23-29 August: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the 50 mile (80 km) Piombino-Grosseto road race in Italy was won by Felice Nazzaro in a FIAT 12 hp [24 August 1901]. The vehicles registered for the competition were divided into various categories: The first category included large vehicles weighing over 1000 kg, the second category included light vehicles weighing less than 1000 kg, the third category consisted of small vehicles weighing no more than 450 kg, the fourth category included tricycles, and the fifth category was reserved for motorcycles. The contestants raced in turn according to the following order: large vehicles, tricycles, light vehicles, small vehicles, and motorcycles. The starting times had all been anticipated several hours beforehand at 7:30 due to poor road conditions. Not a single motorcycle arrived at the finish line: Renzo Mazzoleni, who drove Ceirano 2 ¼ HP, had given up in Vada; whereas, Emanuele Rosselli, who used a Rosselli 2¼ HP, had given up as well shortly after the start because the road was impassable. The Piombino – Livorno tournament had been the first event won by Fiat, as a result of the victory by novice racer Felice Nazzaro. His first victory was obtained while driving the Fiat 12 HP property race of Conte Camillo Della Gherardesca, making a record at 1:49:54 with an average of 44,77 km/h. Despite the poor weather, the competition was a great achievement. Even though the tram remained in service along the route, no accidents occurred during the race……..110 years ago this week, a Packard 3-ton truck driven by Walter T Fishleigh, E L Burnett, and Arnold Haener reached San Francisco, California 46 days after leaving New York City, finishing the first trans-United States trip by a motor truck made completely under its own power [24 August 1911]……. The grandstand collapsed on lap 2 of the Elgin National Trophy in Illinois [26 August 1911] The race, run over a 8.47 mile road course, was restarted 35 minutes later and was won by Len Zengle……100 years ago this week, Six-Cylinder Love, the first full-length play based on the motor car, opened at the Sam H. Harris Theatre in New York City [25 August 1921]. The play traces the Sterling family’s purchase of an expensive car. Friends pester them for rides; Marilyn has an accident which Gilbert must get $5,000 from his boss to pay for. They finally sell the car to the janitor. A silent film version of the play was produced in 1923, and a talkie starring Spencer Tracy followed in 1931…….80 years ago this week, the Packard Twentieth Series (cover image) was introduced [25 August 1941]…….60 years ago this week, Junior Johnson took the lead in the 33rd lap and stormed to victory in a 200-lap main event at South Boston (Virginia, US) Speedway [27 August 1961]. Johnson finished one lap ahead of Jim Reed, who led the first 32 laps. Ned Jarrett wound up third, three laps off Johnson’s pace…….. Art Malone drove Bob Osiecki’s aluminium-bodied “Mad Dog IV” to a World Closed Course Speed Record of 181.561 mph at Daytona International Speedway [27 August 1961]. “Mad Dog IV” was a front-engined Curtis Indy roadster powered by a supercharged Chrysler 413 Wedge motor……50 years ago this week, Tiny Lund surged in front when Dave Marcis’ rear gearing failed, leading the rest of the way in the Buddy Shuman 276, the final race for NASCAR’s premier series at Hickory (North Carolina, US) Speedway [27 August 1971]. Lund led the final 124 laps

after pole-starter Marcis went out on the 0.363-mile track…….40 years ago this week, General Motors launched the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2, available for the first time with front-wheel drive and as a hatchback [26 August 1981]. On its launch, it offered class-leading levels of fuel economy and performance which had previously been unthinkable for this sector of car. Sales began towards the end of September……..30 years ago this week, Michael Schumacher made his Formula One debut at Spa [25 August 1991]. He drove for Jordan after replacing Betrand Gachot, who had been jailed for assaulting a London taxi driver the year before. Schumacher immediately caught the world’s attention by qualifying seventh, albeit 3.4 seconds off the pole time set by Ayrton Senna. In the race the clutch failed on the grid and he retired immediately while Senna led a McLaren one-two at the front of the field. However, Schumacher had made his mark on the sport and was immediately snapped up by Flavio Briatore to race for Benetton at the next event, much to the anger of Eddie Jordan……20 years ago this week, Bridgestone/Firestone agreed to pay $7.5 million to the family of Marisa Rodriguez, who was paralyzed in a Ford Explorer crash in 2000 [24 August 2001]. Ford settled before the trial for $6 million……… Founder and team principal of Tyrrell Racing, Ken Tyrrell (77), passed away at his home in Surrey, England [25 August 2001]. Tyrrell cars were a mainstay of the F1 grid from 1970 to 1998, taking 23 wins before the team entry was sold to British American Tobacco for the start of the 1999 season. It went on to become BAR, then Honda and eventually relived its glory days under the Brawn name.

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