26 July-1 August: Motoring Milestones

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


110 years ago this week, the Mason Motor Company was founded in Flint, Michigan, US by Arthur C Mason, Charles Byrne and Charles E Wetherald to produce engines for the new Chevrolet Classic Six [31 July 1911]…….100 years ago today, Jimmy Murphy driving Duesenberg won the French Grand Prix at Le Mans at 78.10 mph, the first major American victory in Europe [26 July 1921]…….80 years ago this week, the Richardson Pan-American Highway Expedition was completed when a modified 1941 Plymouth driven by Sullivan Richardson, Arnold Whitaker, and Kenneth C. Van Hee reached Punta Arenas, Magallanes, Chile after an 8-month journey from Detroit, Michigan, US [28 July 1941]. In scope and magnitude the epic adventure surpassed those pioneer automobilists that first crossed the United States at the turn of the century. The Richardson Expedition crossed not only the US but encompassed the area spanning two continents-crossing trackless wilderness, endless mud, un-chartered territory and obstacles of every sort that Mother Nature could throw against them. The distance of more than 15,000 miles that was covered in eight months; the car survived the trip down and back but was sadly scrapped long ago. The only piece of this P11 that remains is the passenger rear door, which is on display at a bar in Miami, Arizona…….70 years ago this week, Alberto Ascari drove a Ferrari 375 to victory in the German Grand Prix on the Nurburgring [29 July 1951]….. Fonty Flock started from the pole position and held off Gober Sosebee to prevail on Asheville-Weaverville (North Carolina, US) Speedway’s half-mile dirt track [29 July 1951]. The win was one of eight that season for Flock, who went on to finish a career-best second in the standings in NASCAR’s premier series. Herb Thomas, a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, came home third……60 years ago this week, the 160,000 capacity Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, formerly known as Bristol International Raceway and Bristol Raceway, held its first NASCAR race [30 July 1961]. Despite its short length (0.533 miles), Bristol is among the most popular tracks on the NASCAR schedule because of its distinct features, which include extraordinarily steep banking, an all concrete surface, two pit roads, and stadium-like seating. It has also been named one of the loudest NASCAR tracks………50 years ago this week, Abarth & Co. the racing car and car maker founded by Carlo Abarth of Turin in 1949, was sold to Fiat [31 July 1971]……40 years ago this week, the last of 695,124 Chevrolet Corvettes was produced at the St Louis, Missouri, US factory as production was transferred to the new plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, US [1 August 1981]. On June 1, 1981 Bowling Green production started so for a couple of months Corvettes were built in two different places simultaneously…….30 years ago this week, the AAR Eagle-Toyota MkIII scored its first win when Juan M. Fangio II drove one to victory in the IMSA GTP race at the Del Mar Fair Grounds in San Diego, California, US [28 July 1991]……on the same day [28 July 1991], Nigel Mansell cruised to his third straight win in a Williams-Renault at the German Grand Prix, leading home Riccardo Patrese, Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, Andrea de Cesaris, and Bertrand Gachot. Ayrton Senna ran out of fuel on the last lap for the second straight race, allowing Mansell to close to within eight points of Senna in the drivers championship…..20 years ago this week, the longest ever horizontal power slide in a car of 2 hours 11 minutes 18 seconds, was performed by Britain’s Simon de Banke, at the wet-grip circle at the MIRA Proving Ground, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, UK [29 July 2001]…….on the same day [29 July 2001] Juan Pablo Montoya dominated qualifying and the first part of the German Grand Prix in his Williams car, until he retired after the first pit stop with a broken engine. The race was won by the other Williams driver Ralf Schumacher. Rubens Barrichello finished second in his Ferrari and Jacques Villeneuve finished third in his BAR-Honda…….Electric TH!NK City cars went on sale in California, US [1 August 2001]. The small two-seater/2+2-seater highway capable vehicle produced from 2008 to 2012, had a top speed of 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph), and an all-electric range of 160 kilometres (99 miles) on a full charge.

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