14-20 June: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, Cleveland issued the first automobile license in Ohio, US to C E Burke [15 June 1901]…….110 years ago this week, the General Motors Export Company was founded to coordinate international sales of GM products [19 June 1911]. General Motors was originally founded in 1908 by William C. Durant. Initially, General Motors held only the Buick Motor Company but quickly acquired more than twenty companies including Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Oakland, which was later renamed Pontiac. In 1910 Durant hired Charles Nash to oversee the production of Buick. He quickly became a head honcho at GM as he quickly worked to build revenue for the young and ailing company. He did this through consolidation of truck and part manufacturing, cost-cutting, and working to increase sales. He was also responsible for founding General Motors Export Company on June 19, 1911. In late 1912 Durant was fired by the GM board and Nash was elected president. He further improved GM by moving the general offices from New York City to Detroit, creating a new purchasing office and setting up a standardized accounting system. However, his reluctance to pay dividends to shareholders resulted in Nash being forced out of GM in 1915 by Durant who was still a shareholder in the company and would later regain control of the business. Nash would go on to found Nash Motors……90 years ago this week, Packard introduced the Ninth Series Standard Eight [17 June 1931]…….80 years ago this week, after a long and bitter struggle on the part of Henry Ford against cooperation with organised labour unions, the Ford Motor Company signed its first contract with the United Automobile Workers of America and Congress of Industrial Organizations (UAW-CIO) [20 June 1941]…….70 years ago this week, driving a Studebaker, Frank Mundy won the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event on a Saturday night at Columbia Speedway in South Carolina [16 June 1951]. It was the first NASCAR Grand National event to be staged under the lights, Mundy’s first career NASCAR Grand National victory, and the first win for the Studebaker nameplate………In the Belgian Grand Prix, held at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Juan Manuel Fangio’s pit crew took 14 minutes 18 seconds to put him back in the race [17 June 1951]. His Alpha Romeo had been fitted with special, very expensive, concave wheels … one jammed.! His team-mate Nino Farina took just 39 seconds for his stop and he went on to win the race. Today’s teams take, on average, 8 seconds to refuel and change all 4 wheels……..60 years ago this week, the British government announced the introduction of push-button controlled pedestrian crossings [14 June 1961]……..on the same day [14 June 1961], country singer Patsy Cline (cover image) was involved in a near fatal car crash in Nashville; she sustained head injuries after being thrown through the windscreen……… Guilo Cabianca (38) was killed in a bizarre incident at the Modena Autodrome test track in Italy [15 June 1961]. The Modena Autodrome was situated near Via Emilia, which crosses the city of Modena. Cabianca was testing a Cooper-Ferrari F1 car, owned by Scuderia Castellotti, when he suffered a suspected stuck throttle. Unable to stop, his Cooper went off track, struck a spectator and then went through the gate of the Autodrome which was open because of men at work near the track. The car crossed the Via Emilia and crashed against the wall of a workshop. Crossing the road, Cabianca’s Cooper struck a bicycle, a motorcycle, and a small mini-van (not a taxi as often reported) and three parked cars. The driver of the mini-van (also called “giardinetta” following a famous van of Fiat) and the motorcycle driver were killed at the scene. The biker was crushed and killed instantly by a heavy block of iron carried on the mini-van. Cabianca was conscious but died a few hours later at the hospital. The spectator hit just after the car left the track suffered severe leg injuries, but survived…….The organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix invited 25 entries, but were only going to pay starting money to 19: sixteen pre-selected cars plus the 3 fastest of the remaining 9 [18 June 1961]. The race was completely dominated by the Ferrari team, with the four works drivers finishing 1-2-3-4. While Graham Hill made an amazing start to the lead from the third row, he could not hold off the Italian cars and all had passed him by the end of the first lap. There was some excitement for fifth place, with Graham Hill and Surtees passing each other for the position until Hill had to retire with an oil leak on the 24th lap……..50 years ago this week, the Dutch Grand Prix held at Zandvoort was won by Jacky Ickx in a Ferrari 312B2 [20 June 1971]. This was the last Formula One race on a circuit with no safety features on it. Because of this the Dutch Grand Prix was cancelled the next year, but the circuit came back in 1973; and the layout had been modified…….40 years ago this week, Ford’s Essex Engine Plant in Windsor (Ontario, Canada) was dedicated [15 June 1981]. The $533 million plant first produced engines for the 1982 model Windstar and Mustang and later expanded to include F 150 and Econoline trucks. In 1997 a 4.2 L engine was introduced and a 3.9 L engine in 2004……..30 years ago this week, Riccardo Patrese in a Williams-Renault FW14 won the Mexican Grand Prix held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit [16 June 1991]……..20 years ago this week, the Audi R8 of Frank Biela, Tom Kristianson, and Emanuele Pirro won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Corvette C5Rs finish 1-2 in the GTS class with the Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Scott Pruett car beating the Andy Pilgrim/Frank Freon/Kelly Collins car [17 June 2001]……on the same day [17 June 2001], Ricky Rudd outran Jeff Gordon in the final laps to win the Pocono 500, Pennsylvania, US. It was Rudd’s first victory in three years and his first with the powerful Robert Yates Ford team.

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