18-24 September: Motoring Milestones

Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

120 years ago this week, nine-year-old Stephen Kempton died, one of the first recorded traffic fatalities in Great Britain [23 September 1897]. Kempton had been trying to steal a ride from a taxi on Stockmar Road, near Hackney, London by hanging on to a spring, but lost his grip and was trapped underneath the wheel of the vehicle……. 100 years ago this week, John Henry Knight (70), wealthy engineer and inventor died [22 September 1917]. He was the first

person to be convicted of speeding in the UK after he built Britain’s first petrol-powered motor vehicle in 1895. The three-wheeled, two-seater contraption had a top speed of only 12 mph, but it was enough for Knight to feel the long arm of the law. On 17 October 1895 John Henry Knight and his assistant James Pullinger were stopped in Castle Street, Farnham and charged with using a locomotive without a licence. The case was heard at Farnham Town Hall on 31 October 1895. Knight and Pullinger were both fined 2s 6d. Knight was restricted to using the car only on farm roads until the Locomotive Act was replaced by the Locomotives on the Highway Act, on 14 November 1896. He was later also responsible for the repeal of the notorious Red Flag legislation. Knight’s vehicle was said to be “almost silent” when it was running; the vehicle entered a limited production run in 1896 and shortly after that, although the design was later changed in favour of a four wheel version. The tricycle was the only British car at the 1896 Horseless Carriage display at Crystal Palace. The car is currently on display at the National Motor Museum……. Australia introduced driving tests [24 September 1917]. The first person to pass was Herbert H Klinberg…….. 80 years ago this week, the Packard Sixteenth Series Sixes, Eights, and Super Eights are introduced [20 September 1937]…….70 years ago this week, Buick registers its stylised stencil “BUICK” logo as a trademark [20 September 1947]……. Monegasque driver Louis Chiron crossed the finish line in Lyon to win the French Grand Prix in a Talbot-Lago [21 September 1947}. The race was a continuation of the Grand Prix’s long history and France’s first major post-World War Two race. The event had been suspended for several years during the war, along with almost all other car racing……. 60 years ago this week, accompanied by the advertising slogan ‘Fahre Prinz und du bist König’ (‘Drive a Prince and you’re a king’), the NSU Prinz was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show [19 September 1957]. The noisy 2-cylinder, 600-cc, 20-bhp engine was located at the back where it drove the rear wheels, initially via a ‘crash’ gearbox…… Richie Ginther drove a Ferrari to victory in a race at Riverside, California, USA, during the track’s first weekend of formal competition [22 September 1957]. It closed in July 1989……..50 years ago this week, Gulf Mirages finished 1-2 in the sports car race at Skarpnack, Sweden, with Jo Bonnier finishing ahead of Paul Hawkins [24 September 1967]…….. 30 years ago this week, Alain Prost recorded his 28th career win – beating the record of 27 held by Jackie Stewart since 1973 [20 September 1987]- at an event-filled Portuguese Grand Prix, his relentless harrying of long-time leader Gerhard Berger paying off two laps from the end when Berger spun his Ferrari. “I wasn’t altogether surprised when he spun because we were both running very hard,” Prost said. The race had to be restarted after the first attempt finished after two laps following a multi-car pile-up at the first corner. Off the track, the headlines were taken by a very unhappy Nigel Mansell, who made no secret of the fact he thought his Honda team were not working with him and that his car was “five miles-per-hour slower than the others”. He retired after 13 laps with engine trouble, almost ending his hopes of winning the drivers’ title……. 20 years ago this week, contested over 71 laps of the 2.697 mile A1-Ring circuit, the Austrian Grand Prix was won by Jacques Villeneuve for the Williams team, from a pole position start [21 September 1997]. David Coulthard finished second in a McLaren, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen third in the other Williams car. Austrian Formula One veteran Gerhard Berger announced he was to retire at the end of the season, shortly after he qualified 18th on the grid……. 10 years ago this week, Automobili Lamborghini presented the new Lamborghini Reventón, whose exterior styling was inspired by “the fastest airplanes” [20 September 2007]. Its top speed was recorded in Dubai, UAE at 221 miles per hour (355.7 km/h). With just 20 produced, each costing 1 Million Euro (without taxes), the Lamborghini Reventón was a symbol of extreme exclusivity……. Britney Spears was charged with hit-and-run and driving without a valid licence after she was accused of hitting a parked car and driving away from a Los Angeles car park on 6 August [22 September 2007]. The owner of the car filed an accident report on 9 August at the North Hollywood Community Police Station. The city attorney’s office did not know whether Ms Spears’ car had been damaged, nor did he know the extent of damage to the other car…….Shelby Supercars (SSC) reported

a world record 257 mph run in speed testing of its 1183bhp, twin-turbo V8 Ultimate Aero TT [24 September 2007]. The first pass was recorded at 257.41mph (414.31kmh) and the second pass was recorded at 254.88mph (410.24kmh) in testing on a temporarily-closed two lane stretch of public highway in the company’s home state of Washington for an average top speed of 256.15mph. The feat broke the current official record held by the Koenigsegg CCR at 242 mph and the Bugatti Veyron’s unofficial speed of 253 mph. SSC overcame the lack of a dedicated test site in achieving the speed and the result could have been faster if not for the road’s slight elevation changes and an S-bend 1.5 miles before braking was required according to test driver Chuck Bigelow: “if there was additional straight pavement on which to accelerate, the top speed would have been considerably higher”.

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