21-27 June Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the Paris-Berlin Trail began. Run over 687 miles and three stages (June 27th Paris-Aachen – 285 miles; June 28th Aachen-Hanover – 278 miles and June 29th Hanover-Berlin – 186 miles) the race was won by Henri Fournier (France) driving a Mors in a time of 15 hours 33 minutes 6 seconds. Charles Stewart Rolls with mechanic Claud Crompton entered in a Mors and finished 18th. In retrospect the trail is sometimes referred to as the VI Grand Prix de l’ACF……110 years ago this week, a stock Metz roadster left Iron Hill, Maryland at 12:01 AM, and arrived in Winchester, New Hampshire before the days end, having crossed Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont [21 June 1911]. The well planned exhibition resulted in the car being marketed as ‘The Car that Covered Nine States in a Single Day!……..90 years ago this week, the XVII Grand Prix of the AC de France was run to the 10-Hour International Formula, demanding two drivers per car [21 June 1931]. Three strong official factory teams from Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Maserati provided the main battle. The early leader was Fagioli in the 2800 Maserati until Chiron in the twin-cam Bugatti passed him. After one hour, Luigi Fagioli was again in first place next came Louis Chiron, Rene Dreyfus, Albert Divo, William Grover-Williams, Marcel Lehoux and Giuseppe Campari, the fastest of the 2300 Alfa Romeo drivers, in seventh place. For the first time since WW I, there was a German entry in the French Grand Prix, the independent team of Rudolf Caracciola/Otto Merz in a huge Mercedes-Benz. They held eighth place after the first lap; then fell back to 13th before retiring later. The Rene Dreyfus/ Pieto Ghersi pair twice held second place, but maintained third position during most of the first half of the race.Out of 23 starters only 12 finished the long race. The independent drivers were the first to retire. Jack Dunfee (Sunbeam) broke down at the start. Ivanowski (Mercedes-Benz) and Lehoux (Bugatti) disappeared before the the second hour ended. Scott’s 1920’s Delage broke down during the third hour to be followed by the Caracciola/Merz Mercedes-Benz in the fourth hour. The first factory car to retire was Fagioli/E.Maserati with the 2800 Maserati during the fifth hour. Five Bugattis retired over the next laps, all caused by mechanical failures. Chiron/Varzi (Bugatti) dominated the race and won three laps ahead of Campari/Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo) and five laps in front of Clemente Biondetti/Parenti (Maserati). Henry Birkin/ George Eyston (Maserati) an independent entry finished fourth. A total of 12 cars were classified but only 10 were still driving at the end while Divo/Bouriat and Tazio Nuvolari/Giovanni Minozzi made it on distance alone as their cars broke down near the end……70 years ago this week, (22-23 June 1951) the Porsche 356 scored its first international success in motor racing, winning the 1100-cc category in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This race saw the death of French driver Jean Larivière within the opening laps of the race…… Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead in their works-entered Jaguar C-type, claimed the first Le Mans win for the marque [24 June 1951]. This year marked the real start of the modern era of sports-car racing, with the arrival of Jaguar’s purpose-built racer, and the first showing for Porsche and Lancia. It was also the final time for Delahaye and Bentley (for 50 years). The race was marred by the death of French driver Jean Larivière within the opening laps of the race……also on the same day [24 June 1951], Curtis Turner scored a convincing victory at Dayton (Ohio, US) Speedway, pulling away from Dick Rathman to win the 200-lap main event. Runner-up Rathman was nearly a full lap behind Turner — who led 177 laps — at the finish on the half-mile asphalt track. Pole-starter Tim Flock led the other 23 laps and came home third, just ahead of his brother Fonty…….60 years ago this week, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport Park and Mosport International Raceway), the second purpose-built road race course in Canada, held its first major race, the Player’s 200, a sports car race bringing drivers from the world over to rural Ontario [25 June 1961]. Stirling Moss won the two-heat event in a Lotus 19. Second was Joakim Bonnier with Olivier Gendebien third…….50 years ago this week, Bobby Allison routed the field for his fifth consecutive victory, winning the Space City 300, the only event for NASCAR’s premier series at Meyer Speedway in Houston, US [23 June 1971]. Allison started from the pole and led 253 of 300 laps on the half-mile asphalt track. James Hylton finished second, two laps down, with Walter Ballard eight laps off the pace in third…….40 years ago this week, the Spanish Grand Prix held at the Circuito Permanente del Jarama, featured the second closest finish ever of a Formula One race (cover image): after Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari 126CK, the four following cars finished in just 1.24 seconds [21 June 1981]. This was Villeneuve’s last victory, often regarded as his tactical masterpiece……… The worlds largest cable suspension bridge over the Humber estuary was opened to traffic [24 June 1981]. Its official opening by the Queen took place on 17th July. The towers are 162.5 m (533 ft 1½ in) tall from datum and are 36 mm (1 ½ in) out of parallel, to allow for the curvature of the Earth. Including side spans, the bridge stretches 2220 m (1.37 miles). Tolls ranged from 70p for motorcycles to £8 for heavy goods vehicles were the highest in Britain…….. The United States Postal Service issued a 17-cent regular coil stamp picturing an “Electric Auto” at the Greenfield Village, Michigan Post Office [25 June 1981]. The design by Chick Jaquays was based on a photograph of a 1917 Detroit Electric coupe………30 years ago this week, Davey Allison beat Hut Stricklin to win the Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Michigan, US. Stricklin was driving a Buick owned by Bobby Allison, the father of the race winner [23 June 1991]……on the same day [23 June 1991]Bertrand Gachot, Johnny Herbert, and Volker Wiedler won the 24-Hours of Le Mans driving a Mazda. It was the first time a marque outside of Western Europe had won the prestigious title……..20 years ago this week, “The Fast and the Furious”, a crime drama based in the underground world of street racing in Southern California, debuted in theatres across the United States [22 June 2001]. In the film, directed by Rob Cohen, Paul Walker starred as Brian O’Connor, an undercover cop who infiltrates the illegal late-night racing scene in Los Angeles to catch a gang suspected of hijacking big-rig trucks to get the parts to outfit their souped-up cars. Despite mixed reviews from critics, “The Fast and the Furious” was an unexpected hit at the box office, spawning three sequels.

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