3-9 September: Motoring Milestones

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

90 years ago this week, figures released showed that an average of three people a day died on London’s roads from April to June in 1928 [5 September 1928]…….Mr J. K. Robertson, an engineer, successfully completed a 25,000-mile trial of his invention that automatically changed a car’s gears, thus eliminating the clutch pedal [7 September 1928]. For the test, the device was fitted to a standard 8-bhp car and driven in different traffic conditions around the UK. The invention was exhibited at the London Motor Show the following month, and attracted the attention of several British car manufacturers………. Run over 60 laps, the Italian at Monza was won by Louis Chiron driving a Bugatti 37A [9 September 1928]. It was the 8th Italian Grand Prix. This race was also the VI Grand Prix d’Europe. This race

was marred by the death of Emilio Materassi on lap 17, when his car lost control on the main straight at over 120 mph while trying to overtake Giulio Foresti. The car swerved to the left of the track, bounced over a three-metre deep and four-metre wide protection ditch and a fence and crashed into the grandstand, killing him along with 22 spectators. Other sources have stated that 27 spectators were killed overall, but this is unconfirmed. By either estimation this was the worst accident, with respect to the number of lives lost, to occur at a Grand Prix and it is only surpassed by the 1955 Le Mans disaster in the history of motor racing. As a result the Italian Grand Prix was to not be held again until 1931………. 80 years ago this week [6 September 1938] Dr Ing. Ferdinand Porsche was awarded the National Culture Prize for his design of a German ‘people’s car’…….60 years ago today [7 September 1958] Tony Brooks won the Italian Grand Prix for Vanwall ahead of the Ferrari pair of Mike Hawthorn and Phil Hill. This victory gave Vanwall the Constructors’ Championship with one race left to go…….. On the same day [7 September 1958] George Constantine, drove an Aston Martin DBR2 to victory in the first USAC sanctioned sports car race, at Limerock, Connecticut, US……..70 years ago today [5 September 1948] Curtis Turner bagged the doubleheader at North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Carolina, US. Turner won the opener from the pole. An inverted start for the second event failed to slow Turner, who slashed through the field to beat ­runner-up Bob Smith, who owned the he and Turner are driving…… on the same day [5 September 1948] Ferrari made its Grand Prix debut finishing third at the Italian Grand Prix in Turin behind an Alfa Romeo and a Maserati……. 50 years ago this week, there was to be no fairy tale ending for Graham Hill (Lotus-Ford) starting his hundredth grand prix in Monza as Denny Hulme (McLaren-Ford)went on to take victory from Johnny Servoz-Gavin (Matra-Ford) and Jacky Ickx (Ferrari) [8 September 1968]. Hill had qualified fifth but he disappeared after ten laps when a wheel nut fell off. John Surtees secured the first pole position in Honda’s history and vied for the lead in the early stages with Bruce McLaren (McLaren-Ford) and Jackie Stewart (Matra-Ford) but when all three also fell by the wayside, Hulme was left to take the chequered flag. The result meant that the top four in the standings were separated by just six points……..30 years ago this week [7 September 1988] Fiat SpA increased its ownership of Ferrari SpA to 90% and on the same day [7 September 1988] Britain’s oldest two weekly motoring magazines Autocar and Motor merged…… 10 years ago today [4 September 2008] the new Dacia Logan went on sale in France. The entry-level price was €7,600 including VAT…….the following day [5 September 2008] a road in Lancaster, California was paved with grooves, at the request of Honda’s Santa Monica advertising agency, so that cars passing over them would hear a rendition of Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture’. The road was repaved 2 weeks later following complaints and safety concerns…….Lewis Hamilton was controversially stripped of victory at the Belgian Grand Prix after stewards judged that he had gained an unfair advantage from passing Kimi Raikkonen after missing the chicane [7 September 2008] . Although Hamilton handed back the place immediately after the manoeuvre, stewards still ruled against him and he dropped to third as a result of a 25-second penalty. “This is motor racing and if there’s a penalty then there’s something wrong,” Hamilton said as the stewards deliberated. “But you know what they are like.” Raikkonen later crashed out and Felipe Massa took the victory from Nick Heidfeld.

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