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7-13 March: Motoring Milestones

7 – 13 March 2016

100 years ago this week, the manufacturing firms of Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto merged to form the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (7th March 1916) The company would later become the Bayerische Motor-Werke (Bavarian Motor Works or BMW). BMW began as a

BMW Dixi
BMW Dixi

manufacturer of aircraft engines. In 1923, BMW built its first motorcycle and six years later its first car, the Dixi, in a factory in Eisenach, Germany ….. 80 years ago this week, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course, promoted by local racer Sig Haugdahl (8th March 1936). The race was 78 laps long (250 mile or 400 km) for street-legal family sedans sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for cars built in 1935 and 1936.The city posted a $5000 purse with $1700 for the winner. The race was marred by controversial scoring and huge financial losses to the city. Ticket-takers arrived to find thousands of fans already at the beach track. The sandy turns at the

Daytona Beach Road Course
Daytona Beach Road Course

ends of the track became virtually impassable with stuck and stalled cars. Second and third place finishers protested the results. The city lost $22,000. Although this race is remembered as the impetus for today’s NASCAR, nothing would have come into being without the efforts of Bill France. Having moved to Daytona in 1934, Bill France opened a garage there. He fixed and raced cars, finishing fifth in Daytona’s original race. The city claimed it lost money on the event and enthusiasm for city-sponsored racing waned. The next year the Daytona Elks persuaded the city to stage a Labor Day road race for stock cars. The city lost money again. At that point, Bill France and local club owner Charlie Reese took over the promotion for the Daytona race. With Reese’s money and France’s work, the race established itself as a successful enterprise. Racing halted during the war, but afterward France returned to Daytona Beach and persisted at race promotion. Reese died in 1945. France went on to promote races all over the South. In 1946, he staged a National Championship race at the Old Charlotte Speedway. A news editor objected to France’s calling a race a National Championship without any organized sanctioning body. France responded by forming the National Championship Stock Car Circuit (NCSCC) in 1946. On December 14, 1947, France called a meeting to reorganise the growing NCSCC. Racing officials gathered at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to hear France call for major changes in the operation of the circuit. He demanded more professionalism and suggested that the organization provide insurance for drivers and strict rules for the race cars and tracks. A new organization to be incorporated later that year as the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) emerged from the meeting, with Bill France, former mechanic, as president ….. 70 years ago this week, Frederick Lanchester (77) died (8th March 1966). A pioneer British motor car builder, he is widely considered to be one of the

Frederick Lanchester
Frederick Lanchester

“big three” English car engineers, the others being Harry Ricardo and Henry Royce. Four days later (12th March 1946) the first Reliant Regent was completed. The 1950s version of the 10cwt van was equipped with a few more luxuries that included sliding windows in the doors rather than the canvas sidescreens. A larger 12cwt Regent and Prince Regent was also produced. Production of the Regent continued until 1954 when Reliant produced their first 3-wheeled car, the Reliant Regal ….. 60 years ago this week, the Institute of Advanced Motorists Limited was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. (10th March 1956). The home retail prices of all British Motor Corporation vehicles rose by approximately 7% (13 March 1956). The last time a basic price adjustment was made was in January 1952 ….. 50 years ago this week, Jackie Stewart drove his BRM to victory as the 1966 Tasman Cup series came to an end with a race on the public road circuit at Longford (7th March 1966). Stewart also won the series championship and scored 4 wins on the season. Three days later (10 March 1966) the Fiat 124 was

Fiat 124
Fiat 124

unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and won “Car of the Year” in 1967. It had a new 4 cylinder, 1197cc, 60 bhp engine. Approximately 1,543,000 saloons and estates were built in Italy, before it was replaced in Italy in 1974 by the Fiat 131/132 4-door saloon, although production in other countries continued. Worldwide around 4 million Fiat 124s were produced. A factory at Togliattigrad in the erstwhile USSR produced 2000 Fiat 124 cars per day, named Lada 124. Other cars revealed at the Show included the AC 428 fastback (fixed head), the Lamborghini Miura and the Alfa Romeo 1300 Spider, driven by Dustin Hoffman to the strain of Simon and Garfunkel in the film The Graduate. ….. 40 years ago this week, Dave Marcis drove his Krauskopf Dodge past Richard Petty with 11 laps to go and then held off Petty on a last lap restart to win the Richmond 400 NASCAR GN race at the Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. (7 March 1976) Lennie Pond, looking for his first GN win, was in the lead and pulling away with 52 laps left when he tangled with the lapped car of Ed Negre and hit the wall. It was the second GN win of Marcis’ career. The Lamborghini Silhouette, a new vehicle based on the Urraco, was introduced in Switzerland (11 March 1976). It received favourable reviews due to its aggressive good looks, stunning performance and a practical day-to-day driving ability. On the same day, Marian Heiskell became the first woman elected to the board of the Ford Motor Company ….. 20 years ago this week, Damon Hill won the Australian GP in a Williams. His teammate, Jacques Villenueve, finished second on his F1 debut (10 March 1986) …..10 years ago this week, nearly one UK million motorists were on the brink of receiving a driving ban because they have racked up penalty points from speed cameras, a study found (9 March 2006). About 3% of drivers, c. 920,000,had 3 points away from losing their licences, the usual penalty for speeding, according to the survey by Direct Line insurance. The company stated convictions for speeding had risen dramatically in the past five years, and the number of drivers with three points on their licence had increased by 7% in the past two years. The Bahrain Grand Prix (formally the III Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix) was held two days later at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain (11th March 2006). The race, contested over 57 laps, was the opening round of the 2006 Formula One season and the third running of the Bahrain Grand Prix. It was won by the 2005 World Champions, Fernando Alonso and the Renault team. Ferrari driver and polesitter Michael Schumacher began his final season in Formula One (before his return with Mercedes in 2010) with second position. Kimi Räikkönen completed the podium after he finished in third place with the McLaren team, despite starting in last position …..1 year ago this week, the UK’s

UK's first supermarket-based Hydrogen filling station - Hendon
UK’s first supermarket-based Hydrogen filling station – Hendon

first supermarket-based hydrogen filling station opened at a branch of Sainsbury’s in Hendon, North London (11 March 2015). The 700 bar system, developed by US firm Air Products, operates in much the same way as a conventional fuel pump, and according to the manufacturer, can refuel a vehicle in less than three minutes.

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