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4-10 July: Motoring Milestones

4 -10 July

 150 years ago this week, Father George A. Belcourt of Rusticoville, Prince Edward Island, Canada displayed the Ware Steam Car built by Elijah Ware of Bayonne, New Jersey that he had recently purchased – this was the first automobile on the island and is often cited as the first United States-built automobile to be exported [5 July 1865]….. 115 years ago this week, the first completed section of the London Electric Tramway opened from Shepherds Bush to Southall [10 July 1901]…..110 years ago this week, John S. Gray (64), one of the original investors of the Ford Motor Company, died unexpectedly of heart trouble [6 July 1906]. Gray’s position as Ford president was taken over by Henry Ford himself soon afterward. Gray’s estate, however, retained control of his shares in the company, until Henry Ford bought them in 1919. For the 16 years that Gray and his heirs owned their stake in the company, they received total dividends of $10,355,075. When the estate finally sold his shares to Henry Ford, the price was $26,250,000, making a total return of $36,605,075 on Gray’s $10,500 initial investment…. 100 years ago this week, Adelina and August Van Buren began the first successful transcontinental motorcycle tour by two women [5

Sisters Adeline and Augusta Van Buren
Sisters Adeline and Augusta Van Buren

July 1916]. The bikers left New York City on this day and they arrived in San Diego, California on September 12th….. Woodrow Wilson toured the Highland Part, Michigan plant of the Ford Motor Company, marking the first time that a sitting President had visited an automobile factory [10 July 1916].…. 60 years ago this week, Oscar C. Kreis (78), a design draftsman with the Packard Motor Car Company 1902-1908, Chief Engineer with the Gray Motor Company 1908-1916, Chief Research Engineer with Continental Motors Corporation 1916-1932, and later a consulting engineer to the Studebaker Corporation and General Motors, died [5 July 1956]…..Mettoy introduced Corgi Toys model cars, manufactured in South Wales [9 July 1956]….. 40 years ago this week, the 54th French Grand Prix and the fourth to be held at the Paul Ricard circuit was won by the eventual 1976 world champion James Hunt driving a McLaren M23 [4 July 1976]. Hunt won by twelve seconds over the Tyrrell P34 of Patrick Depailler. It was Hunt’s second win for the year and his third career Grand Prix victory….. (9th-10th July 1976): Gerald Hoagland drove a 1969 Chevrolet Impala 501 miles in reverse for 17 hours 38 minutes at Chemung Speed Drome, New York, at an average speed of 28.4 mph….. 30 years ago this week, Ford acquired 10 percent interest in Kia Motor Company of South Korea [10 July 1986]. On the same day, Austin Rover launched its new Honda-based Rover 800 executive car, which replaced the decade-

1986 Rover 800 brochure
1986 Rover 800 brochure

Rover SD1 and was part of a joint venture with Japanese carmaker Honda. The car was also sold in America under the Sterling marque. The Honda version was badged as the Honda Legend…..20 years ago this week, Joe Amato set an NHRA Top Fuel 1/4-mile elapse time record with a run of 4.595 seconds at Topeka, Kansas, US [5 July 1996]…..15 years ago today, less than five months after Dale Earnhardt’s death in the Daytona 500, NASCAR returned to Daytona International Speedway [7 July 2001]. Much to the delight of the crowd, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated most of the Pepsi 400. After a late-race caution for a crash on lap 143, Earnhardt, Jr. charged from 7th place to first in less than a lap and a half, and took the lead with 5 laps to go. With teammate Michael Waltrip protecting the position in second place, Earnhardt, Jr. took the dramatic victory. An emotional post-race celebration saw Earnhardt, Jr. mimic his father’s actions by spinning donuts in the tri-oval grass. Ironically, Earnhardt, Jr. and Waltrip finished in reverse order of the Daytona 500……The BMW Mini went on sale in the UK [8 July 2001]. By 10:00am the 148 dealerships had taken more than 3,000 orders……10 years ago this week, A1GP revealed its provisional calendar for season two adding new races to the line-up which included the Beijing street race and an event at the newly upgraded Taupo Park in New Zealand [5 July 2006]. Two days later Colin

Colin Fallow's Vampir dragster
Colin Fallow’s Vampir dragster

Fallows established a British land-speed record of 300.3 mph driving the jet dragster Vampire at RAF Fairford [7 July 2006]. At the same event Mark Newby drove his jet car Split Second to an MSA/FIA-accredited average speed of 338.74 mph with a peak of 362 mph, the fastest speed ever recorded in the UK. Since the car was unable to make a return run the one-way record remains an unofficial one. One the same day [7 July 2006], the numberplate, M1, fetched £331,500 at auction, setting a new world record for the highest price paid for a car registration. A mystery bidder from the North West bought the plate as a birthday present for his six-year-old son. Bonhams auctioned M1 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in Chichester…..The Fiat 500 Club Italia, an organization formed in appreciation of the iconic 500 (“Cinquecento” in Italian) car produced by the automaker Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino), earned what the Guinness Book of World Records called the world’s largest parade of Fiat cars, between Villanova d’Albenga and Garlenda, Italy with a record-high number of participants (754 teams) gathered to make up a parade of 500 Fiats [9 July 2006].

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