3-9 February: Motoring Milestones

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

100 years ago this week, the Amerada Corporation was founded in Delaware, US.as a holding company for its principal subsidiary, the Amerada Petroleum Corporation [7 February 1920]. T……..70 years ago this week, Harold Kite (cover image) drove a 1949 Lincoln to victory in the 200-mile NASCAR Grand National race on the Daytona beach and road course [5 January 1950]. Kite, a former tank driver in the Army, took the lead when defending GN champ “Red” Byron pitted on lap 25 to repair gear shift problems. Kite was unchallenged for the remaining 23 laps, taking the checkered flag 53 seconds ahead of Byron’s Olds 88. Byron had fallen to 7th after the pit stop and charged back to take 2nd from Lloyd Moore on the final lap. East Point, Georgia’s Kite averaged 89.894 mph on the 4.1 mile beach & road course. Joe Littlejohn’s Olds 88 won the pole at a speed of 98.84 mph……60 years ago this week, Bruce McLaren drove a Cooper-Climax to victory in the Argentine Grand Prix at Buenos Aires [6 February 1960]. McLaren won from way back in the 13th

spot on the grid, Cliff Allison finished 2nd in a Ferrari, 26 seconds back and Maurice Trintignant finished 3rd in another Cooper. Stirling Moss set fastest lap on his way to finish just off the podium in 4th. He also sat on the pole for that race but could not bring it home for the win……… 50 years ago this week, racer Sigmund Haugdahl, often cited as the first to use weights on the wheel rims as a means to balance tyres, died in Jacksonville, Florida, US [4 February 1970]…….. on the same day [4 February 1970] American Motors shareholders approved the acquisition of the Kaiser-Jeep Corporation …….[5 February 1970]…….30 years ago this week, General Motors unveiled their first prototype ‘Impact’ electric car [3 February 1989]…….. Davy Jones, Jan Lammers, and Andy Wallace in a Jaguar XJR-12 won the Daytona 24 Hour [4 February 1989]……… Rock star Billy Idol suffered serious injuries when he failed to pull up at a stop sign and crashed his Harley-Davidson motorbike into a car in Hollywood [6 February 1990]………20 years ago this week, Mercedes parent company Daimler bought 40% of McLaren, solidifying its engine supply deal that had been in place since 1995 [3 February 2000]. The deal was also part of a plan for the two companies to build sports cars together. In 2003 the McLaren Mercedes SLR was launched but by 2009 McLaren announced its plans to build its own road cars and Mercedes set up its own F1 team. McLaren is now gradually buying back Mercedes’ 40%……… In the Rolex 24 at Daytona, a surprise win for the ORECA,

French-based Dodge Viper team who started 21st [6 February 2000]. But the win marked the first time in six years that a production-based car won the event. And, the first time in the 38-year history, an American-made production car brought home the winning trophy. With 13 hours remaining prior to the 1 p.m. finish, the Viper had fallen 11 laps behind the Dyson Racing Riley & Scott Ford. Engine troubles for Dyson over the final half of the race allowed Wendlinger to take the lead shortly after 11 a.m. Wendlinger completed 723 laps and finished just 30.879 seconds ahead of the Corvette driven by Ron Fellows in the closest 24 at Daytona history. Wendlinger led a trio of Team ORECA Vipers that also placed third and fifth. The GTO Corvette of Justin Bell, Ron Fellows and Chris Kneifel, finished 2nd. An amazing performance for production based cars and a rather sad one for the heavily funded prototype teams……. Professional American Football linebacker Derrick Thomas (33) of the Kansas City Chiefs broke his neck and one of his friends, Michael Tellis (49), died after Thomas lost control of his Chevrolet Suburban while speeding on a snow-and-ice-covered stretch of Interstate 435 [8 February 2000]. His car hit the median and then rolled several times. Both Thomas and Tellis were not wearing their seat belts and were thrown from the car. Another friend, Joe Hagebusch, who was wearing his seat belt, survived the crash with minor injuries. Thomas was paralyzed from the waste down by his neck injury. Thomas died on February 8th of cardio-respiratory arrest probably caused by a blood clot while attempting to recover from the accident at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida………. The following day [9 February 2000] Sylvester Stallone disappointed F1 fans when he revealed that his highly anticipated motor racing film, Driven, would in fact be based on the American CART Champ Car series. He had spent more than two years visiting grand prix for research but said F1 was too closed and Bernie Ecclestone too powerful for such a project to work. “I apologise to fans of Formula 1, but there is a certain individual there who runs the sport that has his own agenda,” he said. “F1 is very formal, and it’s very hard to get to know people. Here in CART it is much more open and that will be reflected in the film. It is extremely important to me that we create a film that accurately depicts the true sense of CART – the emotion, excitement, speed, technology and glamour that is Champ Car racing.” The movie was released in 2001 but flopped and was nominated for seven ‘Razzie awards’, given to the worst movies of the year.


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