18-23 August: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the first Pierce steam vehicle was tested without success – subsequent problems led the company to abandon steam power in favour of gasoline [21 August 1900]……110 years ago this week, the Great Chadwick Six set a world’s record for ten miles covering the distance in 8 minutes, 23 seconds [20 August 1910]……..100 years ago this week, the first two late-night bus services in London (UK) went into operation [18 August 1920]…….90 years ago this week, Rene Cozette (34), a design engineer with Sizaire-Berwick who later invented the Cozette carburetor and the supercharger, died when he crashd during a test run at the Montlhery circuit in France [1920]…….80 years ago

this week, Walter P. Chrysler (65), the American car manufacturing tycoon, died [18 August 1940]. He began his love affair with mechanical engineering as an apprentice in a railroad machine shop. He became President of the Buick Motor Company and in 1919 resigned from General Motors to take control of the Maxwell Motor Company, which became the Chrysler Corporation in 1925. The new company, featuring a car that Chrysler designed, was soon a success. Today, the Chrysler Company owns Dodge and Plymouth, and is one of the “Big Three” in the American car industry…….70 years ago this week, Curtis Turner qualified his Oldsmobile at 82.034 mph to win the pole for the inaugural Southern Five-Hundred at Darlington Raceway [19 August 1950]. Fifteen days of qualifying determined the 75-car field. The quickest five cars each day earned a starting berth…….. The eleventh race of the 1950 NASCAR season was run at Dayton Speedway in Dayton, Ohio [20 August 1950]. Curtis Turner won the pole and led the first 48 laps, but had problems, ultimately finishing in 23rd. Dick Linder then took control, and dominated the remainder of the event, winning over Red Harvey. Herb Thomas, Lee Petty, and Art Lamey rounded out the top five. The race was shortened by five laps due to a serious crash by Johnny Mantz, when he plowed through a guardrail and Joe Merola drove into the debris. Mantz was uninjured, while Merola only had minor cuts and bruises. Despite his 23rd place, Turner kept the points lead over Lloyd Moore…..50 years ago this week, the Triumph 1500, capable of reaching a top speed of 87 mph and accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 16.5 seconds, was launched at a price of £1,135 [20 August 1970]…….40 years ago this week, reserve Lotus driver, Nigel Mansell, made his Grand Prix debut at the Osterreichring, Austria [17 August 1980]. The future world champion retired with a broken engine after 40 laps and suffering burns after he raced in overalls soaked in fuel after a pre-race incident. The race was won by French driver, Jean-Pierre Jabouille driving a Renault RE20. The win was Jabouille’s second and last Formula One Grand Prix victory. It was also his first points finish in over a year since his previous victory at the 1979 French Grand Prix. It would also be the last points finish of his career. Jabouille won by eight-tenths of a second over Australian driver Alan Jones driving a Williams FW07B. Third was Jones’ Williams Grand Prix Engineering team mate, Argentinian driver Carlos Reutemann……..on the same day, [17 August 1980] Cale Yarborough took command 12 laps from the end and roars to victory in the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Yarborough (US), a 2012 inductee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, started second and finished 2.3 seconds ahead of runner-up Neil Bonnett. Donnie Allison held on for third place……. Alfred Neubauer (89) racing manager (cover image) of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team from 1926 to 1955, died [21 August 1980]. Neubauer used to repair motor vehicles while he was an officer during his service in the Imperial Austrian army. After the First World War, he joined the Austrian car manufacturer Austro-Daimler, where Ferdinand Porsche appointed him to be chief tester. From 1922 onwards, Neubauer also drove in races, although without any great success. In 1923, when Ferdinand Porsche moved to the Daimler Works at Stuttgart (Daimler-Benz was not founded until 1926), he took Neubauer with him. In 1926, recognizing that he himself was not a great racing driver, Neubauer got an inspiration that let him create the position of racing team manager (Rennleiter). Racing drivers in those days being isolated from the outside, they often did not know their position in a race. Occasionally a driver would learn that he had won after a race merely by surprise. To overcome this situation, Alfred Neubauer devised a well thought-out system, with flags and boards, to give his drivers more tactical information. When he tried out the system for the first time at the 1926 Solituderennen on 12 September 1926, the chief steward demanded angrily that he leave the track, since his ‘antics’ were irritating the drivers. To Neubauer’s explanation that he was the Rennleiter, the organizer responded: ‘Are you mad? I’m the Rennleiter’. The Mercedes-Benz team was soon winning races with SS and SSK racing cars, frequently in the hands of Rudolf Caracciola, the best driver during those days. Neubauer’s contribution lay not just in his tactical skill, but also in the perfectionistical, almost military drill of the pit crew, which constantly gave the team a time advantage over its rivals. Neubauer’s organization at the Mille Miglia in 1931 was a master stroke. To reach each staging post before Caracciola arrived, he repeatedly criss-crossed Italy with his team. According to Neubauer, the origin of the Silver Arrows phrase was due to the cars being overweighted at their first race. Neubauer’s story states that the rules prescribed a weight limit of 750 kg, whilst one day before the new cars’ first race they weighed in at 751 kg. This led to Neubauer and Manfred von Brauchitsch eventually coming up with the idea of removing the cars’ white paint. The silver-coloured aluminium bodywork was exposed, and the Silver Arrows were born. However, this story is a fabrication by Neubauer himself, a well-known raconteur. The debut race was run to Formula Libre rules, meaning there was no weight limit. Additionally, there are no reports or photographs from the time suggesting that the cars were ever run in white paint. The Silver Arrows years were dominated by German racing cars and the rivalry between Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. In its most successful phase, the Mercedes-Benz team’s regular drivers were Rudolf Caracciola, Hermann Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch, and Richard Seaman. After the Second World War, Mercedes-Benz was anxious to return to racing as soon as possible, but a new formula was announced for 1954, and there was insufficient time to produce a new model. As a compromise solution, the design of the Mercedes-Benz 300 was adapted. This resulted in a new racing car, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. With this car, Neubauer achieved victories at the Carrera Panamericana and the Le Mans 24-hour race. When Mercedes-Benz cars returned to Grand Prix racing in 1954, the new Silver Arrows proved to be much superior than they had been before the war. Juan Manuel Fangio was World Champion in 1954 and 1955. Probably Neubauer’s worst day as racing manager was at Le Mans in 1955, when a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR driven by Frenchman Pierre Levegh, was catapulted into the crowd, killing more than 80 people. After consultation with Stuttgart, Neubauer withdrew the remaining cars from the event. After the shock of Le Mans, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from racing altogether, and Alfred Neubauer retired……… Pole-winner Cale Yarborough warded off Dale Earnhardt’s charge by two car-lengths to win the Volunteer 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Tennessee, US [23 August 1980]. Yarborough led 379 of 500 laps in what would be his last Bristol appearance; the NASCAR Hall of Famer continued on a limited schedule from 1981 on. Darrell Waltrip finished third — come spring, Waltrip would embark on a streak of seven straight Bristol victories. The win allowed Yarborough to chop 10 points off Earnhardt’s lead in the standings, but Earnhardt ultimately prevailed in the championship fight by 19 points for the first of his seven Cup titles………20 years ago this week, a 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe was sold for $4.4 million, whilst a 1964 Ferrari 330 P3 reached $5.6 million at an auction in California [19 August 2000]……. The Saleen S7, American’s first production supercar developed jointly by Saleen, Hidden Creek Industries,

Phil Frank Design, and Ray Mallock Lt. with RML, debuted at the Monterey Historic Races [20 August 2000]. From 2000 until 2004, the S7 featured a naturally aspirated 550 hp V8 engine. In 2005, the S7 was replaced by the S7 Twin Turbo, which featured a more powerful twin-turbo system that boosted engine power to 750 hp and the top speed to an estimated 200 miles per hour (402 km/h)………. A biography of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was pulled from publication after legal wrangles and allegations against the author by Ecclestone, according to a report in London’s Times newspaper [21 August 2000]. Among several claims made in the book, is that the donation of one million pounds to the British Labour Party before the last election was an attempt to ensure Formula One was exempted from the banning of tobacco advertising, a claim which Ecclestone denies: “I gave the money because I was asked to by a third party,” said Ecclestone. “I’ve always been Tory, though I actually think now that all Blair has been as prime minister is watered-down old Conservatism.”

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