19-25 November: Motoring Milestones

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

110 years ago this week, the first Velie automobile was taken for its inaugural test drive in Moline, Illinois [20 November 1908] – the car, known as ‘Old Maud’ still exists. Velie Motors Corporation produced automobiles from

1908 to 1928.Velie advertisement s bragged they “produce every important part” and were not simply assemblers, a lesson Ford had taught. However, Velie’s first car was assembled from suppliers’ components. Velie had sold more than 1000 cars by 1910. Beginning in 1911, Velie introduced a truck line, and began making a proprietary four-cylinder engine, though parts continued to come from suppliers.The 1911 Velie 40 had a 5473 cc four-cylinder L-head four-cycle gasoline engine, fired by Splitdorf magneto, producing 40 hp (30 kW), mated to a Brown-Lipe sliding-gear transmission with three forward and one reverse speed). It was a four-seater with hickory artillery wheels, shod in the customer’s choice of Hartford or Firestone tires. It was priced at US$1800, which compared against US$1500 for the Colt Runabout and US$1600 for the Oakland 40,but well below even American’s lowest-price model, at US$4250 (its highest was US$5250).Velie’s Royal Sedan body was one of the first cars designed with a raked “A” pillar, which gave its windshield a significant angle from the top to the base. According to the Official Velie Register, world wide 230 Velies are known to exist…….100 years ago this week, Enzo Ferrari made his racing debut driving a 3-litre CMN to third place in the first Parma-Berceto (Italy) race [22 November 1918]……..90 years ago this week, Carlos C. Booth (66), M.D., a surgeon who in 1895 designed the first car in Ohio (US), died [19 November 1928]. Booth claimed his automobile would climb a grade of up to 17º under its own power, and reach a top speed of 20 mph on good roads. The doctor used his creation for two years becoming the first doctor to drive a horseless carriage on house calls. He retired his vehicle because of the commotion it created being a disruption to horses. In 1906, the New York Times reported that this car was on display in the showroom of Covell & Crosby Motors at 1621 Broadway……..60 years ago this week, work began on the construction of the Forth Road Bridge in

Scotland [21 November 1958]. Seven lives were lost during construction before the bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on 4 September 1964. The ferry service was discontinued as of that date. The bridge’s central main span is 1,006 metres (3,301 ft) long, its two side spans are each 408 metres (1,339 ft) long, and the approach viaducts are 252 metres (827 ft) on the north side and 438 metres (1,437 ft) on the south side. At a total length of 2,512 metres (8,241 ft), it was the longest suspension bridge span outside the United States and the fourth-longest span in the world at the time of its construction. The bridge comprises 39,000 tonnes of steel and 115,000 cubic metres of concrete. The towers reach 156 metres (512 ft) above mean water level. Its width comprises a dual carriageway road with two lanes in each direction bounded by cycle/footpaths on each side. The main strung cables are 590 millimetres (23 in) in diameter, comprising 11,618 high tensile wires, each five millimetres in diameter, and each cable carries 13,800 tonnes of the bridge’s load. The bridge forms a crucial part of the corridor between south-east and north-east Scotland, linking Edinburgh to Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen by the A90 road and its sister M90 motorway, which begins 1 2⁄3 miles (2.7 km) north of the bridge’s northern terminus. The bridge carried around 2.5 million vehicles in its first year but the annual figure has risen steadily over time to around 21.4 million vehicles in 2008.The bridge carried its 250 millionth vehicle in 2002. It was awarded Historic Scotland’s Category A listed structure status in 2001……… Charles Kettering, inventor of the self-starter and the holder of 186 patents, died aged 82 [25 November 1958]……..50 years ago this week, the London-Sydney Marathon Car Rally started at the Crystal Palace racing circuit in London at 2pm [24 November 1968]. It

finished at Warwick Farm (an outer Sydney suburb), on Tuesday, December 17th 1968. “Until now, the toughest International rally in the world has been the East Africa Safari. If you spoke English, some Afrikaans and perhaps a little Swahili, you could muddle through. In the end, a handful of money waved at some native bystanders would always get you towed out of a bog. But in the London-Sydney Marathon it will be desirable to have a working knowledge of Urdu, Esperanto, lower Afghanistani dialect and possibly even English. This is the most International rally ever run. Cars have come from Britain, Australia, America, Soviet Russia, France, Germany….. the drivers include a Russian named Lifhits and an Indian called Ghandi….. the route crosses dozens of borders….. Organisers can go so far in helping competitors with the problems of country and language, but a lot has to be left with the crews. The comprehensive route guidance notes given to every team months ago, detailed rates of exchange, border procedures, and dozens of other small items of valuable information. But each team, realising that there was hardly any allowance for time lost through breakdowns or servicing, was still faced with the problem of keeping the cars going. In a normal rally, car manufacturers and tyre and oil companies like Dunlop and Castrol literally “shadow” the rally route with service vehicles and crews. But the London-Sydney is so far and so fast, that a complete re-think was needed. Both Castrol and Dunlop have been working for months on a complex network of oil and tyre supplies stretching halfway across the world. Both companies are, of course, quite used to this. Both have been knee-deep in motor sport for the last 50 – odd years. In fact, it was a Dunlop employee, Harry James, who started motor sport in Australia with a “demonstration” run at Aspendale racecourse in Victoria in 1904. Castrol is now one of the major sponsors of motor sport in the world. In Australia, their drivers include the famous Geoghegan brothers, the works Nissan team and the BMC works cars. Overseas, they look after world motor cycle champion, Mike Hailwood, the BMC works rally team of Hopkirk – Makinen – Aaltonen – Fall, and the Ford rally team, as well as Polish driver Sobieslaw Zasada, who last year won the European Championship. One of their more famous operators is expatriate Australian Paul Hawkins, one of the world’s greatest sports car drivers. Castrol car and bike wins have been chalked up at Daytona, Singapore, Wisconsin, Sebring, Le-Mans, Barcelona and the Isle of Man. On the other hand, Dunlop has been designing and producing racing tyres for scores of years. For one period of about 15 years up to 1965, Dunlop was the only tyre company supplying racing tyres to World Championship Grand Prix cars. The choice of racing tyres has become so wide that there are now special tyres for wet and dry racing, for ice and snow, for wet and dry gravel. The London-Sydney competitors will be able to call on six different types of Dunlop tyre for varying terrain and climate. It is this sort of wide experience in servicing motor sport of all kinds all over the world that makes Castrol and Dunlop, and other major companies like them, so involved in this great Marathon”. – Daily Telegraph……..After ten years with Plymouth, Richard Petty announced he would race Fords in 1969 [25 November 1968]………40 years ago this week, Hannu Mikkola and Ame Hertz won the RAC Rally with a Ford Escort Rs 1800 [23 November 1978]…….30 years ago this week, racer Cale Yarborough announced his retirement. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships [20 November 1988]. He was the second NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of

Sports Illustrated (the first was Curtis Turner on the February 26, 1968 issue). His 83 wins tie him with Jimmie Johnson for sixth on the all-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner’s list (behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, who are tied for fourth with 84). His 14.82% winning percentage is the ninth best all-time and third among those with 500 or more starts. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times; his first win coming in 1968 for the Wood Brothers, the second in 1977 for Junior Johnson, and back-to-back wins in 1983 and 1984. In 1984, he became the first driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 with a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). Yarborough is a three-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year Award (1977, 1978, 1979)………10 years ago this week, for a man whose career involves driving at high speed in one of the most dangerous sports, there was a certain irony that Mark Webber had to be airlifted to hospital after being knocked off his bike in a charity ride during the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge [22 November 2008]. Webber, who had trained with Lance Armstrong, was involved in a head-on collision with a four-wheel drive vehicle. He had to have a pin inserted in a broken leg……….Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz reassumed total ownership of Toro Rosso, after buying back a 50% share from team boss Gerhard Berger[25 November 2008]. The deal meant Mateschitz wholly owned two teams on the F1 grid, with Red Bull Racing being the other. He established Toro Rosso after buying a controlling interest in the Minardi team from Paul Stoddart in 2005 and subsequently struck a joint-ownership deal with Berger Motorsport in 2006.

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