26 April -2 May: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the world’s first postage stamp featuring an automobile was issued in Buffalo, New York by the United States Post Office Department as part of the Pan-American commemorative series – the vignette of the 4c stamp is unidentifiable, but is widely thought to be a Columbia electric [1 May 1901]…….110 years ago this week, the gates at Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened for practice for the first Indianapolis 500 [1 May 1911]…….100 years ago this week, for the first time in London, England police on motorcycles patrolled the city [26 April 1921]…….the following day [27 April 1921], T G John Ltd moved to larger premises in Coventry, England and changed its name to Alvis Car and Engineering Company……. Douglas Davidson riding a Harley Davidson at the Brooklands circuit became the first motorcyclist to exceed 100 mph in Britain [28 April 1921]. He achieved this amazing feat on a V-Twin Harley-Davidson.

Considering his bike used tyres more suited to a bicycle and his only protection was a thick sweater and a leather hat this was no mean feat……Joe Thomas won the 150 mile AAA Championship race on the 1 mile banked board Fresno Speedway, California, US [30 April 1921]. Thomas averaged 100.4 mph in his Duesenberg….. on the same day [30 April 1921] the Miller 183 8-cylinder engine made its racing debut in a 150-mile race in Fresno, California, US……90 years ago this week, the Ford Model A Deluxe Pickup was introduced. Production ended in September after just 293 units had been manufactured [1 May 1931]……on the same  day [1 May 1931], Herbert Frood (66), English inventor of brake pads, died……80 years ago this week, the 29 millionth Ford was produced, a 1941 Super Deluxe Station Wagon that was presented to the American National Red Cross by Edsel Ford [29 April 1941]……. The electric microcar the Peugeot VLV was formally announced. VLV stood for Voiture Légère de Ville (Light City Car) [1 May 1941]. Built in response to restrictions imposed on non-military users by the occupying German forces, the VLV was powered by four 12V batteries placed under the hood giving it a top speed of 22 mph and a range of 50 miles……70 years ago this week, Luigi Villoresi, driving a Ferrari Tipo 340 Vignale, won the Mille Miglia in Italy [28 April 1951]……. Dale Earnhardt, one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, was born in North Carolina, US [29 April 1951]. In 1979 Earnhardt was named Winston Cup Rookie of the Year and the following year won the first of his seven Winston Cup Series championships. Driving the black No.3 Chevrolet, Earnhardt earned his nickname, “The Intimidator,” as a result of his uncompromising driving style, racking up a career total of 76 victories. Earnhardt’s life was cut short on February 18, 2001, when he was fatally injured in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500…….60 years ago this week, production ceased of the two-door,

four-seat Ford Squire 100E estate, the brother to the Ford Prefect 100E four-door saloon, sharing the same 1172 cc Ford sidevalve 36 bhp (27 kW) and other parts and the same interior trim [29 April 1961]. It was substantially shorter than both the Prefect and the closely related Ford Anglia 100E two-door saloon……..50 years ago this week, public launch day of the rear-wheel-drive Morris Marina, which was available in the typical British Leyland colours of the day – Russet Brown, Harvest Gold, Limeflower Green, Midnight Blue, Teal Blue, Blaze Orange, Damask Red and Black Tulip [27 April 1971]. Although now often described as one of the worst cars of all time, the Marina was one of the most popular cars in Britain throughout its production life, narrowly beating the Ford Escort to second place in the UK car sales table in 1973, and regularly taking third or fourth place…….40 years ago this week, “Rookie” Morgan Shepherd won the NASCAR GN ‘Virginia 500’ at Martinsville Speedway [26 April 1981]. Shepherd’s Cliff Stewart Pontiac crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of Neil Bonnett’s Wood Brothers Ford with Ricky Rudd a lap down in 3rd in the DiGard Buick. It was the first GN win for Pontiac since 1963…….30 years ago this week, David Green raced to his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in just his 10th start, winning the Nestle 200 at Lanier Speedway in Gainesville, Georgia, US [27 April 1991]. Green, who later won the 1994 series championship, led the final 111 of 200 laps. Fellow rookie Jeff Gordon took second place for his first top-five finish in the series……. At the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, polesitter, Ayrton Senna in his McLaren, narrowly won over his teammate Gerhard Berger who set fastest lap [28 April 1991]. Berger was 6th on the grid and drove well to come in second. JJ Lehto in a Dallara was third 1 lap down, but he had an excellent drive from his 16th starting spot…… After 34 years of production the 3,096,099th and last 18 hp two-stroke 600 cc Trabant rolled off the assembly line [30 April 1991]…….20 years ago this week, the Saudi Arabian interior minister, Prince Nayef, stated that his government would not allow women to drive [26 April 2001]. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, although it is tolerated in rural areas (in rural areas women drive “because their families’ survival depends on it” and because the mutaween (close male relative—husband, son or grandson) “can’t effectively patrol” remote areas, according to one Saudi native, although as of 2010 mutaween were clamping down on this freedom. Saudi Arabia has no written ban on women driving, but Saudi law requires citizens to use a locally issued license while in the country……. Michael Schumacher won the Spanish Grand Prix driving a Ferrari F2001 even though he was 40 seconds behind Mika Häkkinen on the penultimate lap [29 April 2001]. The Finn, who had lapped the third placed Juan-Pablo Montoya, suffered from a hydraulic failure on the final lap of the race. This handed Michael Schumacher probably one of his luckier wins as he was suffering with a bad vibration.

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