10-16 July: Motoring Milestones

170 years ago this week, Georg Lankensperger (67), the German wheelwright who invented the steering mechanism that is today known as Ackermann steering geometry, died He patented the invention in Germany, but his agent Rudolph Ackermann filed for the patent in the U.K [11 July 1847]……. 120 years ago this week, Harry A Knox filed a US Patent application for his 2-cylinder gasoline engine [13 July 1897]…….. 110 years ago this week, the fourth Glidden Tour began in Cleveland, Ohio, with an indirect route to

Chicago, Illinois, and then back to New York City [10 July 1907]. The contest was a club affair with teams from automobile organizations who represented different cities competing for the prize. Eighty-two cars carrying nearly three hundred passengers started out at Cleveland and concluded in New York City on July 24. The distance covered on this tour was 1,519 miles over roads that ran from gravel and clay to brick pavement or asphalt and many were in very bad condition.In addition to the Glidden Trophy, the AAA in 1907 also offered a new Hower Trophy, named for William J. Hower, chairman of the AAA’s Touring Board, for the winning individual runabout, with the Glidden Trophy awarded to the winning automobile club with three or more entries. There was also a third sub-division in the 1907 Tour, for motorists who desired to participate in the Tour but who were not competing for either trophy. The distance of the 1907 Tour was 1,519 miles, almost half again longer than that of the previous year and nearly 650 miles longer than 1905 Glidden Tour. The longest day’s run was 174 miles; the shortest day’s run, 97 miles. This Glidden was a very strenuous tour that was marred by several terrible accidents. Officials were criticized for setting short completion times for long distances, causing the tourists to push their cars to the limit. Mr. T. J. Clark died from injuries received when his Packard skidded on a sharp muddy turn and rolled into a ditch. Miss Teenie Rollins suffered a broken jaw and shoulder when she and other passengers in the Pierce Great Arrow driven by Kenneth R. Otis overturned. Contemporary reports of the tour show that accidents and breakdowns were simply considered to be part of early touring with the majority of starters persevering to complete their Glidden Tour….. On this day [10 July 1907], A post office – a sign of permanent settlement–was established at the north end of Tampa Bay, Florida, serving a settlement that would become Oldsmar, Florida, a planned community financed by Oldsmobile icon Ransom Eli Olds. When Olds purchased 37,500 acres from Richard Peters in 1913, only a few settlers occupied the territory. Having already started the Oldsmobile and REO companies, the planned community was the fifty-two-year-old Olds’ final challenge. He financed the construction of miles of extra-wide roads and paved sidewalks, and built a comprehensive water system–a difficult project in Florida’s lowland aquifer. Olds encouraged farming in his new town, and in the meantime, went about trying to attract other forms of business and entrepreneurial spirit, spending $100,000 on an oil well that unfortunately never yielded anything but sulphurous water. Olds saturated Detroit with advertisements for his idyllic new town, hoping to lure thousands of autoworkers to the better climate. In expectation of their arrival, Olds constructed shoddy houses with poor plumbing systems. Few workers came, as Olds had never been popular with his workers. Unable to attract a labor force, Olds realized he would have trouble convincing companies to move to Oldsmar. His nearest success came when he provided financial backing to the Kardell Truck Company provided it move to town, but the venture proved unsuccessful. Oldsmar remained a sleepy fishing and farming town–with nice roads. In 1923 Olds had millions invested in Oldsmar. When he realized the town wasn’t going to grow, he attempted to liquidate his assets, selling parcels of land and a nearly finished racetrack. He left the town having incurred over $3 million in losses. Olds had envisioned a city of 100,000 inhabitants, but when he abandoned Oldsmar, he left behind only 200 permanent residents……. 90 years ago this week, the legendary Rheims circuit staged its first major race, the Grand Prix de la Marne, won by Philippe Etancelin in a Maserati [10 July 1927]……. The Hudson Motor Car Company announced a new one day production record of 1,831 cars [13 July 1927]…….. 80 years ago this week, Rudolf Hasse driving an Auto Union Typ C won the Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa-Francorchamps [11 July 1937]……. 70 years ago this week, the first race for 500 cc cars that were to become the basis of the first International Formula 3 in 1950 was run at Gransden Lodge in Cambridgeshire, England [13 July 1947]. Winner was Eric Brandon, driving a Cooper – a foretaste of the marque’s coming domination of the class…… 60 years ago this week, driver Stirling Moss and project manager George Eyston sailed on board the Queen Mary from England to the US, where they would attempt class Land Speed Record runs for MG [10 July 1957]…… Marvin Panch rallied from 10th starting position to prevail in the final race for NASCAR’s premier series at Memphis-Arkansas (US) Speedway’s 1.5-mile dirt track [14 July 1957]. Panch led the final nine laps after Jack Smith retired with engine failure after leading for a 53-lap stint. Bill Amick wound up second with Fireball Roberts third, the last driver on the lead lap……. The following day [15 July 1957] full-scale production of the 1958 Ford Edsel began……. 50 years ago this week, Jim Clark kick-started his faltering season with victory in the British Grand Prix [15 July 1967].

Lotus had the fastest car but struggled with transmission problems – both cars had retired while running 1-2 in the French Grand Prix a fortnight earlier – but as Clark and Graham Hill dominated all seemed to be right at Silverstone. Hill led up to the 55th lap when his car suffered from a rear suspension issues and then engine failure, but Clark held on….. On the next day [16 July 1967] Scotty Cain won a dust shortened NASCAR PCLM race on a rough 1/2 mile dirt oval at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, California. The race was marred by a 10 car pile-up on the backstretch that saw 4 cars destroyed by fire, among them the Mercury driven by road racing standout Ed Leslie. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. The race resumed, but approaching darkness and the deteriorating track conditions led to it being stopped near half distance……. 40 years ago this week, Mr John Horam MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, officially opened the Coventry and Leicester sections of the M69 [12 July 1977]……. The British Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Silverstone was won by James Hunt driving a McLaren M26, and marked the debut of Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve [16 July 1977]. The race was the first outing for the first turbocharged Formula One car, the Renault RS01, driven by Jean-Pierre Jabouille…. On the same day [16 July 1977] NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip dominated the Nashville 420 (Tennessee, US) to score the sixth of his 84 wins in NASCAR’s top series. Waltrip, who led 300 of the 420 laps on the .596-mile oval at the Nashville Fairgrounds, was more than a lap ahead of runner-up Bobby Allison at the finish. Richard Petty took third, two laps down at the end……. 30 years ago this week, Nigel Mansell squeezed every last drop out of his Williams, overtaking team-mate Nelson Piquet three laps from the end of the British Grand Prix before running out of fuel on his lap of honour [12 July 1987]. Piercarlo Ghinzani had a less than memorable day after he ran out of fuel and was then push started by his mechanics. Add in

that he had already angered stewards with a couple of extra laps at the end of qualifying, they wasted no time in disqualifying him. At the start, Prost was the quickest and took the lead, only to be passed by Piquet at Maggotts; Mansell soon followed his teammate. The race then became a close fight between the two Williams drivers, as neither Senna (also Honda powered) nor Prost were a match for them. Lotus were finding that while the active suspension worked well on bumpy street circuits, at smoother tracks like Silverstone finding balance with the car was proving difficult. Piquet led most of the race. By lap 35 Mansell was around 2 seconds behind his teammate. Both Williams drivers were scheduled to complete the race without a tyre change, but Mansell and the team elected to make a stop in order to change tyres. Mansell rejoined the race some 29 seconds behind Piquet, with 28 laps remaining. On fresh rubber Mansell began an epic charge which saw the lap record broken 8 times to the delight of the over 100,000 strong British crowd. By lap 62 the two cars were nose to tail and on lap 63 Mansell performed his now famous ‘Silverstone Two Step’ move, selling Piquet a dummy on the Hangar Straight and then diving down the inside into Stowe Corner. 2 corners after crossing the finish line, Mansell’s car slowed down and was engulfed by the crowd. Initially it was thought that he had run out of fuel, but he had actually blown up the engine, out of the stress of running the last 6 laps on “Q” mode (which gives the engine +100hp), and risking running out of fuel at any moment (his fuel display was reading “minus 2.5 laps”). In fact that incident was the last straw for the patience of the Honda management, since it had – again – threatened their easily attainable 1, 2 result. Honda moved to McLaren the following year, leaving Williams with no options but to sign for underpowered Judd V8 units. Nelson Piquet went on to sign with Lotus on the following weeks, a move that kept Honda powering that team in 1988 as well. Senna finished a quiet race in third place while his teammate Satoru Nakajima had his best F1 finish by coming home 4th. Rounding out the points were Derek Warwick (Arrows-Megatron) and Teo Fabi (Benetton-Ford)……. A Federal judge threw out Bette Midler‘s $10 million suit against Ford Motor Co, who used a sound alike voice for their TV commercials [13 July 1987]….. 20 years ago this week, the first Mercedes M-Class, the pioneer among premium SUVs, rolled off the production line [11 July 1997]…… Jacques Villeneuve was a slightly lucky winner of the British Grand Prix after Michael Schumacher and Mike Hakkinen were both forced to retire while leading. Schumacher was 40 seconds ahead when a wheel bearing failed, and then Hakkinen’s engine blew [13 July 1997]. The day-to-forget award went to Heinz-Harald Frentzen who stalled while on the front row of the grid and so had to start from the back, which he did before crashing on the first lap……. 10 years ago this week, New York State (US) legislature shelved proposals to bring road-congestion pricing to Manhattan.

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