3-9 August: Motoring Milestones

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

160 years ago this week, driving a three-wheeled steam carriage, the Earl of Caithness, accompanied by his wife and the Reverend William Ross, set out on a 146-mile journey over the mountainous terrain from Inverness to Barrogill Castle (now the Castle of Mey), near Thurso, Scotland [3 August 1860]. The stoker was the carriage builder Thomas Rickett. The 2-cylinder engine with a 3.5-inch bore x 7-inch stroke, drove the offside rear wheel by a spur gear drive. The boiler pressure was 150 psi…….120 years ago this week, the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company was established in Akron, Ohio, US [3 August 1900]. Thirty-one-year-old inventor and entrepreneur Harvey S. Firestone  (cover image) seized on a new way of making carriage tires and began production with only 12 employees. As a young man, Firestone had worked as a salesman for a buggy company and later became convinced that rubber carriage tires would provide a more comfortable ride than steel tires or wooden wheels. Around 1895, Firestone met a young engineer in Detroit named Henry Ford, who was developing his first automobile. Firestone sold Ford a set of rubber carriage tires, an event that marked the start of an important business relationship and friendship between the two men. Believing that the horse-and-buggy era was ending and the auto age beginning, Firestone incorporated the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio. (Akron, which would come to be known as the world’s rubber capital, was also home to Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, founded in 1898, and B. F. Goodrich, established in 1870.) Firestone began producing its own tires in 1903 and three years later sold 2,000 sets of detachable tires to Henry Ford, in what was then the world’s largest tire order…[4 August 1900]…… Belgian engineer Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir (78), who developed the internal combustion engine in 1858, died . Prior designs for such engines

were patented as early as 1807, but none were commercially successful……..90 years ago this week, the 2,000,000th 6-cylinder Chevrolet was produced [7 August 1930]……60 years ago this week, Lee Petty and his sons, Richard and Maurice, raced against each other for the first and only time, at Birmingham, Alabama’s, Dixie Speedway. Richard finished second, Lee third, and Maurice eighth [3 August 1960]…….. Marshal Tito’s personal chauffeur, Milivojic Bozie, was one of the competitors at the Freiburg Hillclimb in Germany [7 August 1960]. Driving a Porsche RS14500, he made the ninth fastest climb of the day…… on the same day [7 August 1960], Stirling Moss drove a Lotus 19 Monte Carlo to victory in the 75-kilometer sports car race at Karlskoga, Sweden……..50 years ago this week, racer Jerry Titus (41), the 1967 Trans-Am Champion, died from injuries suffered a month earlier at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, US [5 August 1970]……. The National Drag Race Club staged a meeting held at Elvington, North Yorkshire, England in front of 1186 adult & 200 child spectators [9 August 1970]. Clive Skilton became the first European racer to run into the sevens with a 7.84. This meeting was originally intended to be held at Martlesham Heath but it was moved to Elvington following complaints about noise from Martlesham residents after the May meeting. At this meeting Bill Haynes, in his ‘Quarter Horse’ Dragster became the first car driver to race head to head with a motorcycle. In a best of three match the result stood at one each before fading light prevented the final round being run……..40 years ago this week, the first Chrysler Corporation ‘K’ car, a Plymouth Reliant, was produced at the Jefferson Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan, US [6 August 1980]…….30 years ago this week, Al Unser Jr set the world record for a 500-mile race when he won the Michigan 500 at an average speed of 189.727 mph [9 August 1990]……20 years ago this week, drivers voted the traffic-clogged London orbital motorway, the M25, their favourite stretch of road in a poll commissioned by Microsoft to help launch its AutoRoute 2001 drivers’ guide [4 August 2000]. The M4 was the next most popular motorway, with many people associating it with the start of summer holidays to the south-west of England. Third was the M6, which carries traffic north from the Midlands through western England and into Scotland. Least popular with drivers were the M73 and M9 around Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively……… Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced that it was recalling 6.5 million of its model ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires; the move came two days after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration linked hundreds of accidents and at least 46 deaths to problems with the tread on the tires [9 August 2000]. In May 2000, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a letter to both Ford and Firestone requesting information about the high incidence of tire failure on the popular Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle (SUV). Subsequent investigation by Ford revealed that the tread on the 15-inch ATX and ATX II models and Wilderness AT tires tended to peel off, resulting in very high failure rates. When the tires failed, the vehicles would roll over, sometimes killing their occupants.

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