Kissel (66), father of the Kissel brothers and manager at the Kissel Motor Car Company, died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US from a gunshot wound inflicted nine days earlier by an angry employee [28 April 1908]…… the following day [29 April 1908] the US Steel Corporation manufactured the first car wheels made entirely out of steel……. 100 years ago this week, Pre-war American driving ace Eddie Rickenbacher scored his first “kill” as a fighter pilot in World War I [29 April 1918]……. 90 years ago this week, Dow Jones Services announced the pending introduction of a new car by the Chrysler Corporation, the DeSoto [23 April 1928] …….Frank Lockhart (25) was killed in the crash of his Stutz Blackhawk during a land speed record attempt on the beach at Daytona, Florida, US [28 April 1928]. He easily broke the existing record by running 198.29 mph on his first run. On his return run he blew a tyre on a sharp object and his Stutz-built “Blackhawk Special” flew in the air, killing Lockhart……Designer Fritz von Opel took his rocket-powered RAK1 for its fourth test drive at Russelsheim, Germany, reaching 95 mph [27 April 1928]…….80 years ago this week, 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]……70 years ago this week, Ted Horn drove his T.H.E. Special to victory in the 100 mile AAA Championship race on the 1 & 1/16 mile Arlington Downs dirt track [24 April 1948]. Jack McGrath made his champ car debut…….Production began on the 1949-model Ford, the first all-new automobile design introduced by the Big Three after World War II, civilian production having been suspended during the war, and the
1946-1948 models from Ford, GM, and Chrysler being updates of their pre-war models [26 April 1948]. Popularly called the “Shoebox Ford” for its slab-sided, “ponton” design, the 1949 Ford is credited both with saving Ford and ushering in modern streamlined car design with changes such as integrated fenders and more . The design would continue through the 1951 model year. After sticking with its well-received previous model through model year 1948, Ford completely redesigned its namesake car for the year 1949. Save for its drive-train, this was an all-new car in every way, with a modern ladder frame now supporting a coil spring suspension in front and longitudinal semi-elliptical springs in back. The engine was moved forward to make more room in the passenger compartment and the antiquated “torque tube” was replaced by a modern drive shaft. Ford’s popular 226 CID (3.7 L) L-head straight-6 and 239 CID (3.9 L) Flathead V8 remained, now rated at 90 hp (67 kW) and 100 hp (75 kW), respectively……William Signius “Big Bill” Knudsen (67), a leading automobile industry executive and a General in the U.S. Army, died [27 April 1948]. Working first for the Ford Motor Company and later for General Motors, Knudsen became an expert on mass production and a skilled manager. Knudsen was president of the Chevrolet Division of General Motors from 1924 to 1937, and was president of General Motors from 1937 to 1940……Bob Gerard driving a ERA B-Type won the 176 mile Jersey Road Race held in St Helier [29 April 1948]. George Abecassis finished second and Reg Parnell in third. Another famous name in post-war motor racing who participated in 1948 was Roy Salvatori……. 60 years ago this week, At the instigation of leading entrepreneur Friedrich Karl Flick, Daimler-Benz AG acquired the majority of and, subsequently, the remaining shares in Auto Union GmbH. From this date until the end of 1965, Auto Union was a fully owned subsidiary of the Stuttgart-based Daimler Group [24 April 1958]……Jim Reed won a rainy NASCAR GN race on the 1/2 mile paved Old Bridge Stadium oval, New Jersey, US [27 April 1958]. Reed won the pole and led all 187 laps in his Ford when officials red flagged the race. It had begun raining on lap 85, but the race continued. West Coast star Eddie Pagan finished 2nd, Rex White 3rd and New Jersey’s Frankie Schneider 4th……50 years ago this week, Mark Donohue drove Roger Penske’s McLaren 6A-Chevy to victory in the United States Road Racing Championship Sports Car race at Riverside International Raceway [28 April 1968]. Jim Hall won the pole in his Chaparral 2G at a record 118.481 mph, but broke a halfshaft in final practice, badly damaging a new automatic transmission he was experimenting with. Hall later said he lost the half shaft in the pits “fooling around”. With his main opposition not making the start, Donohue took the lead on the green and immediately began stretching it. Donohue led by 4.5 seconds in 3 laps and 10 seconds after 7 laps. 3rd running Peter Revson retired on lap 21 with a bent shifting fork on his Shelby Racing Lola-Ford. Donohue’s run was not without incident, at one point spinning backwards through the tire markers after getting into turn 7A “too hot”. He was quickly able to restart his motor and be on his way. Leading by more than a minute with 2 laps to go, Donohue’s ignition failed and the 427 c.i., fuel injected Traco Chevy engine began misfiring. Donohue said he “just began flipping switches and the last one worked”. He went on to take the checkered flag 49 seconds ahead of Lothar Motschenbacher’s McLaren 6D-Gurney/Weslake-Ford. Sam Posey drove his Caldwell to 3rd, 1 lap down. Moises Solana finished 5th to hold a 1 point lead over Donohue in the USRRC standings after 2 races…… 40 years ago this week, open-wheel racing suffered a tragedy from which it never fully recovered when a chartered plane carrying eight United States Auto Club officials slammed into a ploughed field near the small community of Arlington, Indiana, US [23 April 1978]. The group was returning to Indianapolis from the Gabriel 200 USAC/Citicorp National Championship race in Trenton, New Jersey., when the 10-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain went down during a severe thunderstorm shortly before 10 p.m. The victims were: Frank DelRoy, chairman of the USAC technical committee; Ray Marquette, USAC’s vice president of public affairs; Stan Worley, chief registrar for USAC; Shim Malone, starter for various USAC races and the midget division supervisor; Don Peabody, supervisor of the USAC sprint-car division; Judy Phillips, a graphic artist who supervised production of USAC’s newsletter; Ross Teeguarden, assistant USAC technical chairman; Dr. Bruce White, assistant USAC staff doctor; and the pilot, Don Mullendore…….German racing driver Theo Helfrich (64), former Formula One driver, German Formula Two Champion in 1953, and 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans runner-up, died [29 April 1978]……. 30 years ago this week, Mrs Gert Edwards of Colne, Lancashire became the oldest woman at the age of 90 to pass the UK Department of Transport’s driving test [27 April 1988]…… 20 years ago this week, Generation III Subaru Legacy set a new world speed record for mass-produced turbocharged station wagons (1600 cc-2000 cc class), clocking 270.532 km/h (168.101 mph) over one kilometer on Highway 10 in La Junta, Colorado, US [23 April 1998]. This record was previously set by a Generation II Subaru Legacy in 1993 at 249.981 km/h……The 2.5 tonne, 5.4 metre long Bentley Arnage was unveiled to the public at the Sarthe Circuit in France [26 April 1998]. Powered by a BMW V8 engine, with Cosworth-engineered twin-turbo installation, for a brief period it was the most powerful and fastest four-door saloon (top speed 180 mph) on the market……The San Marino Grand Prix at Imola was won on the same day [26 April 1998] by David Coulthard driving a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-13. Ferrari drivers, Michael Schumacher set the fastest lap on his way to second and Eddie Irvine was third. The two Williams teammates Villeneuve and Frentzen were 4th and 5th and Jean Alesi was 6th from his 12th place starting position……10 years ago this week, the videogame “Grand Theft Auto IV,” produced by Take-Two Interactive Software, hit the stores with expectations of record sales [29 April 2008]. First week sales topped $50 million. It was the eleventh title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the first main entry since 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Set within the fictional Liberty City (based on New York City), the single-player story follows a war veteran, Niko Bellic and his attempts to escape his past while under pressure from loan sharks and mob bosses. The open world design lets players freely roam Liberty City, consisting of three main islands. The game is played from a third-person perspective and its world is navigated on-foot or by vehicle. Throughout the single-player mode, players play as Niko Bellic. An online multiplayer mode is included with the game, allowing up to 32 players to engage in both co-operative and competitive gameplay in a recreation of the single-player setting. Two expansion packs were later released for the game, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, which both feature new plots that are interconnected with the main Grand Theft Auto IV storyline, and follow new protagonists.