27 August – 2 September: Motoring Milestones

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

120 years ago this week, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was founded in Akron, Ohio, US by Frank Seiberling, who purchased the company’s first plant with money he borrowed from his brother-in-law [29 August 1898]. The company’s name commemorated Charles Goodyear who died almost 40 years earlier. Goodyear discovered vulcanization by a fortunate accident, and made rubber a practical element in many industrial applications. The bicycle craze of the 1890s was booming. The horseless carriage — some ventured to call it the — was a wide-open challenge. Even the depression of 1893 was beginning to fade.Goodyear was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. David Hill, who purchased $30,000 of stock, became the first president. But it was Frank Seiberling, who chose the name and determined the distinctive winged-foot trademark that remains the Goodyear signature, a symbolic link with the company’s historic past. Goodyear production began on November 21, 1898, with just 13 workers. A product line of bicycle and carriage tires, horseshoe pads and — fitting the gamble Seiberling was making — poker chips. After the first month of business, sales amounted to $8,246. Since the first bicycle tire in 1898, Goodyear made its way to becoming the world’s largest tire company, a title it earned in 1916. Goodyear adopted the slogan “More people ride on Goodyear tires than on any other kind,” then became the world’s largest rubber company in 1926. Today, Goodyear has sales in excess of $18 billion; 53 years would pass before the company reached the first billion-dollar-year milestone. The company has more than 80,000 associates worldwide, and it all began in a converted strawboard factory on the banks of the Little Cuyahoga River in Akron, Ohio……..the following day [30 August 1898] Henry Ford, of Detroit, Michigan, received a US patent for a carburettor (fuel injector) especially designed for use in connection with gas or vapour engines……..110 years ago this week, Emil A Nelson began designing the first Hupmobile, the Hupp 20 [1 September 1908]. The first were built in a small building at 345 (now 1161) Bellevue Avenue in Detroit, Michigan (US). The company immediately outgrew this space and began construction of a factory a few blocks away at E. Jefferson Avenue and Concord, next to the former Oldsmobile plant.The company produced 500 vehicles by the end of the 1909 model year (the fall of 1909). Production increased to more than 5,000 in the 1910 model year. Henry Ford paid the Hupp 20 the ultimate compliment. “I recall looking at Bobby Hupp’s roadster at the first show where it was exhibited and wondering whether we could ever build as good a small car for as little money.”……100 years ago today, United States Fuel Administration banned Sunday driving east of the Mississippi [27 August 1918]……..90 years ago this week, the last major promotional activity of the Lincoln Highway Authority took place, when at 1:00 pm groups of Boy Scouts placed approximately 2,400 concrete markers at sites along the route to officially mark and dedicate it to the memory of Abraham Lincoln [1 September 1928]. Less commonly known is that 4,000 metal signs for urban areas were also erected then.The markers were placed on the outer edge of the right of way at major and minor crossroads, and at reassuring intervals along uninterrupted segments. Each concrete post carried the Lincoln Highway insignia and directional arrow, and a bronze medallion with Lincoln’s bust and stating “This Highway Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln”……..80 years ago today, Captain George Eyston established a new land speed record of 345.49mph when he sailed over the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, US in the Rolls-Royce-powered Thunderbolt [27 August 1938]. The land-speed trials have been held at Bonneville annually

since 1903, serving as a test of automotive technology and proof of climbing speeds. Captain Eyston’s record was especially memorable, for it was one of the few years that the record was not held by Malcolm Campbell, who dominated the trials for almost 30 years……..70 years ago this week, Henry Austin Clark opened the Long Island Automotive Museum in Southampton, New York (US) on his 31st birthday [27 August 1948]. The museum featured many unique cars including the Thomas Flyer car that won the 1908 Paris-New York Race. Sadly, the museum closed its doors in 1980 and the collection was sold off. Now, “no trespassing” signs are posted all over the main metal garage. Clark, a Harvard classmate of John F. Kennedy, used to say that his last true paycheck came from the federal government in 1945 while serving his country at war. As the heir of the Jack Frost fortune, he was able to pursue his interests in collecting automotive history, but was frustrated by the town of Southampton when they would not support his museum near the site of the old Vanderbilt Cup races, and even prevented him from putting up signs to promote the venture. His more significant legacy was the gigantic library he amassed, which, following Clark’s death in 1991, was acquired by The Henry Ford…….60 years ago this week, Fireball Roberts took his fourth win of the Grand National season at Darlington’s Southern 500. Roberts had won four of his seven starts during the 1958 ­campaign [1 September 1958]………40 years ago this week, Don Vesco averaged 318.598 mph on the Lightning Bolt [27 August 1978]. The 21-foot streamliner motorcycle featured two 1016cc turbocharged Kawasaki KZ1000 engines. After failing for weeks to reach speed in the streamliner, Vesco salvaged some high speed gears and clutch parts from World War II airplanes at neighboring Wendover Airforce Base, and pushed the streamliner to two record-breaking runs within four days, first to 315.441 mph and then to the 318.598 mark, which stood for nearly 12 years……. On the same day [27 August 1978], Mario Andretti won the Dutch . The fourth 1-2 finish of the season for Lotus meant that, with three races left to run, only Andretti or Ronnie Peterson could take the Drivers’ Championship. It would go to Andretti in the next race at Monza, when Peterson crashed fatally…….30 years ago this week, Ayrton Senna led home Alain Prost in a McLaren 1-2 to win the Belgian Grand Prix [28 August 1988]……..20 years ago this week, Damon Hill secured the first ever victory for the Jordan team, winning his first grand prix since 1996 and leading home Ralf Schumacher for a team 1-2 [30 August 1998]. McLaren’s David Coulthard triggered a massive accident at the start of the race, with 13 cars involved. After the restart, Michael Schumacher forged into the lead and looked to have the race victory sewn up before he crashed into the back of David Coulthard whilst trying to lap him. A furious Schumacher then had to be restrained by Ferrari staff after he marched into the McLaren garage ranting at Coulthard, even claiming the Scot had tried to kill him. His younger brother was also an unhappy man after the race as he felt he should have been allowed to race his team-mate for the victory……The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 finally went into effect [1 September 1998]. The law required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States to have air bags on both sides of the front seat. Inspired by the inflatable protective covers on Navy torpedoes, an industrial engineering technician from Pennsylvania named John Hetrick patented a design for a “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles” in 1953. The next year, Hetrick sent sketches of his device to Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but the automakers never responded. Inflatable-safety-cushion technology languished until 1965, when Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed” speculated that seat belts and air bags together could prevent thousands of deaths in car accidents……..10 years ago this week, Phil Hill, the first American driver to win the

World Championship, died in Salinas, California at the age of 81 [28 August 2008]. Hill began driving for Ferrari in 1959 and claimed the first grand prix victory by an American driver in nearly forty years the following season. His biggest achievement, however, came in 1961 when he claimed the drivers’ title in difficult circumstances. A crash during the Italian Grand Prix killed his team-mate Wolfgang von Trips and fifteen spectators and Hill went on to win the race and clinch the title. Ferrari’s decision not to travel to America for the season’s final round deprived Hill of the opportunity to participate in his home race at Watkins Glen as the newly-crowned World Champion. When he returned for the following season, his last with Ferrari, Hill said, “I no longer have as much need to race, to win. I don’t have as much hunger anymore. I am no longer willing to risk killing myself.”

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