15-21 November: : Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, a low-slung car called the “Torpedo Racer”—basically a square platform on bicycle wheels—broke the world speed record for electric cars in Coney Island, New York [16 November 1901]. The car’s builder and pilot, an engineer named Andrew Riker, managed to coax his machine one mile down the straight dirt track in just 63 seconds (that’s about 57 mph; today, by contrast, the world speed record for an electric vehicle is about 245 mph). The battery-powered Torpedo Racer held onto its record for ten years……on the same day [16 November 1901], A. C. Bostwick became the first American racer to exceed the speed of a mile a minute on the Ocean Parkway racetrack in Brooklyn, New York [16 November 1901]. During a race sponsored by the Long Island Automobile Club, Bostwick achieved an average speed of 63.83 mph (102.7 km/h) along a one-mile straightaway on the course. European car manufacturers and drivers dominated early motor racing, reflected in the fact that they established the first seven speed records. However, in 1902, just under a year after Bostwick’s historic run, William K. Vanderbilt Jr., a businessman and racing enthusiast, became the first American to enter the land speed record books when he ran a mile in 47.32 seconds, or at an average speed of 76.086 mph (122.45 km/h). The Mors automobile that Vanderbilt drove was also the first vehicle with an internal combustion engine to enter the speed record books………The Krastin Automobile Manufacturing Company was organised in Cleveland, Ohio with Charles S Beardslee as President and designer August Krastin as General Manager – the firm went bankrupt in 1904 [20 November 1901]……..110 years ago this week, the Mora Motor Car Company of Newark, New York was liquidated at auction with its factory, nine acres of land, 50 cars, and assorted parts realising $120,000 [15 November 1911]. They had built the Mora luxury automobile from 1906 through 1910………90 years ago this week, Rolls Royce purchased Bentley Motors for £125,275, thwarting an attempt by Napier to acquire the assets. W.O. Bentley remained with the company [20 November 1931]……..70 years ago this week, the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and Sears, Roebuck & Company agreed to produce and market a variant of the Henry J through Sears as a new marque, the Allstate. Most Allstate models were scooters, but several motorcycles were sold under the Allstate marque [20 November 1951]. Vespa and Cushman scooters are the most commonly recognized Allstate models…….60 years ago this week, Al Keller (41) died as a result of injuries sustained in a fiery Champ Car crash at the Arizona State Fairgrounds track [18 November 1961]. Keller drove in the Indianapolis 500 when it was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960 but he was more famous for racing in the NASCAR series from 1949 to 1956 with 29 career starts. He won two races during the 1954 season and was the first driver in the history of NASCAR’s top division to have won a race in a foreign-built car, winning the 1954 Grand National road-race at the Linden Airport in New Jersey………50 years ago this week, the inaugural 2,900 mile Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, from the Red Ball Garage in New York City to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California was won by Dan Gurney and Brock Yates in a Ferrari Daytona coupe [17 November 1971]. Gurney, the “retired” veteran of international racing, and Yates, a senior editor of Car & Driver magazine, covered the distance in 35 hours and 54 minutes. They were only 53 minutes faster than the second-place finisher, a Chevrolet Sportsvan entered by Briggs Chevrolet-Ferrari, South Ambory, New Jersey for the three co-founders of the Polish Racing Drivers of American, Tony Adamowicz, Oscar Koveleski and Brad Niemcek……40 years ago this week, Nimrod Racing Automobiles (NRA) was officially launched at Goodwood, England, with James Hunt and Sterling Moss performing demonstration runs in their Aston Martin powered cars [19 November 1981]…….30 years ago this week, Mark Martin scored his first win of the season in the finale at Atlanta, Georgia (US). Dale Earnhardt clinched his fifth NASCAR Winston Cup championship by simply starting the race [17 November 1991]…….20 years ago this week, Guildford Cathedral, England turned into a who’s who of international motor racing as a galaxy of F1 personalities turned out for a service of thanksgiving for the life of Ken Tyrrell, who died of cancer in the summer [15 November 2001]. Those attending included former Tyrrell drivers Jean Alesi, Martin Brundle, Jonathan Palmer and Sir Jackie Stewart who also made one of the addresses…….Anthony Davidson had a big accident in qualifying for the Macau Grand Prix and spent the night in the hospital under observation after complaining of neck pains [16 November 2001]. The Carlin Motorsport driver spun and hit the barriers and his car was then hit by Portugal’s Tiago Monteiro, although this impact was not at very high speed.

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