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27 June – 2 July: MOTORING MILESTONES

27 June – 2 July

115 years ago this week, the Paris–Berlin Trial began [27 June 1901].  The race is in retrospect sometimes referred to as the VI Grand Prix de l’ACF. Run over 687 miles and three stages (June 27th Paris-Aachen – 285 miles; June 28th Aachen-Hanover – 278 miles and June 29th Hanover-Berlin –

Paris - Berlin Race - 1901
Paris – Berlin Race – 1901

186 miles) the race was won by Henri Fournier (France) driving a Mors in a time of 15 hours 33 minutes 6 seconds. Charles Stewart Rolls with mechanic Claud Crompton enterd in a Mors and finished 18th. In retrospect the trail is sometimes referred to as the VI Grand Prix de l’ACF….. 90 years ago this week, the smallest field ever to start a classic Grand Prix was made up of just three Bugattis, at the French Grand Prix at Miramas [27 June 1926]. One driven by Jules Goux completed the 100-lap distance, one finished 15 laps behind and the third retired…..75 years ago this week, legendary German driver Walter Bäumer died in a freak accident on the road between Herford and his hometown Bünde at an age of 32 [29 June 1941]. Bäumer was being kissed by a female passenger when the car door opened in a corner and Bäumer fell out on a field, receiving fatal wounds in his neck from a sharp wooden object. …..Australian adventurer, Francis Edwin Birtles (61), who set many long-distance cycling and driving records, including becoming in 1927 the first man to drive a car from England to Australia, died [1 July 1941]. Birtles had set a speed record driving from Darwin to Melbourne …..60 years ago this week, BMC announced the redundancy of 12.5% (6,000) of its workforce [27 June 1956]. The dismissals were unprecedented as far as post-war Britain was concerned and it came as a rude shock to the nation. This event had unforeseen long-term consequences for the whole industrial relations climate in the motor industry. Three days later, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. [29 June 1956] The bill created a 41,000-mile “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” that would, according to Eisenhower, eliminate unsafe roads, inefficient routes, traffic jams and all of the other things that got in the way of “speedy, safe transcontinental travel.” At the same time, highway advocates argued, “in case of atomic attack on our key cities, the road net [would] permit quick evacuation of target areas.” For all of these reasons, the 1956 law declared that the construction of an elaborate expressway system was “essential to the national interest.” …. Engineer Alfredo Ferrari (24), nicknamed Alfredino or Dino, the only legitimate son of Enzo Ferrari, died [30 June 1956]. The following day, Peter Collins showed his win at Spa was no fluke with a thrilling victory over Ferrari

Peter Collins
Peter Collins

team-mate Eugenio Castellotti at the French Grand Prix, a result which gave him a four-and-a-half point lead in the drivers’ championship [1 July 1956]. This was the first time a Briton had led the World Drivers Championship. The self-effac5ng 24-year-old admitted afterwards he only raced for the fun of it. “My father gave me a motor business so I don’t have to race … but I like it and I like the money. I don’t think I’m as fast at Stirling [Moss] but my car today was. I always have a go.” There was a lot of local interest at Reims in the return of the famous Bugatti name but Maurice Trintignant had to withdraw with throttle problems after 18 laps. And the man who went on to mastermind Lotus, Colin Chapman, was entered in a third Vanwall but a practice crash saw him on the sidelines for the race. It turned out to be an all Ferrari front row with Collins, on the crest of a wave, on pole position ahead of team-mates Juan Manuel Fangio and Castellotti. The three Ferraris swapped the lead early on, but they were duly caught by Harry Schell, in the Vanwall started by Mike Hawthorn who had withdrawn as he had been taking part in an all-night race earlier. A mechanical problem on the 38th lap ended the team’s challenge if not its race and it finished down the field with a misfiring engine.Fangio, who had struggled since his win in Argentina, also had to pit, leaving Castellotti in the lead, but he was soon overhauled by Collins, and the pair crossed the finish line with 0.3 seconds separating them. Fangio came home fourth, narrowly failing to hunt down Jean Behra despite setting a lap record on the final circuit…..50 years ago this week, at a press conference in Detroit’s Statler-Hilton Hotel, Chevrolet’s Pete Estes announced a new car line, project designation XP-836 [28 June 1966]. The name that Chevrolet chose was in keeping with their other car names beginning with the letter C, such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II and Corvette. He claimed the name ‘suggests

Chevrolet Camaro - 1967
Chevrolet Camaro – 1967

the comradeship of good friends, as a personal car should be to its owner’, and that ‘to us, the name means just what we think the car will do… Go!’ The new Camaro name was then unveiled. The automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers what a Camaro was and were told it was ‘a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs’…..Giuseppe Farina (59) Italian racing driver died [30

Giuseppe Farina
Giuseppe Farina

June 1966]. He stands out in the history of Grand Prix motor racing for his much copied ‘straight-arm’ driving style and his status as the first ever Formula One World Champion……Irvin Gordon bought his P1800 at a neighbourhood Volvo dealership for $4,150 and has driven the vehicle over 2 million miles [30 June 1966]. He has held the Guinness World Records mark for High Mileage Vehicle since 2002 and was the first person to hold that record……20 years ago this week, the French Grand Prix held over 72 laps of the Circuit de Nevers, Magny-Cours, France was won by Damon Hill for the Williams team, from a second position start. Jacques Villeneuve finished second in the other Williams, with Jean Alesi third for the Benetton team. Pole-sitter Michael Schumacher retired on the formation lap when his engine failed and Johnny Herbert was disqualified from 11th because of bodywork irregularities…..A separate written-theory driving test was introduced in Britain, replacing questions asked about the Highway Code during the practical test [1 July 1996]……10 years ago this week, BMW announced the launch of a revised X3, featuring the most powerful diesel engine ever to power a production BMW in the UK [28 June 2006]. The headline-grabbing powerplant was a twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel with an output of 286hp and 580Nm of torque that had been developed from the engine used by the BMW 535d. Such power places the X3 3.0sd into the realm of sports car acceleration courtesy of a zero to 62mph time of 6.6 seconds and a 149mph top speed…… Michael Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix for a fifth time, becoming the first five-time winner of a major event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway [2 July 2006].

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