1-7 March: Motoring Milestones

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

110 years ago this week, a Saurer 4.5 ton truck, built by Adolphe Saurer in Arbon, Switzerland, arrived in San Francisco, California, completed a demonstration drive from Denver, Colorado, US [1 March 1911]. This truck was later shipped to Pueblo, Colorado and driven to New York City in what the company claimed to be the first trans-United States trip by a motor truck………100 years ago this week, Warren Gamaliel Harding became the first President of the US to ride to his inauguration in an automobile – a Packard Twin Six [4 March 1921]…….90 years ago this week, the Bridgestone Tyre Co., Ltd., the multinational car and truck parts manufacturer, was established by Shojiro Ishibashi in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan [1 March 1931]. The name Bridgestone comes from a calque translation and transposition of ishibashi, meaning “stone bridge” in Japanese…….60 years ago this week, Wendell Scott became the first African-American to race on the NASCAR Grand National circuit, in Spartanburg, South Carolina [4 March 1961]. He made 23 starts that season, posting five top-five finishes……… Defending NASCAR Grand National champion Rex White drove his Chevy to a wire-to-wire win in the 100-mile race on the 1/2 mile dirt Ashville-Weaverville Speedway. Cotton Owens’ Pontiac finished 6 seconds behind [5 March 1961]…….. Mini cabs were introduced by Carline in the City of London [6 March 1961]. Carline exploited a loophole in the 1869 Carriage Act, claiming that this only applied to cabs that “ply for hire” on the streets whereas their Anglias would operate by responding to calls phoned to the main office and then relayed to the driver. In their first week of operation the 12-strong Ford Anglia 105E’s fleet carried 500 passengers. Carline’s fares were two thirds of those of the black cabs and drivers promised greater service to London’s outer suburbs, where there was barely any provision for a licensed taxi “door-to-door” service. As a taxi, the Anglia was limited by having only two doors and so the main threat to the black cab took the form of a pair of imported minicabs that entered service that summer. Tom Sylvester ordered 25 black and white-liveried Fiat Multiplas, a four-door, long-wheelbase version of the famed 600 that had already established itself in Rome – despite being well under 14 feet long it was a genuine six-seater – but it was the fleet of Renault Dauphines run by the car rental firm Welbeck Motors that became the public face of the minicab. Welbeck’s managing director was an exceptionally publicity-conscious young law graduate named Michael Gotla. The media ran features about Gotla’s “£560,000 order” for 800 bright red Dauphine minicabs and how he planned to sell advertising space on the Renaults’ doors to garner an extra £75 per week. Such was the Welbeck minicab’s fame that there was even a Dinky model of the company’s Dauphine plus considerable press support. “The reaction of the hard-done-by travelling public to the coming of minicabs is – the more the merrier,” claimed The Times……..50 years ago this week, Rolls-Royce received a $144 million loan from British Government [5 March 1971]….on the same day [5 March 1971]American-born motor racing Mario Andretti enjoyed the first Grand Prix win of his career when he won the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami in a Ferrari. It was the first of 12 wins for Andretti, who won the World Title in 1978……. Richard Petty won a controversial ‘Richmond 500’ NASCAR GN race on the 0.542 mile paved Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway [7 March 1971]. Because Petty, Benny Parsons and James Hylton’s cars failed tech inspection and Bobby Allison missed time trials, the 25 car grid was formed without the four drivers. After a closed door meeting between the promoters and NASCAR officials, it was announced that the starting field had been expanded to 30. The cars that failed tech would be allowed to start at the rear if made legal. Petty said his car (with too much engine setback, altered wheel base and a fuel tank that was too low), could not be made legal. So the rules were changed again, allowing Petty to start 30th with a smaller restrictor plate. Bobby Isaac’s Krauskopf Dodge was also found with the fuel tank too low and was also required to use the smaller plate as was Allison’s Dodge. Petty charged through the field to 5th by lap 30 and took the lead on lap 135, leading all but 18 laps from that point. Petty’s Dodge finished 2 laps ahead of Isaac. After the race, Isaac’s car owner Nord Krauskopf threatened to quit the circuit over the ruling…….40 years ago this week, Darrell Waltrip drives the Junior Johnson Buick to win Rocking­ham’s Carolina 500, North Carolina, US. Waltrip has won two of his first four starts with the highly regarded Johnson team [1 March 1981]……..30 years ago this week, Kyle Petty led 380 of the 492 laps in Rockingham’s Goodwrench 500, North Carolina,(US) but had to rally from a lap deficit to seal his first win of the season [3 March 1991]……. The £200,000 Bentley Continental R debuted at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show to a standing ovation, upstaging the Mercedes W140 S-Class also launched there [7 March 1991]. Customer response was enthusiastic, and the Sultan of Brunei purchased the red show car right off the Geneva stand. The Citroën ZX also made its official debut at the show……20 years ago this week, cars registered before this day had Road Tax charged according to engine capacity [1 March 2001]. In the 2006 – 2007 tax year this was £110 for those with a capacity under 1550cc, and £175 for those above. Cars registered on or after this date are charged according to their level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission………. Bentley Motors launched two exclusive and limited edition motors, specially developed to celebrate the company’s return to the world’s greatest motor race, Le Mans, after 71 Years [2 March 2001]. The launch of the Bentley Arnage Le Mans Series and the Bentley Continental R Le Mans Series (cover image)  came just seven weeks after Bentley Motors officially unveiled its EXP Speed 8 Le Mans contender at the Detroit Motor Show. Only 150 Arnage and just 50 Continental R Le Mans Series models were made…….. In his 318th NASCAR start, Ted Musgrave, 45, picked up his first win, beating Travis Kvapil by 10.588 seconds in the Florida Dodge Dealers 400k truck race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Miami, US [4 March 2001]. To that point, Musgrave had been winless in 298 Cup, 15 Nationwide and four truck starts…….on the same day [4 March 2001]The first race of the F1 season in Australia also saw the first fatality. In a huge accident Jacques Villeneuve hit the back of Ralf Schumacher, launching Villeneuve’s car into the air. It smashed into the concrete retaining wall, and one of the wheels detached and managed to pass through a small gap in the catch fencing killing marshal Graham Beveridge……. As the Cracker Barrel 500 neared finality at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick had stormed into the top-five late, and into contention for the win with a daring three-wide split of two other cars as the white flag fluttered in the cold spring air [6 March 2001]. On the final lap, he engaged in an epic door-to-door duel with Jeff Gordon – one he won by inches in a photo finish…….10 years ago this week, the 6.5 litre (650 bhp) Lamborghini Aventador, capable of 217 mph (0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds) was launched at the Geneva Motor Show, five months after its initial unveiling in Sant’Agata Bolognese [3 March 2011]. The vehicle, internally codenamed LB834, was designed to replace the ten-year-old Murciélago as the new flagship model…….. Spanish drivers slowed down under a new speed limit (120 to 110 km/h) designed to reduce energy use, angering some motorists but pleasing others who say every euro saved helps a nation slammed by Libya’s oil chaos and Europe’s financial crisis [7 March 2011]. The 120 km/h speed limit was restored in June 2011.

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