8-13 May: Motoring Milestones

Momentous motoring events that took place during this week in history …..

120 years ago this week, the Pope Manufacturing Company unveiled its first automobiles in what is often cited as the world’s first automotive press preview [13 May 1897]……. 110 years ago this week, Nova Scotia in Canada issued the province’s first automobile license plate to W. M. Black of Wolfville [9 May 1907]……. 100 years ago this week, Billy Taylor drove his Stutz to

victory in the 112.5 mile ‘Universal Cup’ AAA Championship race at Uniontown Speedway, Pennsylvania, US [10 May 1917]. Taylor averaged 89.25 mph on the 1.125 mile board track that featured turns banked nearly 40 degrees. It was Taylor’s only AAA Championship race win……. 80 years ago this week, Professor Wunibald Kamm introduced his first “K-Car” in Munich, Germany, incorporating many of his theories on automobile streamlining [7 May 1937]…… The Germans were in a class of their own at the Tripoli Grand Prix held at Mellaha [9 May 1937]. Tyre wear proved to be a decisive factor. The Auto Union drivers decided to race flat out and had to make many pit stops to change wheels while the Mercedes- Benz drivers tried to save their tyres. Caracciola, Stuck, Fagioli, von Brauchitsch, Rosemeyer and Lang all had their turn in the lead but Stuck and Fagioli fell back with tyre wear while Caracciola and Seaman slowed down due to sand in the engine. Von Brauchitsch retired and Rosemeyer had a slow pit stop, leaving Hermann Lang, who drove faultlessly, with the deserved victory followed by four Auto Unions. Nuvolari in an Alfa had retired early…….70 years go this week, a day short of two years after the island was liberated from German Occupation, the first Jersey Road Race was held [8 May 1947]. This was the first significant

British post-war motor race, and the first with continental participation. The course embraced 1 1/2 miles of St. Helier promenade and measured 3.2 miles to a lap. The race was a scratch contest over 160 miles, under Formula rules, i.e., for supercharged cars up to 1 1/2 litres and unsupercharged cars up to 4 1/2 litres. There were no fuel restrictions. Lady drivers were barred. Drivers who took part included Britain’s Reg Parnell, who won in a Maserati, and the legendary French driver Louis Chiron. Cars included a range of Maseratis from Italy and ERAs from England, as well as Delages and a Bugatti…….. B.F. Goodrich Company of Akron, Ohio, announced the development of a tubeless tyre, a technological innovation that would make automobiles safer and more efficient [11 May 1947]. Pneumatic tyres, or tyres filled with pressurised air, were used on motor vehicles beginning in the late 1800s, when the French rubber manufacturer Michelin & Cie became the first company to develop them. For the first 60 years of their use, pneumatic tyres generally relied on an inner tube containing the compressed air and an outer casing that protected the tube and provided traction. The disadvantage of this design was that if the inner tube failed–which was always a risk due to excess heat generated by friction between the tube and the tyre wall–the tyre would blow out immediately, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The culmination of more than three years of engineering, Goodrich’s tubeless tire effectively eliminated the inner tube, trapping the pressurised air within the tyre walls themselves. By reinforcing those walls, the company claimed, they were able to combine the puncture-sealing features of inner tubes with an improved ease of riding, high resistance to bruising and superior retention of air pressure. While Goodrich awaited approval from the U.S. Patent Office, the tubeless tyres underwent high-speed road testing, were put in service on a fleet of taxis and were used by Ohio state police cars and a number of privately owned passenger cars. The testing proved successful, and in 1952, Goodrich won patents for the tyre’s various features. Within three years, the tubeless tire came standard on most new automobiles….. On the same day [11 May 1947], Ferrari made its independent racing debut at a race in Piacenza, Italy. Enzo Ferrari entered his Tipo 125 car at the race in Piacenza. Featuring a revolutionary V12 engine, the Tipo 125 led the race with two laps to go before a fuel pump failed and forced it from the race……60 years ago this week, the 2,996th and final

Lincoln Continental Mark II was produced [8 May 1957]. The Mark II sold for $10,400, the equivalent of a new Rolls-Royce or two Cadillacs (at least until the $13,074 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham out-priced it in 1957). In spite of this, Ford estimated they still lost over a thousand dollars per car on the 3,000 that were built. About 1,300 were sold in the last quarter of 1955 after the car’s October debut at the Paris Motor Show; another 1,300 or so in 1956; and 444 in 1957, some with factory-installed air conditioning. Initially, Ford accepted losses on the Mark II in return for the prestige with which it endowed its entire product line; but after going public, tolerance for such losses fell. Famous owners included Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, the Shah of Iran, and a cross section of the richest men in America. Taylor’s car was a gift from Warner Bros. studio, and was painted a custom color to match her distinctive eyes.The car was featured in the 1956 film High Society, starring Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Louis Armstrong…….. The Fourth All-Japan Motor Show opened at Hibiya Park over an 11-day period [9 May 1957]. In the passenger car category, a significant improvement was found in the quality of exhibited vehicles, including the first-generation Toyopet Corona small car, Fuji Seimitsu’s Price Skyline, and the Nissan Datsun Sport prototype. In the truck category, Toyota displayed its first diesel truck (DA60), while Nissan unveiled its Nissan Junior and Nissan 581 models. Ohta also exhibited its 1.5-ton class light truck model. Meanwhile, an automobile information bureau was newly set up in the PR Center to provide extended knowledge on road traffic and vehicle design, etc. In this show, the organizer successfully provided visitors and exhibitors with an opportunity for business talks in addition to the general promotion of automobiles…… Spanish road racer Alfonso de Portago and his co-driver Edmund Nelson were killed in a crash during the course of the Mille Miglia about 40 miles from Brescia, the start-finish point of the road race [12 May 1957]. The wrecked Ferrari 335S also claimed the lives of ten spectators, among them five children. Twenty more people were injured. Enzo Ferrari spent 4 years fighting manslaughter charges as a result of the crash, which also ended the Mille Miglia. Italian Pierro Taruffi won that last Mille Miglia, also in a Ferrari 335S. On the same day, [12 May 1957], A.J. Foyt won his first major race, a midget car race in Kansas City, Missouri. He is one of only three men to have won four Indianapolis 500s, winning in 1961, 1964, 1967, and 1977. In Foyt’s first championship, a late-fuel stop nearly cost him the race he had worked so hard to win. Fortunately, competitor Eddie Sachs, who had taken the lead from Foyt during the fuel stop, had to a make a fluke tire change in the last few laps of the race, giving Foyt his first Indy 500 crown. Foyt was so overwhelmed by the post-race excitement that he sneaked out for a burger. “We had so many people congratulatin’ us, talkin’ and all that,” he recalled. “Hell, I was hungry, so I just pulled over to White Castle. Hamburgers, I think, were 10¢ or 12¢ apiece.” His 1964 victory was marred by the tragic deaths of fellow racers Eddie Sachs and Dave McDonalds. The 1967 Indy 500 saw Foyt drive a Coyote of his own design to victory. His father, Tony, was chief mechanic. “What really made me feel good,” said Foyt, “is I built my own car, drove my own car, and my father was chief mechanic.” Perhaps Foyt’s greatest achievement was his 1977 victory, when Foyt became the first man to win the Indy four times in front of track owner Tony Hulman. Hulman had acted as a mentor to Foyt, and he rode a victory lap with Foyt after the 1977 race. A.J. Foyt now runs A.J. Foyt Enterprises from his home city of Houston, Texas. He founded the Foyt Race Team in 1965. His multifarious business interests include car dealerships, funeral service businesses, oil investments, and thoroughbred racehorses…….

Petrol (gasoline) rationing, which has been in force in Britain for five months following the Suez crisis, was abolished [14 May 1957]. Rationing was brought in after Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser took over the running of the Suez Canal from a Franco-British company in July 1956. He had been refused funds to build the Aswan High Dam because of his links with the USSR and nationalised the canal as a sign of Arab defiance against western powers. Rationing has cost the Ministry of Power about £20,000 a week to enforce…….50 years ago this week, over 100,000 people attended the burial of racing driver Lorenzo Bandini who had died from injuries sustained from an horrific crash at the Monaco Frand Prix [13 May 1967]…… 40 years ago this week, the Spanish Grand Prix held at the Circuito del Jarama was won by Lotus-Ford driver Mario Andretti. Carlos Reutemann took his Ferrari home in second place, whilst Jody Scheckter completed the podium in third position for the Wolf-Ford team [8 May 1977]……. 30 years ago this week, the Standard Oil Company of Ohio and BP North America Inc. merged as BP America Inc.[13 May 1987]……. 20 years ago this week, Mark Martin won the Winston Select 500 at the 2.66 mile Talladega Speedway, Alabama, US., a race which had no caution flags, at a NASCAR 500-mile record speed of 188.354 mph (303.126 km/h), nearly ten years after the introduction of restrictor plates [10 May 1997]……. On the following day, [11 May 1997] the Monaco Grand Prix contested over 62 laps, was won by Michael Schumacher for the Scuderia Ferrari team after starting from second position. Rubens Barrichello, who started the Grand Prix from

tenth position, finished second in a Stewart car, with Eddie Irvine third in the other Ferrari. Schumacher’s win saw him take over the lead of the World Driver’s championship from Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve. Ferrari also took over the lead of the Constructors’ Championship from Williams……..10 years ago this week, Diego Corrales (29), the WBC, WBO, & The Ring lightweight champion was killed in a three-vehicle accident near his Las Vegas home [7 May 2007]……. Englishman Marek Turowski drove a motorised sofa, designed and built by the Auto Trader TV show presenter Edd China, reaching 92 mph on the 2-mile-long Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome runway in Leicestershire, England [11 May 2007].

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