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12-18 July: Motoring Milestones

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

 

110 years ago this week, Jake DeRosier, on an Indian, defeated Charlie Collier, on a Matchless, in a 10 lap (22 mile) motorcycle race at Brooklands, England [15 July 1911]. He was one of the first factory-backed motorcycle racers of the early 20th Century. He rode for Indian and then Excelsior, and was the fastest rider in the United States in the early 1900s……80 years ago this week, John Martin Schreiber (65), inventor of a passenger bus that could operate on either overhead electric wires or on motor fuel, died in Orange, New Jersey, US [18 July 1941]……70 years ago this week, the British Grand Prix, contested over 90 laps of the Silverstone circuit was the first victory for José Froilán González, and was also the first of many for the Scuderia Ferrari team [14 July 1951]. Both the team and driver also achieved their first ever pole position during the weekend……General Motors previewed its Le Sabre show-car, a two-seat roadster capable of 180 mph, at the Milford, Michigan, US proving grounds [17 July 1951]. Possibly the most important show car of the 1950s, it introduced aircraft-inspired design elements such as the wrap-around windshield and tail fins, which became common on automotive designs during the second half of the decade. The Le Sabre was the brainchild of General Motors Art Department head Harley Earl……60 years ago this week, following a wet weekend, with torrential rain affecting both qualifying and the race start, the British Grand Prix at Aintree was ultimately dominated by Scuderia Ferrari, with their drivers taking all three podium positions [15 July 1961]. The race was won by German Wolfgang von Trips, who had led for much of the race after starting from fourth place. This was von Trips’s second and last Grand Prix victory, as two races later he was killed in an accident during the 1961 Italian Grand Prix…….50 years ago this week, A. P. Buquor (77), the Martin-Parry Corporation executive who designed the first 6-wheeled truck, died in Washington, DC [13 July 1971]……. Richard Petty led all the way in the Islip 250, the final race for NASCAR’s top series at Islip (New York, US) Speedway, in an event shortened by 20 laps because of scoring confusion [15 July 1971]. Petty started from the pole and led all 230 laps, finishing two laps ahead of Friday Hassler, who posted his career-best finish in second. Elmo Langley was third, six laps down at the end……The first ‘grande epreuve’ to incorporate the name of a sponsor, the British Grand Prix was run [17 July 1971]. It was won by Jackie Stewart driving a Tyrrell-Cosworth 003. The Grand Prix was sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat, so that ‘Woolmark’ was included in its title…….Mark Donohue drove his McLaren to victory in the 200 mile USAC Championship race on the 2 mile banked Michigan International Speedway [18 July 1971]. It was Donohue’s 2nd consecutive USAC Champ win, having won the prior round at Pocono…. Onn the same day [18 July 1971], Richard Petty drove a Plymouth to victory in the NASCAR Winston Cup race at Trenton Speedway in Trenton, New Jersey, US…….40 years ago this week, after 23 years of familiarity with the name, Datsun, executives of Nissan, the Japanese car manufacturer, changed the name of their cars to Nissan [16 July 1981]…… The Humber Bridge at Kingston-upon-Hull, England, was opened by the Queen Elizabeth II [17 July 1981]. It was the longest single-span bridge in the world (1.4 km) and took nine years to build…….John Watson won his first race for five years, and McLaren’s first since James Hunt’s victory at the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix at the British Grand Prix held at Silverstone [18 July 1941]. The race also marked the first victory for a carbon fibre composite monocoque F1 car, the McLaren MP4/1…….30 years ago this week, all the talk ahead of the British Grand Prix had been about Nigel Mansell, who was second behind Ayrton Senna in the drivers’ championship, and the excitement heightened when he took pole [14 July 1991]. He made a poor start to allow Senna into the lead, but straight away overtook his rival and went on to secure a win which left the 150,000 crowd delighted. “For the last two laps I was so terrified I was going to be left without gears,” Mansell admitted after his gearbox started misbehaving. Senna ran out of fuel on the last lap but was saved a long walk back to the pits when Mansell stopped on his victory lap to pick him up……20 years ago this week, the British Grand Prix race saw five drivers retire, as Jarno Trulli’s Jordan collided with David Coulthard’s McLaren in the first corner; Jacques Villeneuve’s BAR pushed his teammate Olivier Panis off the track at the start, forcing Panis to retire [14 July 2001]. Mika Häkkinen won the race for McLaren…….In his period of dominance, the British Grand Prix was a rare failure for Michael Schumacher as he failed to win despite taking pole, the victory going to Mike Hakkinen [15 July 2001]. For Heinz-Harald Frentzen it marked the end of his time with Jordan who sacked him following a disappointing season…… on the same day [15 July 2001] rookie Kevin Harvick held off Robert Pressley to win the inaugural race at Chicagoland Speedway, Illinois, US. The victory was Harvick’s second of the season. Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett were locked in a tie for the lead in the championship points race…….10 years ago this week, after 11 days, 17 hours and 22 minutes of non-stop driving, renowned adventurer and off-road driver Rainer Zietlow and his team set a new world record certified by Tuv Nord Mobility for driving the length of the Pan-American Highway as they crossed the road’s end in Deadhorse, Alaska [13 July 2011]. The TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge team covered 14 countries and nearly 16,000 miles in a 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI® Clean Diesel SUV. Their journey to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Pan-American Highway’s establishment breaks the previous record by more than three days.

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