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20-26 June: MOTORING MILESTONES

20-26 June

Cars, people and events in this week’s Motoring Milestones include: Ayrton Senna, Albert Khan, Ralph DePalma and Aston Martin.

100 years ago this week, Italian-American Ralph DePalma set a flying-mile world record of 35.2 seconds in a Mercedes at Des Moines Speedway in Iowa, US [23 June 1916] ….. 80 years ago this week, the first

Ralph DePalma
Ralph DePalma

Hungarian Grand Prix (Magyar Nagydij) was held over a 3.1-mile track laid out in Nepliget, a park near the center of Budapest [21 June 1936]. The Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union, and Ferrari teams all sent three cars and the event drew a very large crowd. However, politics and the ensuing war meant the end of Grand Prix motor racing in the country for fifty years….. 75 years ago this week, after a long and bitter struggle on the part of Henry Ford against cooperation with organised labour unions, the Ford Motor Company signed its first contract with the United Automobile Workers of America and Congress of Industrial Organizations (UAW-CIO) [20 June 1941]…..70 years ago this week, Morris raised its car prices: two-door saloons now cost £270 and four-doors cost £290 [24 June 1946]…..The Longbridge car plant in the West Midlands produced its millionth car, which was an Austin [25 June 1946]……60 years ago this week, singer Tom Jones needed 14 stitches in his forehead after his Jaguar was involved in a car crash in Marble Arch, London [21 June 1966]….. The last Corvette of the fourth-generation “C4” body style (used since

1989 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe (C4)
1989 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe (C4)

1984) was produced. Over 300,000 cars had been produced since 1984 [22 June 1996]. The car was purchased by Mike Yager, owner of Mid-America Design, for his museum in Illinois. ….. The last 1956 Packard automobile was produced, marking the end of production at Packard’s Connor Avenue plant in Detroit, Michigan [24 June 1956]. Designed by Albert Kahn and opened in 1903, the plant was world-class in its day and occupied 3.5 million square feet of interior space across 47 buildings. It employed over 40,000 skilled workers on a campus that spanned 35 acres. The facility was the most modern plant of its time, and the first to use reinforced concrete in industrial construction. Packard would continue to manufacture cars in South Bend, Indiana until 1958, but for those familiar with Packard, the last 1956 model is considered the last true Packard car……The US Congress approved the Federal Highway Act, which allocated more than $30 billion for the construction of some 41,000 miles (66,000 km) of interstate highways; the largest public construction project in US history to that date [26 June 1956]. President Dwight David Eisenhower had first recognized the value of a national system of roads after participating in the U.S. Army’s first transcontinental motor convoy in 1919 over the Lincoln Highway; during the Second World War, he had admired Germany’s autobahn network. In January 1956, Eisenhower called in his State of the Union address (as he had in 1954) for a “modern, interstate highway system.”….. 50 years ago this week, the US Senate voted 76-0 for the passage of what will become the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson the following September [24 June 1966]. The Act established an agency that would set safety standards for all new motor vehicles beginning with the 1968 model year. Among the first safety standards adopted by the agency were seat belts, windshield wipers, glare reduction on interior and exterior surfaces, padded visors and dashboards, recessed control knobs, outside mirrors, impact-absorbing steering columns, dual braking systems and standardized bumper heights….. 30 years ago this week, Rising Lotus star Ayrton Senna started on the pole at the Detroit Grand Prix and came away with a hard-earned win, the fourth of his career [22 June 1986]. The young Brazilian in his Lotus-Renault 98Tcharged through the field after dropping to eighth with a deflating tyre for his first USGP victory. The race saw six lead changes among five drivers, and the victory for Senna began a streak that would see him take five United States Grand Prix wins in six years.Thirteen people died in a pile-up on the M4 near Maidenhead [23 June 1986]…… The first unleaded petrol to be available in the United Kingdom went on sale. The Minister for the Environment, William Waldegrave, made the first fill at ESSO’s Stamford Bridge Service Station in London [24 June 1986]…. 20 years ago this week, Rusty Wallace ran out of gas while racing in the Miller 400 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, US [23 June 1996]. Fortunately Aston-Martin-DBS-James-Bond-007-Daniel-Craig-Casino-Royale-729x486-3a13d2889ec5710dfor Wallace, his tank ran dry after he had crossed the finish line to win the race…..10 years ago this week, three Aston Martin DBSs, which weren’t even yet on sale at the time, were smashed up in one afternoon by the film crew of Casino Royale, the twenty-first Bond film [21 June 2006]. Fitted with pistons to flip them onto their roofs, the three £165,000 V12 cars were being filmed at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. A source from the production crew said: ‘In the style of 007, our stunt driver walked away without a scratch.’ ……An incredibly rare 1937 Horch 853A Sport Cabriolet in original unrestored, unprepared condition was sold at auction in Cortland NY for $299,000 US [24 June 2006]. ….Polesitter Fernando Alonso took his sixth win of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix and increased his championship lead over Michael Schumacher, who finished second after passing Kimi Räikkönen with two laps remaining when the Finn ran wide [25 June 2006]. Räikkönen subsequently finished in third position, completing the podium for the McLaren team. Alonso had now taken six wins and three second places from the first nine races.

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