22-28 January: Motoring Milestones

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

80 years ago this week, Mercedes driver Rudolf Caracciola in a W125 Rekordwagen (cover image) on the Bundesautobahn 5 between the German cities of Frankfurt and Darmstadt, set a new record of 432 km/h (268 mph) [28 January 1938]. Bernd Rosemeyer, one of the most prominent drivers of the 1930s and Caracciola’s rival on the Grands Prix scene, was next. And 268 miles per hour

remains, to this day, the record for top speed on a public road – nobody has been tempted to try and break it. Ninety minutes after Caracciola set his record, it was time for his archrival to make an attempt. Not only was Bernd Rosemeyer also a successful racing driver, but he was a successful racing driver for Auto Union. On his third and final attempt the Auto Union V16 Streamliner veered of the road, probably due to a gust of wind, Rosemeyer was thrown out of the cockpit at high speed and killed instantly at the young age of 29. Rosemeyer had been one of the most exceptional racing drivers in German motor racing history. He had almost won his second ever Grand Prix at the daunting Nürburgring, later in 1935 he did win his first Grand Prix at the Brno Masaryk Circuit in Czechoslovakia. Several victories followed in 1936 and 1937, including the Vanderbilt Cup in the USA…… 70 years ago this week, the first annual Automotive Equipment Display and Hot Rod Exhibition, presented by the Southern California Timing Association, opened at the National Guard Armory in Exposition Park, in Los Angeles, California, US [23 January 1948]………The General San Martín Grand Prix at Mar del Plata was won by Giuseppe Farina in a Maserati 8CL [24 January 1948]….. 60 years ago this week, Ferrari and Porsche were the only European teams on hand for the “Argentine 1000 Kilometers”, the first World Sports Car Championship race run under 3.0 litre regulations and opening round of the 1958 campaign [26 January 1958]. The Ferrari of Peter Collins and Phil Hill led from start to finish. Five time F1 World Champion Juan Fangio tried to take the lead at one point, but overdid it and crashed the privateer Maserati he was sharing with Francesco Godia-Sales. Luigi Musso’s Ferrari had steering failure on lap 1, but the other Ferrari of Wolfgang von Trips and Olivier Gendebien went

on to finish 2nd. Stirling Moss and Jean Behra drove their 1.6 liter Porsche to third. Collins and Hill covered the 1000km in 6 hours, 19 minutes, 55 seconds, averaging 98.57 mph……. 50 years ago this week, in Invercargill, New Zealand, native son Bruce McLaren drove his BRM V12 to an unexpected win in the “Teretonga International”, round 4 of the Tasman series [27 January 1968]. It was McLaren’s 4th win in the event on the 1.6 mile Teretonga Park circuit, but his first since 1964. Grid positions were determined by two heat races (one for 2.5 litre cars, one for 1.5 litre cars), but when the 1.5 litre heat wound up being run in improved conditions which would have placed several slower cars at the front of the grid, officials decided to revert to practice times “in the interest of safety”…….40 years ago this week, at 8.00 pm on 22 January 1978. Osiecznica, Poland a PKS bus (Państwowa Komunikacja Samochowa) collided with military truck “Kraz” killing 14 and injuring 59. The drunk driver of truck – soldier of unit Armia Czerwona from Legnica – survived. Driver of bus survived too – with cut left arm…. The following day [23 January 1978] singer Vic Ames (52) of the Ames Brothers singing quartet, who in their fifteen-year notched up 49 US chart entries, died in a car crash……20 years ago this week, Ford reported record $6.9 billion earnings for 1997 [27 January 1998]……. 10 years ago this week, a young businessman paid Dh2.61 million (c. £460,000) for car number plate ‘11111’ in an auction conducted by Abu Dhabi Police and Emirates Auction at Emirates Palace Hotel [23 January 2008]. Emirati Salem Buharoon, 33, who owned Golden Class Rent a Car in Abu Dhabi won the sought after number after fierce competition among three bidders. One of the competitors who backed out at the last stage told Gulf News the price was high for such a five-digit number. Salem told Gulf News he wanted the number desperately for his Ferrari, so was ready to pay a big amount…….two days later [25 January 2008] a record price was set for a British vehicle registration number after Bradford entrepreneur and businessman Afzal Khan paid £440,625 to buy the Formula One initials F1.

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