25 September – 1 October

Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

170 years ago this week, the world’s first sale of pneumatic tires was made to Lord Lorane of Albany Park, Guilford, England. The rotting remains of the tires, built to the design of Robert William Thomson, are now owned by the Dunlop Rubber Company [1 October 1847]……. 120 years ago this week, the first gas-powered bus service in Great Britain was started in Bradford by J E Tuke of the Yorkshire Motor Car Company Ltd [25 September 1907]…….90 years ago this week, the II Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix, commonly referred to as the 1927 British Grand Prix was held at the Brooklands circuit [1 October 1927]. It was the fifth and final race of the 1927 AIACR World Manufacturers’ Championship season. The race was won by French driver Robert Benoist, his fourth victory from the season’s five races, a performance that ensured his Delage team won the Championship…….80 years ago this week, US blues

singer Bessie Smith (43) was critically injured while travelling along US Route 61 in Mississippi in an old Packard [26 September 1937]. Her lover, Richard Morgan, was driving and misjudged the speed of a slow-moving truck ahead of him. Tire marks at the scene suggested that Morgan tried to avoid the truck by driving around its left side, but he hit the rear of the truck side-on at high speed. The tailgate of the truck sheared off the wooden roof of Smith’s old Packard. Smith, who was in the passenger seat, probably with her right arm or elbow out the window, took the full brunt of the impact……. Dusenberg, considered the most luxurious cars in the world, hand-crafted and custom-made, heeded as the epitome of flamboyance and elegance, ceased production [30 September 1937]. Their clientele included the great, the near-great, the famous, and the infamous. For almost 10 years, Duesenbergs were acknowledged as the ultimate in quality and value, inspiring the expression “it’s a duesy.”…… 70 years ago this week, Alberto ‘Ciccio’ Ascari recorded his first automobile racing victory at Modena, Italy driving a Maserati [28 September 1947]. In today’s corporate-driven, spit-and-polish world of Formula 1, Italian champion Alberto Ascari would never make it as a driver. Carrying enough extra pounds to earn the nickname “Ciccio” (Chubby) from his legions of fans, Ascari’s superstitions alone would be enough to keep him out of racing’s highest levels…….Austin unveiled the A40, to replace the ‘8’ and ‘10’ models [1 October 1947]. The rear wheel driven saloon was powered by a naturally aspirated engine of 1.2 litre capacity. This powerplant featured overhead valve valve gear, 4 cylinder layout, and 2 valves per cylinder, with an output of 40 bhp (40.6 PS/29.8 kW) of power at 4300 rpm, giving it a top speed of 71 mph. A 4 speed manual gearbox supplied the power to the driven wheels…….60 years ago this week, the Vespa 400, a rear-engined microcar,

produced by ACMA (Ateliers de construction de motocycles et d’automobiles) in Fourchambault, France, made its public debut at a press presentation staged in Monaco [26 September 1957]. Two different versions were sold, “Lusso” and “Turismo”…….American Motors formally announced the termination of the Hudson and Nash marques [28 September 1957]…….The first race staged at the Bridgehampton Road Course on Long Island, New York, a 75 mile SCCA event, was won by Walkt Hansgen in a Jaguar [30 September 1957]…….50 years ago this week, the Jaguar 240 and 340, relabelled Mark 2’s, were launched as interim models to fill the gap until the introduction of the XJ6 in September 1968 [26 September 1967]. Production of the 340 ceased with the introduction of the XJ6 but the 240 continued as a budget-priced model until April 1969; its price of £1,364 was only £20 more than the first 240 in 1956…….. A French television network begins to broadcast the first (and only) season of the American sitcom “My Mother, The Car,” the first TV show to star a talking automobile [27 September 1967]. The show’s premise–a man visits a used-car lot and finds a 1928 Porter convertible that is, somehow, the reincarnation of his dead mother–was fairly ludicrous; perhaps as a result, it only survived for one season (1965–66) in the United States. In 2002, TV Guide named “My Mother, The Car” the second-worst television show of all time……

The last Alvis, a TF21 was built [29 September 1967]. Alvis Car and Engineering Company Ltd was a British manufacturing company in Coventry from 1919 to 1967. In addition to automobiles designed for the civilian market, the company also produced racing cars, aircraft engines, armoured cars and other armoured fighting vehicles. After becoming a subsidiary of Rover in 1965, car manufacturing was ended but armoured vehicle manufacture continued. Alvis became part of British Leyland and then in 1982 was sold to United Scientific Holdings, which renamed itself Alvis plc……Jim Clark finished six seconds ahead of Lotus teammate Graham Hill after nursing his limping car through the final two laps, to win his third and final American Grand Prix [1 October 1967] . It was the Scot’s third win of the season, and the twenty-third of his career. The following April, Clark was killed in a Formula Two race in Germany, but two more wins (in Mexico and South Africa) had already made him the driver in Grand Prix history to win 25 Grands Prix, one more than Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio……. On the same day [1 October 1967] Richard Petty beat Dick Hutcherson by two laps at North Wilkesboro, to win his milestone 75th NASCAR Grand National Series race, and record his 10th consecutive victory. The race was also his record 27th race win of the 1967 season. Petty’s consecutive race winning streak (10), single-season win total (27), and career victories (200) are all NASCAR records that still stand as of 2015. Petty’s ten-race win streak which lasted from 12 August to 1 October, included the following races: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Savannah, Darlington, Hickory, Richmond, Beltsville, Hillsboro, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro…….40 years ago this week, Andrew Cowan, Colin Makin and Michael Broad in a Mercedes 290E arrived at the Sydney Opera House after covering 19,239 miles to win the Singapore airlines sponsored London-Sydney rally – the longest motor race ever held [28 September 1977]…….30 years ago this week, Ray Harroun’s place in history was sealed when the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp featuring the famous racing champion [25 September 1987]. Called “Racing Car 1911,” the stamp depicted Harroun and the Marmon Wasp which he drove to victory in the first Indy 500. Harroun was the only driver on the Indianapolis track without a riding mechanic. The race took over six hours to complete, with Harroun coming from 28th place to finish first. He died in 1968 at the age of 89……. Darrell Waltrip drove from third to first in the final lap after a three-car scramble with Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte to win the Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US [27 September 1987]. All three cars collided heading into turn three on the last lap, sending Labonte (running second) into a spin and race leader Earnhardt high out of the groove. Waltrip sailed through to his only win in his first season driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt recovered to finish second with Labonte third….. On the same day [27 September 1987] the Spanish Grand Prix was won by British driver Nigel Mansell driving a Williams FW11B. Mansell took victory by 22 seconds over Frenchman Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/3. Prost’s Swedish team mate Stefan Johansson finished third. It was Mansell’s fifth victory of the 1987 season. That win, along with Nelson Piquet’s fourth place, secured for the Williams F1 team their third constructors’ championship with three races still remaining in the season……. Driving a GMC Sierra K3500 4-wheeled drive pick up truck powered by a 6.2 litre Detroit engine, Gary Sowerby, with Tim Cahill, as co-driver and navigator started from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina on an epic journey to Prudhow, Alaska – thus transversing the Americas [29 September 1987]. They covered the 14,739 miles in 23 days 22 hours 43 minutes. The vehicle and team were surface freighted from Cartagena, Columbia to Balboa, Panama so as to bypass the Darien Gap…….. On the same day [29 September 1987] John Foulston, who a year earlier had bought Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Snetterton for £5.2 million, was killed while testing a McLaren IndyCar at Silverstone. He was 40…….20 years ago this week, British fighter-pilot Andy Green set a new land-speed record in the Thrust SSC

vehicle, jet-powering to an impressive 714.144 mph over the 1-mile course in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada [25 September 1997]….. There was no brotherly love between the Schumachers at the Luxembourg Grand Prix, but there was a brotherly shove as less than 200 metres after the start Ralf’s Jordan piled into Michael’s Ferrari and smashed the latter’s front suspension [28 September 1997]. Two laps later Michael retired, and in so doing severely dented his hopes of a third championship as Jacques Villeneuve in a Williams won the race and took a nine-point lead in the title race with two races (and a maximum of 20 points) remaining. “After Ralf hit me, my car was handling strangely,” Schumacher said. “In the pits we could see the suspension arm was bent. It was a shame that the incident happened with my brother but I don’t think anyone was to blame for what happened as it was not a deliberate move. That’s motor racing.”…… 10 years ago this week, Pagani claimed a new record for production supercars using the Pagani Zonda F Clubsport by completing the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in 7 minutes 27.82 seconds [25 September 2007]. This record has since been beaten by other cars, including the Maserati MC12 and the Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR….. on the same day [25 September 2007] Abarth, the firm that found fame tuning Fiats for racing, was officially relaunched as a car company in its own right in Turin, Italy. The event saw the production edition of the brand’s first new road model in 25 years, a 150bhp 1.4 litre Abarth Grande Punto. The evening event also marked the grand opening of the marque’s first official dealership. This dedicated showroom was set to be the first of 100 in Europe…….. The United Auto Workers union and General Motors Corp reached a tentative contract, ending a national strike by 73,000 workers with a groundbreaking deal that included a health-care trust fund [26 September 2007]. The Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) was administered by the union and took on some $51 billion in health-care liabilities…… The Alfa 8C Competizione supercar and film star Scarlett Johansson came top of a poll, carried out by the Prestige and Performance Motor Show MPH ’07 and the 4Car website, to find the ‘perfect car and passenger of our dreams’ [27 September 2007]…… For British car and motorcycle drivers a minimum wait of 10 days between driving tests of the same category was introduced for unsuccessful candidates [29 September 2007]. For lorry- and bus-driver testing, the minimum wait was set at 3 days.


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