Why did Nissan recently celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the Z and the GT-R at a rest stop? As Ben Hsu at Japanese Nostalgic Car noted, the rest stop wasn’t on just any old highway.
That’s because Ashigara Service Area is located along the Tomei Expressway, which is also celebrating its golden anniversary this year. Sections of it opened starting February 1, 1969 and continued through that spring until the full line was open by May 26. Though Nissan would never officially admit it, the histories of the Tomei and the GT-R and Z are inexorably linked, as the highway was once a famed stomping ground for high-speed racers, whose favored machines were often GT-Rs and Zs. The Tomei Expressway is also the most direct route to Fuji Speedway, and Ashigara is located under the southeastern face of Mount Fuji.
* As the Eisenhower Interstate System crawled from the countryside in toward urban areas, it began to meet a good deal of resistance in the form of the freeway revolts. And while some of those revolts deterred planners from building freeways in some places or convinced them to build the freeways elsewhere, The Atlantic’s CityLab pointed out that the freeways still had undeniable impacts on many inner-city neighborhoods. (via)
A recent working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia looks at how the freeway revolts shaped the current Interstate map—and how that, in turn, shaped today’s cities. Using data on U.S. cities and neighborhoods from 1950 to 2010, economists Jeffrey Brinkman and Jeffrey Lin also detailed the negative local effects of the highways that did get built—something that Lin says often gets overlooked by policy makers.
The report measures the growing influence of public resistance during the Interstate-building era. The closer to city centers highways were planned, and the later they were built, the less they resembled the routes mapped out in the Yellow Book. Those in the suburbs were more likely to be built according to the original plan. And while freeways constructed between 1955 to 1957 most resembled initial plans, by 1993, the correlation between planned and built highways fell, falling especially low among routes in neighborhoods near city centers.
Over time, the construction of urban freeways sped population loss and lowered land values in city neighborhoods. The flight to the suburbs and the decentralization of American cities, the report says, was fueled not only by the commuting benefits that highways provided but by the desire of more affluent urbanites to escape the negative effects of increased noise and air pollution that these roads inflicted.
* Last year the BBC released tens of thousands of audio recordings from its archives, including plenty of auto-related snippets. As Drive noted this week:
There are a total of 517 different sounds in the automotive category of the soundbank, some with generic names describing the short clips like “Tyre inflated,” while others are much more specific, listing the year, make, model, and action of the vehicle featured in the clip. And these aren’t your usual suspects. Ever fancy hearing all the various sounds a 1900 Benz “Comfortable” motor car can make? How about a 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost— “door shut, false start on cold engine, start into brisk run, stop” sounds like a banger if we’ve ever heard one.
The best part is that all of these sounds can be used for free for non-commercial uses. Their release effects stems from a BBC project called “RemArc,” or as it is more commonly known, the Reminiscence Archive—a 2016 project which the BBC says can help trigger memories in individuals suffering from various forms of dementia. But it doubles as a fascinating compilation that documents some of the most obscure sounds in automotive history—some of which might never be heard in real life again.
* The Old Motor this week highlighted the life and racing career of daredevil racer Miss Elfrieda Mais, who couldn’t run with the boys but still managed to pack the stands.
Unable to compete on the track she traveled the midwest racing circuit and began running by herself against the clock in time trials and performed stunts between race heats. However, she did compete in “outlaw” non-sanctioned races organized by “Johnny” Mais. She set unofficial one and two-lap track records on one and two mile dirt tracks in Kansas between the mid-teens up until the early-1930s.
One of the stunts she performed later in her career was driving her E1 “Mais Special” racing car through a wooden wall (sometimes set on fire) set up on the main straight of speedways between races.
* We’ve covered the history of Alex Tremulis’s Gyro-X before, but this video from the Lane Motor Museum explains in depth how the gyroscope works to keep the two-wheeled vehicle upright and stable. (via)