Discover the momentous motoring events that took place this week in history …..
150 years ago this week, the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company was organised [26 May 1868]…….120 years ago this week, the Nesseldorf Prasident made its test run from Nesseldorf, Moravia to Vienna, Austria [21 May 1898]. This was the first car built in what is now the Czech Republic and is also often cited as the first car to be equipped with a front bumper…….Elwood Haynes, who built America’s first gasoline-powered car, and Elmer Apperson, founded the Haynes-Apperson Company in Kokomo, Indiana, US [25 May 1898]. Best known as a metallurgist, Haynes was the first to produce all-aluminium engines and to build car bodies of nickel-plated steel. Haynes and Apperson astonished the world when they fulfilled the terms of a buyer’s agreement by delivering their car from Kokomo to New York City. It was the first 1,000-mile car trip undertaken in the United States…….90 years ago this week, Fritz von Opel drove the rocket-car Opel Rak 2, equipped with 24 Brander powder rockets, to 143 mph (220 km/h) at the Avus Track, near Berlin before 2,000 invited spectators [23 May 1928]. The car was armed with 24 powder rockets manufactured by Friedrich Sander. Fritz von Opel ignited them with a foot pedal. The 6,000 kilograms of total thrust had enough force to blow up an entire block of residential /office buildings. The pilot was separated from the explosives by a single steel armor plate. There were stabilizing wings on the sides with a negative angle of attack, whose function was to compensate for the uplift and kept the car on the ground. The RAK 2 actually lifted off in the end, but von Opel managed to keep it under control. The entire run lasted around two minutes…….80 years ago this week, Adolf Hitler laid the cornerstone for the Volkswagen factory in Fallersleben, Germany [26 May 1938]. He gave a speech, in which he named the car Kraft durch Freude-Wagen
(“Strength Through Joy Car”, usually abbreviated to KdF-Wagen). The name refers to Kraft durch Freude (‘Strength Through Joy’), the official leisure organization of the Third Reich. The model village of Stadt des KdF-Wagens was created near Fallersleben in Lower Saxony in 1938 for the benefit of the workers at the newly built factory. The factory had only produced a handful of cars by the start of the war in 1939; the first volume-produced versions of the car’s chassis were military vehicles, the Type 82 Kübelwagen (approximately 52,000 built) and the amphibious Type 166 Schwimmwagen (about 14,000 built). The first Beetles were produced on a small scale in 1941……70 years ago this week, NASCAR staged three championship events in different locations in the US on the same day. Gober Sosebee wins at Macon, Georgia., Bill Blair captured the feature in Danville, Virginia, and Johnny Rogers tops the field at Dover, New Jersey, US [23 May 1948]……60 years ago this week, Stirling Moss led every lap in driving his Vanwall to victory in the 75 lap Dutch Grand Prix on the 2.6 mile Zandvoort circuit. Moss crossed the line 47.9 seconds ahead of Harry Schell’s BRM, who in turn was 55.2 seconds ahead of his BRM teammate Jean Behra [26 May 1958]. It was a career best finish for Schell. Moss’ young teammate Stuart Lewis-Evans won the pole in leading a Vanwall sweep of the front row (Lewis-Evans, Moss and Tony Brooks)…….50 years ago this week, Lotus driver Graham Hill, who started from pole position, won the Monaco Grand Prix [26 May 1968].
Richard Attwood, driving for BRM, gained second place and recorded the fastest lap, while Lucien Bianchi finished in third position in a Cooper, in what was to be these drivers’ only podium finishes. Johnny Servoz-Gavin took the lead from Hill at the start, while Bruce McLaren took out the other Lotus of Jackie Oliver at the chicane on the first lap. Servoz-Gavin was struck by bad luck on lap 3 when he suffered a drive shaft failure and crashed. This set the tone for the rest of the race, when after a series of accidents and mechanical failures, only five cars finished the race, with everyone from 3rd-place finishing at least four laps down on eventual winner Hill, who cemented his reputation as “Mr. Monaco” by taking his fourth win in the principality. It was however a close finish, with BRM replacement Richard Attwood surprising by finishing just 2 seconds behind the Englishman. Even though Hill broke the Monaco lap record three times during the race, it was Attwood who ultimately recorded fastest lap, the only one of his career…….40 years ago this week, NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson outran Cale Yarborough at the finish to win the Mason-Dixon 500 at Dover (Delaware, US) International Speedway [21 May 1978]. Pearson, who led 147 of 500 laps, scored the 101st of his 105 career victories in NASCAR’s top division and the last of his five wins at the Monster Mile. Yarborough finished second as the last driver on the lead lap. Former NASCAR rookie of the year Lennie Pond wound up third……..Former Managing Director of the Birmingham Small Arms Company group of companies (BSA) from the early
1940s until 1956, and Chairman of the Daimler Motor Company, Sir Bernard Docker (81), died [22 May 1988]. He became noted during the 1950s for producing show cars, such as the “Golden Daimler” (1952), “Blue Clover” (1953), the “Silver Flash” (cover image) and “Stardust” in 1954. He was succeeded by Jack Sangster as Chairman of BSA, following a 1956 boardroom coup…….30 years ago this week, Bobby Ore drove a double decker bus on its two side wheels for a distance of 246 metres at North Weald Airfield, Essex, to establish a new world record [21 May 1988]……..20 years ago this week, the 82nd running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race was dedicated to the memory of Mary Fendrich Hulman, chairman emeritus of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, who passed away on April 10, 1998 at age 93 [24 May 1998]. Eddie Cheever Jr. earned his first Indianapolis 500 victory, at an average speed of 145.155 mph…….The Monaco Grand Prix was won by Mika Häkkinen in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-13, his fourth win of the season [25 May 1998]. Häkkinen recorded a grand chelem, having taken pole, set fastest lap, and led every lap of the race. A perfect start from both McLaren-Mercedes saw them lead through the first corner, with Häkkinen ahead of Coulthard. Fisichella and Schumacher were running 3rd and 4th. In the early stages the two McLaren-Mercedes pulled ahead, netting 12 fastest laps between them from laps 4 to 12. The pack stretched out behind them, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen succumbed to pressure from Eddie Irvine. On lap 18 David Coulthard retired with engine problems. Michael Schumacher was first to pit for fuel on lap 30. One lap later Giancarlo Fisichella went in, although he came out of the pits behind the Ferrari. Soon Michael came up behind Alexander Wurz and tried to get past him at all costs. When the two came to the Lowes corner, Michael went down the inside but the Austrian did not give way. The two cars touched and the Ferrari was damaged. Michael went in to pit for repairs, and he eventually came out three laps down on the leader Mika Häkkinen. Wurz appeared unaffected by the contact, but his suspension broke due to damage from the collision and he had a huge accident coming out of the tunnel, finally stopping at the Nouvelle chicane. After Wurz’s second accident on lap 42, the order was Mika Häkkinen followed by Giancarlo Fisichella, Eddie Irvine, Jean Alesi, and Mika Salo. However five laps from the end Jean Alesi experienced gearbox problems, and he was forced to pull out of the race, promoting Pedro Diniz to sixth. Michael Schumacher attempted to pass Diniz in the chicane, but they made contact. This second accident broke his front wing, and Michael finally ended up two laps down in tenth place, out of the points.