20-26 July: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the Paris – Toulouse – Paris road race began [25 July 1900] – cover image. It was run in three stages over three days during a heat wave, and tyre troubles were numerous. Levegh on his Mors covered the distance of 838.08 miles, excluding controls, in 20 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds, an average of 40 miles an hour. Pinson was second in 22 hours 11 minutes 1 second, and Voigt third in 22 hours 11 minutes 51 seconds, each driving a Panhard……..90 years ago this week, held over 40 laps of the 14.914 km Spa-Francorchamps circuit for a total race distance of 596.560 km, the Belgian Grand Prix was won by Louis Chiron driving a Bugatti T35B [20 July 1930]……. The MG Car Company was reorganised as the MG

Car Company Ltd., with Sir William R Morris as Governing Director and Cecil Kimber as Managing Director, severing the legal link with Morris Garages [21 July 1930]…… and on the same day [21 July 1930], the Lincoln and Continental Divisions of the Ford Motor Company were consolidated……… Glenn Hammond Curtiss (52), American aviation and motorcycling pioneer, and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry, died [23 July 1930]. He began his career as a bicycle racer and builder before moving on to motorcycles. As early as 1904, he began to manufacture engines for airships. In 1908, Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association, a pioneering research group, founded by Alexander Graham Bell at Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, to build flying machines. Curtiss made the first officially witnessed flight in North America, won a race at the world’s first international air meet in France, and made the first long-distance flight in the United States. His contributions in designing and building aircraft led to the formation of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, now part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation. His company built aircraft for the U.S. Army and Navy, and, during the years leading up to World War I, his experiments with seaplanes led to advances in naval aviation. Curtiss civil and military aircraft were predominant in the interwar and World War II eras……..Charles Creighton and James Hargis left New York City driving their Ford Model A 1929 roadster 3340 miles in reverse, arriving in Los Angeles 17 days later without once stopping the engine [26 July 1930]. They arrived back in New York on the 5th September so completing 7,180 miles in 42 days……..80 years ago this week, the British Government banned the buying or selling of new cars for the duration of World War Two [20 July 1940]……. Ab Jenkins, driving the Duesenberg ‘Morning Meteor’ at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, US set new speed records for 500 and 1,000 miles [22 July 1940]……..70 years ago this week, Curtis Turner recorded his fourth victory of the year in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Charlotte Speedway, US [23 July 1950]. Lee Petty, who ranked third in the points standings, had all 809 points removed by NASCAR. During the three-week lull, Petty competed in a nonsanctioned stock car race, and NASCAR decided to strip all of his points for failing to compete within NASCAR sanctioning boundaries……on the same day [23 July 1950], The first Dutch Grand Prix set to Formula One rules, staged at the Circuit Park Zandvoort, Netherlands, was won by French driver Louis Rosier in a Talbot-Lago……..Goldie Gardner became the first driver to exceed 120 mph in Class J (below 350 cc) when he reached 121.048 mph on the Jabbeke Road in Belgium [24 July 1950]. Later that day he reached 104.725 mph in a MG YA to claim the ‘World’s Fastest Saloon’ title for the marque…….60 years ago this week, the German government passed the “Law Concerning the Transfer of the Share Rights in Volkswagenwerk Limited Liability Company into Private Hands,” known informally as the “Volkswagen Law” [21 July 1960] Founded in 1937 and originally under the control of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) Party, Volkswagen would eventually grow into Europe’s largest car manufacturer and a symbol of Germany’s economic recovery after the devastation of the Second World War. The Volkswagen Law, passed in July 1960, changed the company to a joint stock corporation, with 20 percent held each by the nation of Germany and the region of Lower Saxony in which Volkswagen was and still is headquartered. By limiting the share of any other stockholder to 20 percent, regardless of how many shares owned, the law effectively protected the company from any attempt at a hostile takeover. By 2007, the controversial legislation had come under full-blown attack from the European Commission as part of a campaign against protectionist measures in several European capitals. The commission objected not only to the 20 percent voting rights cap but to the law’s stipulation that measures taken at the annual stockholders’ meeting must be passed by more than four-fifths of VW shareholders, a requirement that gave Lower Saxony the ability to block any measures it desired. In March of 1960 German automaker Porsche announced that it had raised its stake in Volkswagen to 30.9 percent, triggering a takeover bid under a German law which required a company to bid for the entirety of any other company after acquiring more than 30 percent of its stock. Porsche announced it did not intend to take over VW, but was buying the stock as a way of protecting it from being dismantled by hedge funds. Porsche’s history was already entwined with Volkswagen, as the Austrian-born engineer Ferdinand Porsche designed the original “people’s car” for Volkswagen in 1938. On October 23, 2007, the European Court of Justice formally struck down the Volkswagen Law, ruling that its protectionism illegally restricted the free movement of capital in European markets. The decision cleared the way for Porsche to move forward with its takeover, which it did, maintaining that it will still preserve the Volkswagen corporate structure. By early 2009, Porsche owned more than 50 percent of Volkswagen shares…….Maserati Tipo 60s finish 1-2-3-5 in the Trieste-Opicina Hillclimb in Italy [24 July 1960]. Mennato Boffa drove the winning car……..30 years ago this week, days before his 40th birthday, Rich Vogler competed in a nationally broadcast ESPN Thunder Joe James / Pat O’Connor Memorial sprint car event at Salem Speedway [21 July 19

90]. He was leading the race at the time, when his car crashed with just over a lap to go. Vogler was de-helmeted in the accident, and as a result was fatally injured. Because of USAC rules on a red flag reverting to the previous completed lap, he was declared the winner of the event following his death, which was his 170th win……20 years ago this week, the last Ford Escort Mk2 to be made at Halewood, Liverpool, rolled off the production line. [21 July 2000]……. Rusty Wallace took advantage of Jeremy Mayfield’s misfortune to win the Pennsylvania 500 (US), taking the lead on the final lap [23 July 2000]. Mayfield’s victory bid was thwarted when he suffered a flat tire, allowing Wallace to take his second win of the season.

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