5-11 June: Motoring Milestones

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Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

130 years ago this week, Hammersmith Bridge in London was officially opened [10 June 1887]……… 120 years ago this week, Sutton & Company of Manchester, England purchased a Daimler parcel van, the first sale of a gasoline-powered motor truck in Great Britain [6 June 1897]…… 110 years ago this week, construction began on the Long Island Motor Parkway, the first first limited-access roadway in the world [6 June 1897]. General Manager A R Pardington performed the groundbreaking ritual.

Long Island Parkway c. 1908

Long Island Parkway c. 1908

The road was originally planned to stretch for 70 miles (110 km) in and out of New York City as far as Riverhead, the county seat of Suffolk County, and point of division for the north and south forks of Long Island. Only 45 miles (72 km) (from Queens in New York City to Lake Ronkonkoma) were constructed, at a cost of $6 million. Construction began in June 1908 (a year after the Bronx River Parkway). On October 10, 1908, a 10-mile-long (16 km) section opened as far as modern Bethpage, making it the first superhighway. It hosted races in 1908 and on the full road in 1909 and 1910, but an accident in the latter year’s Vanderbilt Cup, killing two riding mechanics with additional injuries, caused the New York Legislature to ban racing except on race tracks, ending its career as a racing road. By 1911, the road was extended to Lake Ronkonkoma. It was the first roadway designed exclusively for automobile use, the first concrete highway in the United States, and the first to use overpasses and bridges to eliminate intersections……. Arthur Duray driving a Lorraine-Dietrich 60 hp won the Moscow to St.Petersburg road race [7 June 1907]…….Five vehicles left Peking at the start of the Peking-Paris rally sponsored by Parisian daily newspaper Le Matin [10 June 1907]. There were no rules in the race, except that the first car to Paris would win the prize of a magnum of Mumm

The Itala's arrival in Paris after the 17,000km Peking to Paris race in 1907

The Itala’s arrival in Paris after the 17,000km Peking to Paris race in 1907

champagne. The race went without any assistance through countryside where there were no roads or roadmaps. For the race, camels carrying fuel left Peking and set up at stations along the route, to provide fuel for the racers. The race followed a telegraph route, so that the race was well covered in newspapers at the time. Each car had one journalist as a passenger, with the journalists sending stories from the telegraph stations regularly throughout the race. It was held during a time when cars were fairly new and the route traversed remote areas of Asia where people were not yet familiar with motor travel. The route between Peking and Lake Baikal had only previously been attempted on horseback. The race was won by Italian Prince Scipione Borghese of the Borghese family, accompanied by the journalist Luigi Barzini, Sr. He was confident and had even taken a detour from Moscow to St Petersburg for a dinner which was held for the team, and afterwards headed back to Moscow and rejoined the race. The event was not intended to be a race or competition, but quickly became one due to its pioneering nature and the technical superiority of the Italians’ car, a 7,433 cc (453.6 cu in) Itala 35/45 hp. Second in the race was Charles Goddard in the Spyker; he had no money, had to ask others for petrol, and borrowed his car for the race. He was arrested for fraud near the end of the race. Some of the other cars had difficulties in going up ravines, across mud, quicksand, and bridges across rivers not designed for vehicles. The Contal cyclecar became bogged down in the Gobi desert and was not recovered, with the crew lucky to be found alive by locals. Barzini published the book Peking to Paris in 1908, filled with hundreds of pictures. ……. 90 years ago this week, the Graham Brothers acquired control of the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company [10 June 1927]. The company built the Paige between 1909 and 1927 to the highest standards of production engineering for its day. Paige-Detroit also manufactured Paige trucks, 1918-1923, and the Jewett light six, 1922-1926. Sales topped 30,000 for most years. Peak production of 43,500 vehicles occurred in 1923. Cumulative 1910-1927 production was perhaps 400,000…….80 years ago this week, the day after having finished only second at the Rio Grand Prix, German racing legend, Hans Stuck took two new standing start world records with his Auto Union Grand Prix car [7 June 1937]. He bettered his own one kilometre record {171.021 km/h (106.268 mph) [21.05 s]} and took over the one mile record {201.098 km/h (124.957 mph) [28.81 s]} set by Caracciola at Gyon 1934. However those records remained unofficial as they were not recognized by AIACR. These were to be Stuck’s last speed record attempts…..70 years ago this week, Jean-Pierre Wimille won the Swiss Grand Prix in an Alfa Romeo 158. Wimille averaged 95.63 mph for the 135.7 miles around the 4.5 mile Bremgarten circuit [8 June 1947]. Achille Varzi finished 2nd, 44.7 seconds behind with Count Felice Trossi 3rd, both drivers also in Alfa 158s…… on the same day [8 June 1947], inventor of the electromagnetic transmission and a pioneer of the early automobile industry, Justus

Justus Bulkley Entz

Justus Bulkley Entz

Bulkley Entz (79) died. In 1887, Justus Entz began working for Thomas A. Edison as an electrician at the Edison Machine Works. He stayed with Edison until 1890 and left as a chief electrician. Entz entered into several patent agreements with Edison and was granted royalty payments for any future use of certain patents. During the 1890s, Entz became fascinated with the development of the automobile, and by 1897 he was working as a chief engineer at the Electric Storage Battery Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1897 this company introduced an electric-powered cab to the streets of New York and Philadelphia. It was while working for the Electric Storage Battery Company that Entz designed a gasoline-powered automobile with an electric drive transmission, and this was built as the prototype Columbia Mark IX by the Pope Manufacturing Company. On the vehicle’s test run, driven by Hiram Percy Maxim, an electric spark ignited fuel in the gasoline tank and destroyed the car. Still, the basic design was good, and Entz took out a patent on it. By 1902, Entz was working on ways to perfect his electromagnetic transmission. The device he ultimately came up with used a magnetic field to drive a propeller or driveshaft. By varying the intensity of the field, a vehicle could go faster or slower without using a clutch. In 1912, Walter C. Baker purchased the patent rights to the Entz Transmission and then licensed the technology to Raymond Owen of R. M. Owen & Company. Owen used the technology to produce a gasoline-powered automobile that utilized the Entz electromagnetic transmission, called the Owen Magnetic…….. Saab introduced its first car, the model 92 prototype

Saab 92 - 1947

Saab 92 – 1947

[10 June 1947]. Saab had been primarily a supplier of military aircraft before and during World War II. With the end of the war, company executives realized the need to diversify the company’s production capabilities. After an exhaustive planning campaign that at one point led to the suggestion that Saab manufacture toasters, company executives decided to start building motor cars. Saab director Sven Otterbeck placed aircraft engineer Gunnar Ljungstrom in charge of creating the company’s first car. Ljungstrom sketched his ideas for an aerodynamic, light-framed, safe automobile and then enlisted the skills of noted industrial designer Sixten Sason to translate the sketches into an automobile ready for production. In search of a name for their new car, Saab executives elected to stay with their existing numbering system. As numbers one through 89 were taken up by military aviation projects, and 90 and 91 by commercial aircraft projects, the first Saab car became the Model 92. Saab ran a series of prototype 92s with German-engineered DKW engines until the Saab engine was ready in the summer of 1947. Not surprisingly, the car received rave reviews from the Swedish press after its unveiling. The first 92s didn’t hit Swedish showrooms until December of 1949. The 92 came equipped with a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine that provided 25hp and propelled the car at a top speed of 62mph. All Saab 92s came in the standard color of aircraft green. Only a month into production, Saab began its distinguished history of rally-car racing by entering the 92 in the Monte Carlo Rally. Between 1950 and 1980, Saab cars were a force in the world of rally car racing, due in large part to their durability, handling, and mid-range acceleration. Saab re-entered rally racing in 1996, after a 16-year hiatus from the circuit. Rally races are held on long, arduous off-road courses, and they test the stamina of both car and driver…….40 years ago this week, the most pitstops yet during a World Drivers Championship race were witnessed by the spectators of the Belgian Grand Prix, which was run off on a drying track [5 June 1977]. World Champion James Hunt gambled on slick tyres, but was lapped before he realises his error. Gunnar Nilsson (Lotus, John Player Special/Ford Mk 3) emerged as the surprise winner from Niki Lauda (Ferrari, Ferrari 312T2) and Ronnie Peterson (Tyrrell, Tyrrell/Ford P34). Vittorio Brambilla (Surtees, Surtees/Ford TS19), Alan Jones (AVS, Shadow/Ford DN8A) and Hans-Joachim Stuck (MRD, Brabham/Alfa Romeo BT45B) filled out the top 6……. 30 years ago this week, South Mimms, the first service area directly accessible from the M25 (Junction 23), opened [6 June 1987]. It was built on the site of Bignell’s Corner, named after a garden centre,

South Mimms services

South Mimms services

Bignell and Cutbush, which was close to the junction of the old A6, and A1. At the junction there was also a pub, the Middlesex Arms, and an Esso Motor hotel, near which developed a notorious truck stop, the Beacon Cafe, infamous for the selling of black market goods, and for prostitution….. The Brooklands Museum Trust was founded [7 June 1987.……10 years ago this week, Swiss Parliament voted to lift the ban of circuit motor racing (imposed after the 1955 Le Mans disaster) in Switzerland, 97 in favor and 77 opposed. However, the legislation was subsequently not ratified by the Swiss Council of States (the Senat) and the ban is now highly unlikely to actually be lifted [7 June 2007]……… The following day [8 June 2007], George Michael was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and banned from driving for two years at Brent Magistrates court, north London. The 43-year-old who had been arrested the previous October after being found slumped at the steering wheel of his car pleaded guilty to driving while unfit, blaming “tiredness and prescribed drugs” for the offence….. The record for the largest parade of Ferrari cars, 385, was achieved by Ferrari GB at the Silverstone Race Circuit, UK [9 June 2007]……. Having started in pole position, British driver Lewis Hamilton won his first F1 race in an incident-strewn Canadian Grand Prix [10 June 2007]. The safety car was deployed an unprecedented four times during the course of the race, on one occasion due to Polish driver Robert Kubica’s crash, which resulted in him suffering a sprained ankle and concussion. Brazilian Felipe Massa and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella were disqualified for failing to stop at the end of the pit lane when the exit was closed.

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