11-12 January: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

Discover the momentous motor sporting events that took place this weekend in history ……

~11 January~

1958: The New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore was won by Jack Brabham driving 2-litre Cooper-Climax.

1962: Dan Gurney and Frank Arciero drove a Lotus 19B to victory in the Daytona Continental 3 Hour race in Daytona, Florida, US.

1981: Bobby Allison drove his Ranier Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo to victory as the NASCAR Grand National season opened with the Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway. The race was the last allowing full sized 115 inch wheelbase cars, beginning with Daytona all cars would be downsized to 110 inch wheelbase maximum. Darrell Waltrip made his first start for Junior Johnson Racing as did Ricky Rudd with DiGard Racing.

2001: Louis Krages Sports car driver, AKA “John Winter”, winner of the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

2003: BBC Top Gear’s original, black-suited Stig was unmasked by the Sunday Mirror as former F1 driver Perry McCarthy. “Stig’s true identity is one of TV’s best- kept secrets,” a show insider told the newspaper. “A lot of the stars who have appeared on the show think they are great drivers, but none of them could compete with Perry. He just blew them away. It’s hilarious watching them trying to beat him.” It was not exactly a world exclusive as McCarthy had already outed himself in an autobiography a few months earlier. His replacement – the White Stig – lasted until 2009 when he too spilt the beans.

2005: Two-time Dakar Rally motorcycle champion Fabrizio Meoni (47) was killed in a crash during the event. His official cause of death was cardiac arrest, according to his official website, although his injuries included cervical spine damage. Since the competitors did not want to continue racing the next day, the 12th stage of the rally was cancelled for all motorcycles in honour of Meoni. Juan Manuel Perez of Spain, another motorcyclist with the KTM Team, also died during the rally several days earlier. Meoni was the 11th motorcyclist to die in the history of the gruelling race and the 45th competitor overall.

2008: Larry McClure announced that due to lack of sponsorship, Morgan-McClure Motorsports was shutting down. The team formed in 1983 and had three Daytona 500 victories and 14 total NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins.

2011: Bryan Clauson won the opening night (Tuesday) qualifying feature of the 25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway, Tulsa, Oklahoma, US. Michael Pickens was second followed by Jon Stanbrough, Jonathan Beason, Brad Kuhn, Caleb Armstrong, Tony Roney, Mike Hess, Ricky Stenhouse and Jac Haudenschild.

~12 January~

1936: Al Gordon beat Rex Mays in the Oakland 150 AAA National Championship race on the 1 Mile Dirt Oval Oakland Speedway, Oakland California, US

1957: British driver Ken Wharton (40), who drove 16 grands prix, was killed while testing a Ferrari Monza at the Ardmore Circuit in Auckland New Zealand. An official statement said he came too fast out of a corner, moved onto loose gravel and piled into drums, bales and the timekeeper’s tower. He had certainly had his share of luck until then. In the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally his car crashed into a gorge and finished upside down on top of two other wrecks, and in 1955 he was involved in a massive pile-up in a race in Belfast when two other drivers died.

1963: Ronnie Duman won the 50 lap USAC Midget race at the Chicago Ampitheater, Chicago, Illinois, US.

1970: George Brough (79), motorcycle racer, world record holding motorcycle and automobile manufacturer, and showman, died. He was known for his powerful and expensive Brough Superior motorcycles which were the first superbikes. The name Superior was suggested by a friend but his father reputedly took it personally. George’s motorcycles lived up to the claim, however, and he brought together the best components he could find and added distinctive styling details. He had a flair for marketing and in 1922 rode a Brough Superior SS80 which he called Spit and Polish at Brooklands, managing an unofficial 100 mph (160 km/h) lap.3,048 motorcycles of 19 models were made in 21 years of production. Most were custom built to customers’ requirements and rarely were any two of the same configuration. Each motorcycle was assembled twice. The first assembly was for fitting of all components, then the motorcycle was disassembled and all parts were painted or plated as needed, then the finished parts were assembled finally. Every motorcycle was test ridden to ensure that it performed to specification, and was certified by George Brough. The SS100 model was ridden at 100 mph or more prior to delivery. The SS80 model was ridden at 80 mph (130 km/h) or more before delivery. If any motorcycle did not meet specification, it returned to the shop for rework until it performed properly. His legacy lives on in the many Brough Superior motorcycles maintained by enthusiasts to this day.

1975: The Fittipaldi brothers created Formula 1 history as Emerson won the opening round of the 1975 season in Argentina as reigning World Champion for McLaren and Wilson debuted the family clan’s own Formula 1 team in the self-built Copersucar FD01.

1988: Pierino ‘Piero’ Taruffi (81) racing driver from Italy, and also the father of lady racer Prisca Taruffi, died.

1998: Four time British Rally champion Roger Clark died in Leicestershire, England, at the age of 58, after suffering a stroke. Although justly famous for the first British driver to win a World Rally championship event and twice winning Britain’s RAC International Rally in Ford Escorts – in 1972 (with Tony Mason as his co-driver) and in 1976 (with Stuart Pegg) – in a glittering career he won 25 other major international rallies, in Britain, Europe, Canada, and South Africa. For two decades he was not only the best of British, but was warily respected by rivals all over the world. When not rallying, which was rarely, he helped run the expanding family businesses in the Leicester area, and opened Roger Clark Cars in Narborough (Leicestershire) in the 1970s. Hit hard by the collapse of the economy in 1990, these had to close down, but in his final years, even though in precarious health, he set up Roger Clark Motor Sport, which prepared cars for others to use in rallying.

2005: The British Automobile Racing Club Limited (BARC) purchased Mallory Park (Motorsport) Ltd, the company that arranged motor sport at the Mallory Park circuit, thereby effectively taking control of all activities at the Leicestershire circuit.

2006: After three years in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Toyota announced it would field Camrys in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition in 2007. Bill Davis Racing, Team Red Bull, and Michael Waltrip Racing were the first to sign with Toyota.

2011: Donnie Ray Crawford won the second night (Wednesday) qualifying feature of the 25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway, Tulsa, Oklahoma, US. Damion Gardner was second followed by Thomas Meseraull, Kevin Ramey, Bobby East, Brad Sweet, Cole Whitt, Matt Mitchell, Mike Spencer and Gary Taylor.

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