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14-20 March: Motoring Milestones

14 – 20 March

110 years ago this week, Rolls-Royce Ltd. was officially registered with Charles S. Rolls and F. Henry Royce as directors (15 March 1906). The two men agreed that Royce Limited

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost - 1906
Rolls Royce Silver Ghost – 1906

would manufacture a line of cars to be sold exclusively by C.S. Rolls & Co. Just after the company was organised, it released the six-cylinder 40/50 horsepower Silver Ghost. The car was enthusiastically heralded by the British press as “the best car in the world.” From its formation to the start of World War I in 1914, Rolls-Royce focused on one product–the Silver Ghost. The war forced new demands on the British economy, and Rolls-Royce shifted its manufacturing emphasis to airplane engines. Henry Royce’s designs are credited with having provided half of the total horsepower used in the Allies’ air war against Germany, and World War II transformed Rolls-Royce into a major force in aerospace engineering …..100 years ago this week, Packard closed its factory to visitors because of military secrecy (1 March 1916). The 3,500,000-square-foot (325,000 m2), plant

Packard Plant's building number 10 during expansion circa 1911
Packard Plant’s building number 10 during expansion circa 1911

was designed by Albert Kahn Associates using Trussed Concrete Steel Company products. It is located on 40 acres (16 ha) of land on East Grand Boulevard on the city’s east side. It included the first use of reinforced concrete in the United States for industrial construction in the automobile industry. The Packard plant was opened in 1903 and at the time was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world with skilled craftsmen involved in over eighty trades. The factory complex closed in 1958, though other businesses operated on the premises or used it for storage until the late 1990s. A number of the outer buildings were in use by businesses up through the early 2000s. In 2010, the last remaining tenant, Chemical Processing, announced its intention to vacate the premises after 52 years …..80 years ago this week,

BMW 326
BMW 326

BMW 326 made its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show, available in 3 versions: a 4-door limousine at a price of 5500 Reichsmark (RM), a 2-door cabriolet at 6550 RM, and a 4-door cabriolet at 7200 RM (20 March 1936). It was also possible for customers to purchase a bare chassis and have the body built themselves …..40 years ago this week, James Hunt won his second in a row at the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch with his McLaren M23 (14 March 1976). He also set fastest lap on the way to victory. Alan Jones was second in his Surtees and Jacky Ickx finished third in one of Lord Hesketh’s cars. This was also the race debut of the Ferrari 312T2. The cars unfortunately did not finish. Lauda was out with a brake problem 17 laps in, and Martini crashed his in the warm-up.…..25 years ago this week, New Jersey in the US raised turnpike tolls by 70% (17 March 1991)…..20 years ago this week, Wayne Taylor, Jim Pace, and Eric van de Poole drove an Oldsmobile R&S MkIII WSC to victory in the 12-Hours of Sebring (16 March 1996). Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced the first ever UK motorway car share lane – on the M606/M62 at junction 26 (20 March 2006). On the same day the Highway Agency began a £289 million scheme to widen the M1 motorway in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, between Luton and the M25. The fourth lane was ear-marked for car sharing (20 March 2006)…..15 years ago this week, Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell was banned from driving for six weeks and fined £400 for speeding in her Aston Martin DB7 (14 March

Geri Halliwell
Geri Halliwell

2001). Geri had been snapped on a speed camera doing 60mph in a 30mph zone. Two days later Robert “Bob” Wollek (57), nicknamed “Brilliant Bob”, a race car driver from Strasbourg, France was killed in a road accident in Florida while riding a bicycle to prepare for the 12 Hours of Sebring (16 March 2001). He was struck from behind by a van driven by an elderly driver from Okeechobee, Florida at approximately 4:30 p.m. Just prior to his death, he announced he would retire from racing to serve as an ambassador for Porsche, and was due to sign this

Bob Wollek in 1976
Bob Wollek in 1976

agreement upon returning home after Sebring. On race day, the organizers held a one minute silence in memory of Wollek. Wollek was due to start in the Porsche 996 GT3-RS with Johnny Mowlem and Michael Petersen, however, out of respect the car was withdrawn from the race. Michael Schumacher won the Malaysian Grand Prix held at Sepang from pole and outpaced his teammate Rubens Barrichello who finished second 23 seconds behind (18 March 2001). David Coulthard finished third and his teammate Mika Hakkinen, set the fastest lap but could do no better than 6th at the finish.…..10 years ago this week, the Malaysian Grand Prix held at Sepang was won by Giancarlo Fisichella driving a Renault R26, who took the final of his three victories in F1 (19 March 2006). His team-mate, Fernando Alonso, finished second to extend his lead in the drivers’ championship standings to 7 points. Jenson Button took the first podium in a Honda by finishing in third place.

 

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