Discover the most momentous motoring events that took place this week in history …..
120 years ago this week, the first hill climb in England was held over a 325-yard course at Petersham Hill, Richmond, London [9 June 1899]. Most of the drivers were employees of the dealers and manufacturers concerned. The fastest climb was made by a Barriere tricycle at about 14 mph, followed by a Leitner ‘dogcart’. It was reported that a Benz ‘tore up the hill’ at 10 mph and that the Right Hon. Charles Rolls averaged 8.75 mph with his ‘racing’ Panchard…….110 years ago this week, the first competitive event took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a gas-filled balloon race [5 June 1909]. In the handicap division, Charles Walsh’s “Hoosier” was declared winner as his balloon floated to Westmoreland, Tennesse, US……Alice Huyler Ramsey (22), housewife and mother
from Hackensack, New Jersey began a 3,800 mile journey from Hell’s Gate in Manhattan, New York to San Francisco, California in a green Maxwell 30 [9 June 1909]. On her fifty-nine day trek she was accompanied by two older sisters-in-law and another female friend, none of whom could drive a car. They arrived amid great fanfare on August 7 1909. The drive was originally meant as a publicity stunt for Maxwell-Briscoe, the carmaker. At that time, women were not encouraged to drive cars. The group of women used maps from the American Automobile Association to make the journey. Only 152 of the 3,600 miles (244 of the 5,767 kilometres) the group traveled were paved. Over the course of the drive, Ramsey changed 11 tyres, cleaned the spark plugs, repaired a broken brake pedal and had to sleep in the car when it was stuck in mud. The women mostly navigated by using telephone poles, following the poles with more wires in hopes that they would lead to a town. Along the way Ramsey received a case of bedbugs from a Wyoming hotel, and in Nevada they were surrounded by a Native American hunting party with bows and arrows drawn. Ramsey was named the “Woman Motorist of the Century” by AAA in 1960. In later years, she lived in West Covina, California, where in 1961 she wrote and published the story of her journey, “Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron”……..100 years ago this week, the first Citroën, the Model A, was delivered to a
Monsieur Testemolle for the sum of 7,950 francs [4 June 1919]. The roadster, also known as the 10HP Type A, was the first European car to be mass produced and had a maximum speed of 40 mph. It was driven by a water-cooled, 4-cylinder, in-line, 1,327-cc engine developing 18 bhp……..90 years ago this week, the Hon Mrs Victor Bruce drove a Bentley 4½ Litre at Montlhéry for 24 hours, to capture the world record for single-handed driving, averaging over 89 mph (142 km/h) [6 June 1929]………. 60 years ago this week, Leslie Johnson (47), British racing driver who competed in rallies, hill climbs, sports car races and Grand Prix races died [8 June 1959]……….30 years ago this week, the two-hour time limit of the United States Grand Prix held at Phoenix was reached after 75 of the scheduled 81 laps, as Alain Prost in a McLaren-Honda MP4/5 coasted to his only United States win and increased his then all-time record victory total to 36 and his first win in a naturally aspirated car [4 June 1989]. He also took the lead, by two points over Ayrton Senna, in the Driver’s Championship which he eventually won. Riccardo Patrese’s runner-up placing was his second in a row……..20 years ago this week, Deputy British Prime Minister John Prescott officially opened the new bus lane on the M4 motorway between Heathrow Airport and London. The 4 miles of tarmac and speed enforcement cameras cost £1.9m [7 June 1999]………10 years ago this week, the first electric Time Trial Xtreme Grand Prix (TTXGP) all electric street motorcycle race took place on the Isle of Man in which 13 machines took part [4 June 2009]. Rob Barber riding a motorcycle built by Team Agni won the race. He completed the 37.73 miles (60.72 km) course in 25 minutes 53.5 seconds, an average speed of 87.434 mph (140.711 km/h)……… the following day [5 June 2009], General Motors Corporation announced a tentative deal to sell its Saturn brand to former race car driver and dealership group owner Roger Penske………..Van maker LDV was placed in administration after the collapse of a rescue deal by Malaysian firm Weststar [8 June 2009]. The assets were sold and up to 850 jobs and thousands more in the supply chain were lost. LDV was formed in 1993 as Leyland DAF Vans Limited following a management buy-out of DAF NV’s Leyland DAF van manufacturing division, following the bankruptcy of the Dutch company. Later the name was officially changed to LDV Limited. Prior to its merger with Leyland Trucks and DAF Trucks in 1987 it was part of the British Leyland / Austin Rover Group empire and was latterly the Freight Rover arm of the Land Rover Group division. In December 2005, after going into administration, LDV was bought by group Sun Capital Partners/Sun European Partners and was subject to a financial restructuring. What Van reported LDV’s commitment to its existing customers, including an assurance from their marketing director that their production target of 1000 vans per month would put them well above break-even point. The Russian GAZ Group acquired LDV on 31 July 2006, and also established a new company, GAZ International, based in the United Kingdom, to focus on the automotive industry.The BBC reported a GAZ spokesperson as saying that the company had appointed former Ford of Europe executive Martin Leach and former A.T. Kearney executive Steve Young to run the business, and that it planned to expand production at LDV’s Birmingham plant by adding new product lines and entering new markets in Europe and elsewhere. GAZ had plans to export LDV technology to Russia, and start producing the Maxus at the GAZ Nizhny Novgorod plant in Russia with 50,000 as an initial volume. There were also proposals to export the GAZ Maxus to Australia, a traditional market for British Leyland. However, GAZ’s plans never really showed any increased output, and due to the severe worldwide recession and a lack of long-term investment and commitment, production was halted at LDV’s Birmingham factory in December 2008. After United Kingdom’s Government tried once again to save the company by agreeing to pour in £5 million of grants to enable Malaysia’s WestStar Corporation to purchase LDV, WestStar failed to secure financing.