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5-11 August: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the Detroit Automobile Company was organised with Clarence A Black as President, Albert E F White as Vice President, William H Murphy as Secretary, and Frank R Alderman as Treasurer- the Mechanical Superintendent was Henry Ford [5 August 1899]. It was the first venture of its kind in Detroit. As with many early car ventures, the company floundered and was dissolved in January 1901. Twenty vehicles were built and $86,000 ($2.11 million in 2007) of investment was lost………110 years ago this week, twenty two year old housewife Alice Huyler

Alice Huyler

Ramsey became the first woman to drive across the US from coast to coast, in a green Maxwell 30 [6 August 1909]. She began the 3,800 mile journey from Hell’s Gate in Manhattan, New York and arrived in San Francisco to a great fanfare. In later years, she lived in Covina, California, where in 1961 she wrote and published the story of her journey, ‘Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron’. Between 1909 and 1975, Ramsey drove across the country more than 30 times. On October 17, 2000, she became the first woman inducted into the US Automotive Hall of Fame………100 years ago this week, the Hispano-Suiza ‘Stork’ mascot was patented by designer F. Bazin [8 August 1919]……….80 years ago this week, the British Automobile Racing Club held its last ever meeting at Brooklands. Raymond Mays in an ERA B-Type won the Campbell Trophy. The `Third August Outer-Circuit Handicap was won by G L Baker on a Graham-Paige and the band leader Billy Cotton was victorious in the Mountain Handicap in a ERA………..While testing the Type 57 tank-bodied racer which had just won a Le Mans race, not far from the factory on the road near the village of Duppigheim (France), 30-year-old Jean Bugatti was killed [11 August 1939]. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree while trying to avoid a drunken bicyclist and was interred in the Bugatti family plot at the municipal cemetery in Dorlisheim. There is a monument to him at the site of the accident……..70 years ago this week, the third race of the inaugural NASCA

Female racer Louise Smith is all smiles after her
spectacular tumble out of the Occoneechee Speedwayduring a practice run. After the car was dragged out of the woods, Smith climbed inside the crumpled machineto pose for photographers.

R Strictly Stock season was held at the Occoneechee Speedway,

North Carolina, US [7 August 1949]. Jimmy Thompson won the pole. Bob Flock scored his first win of the season in the 200-mile Strictly Stock race, giving Oldsmobile its second straight victory. Flock outdistanced runner-up Gober Sosebee to collect the $2,000.00 first prize. Third place went to Glenn Dunnaway, Fonty Flock took fourth, and Bill Snowden fifth. The race was spiced by a wild collision, triggered by Sara Christian. The highly regarded lady driver looped her Ford after losing the right front wheel in the 38th lap. As she tried to steer her car toward the pit area, a Lincoln driven by Felix Wilkes clobbered her. Both car spun to a halt on the home stretch completely blocking the track. Red Byron, point leader in the Strictly Stock series, whipped off the fourth turn and collected Wilkes’s car. Bob Smith’s Olds was also kayoed in a solo crash. There were no driver injuries in any of the mishaps. A crowd of 17,500 watched as Flock averaged 76.8 mph on the low-banked, one-mile dirt oval. After the first three NASCAR Strictly Stock races, Bill France and other officials of the new-born association were elated. It was clear that France’s dream was accepted by the fans……..60 years ago this week, the Chevrolet Corporation registered the Corvair name for its new rear-engine compact car [6 August 1959]. Corsairs became quite controversial – people either

Chevrolet Corvair

loved them or hated them. The car was accused of being “unsafe at any speed,” with much criticism directed toward its handling, even though a 1972 government study later exonerated the Corvair………The 39-day-old Plymouth-DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation was renamed the Plymouth-DeSoto-Valiant Division to herald the impending arrival of the new compact Valiant [8 August 1959]. It was created to give the company an entry in the compact car market emerging in the late 1950s. The Valiant was also built and marketed, without the Plymouth name, worldwide in countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as other countries in South America and Western Europe. It became well known for its excellent durability and reliability, and was one of Chrysler’s best-selling automobiles during the 1960s and 1970s, essentially keeping the company afloat during its hard economic times. Road & Track magazine considered the Valiant to be “one of the best all-around domestic cars”………20 years ago this week, a Mini John Cooper LE was announced to jointly celebrate the Mini’s fortieth birthday and John Cooper’s achievements in the racing arena [5 August 1999]. The cars were finished in Brookland Green with white bonnet stripes, matching the Cooper works team colours, and a red leather interior. Only available in the UK, production of the John Cooper LE was limited to just 300………Volvo announced it had agreed to acquire a majority share in Scania [7 August 1999]. The acquisition, for $7.5 billion (60.7 billion SEK), would have created the world’s second-largest manufacturer of heavy trucks, behind DaimlerChrysler. The cash for the deal came from Volvo selling its car division to Ford in January 1999. The deal eventually failed, after Scania’s board gained an agreement from Investor that better value could be gained from the two companies developing separately. Volvo subsequently sold its shares to Volkswagen and Investor sold a portion of its shares to Volkswagen, after pressure from both the EU and the Swedish government………Spice Girls manager Bob Herbert (57) was killed in a car crash in Windsor. Herbert was behind the formation of The Spice Girls and Five and had managed Bros during the 80’s [9 August 1999]……..10 years ago this week, President Obama signed into law a measure tripling the budget of the $1 billion incentive “cash for clunkers” program [7 August 2009].

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