2-8 August: Motoring Milestones

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

110 years ago this week, a Saurer 4.5 ton truck arrived in New York City, completing a 5 month odyssey across the United States – the company claimed that this was the first trans-United States truck trip, although it was not run or done completely under its own power [2 August 1911]……. The one millionth serially-numbered US patent—No. 1,000,000—was issued to Francis Holton of Akron, Ohio, US for a “Vehicle-Tire” [8 August 1911]. His idea was to eliminate tire punctures, yet “to provide substantially the same …resiliency that is obtained by the pneumatic tube” by designing an outer rim of which consisted of a series of overlapping V-shaped flexible strips. Although it was No. 1,000,000, it was not the one millionth U.S. patent ever. Patents were originally issued without a number. From the first, dated 31 Jul 1790 to Samuel Hopkins, about 10,000 records accumulated over a period of 46 years, but were lost in the U.S. Patent Office fire of 15 Dec 1836. Only 2,845 of them were restored from private files. U.S. numbered patent, No. 1 (13 Jul 1836), also concerned a wheel, but for a train, to John Ruggles…….80 years ago this week, although the United States had not yet entered World War II at this time, petrol rationing began in parts of the eastern United States [3 August 1941]. The rationing would spread to the rest of the country as soon as the United States. joined the Allied forces, and the production of cars for private use halted completely in 1942……. The last Ford Model T engine was produced [4 August 1941]…….70 years ago this week, Ibsley Circuit, situated at RAF Ibsley, on the Fordingbridge to Ringwood Road in Hampshire, UK, staged its first car meeting [4 August 1951]. Organised by the West Hants & Dorset Car Club (WH&DCC) on a track which Autosport described as “tricky enough to have good spectator appeal”. The programme consisted of sports cars races, Formula III and Formule Libre……60 years ago this week, the very first production Renault 4 (cover image), the world’s first car with hermetically sealed cooling-system, was built [3 August 1961]. The Renault 4 was Renault’s response to the 1948 Citroën 2CV. Renault was able to review the advantages and disadvantages of the 2CV design and come up with a larger, more urban vehicle…….. During practice for the German Grand Prix, American Phil Hill became the first person to complete a lap of the Nordschleife (the 14-mile ‘northern loop’) in under 9 minutes, with a stunning lap of 8 minutes 55.2 seconds [6 August 1961]. He had driven at an average speed of 95.3 mph in his Ferrari 156 ‘Sharknose’ Formula One car. Even 50 plus years later, the highest-performing road cars have difficulty breaking 8 minutes without a professional racing driver, or at least a driver very familiar with the track…… The German Grand Prix was won by British driver Stirling Moss, driving a Lotus 18/21 for the privateer outfit, Rob Walker Racing Team [6 August 1961]. Moss started from the second row of the grid and lead every lap of the race. It was the first German Grand Prix victory for a rear-engined car since Bernd Rosemeyer’s Auto Union Type C took victory in 1936……40 years ago this week, on the final lap of the Talladega 500, held at the Talladega Speedway, Alabama, US, Waltrip led Terry Labonte coming out of turn 4 [2 August 1981]. As the cars went into the tri-oval, Labonte attempted a slingshot pass around the outside of Waltrip, but Waltrip was just able to hold him off. Suddenly, Ron Bouchard darted below both of them, and edged a shocked Waltrip by inches in a three-wide photo finish…,…30 years ago this week, Sochiro Honda, founder of the Honda Motor Company, died at the age of 84 [5 August 1991]. In 1937, Honda founded Tōkai Seiki to produce piston rings for Toyota. During World War II, a US B-29 bomber attack destroyed Tōkai Seiki’s Yamashita plant in 1944 and the Itawa plant collapsed in the 1945 Mikawa earthquake. After the war, Honda sold the salvageable remains of the company to Toyota for ¥450,000 and used the proceeds to found the Honda Technical Research Institute in October 1946. In 1948 he started producing a complete motorized bicycle, the Type A, which was driven by the first mass-produced engine designed by Honda, and was sold until 1951. The Type D in 1949 was a true motorcycle with a pressed-steel frame designed and produced by Honda and with a 2-stroke, 98 cc (6.0 cu in) 3 hp (2.2 kW) engine, and became the very first model in the Dream series of motorcycles. The Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan (Japanese) lists both the Type A and the Type D models as two of their 240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology. As president of the Honda Motor Company, Soichiro Honda turned the company into a billion-dollar multinational that produced the best-selling motorcycles in the world. Honda’s engineering and marketing skills resulted in Honda motorcycles outselling Triumph and Harley-Davidson in their respective home markets. The next year, Honda was reacquainted with Takeo Fujisawa, whom he knew during his days as a supplier of piston rings to Nakajima Aircraft Company. Honda hired Fujisawa, who oversaw the financial side of the company and helped the firm expand. In 1959, Honda Motorcycles opened its first dealership in the United States. Honda remained president until his retirement in 1973, where he stayed on as director and was appointed “supreme advisor” in 1983. His status was such that People magazine placed him on their “25 Most Intriguing People of the Year” list for 1980, dubbing him “the Japanese Henry Ford.” In retirement, Honda busied himself with work connected with the Honda Foundation….. James B. Irwin, (61) pilot of the Lunar Roving Vehicle, died in Glenwood Springs, Colarado, US [8 August 1991]. Irwin visited the surface of the moon during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, during which he spent almost three days on the moon’s surface investigating the Hadley-Apennine site, 462 miles north of the lunar equator…….20 years ago this week, Jeff Gordon won the eighth Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, becoming the first three-time winner of that prestigious event [5 August 2001]…….. Ford and Navistar joined forces to create the Blue Diamond Truck Company to build medium commercial trucks [7 August 2001].

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