12-18 April Motoring Milestones

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

130 years ago this week, Joseph Day applied for a British patent for his of the valveless two-stroke engine [14 April 1891]. On the original design there were two flap valves – one in the inlet port, where you would probably find a reed valve on a modern two stroke, and one in the crown of the piston, because he did not come up with the idea of the transfer ports until a couple of years later. He made about 250 of these first two-port motors, fitting them to small generating sets, which won a prize at the International Electrical Exhibition in 1892. The extremely widely used crankcase-compression two-stroke petrol engine, was widely used for small engines from lawnmowers to mopeds and small motorcycles……120 years ago today, the first British motorised burial took place. A Coventry-built Daimler was used was used for the funeral of William Drakeford, an official of the Daimler Motor Company Ltd [15 April 1901]……110 years ago today, Charles F. Kettering applied for a U.S. patent for the self-starting mechanism he had designed for the Cadillac Car Company [17 April 1911]. The vision for the self-starter is said to have been the result of the peculiar death of Cadillac founder Henry Leland’s close friend, Byron Carter. In 1910, Carter, the manufacturer of the Cartercar, suffered a broken jaw and arm when he stopped to help a woman with the crank-starter on her car. The crank, linked directly to the car’s driveshaft, was capable of bucking out of the hands of its “cranker,” and Carter suffered for it. His injuries complicated and combined with a case of pneumonia to kill him. Distraught by the event, Leland determined to solve the problem of the crank-starter. He hired Kettering, then famous for creating an electric engine small enough for the electric cash register. Kettering believed he could create an engine capable of starting the motor of car that was light enough and small enough not to hinder the car’s ability to run. The engineering problem took him no time at all. He offered Leland a prototype in December of 1910. Kettering’s system relied on a storage battery that supplied a 24-volt charge to the starter to ignite the engine. The battery then switched to six volts to feed back into the battery and recharge it. His first operating model was delivered to Cadillac on February 17. Leland ordered 12,000 units to be installed in the 1912 Cadillac. The self-starter gave women access to cars for the first time. Without the arduous task of cranking the engine to deter them, women could drive cars on their own. Since there were almost as many rich women as rich men, the self-starter drastically broadened the market for the automobile……100 years ago this week, Ford announced they were producing 1 million cars a year [12 April 1921]…….90 years ago this week, the Highway Code was first issued in Great Britain by the Ministry of Transport [14 April 1931]. It cost one penny, and contained just 18 pages of advice. The Code included information for horse drawn vehicle users, and was chock-full of quaint diagrams of hand signals – a rather nattily dressed gentleman with a hat featuring in an open-top car. It also contained adverts, with the AA, RAC, Castrol, BP, and two magazines featuring, as well as an insurer, Motor Union Insurance Limited of St James’s Street in London…….70 years ago this week, motorcycle racer Wilhelm Herz succeeded in setting a new world record on a section of the Munich-Ingolstadt autobahn, by reaching a speed of 180 mph on a supercharged 500 cc NSU racing motorcycle [12 April 1951]……. Fonty Flock posted a wire-to-wire victory from the pole position at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, North Carolina, US in a race shortened from 150 to 95 laps because of rain [15 April 1951]. Frank Mundy finishes a distant second on the mile-long dirt track with Bill Blair third. The win was just the second for Flock in NASCAR’s top series; he went on to register 19 wins in his brief career……..60 years ago today, the Jaguar E-type made its racing debut with Graham Hill winning a race at Oulton Park, England [15 April 1961]…….50 years ago this week, Brian Redman drove his McLaren M18A to victory in both 20 lap heats of the European Formula 5000 race held on the Brands Hatch circuit, England [12 April 1971]. Heat 1 saw Mike Hailwood take the lead on the rolling start, but Redman was in front just past turn 1 and went on to take a 6 second win. The second heat saw Hailwood into an immediate lead. Since combined time determined the winner of two heat format F5000 races, Hailwood tried to build up a margin on Redman. But the Chevy motor in Hailwood’s works Surtees, assembled using parts from various blow ups, was overheating and spraying oil onto Redman’s visor, forcing Redman to back off. With 4 laps to go, Hailwood’s motor gave out and Redman went on to take a comfortable win over Frank Gardner, who finished 2nd on time aggregate……..Richard Petty drove away from determined bids by Benny Parsons and Friday Hassler to win the NASCAR GN ‘Maryville 200’ on the 1/2 mile paved Smoky Mountain Raceway, Tennessee [15 April 1971]. Independent Hassler, who won his first career pole, led the first 52 laps in his Chevelle before Petty took over in his Plymouth. Parsons led laps 140-154 before Petty regained the lead & went on to triumph by 8 seconds over Parsons……..Jackie Stewart scored the first ever win for the Tyrrell marque at the Spanish Grand Prix [17 April 1971]. It was only the fifth race Tyrrell entered with its own 001 chassis and another seven wins would follow that year, a total seven by Stewart and one by Francois Cevert. All this success would culminate in Team Tyrrell winning the Constructors World Championship in its first full season in Formula 1 with its own car…..Not only was it the first IMSA race held at Virginia International Raceway, it was the first race for IMSA’s Grand Touring class [18 April 1971]. It was hoped that the new subcompact Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega would make their road racing debuts in the event, but none entered. 24 cars and an estimated 10,000 spectators were on hand for the inaugural event of the new series……40 years ago this week, Nelson Piquet won the Argentine Grand Prix in a Brabham BT49C [12 April 1981]. Thanks to designer Gordon Murray’s alternative solution to flexible side skirts, the Brabham cars of Nelson Piquet and Héctor Rebaque were dominant in this race, with Piquet (who took pole at an average speed of 130.029 mph (209.261 km/h)) taking the lead immediately from Alan Jones on the back straight and Rebaque climbing up from 5th to 2nd over 23 laps. It was the last Argentine Grand Prix held until 1995…….30 years ago this week, Bobby Labonte captured his first of 10 career NASCAR Xfinity (Busch Grand National) Series wins in the Budweiser 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway [13 April 1991]. Labonte got by Dale Earnhardt with 19 laps to go and went on to take the checkered flag ahead of David Green and Earnhardt….. Rusty Wallace held off Ernie Irvan to win the Valleydale Meats 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway [14 April 1991]. Wallace battled back from two laps down to take the win from the pole after leading 104 laps. The finish was an exciting one that saw Irvan try to make a move on the final lap in a side-by-side battle. During the race Sterling Marlin was involved in a fiery crash in Turn 1 on Lap 421…….Volkwagen acquired 70% of the largest company in the Czech Republic, Skoda Auto a.s [16 April 1991]…….20 years ago this week, Greg Biffle scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity (Busch) Series win in the inaugural Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway [14 April 2001]. Biffle, who won in his 10th series start, took the lead from Jason Keller on Lap 187 and cruised to a comfortable victory after leading 133 laps…….At the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Ralf Schumacher got the best of the field from his third place starting position and set fastest lap on his way to victory in a time of 1:30:44 [15 April 2001]. Pole sitter, David Coulthard was second 4.35 seconds behind and Rubens Barrichello finished third from his 6th place starting position. Fourth place starter, Michael Schumacher had a suspension failure 24 laps in…….10 years ago this week, the first new MG for 16 years rolled off the production line in Longbridge [13 April 2011]. Designed in the UK, the parts were made in China and assembled in the UK. The 5-seater MG6 had top speed of 120mph (193km/h) and took 8.4 seconds to go from 0-60mph.

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