21-27 September: Motoring Milestones

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

160 years ago this week, brothers Philander H and Francis M Roots of Connersville, Illinois, US were issued with a United States patent for their supercharger, a design that would be extensively adopted by the automobile industry many years later [25 September 1860]……..120 year ago this week, the first race at the Trenton Fairgrounds (New Jersey, US) was held [24 September 1900], but there was no further racing there until 1907. Regular racing began in 1912 and continued until

Trenton Fairgrounds

1941. A new 1 mile dirt oval was opened in 1946. In 1957 the track was paved. It operated in that configuration until 1968 when the track was expanded to 1.5 miles (2.41 km) and a “kidney bean” shape with a 20° right-hand dogleg on the back stretch and a wider turn 3 & 4 complex than turns 1 & 2. The track closed in 1980 and the Fairgrounds itself closed 3 years later. The former site of the speedway is now occupied by the Grounds for Sculpture, a UPS shipping facility, and the housing development known as “Hamilton Lakes”……. Packard’s first magazine advertisement appeared in The Motor Review [27 September 1900]…….110 years ago this week, shareholders of The Daimler Motor Company Limited “merged their holdings with those of the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) group of companies, receiving five BSA shares in exchange for four ordinary Daimler shares and ₤1 5s plus accrued dividend for each ₤1 preference share [22 September 1910]. This deal was engineered by Dudley Docker, deputy-chairman of BSA, who was famous for previous successful business mergers. Daimler, a manufacturer of motor vehicles, had a payroll of 4,116 workmen and 418 staff immediately before the merger. BSA produced rifles, ammunition, military vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and some BSA-branded cars. The chairman of the combined group was Edward Manville, who had been chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – founded by Frederick Simms – since 1907. However, the merger was not a great success. By 1913 Daimler had a workforce of 5,000 workers which made only 1,000 vehicles a year……… William C. Durant, carriage maker and entrepreneur, was the original patriarch of the corporate behemoth General Motors, but financial difficulties caused him to finally lose control of the company on 26 September 1910. Determined to regain control of his brainchild, Durant joined forces with Louis Chevrolet to establish the Chevrolet Motor Company. Five years later, Durant and Chevrolet acquired control of GM and extended the massive umbrella of the General Motors Corporation, with Durant serving as president, but in another five years he would permanently lose control of his company…….90 years ago this week, the French Grand Prix held over 25 laps of a 15.835 km circuit at Pau for a total race distance of 395.875 km, was won by Philippe Étancelin driving a Bugatti [21 September 1930]. The race was notable for the fact that Sir Henry Birkin came second in a 4.5 litre supercharged Bentley, which was a stripped-down road car……. Philippe Etancelin, driving a Bugatti Type 35C, won the French Grand Prix at Pau [26 September 1930]…….. 80 years ago today, the 1941 Fords were introduced in three series, Special. DeLuxe and Special Deluxe [27 September 1940] and on the same day Louis Schneider (43), winner of the 1931 Indianapolis 500, died. Schneider raced micro sprint cars for much of his racing career after his victory in Indianapolis. A serious crash on a dirt track in California in 1938 led to a decrease in health, and he died shortly thereafter……..60 years ago this week, after trying all their patience, drawing both blood and gasps, the strength-sapping 35th International Six Day Trials (ISDT) race at Bad Aussee in Austria comes to an close [24 September 1960]. After 1200 miles through swamps, streams, rockbeds and forests, the six-day race against time known as the “Olympics of Motorcycling” comes to a close. England’s hard-riding ISDT legend Eric Chilton straddled, stood on, pushed and pulled his Triumph to a Gold Medal as member of the British Trophy Team. Eric Chilton, “A quiet man from the south Midlands” rode in the ISDT from 1954 to 1965 winning five Gold Medals, one Silver and one Bronze. The first three years as a privateer then riding for Great Britain from 1959 to 1965.The biggest yearly event in Bad Aussee occurs on Faschingsdienstag (Shrove Tuesday), when the Flinserln dress up in sequined costumes and parade through town to announce the coming of spring. Children recite old rhymes to the Flinserln and are rewarded with nuts or sweets. The Flinserln are accompanied by the Zacharin, who keep spectators in line by waving pig bladders on sticks and occasionally rapping people on the head with them. The celebration is rounded off by the Trommelweiber (Drum Women). The Trommelweiber are a group of men dressed in women’s nightgowns, who go from inn to inn banging on drums, pots and pans, and enjoy the free food and beer……..50 years ago this week, Tony Denshams ‘Commuter’ slingshot ran a disputed 205.76mph at Santa Pod, Northamptonshire, making it the first British car to go over 200 mph [27 September 1970].The car was equipped with a hi-ratio rear axle and larger rear wheels in anticipation of Tonys attempts at the flying kilometer record at Elvington the following weekend. This meant that the elapsed time for the run was a full 9.4 seconds…….40 years ago this week,

Richard Noble in his 17,000 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Avon 302 jet powered Thrust II achieved a speed of 263.92 mph at Greenham Common, Berkshire – the highest land speed attained in Great Britain [25 September 1980]……30 years ago this week, TVR unveiled the prototype Griffith 2-seater roadster, which employed an S-type chassis and a 3.9 litre Rover V8 engine, at the British International Motor Show at the NEC, Birmingham [22 September 1990]. At one point during the show, TVR staff were taking orders at the rate of one every 8 minutes. By the end of the event over 350 individuals had committed themselves to the new car. Despite the overnight success, it was 18 months before the first cars were delivered.

TVR Griffth

In the meantime the chassis had been redesigned and the engine enlarged to 4.2 litre. By the middle of the year, 15 cars a week were leaving TVR’s Bristol Avenue factory. At over £27,000 apiece, the Griffth was capable of 160 mph, but the production for the home market ceased by the end of 1992. However in the following year, the car emerged as a 5-litre Griffth 500 for the 1994 season…….. British driver Nigel Mansell took his only victory of the season in his Ferrari 641, and his last for Scuderia Ferrari at Portugeuse Grand Prix [23 September 1990]. He finished over two seconds ahead of Brazilian driver and series points leader Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren MP4/5B. Mansell’s team mate French driver Alain Prost kept his fading championship hopes alive with a third placed finish…….. Renault and Volvo signed an agreement of industrial cooperation, outlining plans for an eventual merger [27 September 1990]. The merger plans were abandoned three years later, leaving a lot of unanswered questions and speculations. Many industry experts suspect that Volvo backed out of the deal due to their lingering suspicion of the French government. Renault, a state-owned company, was slated for privatisation, but critics found the plans too vague and saw the French government as susceptible to pressure from its workers……..20 years ago this week, Ford of Canada delivered the first TH!NK city electric vehicle in Canada to the chairman and CEO of Ballard Power Systems [21 September 2000]….. Tony Stewart drove from 27th starting position to seal a season sweep at Dover International Speedway, Delaware, US running away to victory in the MBNA 400 [24 September 2000]. Stewart led 163 laps in his seventh career win in NASCAR’s premier series, beating runner-up Johnny Benson to the checkered flag by 6.752 seconds. Ricky Rudd finished third with Steve Park and Bobby Labonte completing the top five. The race at the Monster Mile also marked the first Cup start for Kurt Busch, who started 10th and finished 18th for car owner Jack Roush……… The Neiman Marcus Edition of the model year 2002 Ford Thunderbird – cover image – set a world record for any vehicle offered through the Neiman catalogue [25 September 2000]. The 200 vehicles [intended to be collectors’ items] were completely sold out within 2 hours and 15 minutes after the phone lines opened.

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