10-16 August: Motoring Milestones

Discover the most momentous motoring events that took place this week in motoring history …..

100 years ago this week, British manufacturer Sunbeam merged with the French company Automobiles Darracq [13 August 1920]. Alfa Romeo and Opel both started out in the car industry by building Darracqs under licence, and in 1919 Darracq had bought the London-based firm of Clement-Talbot, becoming Talbot-Darracq in the process, in order to import Talbots into England. Adding Sunbeam created Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq, known as STD Motors…….90 years ago

Charles Creighton and James Hargis

this week, Charles Creighton and James Hargis completed an epic journey of 3340 miles from New York to Los Angeles by driving their 1929 Ford Model A roadster without once stopping its engine, in reverse! [13 August 1930]…….also on this day [13 August 1930], Václav Laurin (64), the Czech engineer, entrepreneur and industrialist who co-founded automobile manufacturer Laurin & Klement that later became today’s Škoda Auto, died………80 years ago this week, the last Alexandria Bay (New York) Round the Houses race was won by Alfa Romeo. These races were part of the former ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) circuit [10 August 1940]……70 years ago this week, twenty-one-year-old Fireball Roberts drove his Oldsmobile to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, North Carolina, US, making him NASCAR’s youngest winner [13 August 1950]. Darlington Raceway officials announced that the inaugural Southern Five-Hundred field would be expanded from 45 to 75 cars…….60 years ago this week, Newport Pagnell services opened on England’s M1 [15 August 1960]. It was originally for cars only, with Watford Gap services being for lorries only. Together, they were the only services on the M1 at the time. On opening day it took a while to get a table as many people had come out to see the services and experience the novelty. Fortes Motorway Services were managed for many years from offices at Newport Pagnell…….50 years ago this week, the Ford Pinto, (cover image) a subcompact car was introduced. Initially offered as a two-door sedan, hatchback and wagon models followed in 1972 [11 August 1970]. With over 3 million sold over a 10-year production run, the Pinto competed in the U.S. market against the AMC Gremlin and Chevrolet Vega — outproducing both by total production as well as by highest model year production. The Pinto also competed against imported cars from Volkswagen, Datsun, and Toyota…….. Driving a Chaparral-entered Chevrolet Camaro, Vic Elford won the SCCA Trans-Am race at Watkins Glen, New York [16 August 1970]. This was the only Camaro Trans-Am win during the season……. On the same day [16 August 1970], Jackie Ickx won the Austrian Grand Prix driving a Ferrari 312B finishing six tenths of a second ahead of team mate Clay Regazzoni, and Brabham’s Rolf Stomelen taking his first and only podium. But none of that was in the script. The first Grand Prix at the Österreichring was supposed to be Jochen Rindt’s race. It was his first home Grand Prix on Austria’s new home for motorsport: a purpose-built circuit to replace the circuit at Zeltweg airfield. Everybody wanted to see the world championship leader take his Lotus to victory in his own back yard, but a technical problem sent him out of the race. The next fault was to cost him his life, and the 1970 Austrian Grand Prix was to be the last race won by F1’s only posthumous World Champion…….40 years ago this week, the Chrysler Corporation revived the Imperial marque after a 5 year lapse, as Frank Sinatra drove a 1981 metallic silver coupe off the assembly line in Windsor, Ontario, Canada [11 August 1980]. The Imperial fs was a rare example of automotive history, as it was one of only a handful of regular production cars bearing a celebrity’s name. This limited edition Imperial was available only in Glacier Blue Crystal paint – Chrysler advertising claimed it matched the color of Sinatra’s eyes – and had special fs (lowercase) external badging, with a large glovebox placard proclaiming “Frank Sinatra Signature Edition”. Inside, 16 cassette tapes of Sinatra titles were presented in a specially made Mark Cross leather case. In the center console of the car there was also a special tray for 8 cassettes. 271 fs edition cars were manufactured. The “fs” cost $1,078……..30 years ago this week, the final section of coast-to-coast Interstate 10 (Santa Monica, California, to Jacksonville, Florida) was dedicated, the Papago Freeway Tunnel (Deck Park Tunnel) under downtown Phoenix, Arizona, US [10 August 1990]. Completion of this section was delayed due to a freeway revolt that forced the cancellation of an originally planned elevated routing. The tunnel extends from approximately North 3rd Avenue to North 3rd Street. At 2,887 feet (880 m), it ranks as the 42nd longest vehicular tunnel in the US. The underpass was the last section of Interstate 10 to be completed nationwide. There is a plaque dedicated to the commemoration of the tunnel in Margaret T. Hance Park, which sits above the structure…….Belgian driver Thierry Boutsen driving a Williams FW13B took his third and final Grand Prix win in Hungary after leading the entire race [12 August 1990]. Italian driver Alessandro Nannini driving a Benetton B190 challenged for a while, before being eliminated in a collision with Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna. Senna, driving a McLaren MP4/5B survived the incident and finished inches behind Boutsen with Brazilian three time world champion Nelson Piquet driving a Benetton B190 finishing third…..20 years ago this week, Steve Park created an upset at Watkins Glen, New York (US) for his first victory in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series [13 August 2000]. Top road racers Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon tangled

China National Highway 110 traffic jam

on the first lap, effectively removing both from contention…….10 years ago this week, the massive recurring China National Highway 110 traffic jam began to form, mostly on China National Highway 110 (G110) and Beijing–Tibet expressway (G6), in Beijing, Hebei and Inner Mongolia [14 August 2010]. The traffic jam slowed down thousands of vehicles for more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) and lasted for more than ten days. Many drivers were able to move their vehicles only 1 km (0.6 mile) per day, and some drivers reported being stuck in the traffic jam for five days. Locals near the highway sold various goods like water, instant noodles, and cigarettes at inflated prices to the stranded drivers. A bottle of water normally cost 1 yuan, but on the highway it was sold for 10 yuan. Drivers also complained that the price of instant noodles had more than tripled. Some vendors created mobile stores on bicycles. Authorities tried to speed up traffic by allowing more trucks to enter Beijing, especially at night. They also asked trucking companies to suspend operations or take alternative routes. By late August 2010, the traffic jam largely dissipated, reportedly due to the efforts of authorities. Between Beijing and Inner Mongolia, only minor traffic slowdowns were reported near toll booths.

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