Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include Goodyear Tires, Formula 1, South African Grand Prix, Stirling Moss, Stock Car, Rolls-Royce and hybrid cars.
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210 years ago this week, Pall Mall in London became the first street in Britain to be illuminated by gaslight [28 January 1807]. Street lighting itself was nothing new. For centuries, citizens were required to hang out lanterns or keep lights burning in
windows that faced the streets. The new street gaslights were based on a patent by German Frederick Albert Winzer, who had developed and patented in 1804 a method of gas lighting fueled by the burning of coal, a technology he lectured on and demonstrated that same year at London’s Lyceum Theater. Earlier fuels included olive oil, beeswax, fish oil, and whale oil. Linzer followed the lighting of Pall Mall with a special exhibition later that year in honor of the birthday of King George III, using gaslight to superimpose images against the walls of the buildings along his street.The use of gaslight quickly took off. By 1823, the first public gas company, the Gas Light and Coke Co., had covered 215 miles of London’s streets with 40,000 lamps. Gaslight remained the primary means of street illumination in Europe and North America throughout the 19th century. Although they’ve been pretty much replaced by electric lighting, some gaslights remain, usually in the historic districts of older cities. (n the United States, gaslit neighborhoods can still be found in Boston, Cincinnati and New Orleans…..110 years ago this week, Glenn H Curtiss, driving a 269 cu in (4,410 cc) V-8
motorcycle of his own design at Ormond Beach, Florida, US reached an unofficial speed of 136.3 mph, a record speed for a motor vehicle [24 January 1907]. The air-cooled F-head engine was developed for use in dirigible. The forty horsepower engine was the two carburettor version of the Curtiss Model B-8 aircraft power plant, one of thirteen engines listed in the May 1908 “Aerial and Cycle Motors” catalogue. The engine weighed 150 lb (68 kg) and was offered for US$1,200 but it did not sell, in spite of the engine’s notoriety from the speed record. Curtiss remained “the fastest man in the world,” the title the newspapers gave him for going faster than any vehicle, on land, sea or air, until 1911, when his absolute record was broken by the 141.7 mph (228.0 km/h) Blitzen Benz automobile. No motorcycle surpassed the record until 1930. Curtiss’s success at racing strengthened his reputation as a leading maker of high-performance motorcycles and engines…. 100 years ago this week, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company Ltd (Java) was established in Buitzenzorg, West Java, Dutch Indies (now Bogor, Indonesia) [26 January 1917]…… 90 years ago this week, Lady Bristol died in St George’s Hospital on Hyde Park Corner, London after being knocked down by a motor car, and was buried in the grounds of the family home, Ickworth House, 2 days late [25 January 1927]…… The Hon Mrs Victor Bruce driving an AC Six car (PF6465) borrowed from Selwyn Edge, departed from Monte Carlo on an 8,000 miles (12,875 km) endurance trial through Italy, Sicily, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, and France [28 January 1927]. There, she drove the car 1,000 miles (1609 km) around the Montlhéry oval circuit near Paris, and then returned to England…… 75 years ago this week, the Ford Rotunda in Dearborn, Michigan, US
closed for the duration of World War II…… 70 years ago this week, Red Byron captured the inaugural National Championship Stock Car Circuit event, billed as the “Battle of the Champions,” on the Beach-Road course at Daytona [26 January 1947]….. 60 years ago this week, The 10,000,000th Plymouth was produced [24 January 1957]…..Stirling Moss teamed with local hero Carlos Menditeguy in a 3.0 litre Maserati to win the Argentine 1000 Kilometers World Sports Car race [29 January 1957]. The race was a battle between Ferrari and Maserati teams since the Jaguar and Aston Martin teams did not enter the event. The 4.9 liter Ferrari Bolidos of Peter Collins/Luigi Musso and Juan Fangio/Eugenio Castellotti led, but both chewed up their rear axles, forcing retirement. 40 years ago this week, Carlos Reutemann secured his first win for Ferrari at the Brazilian Grand Prix, his second victory at the event[23 January 1977]. James Hunt led for half the race until he was forced to pit and concede the lead, and he eventually took second while Niki Lauda was third. After the race an angry Carlos Pace accused Hunt of reckless driving. “He came much too close to me to overtake,” Pace fumed. “There was plenty of room for him to pass and yet he cannoned into mine. The nose covering and radiator were torn off and I was forced to stop.” Hunt ignored Pace’s tirade, but instead slammed race organisers who he claimed in an attempt to clean the track had “scrubbed it so thoroughly we lost traction”. He had a point as seven cars skidded off and only seven of the 22 starters finished. Hunt also took a pop at the media saying he had suffered “harassment by the press”…… 20 years ago this week, ITV announced they had signed veteran commentator Murray Walker to front their coverage after securing the rights for F1 from the BBC [27 January 1997]. Walker admitted he had negotiated a pay rise to make the move. “It’s only a modest increase,” he claimed. “After all, I do it basically for the love of it.”….. 10 years ago this week, the world’s first driveable fuel-cell hybrid
electric vehicle with plug-in capability, the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive, was unveiled in Washington, D.C. [23 January 2007] Capable of 80 mph, the HySeries combined an on-board hydrogen fuel-cell generator with 336-volt lithium ion batteries to deliver more than 41 mpg. The vehicle was driven by the stored electricity alone for the first 20 or so miles, after which the fuel cell began operating to keep the battery pack charged…… After only 11 days behind the wheel of an F1 car, rookie Lewis Hamilton had a lucky escape after he crashed his McLaren at 165mph during practice in Spain [25 January 2007]. “I’m completely fine and was conscious throughout,” he said. It was an equally frustrating day for Jenson Button as his new Honda broke down during the first lap of a warm-up session in Barcelona …..
In Germany Peter Hartz, Volkswagen human resources executive, was fined $750,000 and given a 2-year suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to funding an account that provided special travel perks for employees [26 January 2007]…..Timothy Brady (33), of Harrow, north-west London, was clocked at 172 mph in a Porsche 911 Turbo in a 70-mph zone on the A420 in Oxfordshire, becoming the fastest driver ever caught in a routine speed check in the UK [27 January 2007]. He was sentenced to 10 weeks in jail and banned from driving for 3 years…… At 11.11 a.m. British-born Champ Car driver Katherine Legge, driving a Robinson Racing Pontiac-powered Riley DP, made history by completing the one-millionth lap of the 24 Hours of Daytona race since its inception [28 January 2007].