12-13 September: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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


~12 September~

1897: Giuseppe Cobianchi drove a Benz to victory in an Italian road race from Arona to Stresa and back. He covered the 22 miles/35 km in 1 hour and 34 minutes at an average speed of 13.5 mph/22 kph.

1937: Rudolf Caracciola in a Mercedes-Benz W125 took an early lead from pole at the Italian Grand Prix at the Montenero Circuit in Livorno. Hermann Lang was second but he soon took the lead from Caracciola, the two Mercedes drivers pushing each other hard. Team manager Alfred Neubauer was not impressed by the internal fighting. The partisan crowd were disappointed when the Italian Nuvolari retired and gave his car to Farina. The two leading Mercedes had a fierce fight to the flag with Caracciola blocking any attempt to pass by Lang. Rosemeyer in an Auto Union couldn’t match their pace and Caracciola held on for a win with Lang just 0.4s behind him at the flag.

1965: Jackie Stewart led home Graham Hill for a BRM 1- at the Italian Grand Prix. Pole-sitter Jim Clark, who driving for the Lotus-Climax team, who had secured the 1965 Drivers’ Championship at the previous race, retired with fuel-pump failure with a handful of laps to go,.

1971: Peter Revson and Denny Hulme, driving McLaren M8F-Chevrolets, finish 1-2 for Team McLaren in the Can-Am race at Donnybrook, Minnesota, US.

1976: Just five weeks after a priest was summoned to his bedside to read him the last rites following his horrific accident at the Nurburgring, a heroic Niki Lauda was back in his cockpit to participate in the Italian Grand Prix despite horrific burns. The plan had been to wait another month, but James Hunt’s success meant Lauda needed to get back to protect his championship lead. Even Ferrari was caught out by his bravery and had to run an extra car for Carlos Reutemann who they had hired to drive in Lauda’s seat, but Enzo Ferrari insisted Lauda’s wellbeing was the “sole responsibility of Niki and his doctors”. Incredibly, Lauda finished fourth and Reutemann ninth as Ronnie Peterson won the race from Clay Regazzoni and Jacques Laffite.

1980: Stephen Reisten ran the UKs first seven second run on a bike, 7.87/174.(Mark Coles) at the World Finals event held at the Santa Pod Raceway, Northampton, England. Don Prudhomme made his UK debut in his Army Funny Car. He faced competitors from the USA, Norway, and Sweden as well as the UKs finest in a 16 car field with another 4 non-qualifiers. Tom Hoover was also making his UK debut at the wheel of the Blue Max. Prudhomme qualified at 2 with a 6.22, just behind the UKs Allan Herridge with a 6.21, which turned out to be the quickest time of the weekend. Prudhomme went out in the first round, as did Herridge. Ronnie Picardo was the only Brit to make it to the second round where he was knocked out by Gene Snow. Eventual winner was Harlan Thompson who took the final against Snow.

1993: Damon Hill got away with a first-corner collision with Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger to win the Italian Grand Prix from Jean Alesi and Michael Andretti. Hill was down to ninth at the end of the first lap but steadily carved his way through the field to close on team-mate Alain Prost and with only four laps remaining, Prost’s blown engine handed Hill his third consecutive victory.

1998: The first four second Top Fuel run took place at Santa Pod Raceway’s European Finals. Barry Sheavills, the only Brit in the FIA Top Fuel Championship, ran the UKs first Top Fuel four second run in the qualifying session. He ran 4.972 at 297.19mph alongside Jens Nybo. This was also a new top speed record. The UK’s first four came one year after Kent Persson ran the first in Europe at 4.98 and ten years after the first in history.

~13 September~

1936: Bernd Rosemeyer in an Auto Union Typ C won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

1953: Juan Manuel Fangio spoiled the party for the hordes of assembled Ferrari fans by stealing victory in the Italian Grand Prix from the scarlet trio of Giuseppe Farina, Luigi Villoresi and Mike Hawthorn. Alberto Ascari had started the race from pole and led early on as Fangio dropped back to fourth. With Ascari and Farina leading the majority of the race, the duo looked certain to finish first and second but on the last corner Ascari spun and Farina went across the grass to avoid his team-mate, who was punted into retirement by Onofre Marimon. A surprised Fangio avoided the carnage to take victory as Farina recovered to take second from Villoresi.

1959: British driver Stirling Moss won the Italian Grand Prix driving a Cooper T51 for the privateer Rob Walker Racing Team. Moss won by 46 seconds over American driver Phil Hill driving a Ferrari Dino 246 for Scuderia Ferrari. Championship points leader Australian Jack Brabham finished third in works entered Cooper T51, expanding his points lead, but not sufficiently to prevent a championship showdown with Moss and Ferrari driver Tony Brooks at the United States Grand Prix.

1964: Ron Fry drove a Ferrari 250GTO to victory in the Yeovilton Sprint at Yeovilton, a former RAF airbase in Somerset, UK.

1968: Bobby Isaac took advantage of pole-starter Cale Yarborough’s crash near the midway point to win the Maryland 300 at Beltsville Speedway, Maryland, US. Isaac, who drove a Nord Krauskopf-owned Dodge, led the final 158 laps after Yarborough’s wreck to notch his third and final win of the season. David Pearson finished eight seconds behind Isaac, but was disqualified from second place when his car was ruled too light in the post-race inspection. That moved Bobby Allison to second and Richard Petty to third in the final rundown on the half-mile asphalt track.

1969: “Alabama International Motor Speedway” opened at a cost of $4 million. The name would remain for twenty years until 1989 when the facility’s name was changed to “Talladega Superspeedway”. In the first race at the track, all the original drivers abandoned the track due to tire problems, which allowed Bill France to hire substitute drivers with the winner being Richard Brickhouse. After the first race, Talladega hosted two Cup Series races a year, one of which would become part of the 10-race NASCAR Cup Series playoff format. Since its opening year, Talladega has hosted many races and has been repaved four times. Talladega also has had many first-time winners, such as Richard Brickhouse, Ron Bouchard, Bobby Hillin, Davey Allison, Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski, and, in 2017, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

1981: The Italian Grand Prix returned to its spiritual home in Monza after the 1980 race was held at Imola. Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann were locked on equal points at the top of the drivers’ standings but it was Alain Prost who was to take a dominant victory after jumping from third place and into the lead on the opening lap. The Williams duo of Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann grabbed the other podium places with Piquet losing ground back in fifth.

1985: Bob Glidden became the first NHRA Pro Stock drag racer to record a sub-7.5 second 1/4-mile elapse time when he runs 7.497 seconds at Reading, Pennsylvania, US.

1992: Ayrton Senna won the Italian Grand Prix on the day that Nigel Mansell announced that he would retire from F1 at the end of the season, blaming Williams for not doing enough to keep him. Having qualified on pole, Mansell rocketed off into the distance, building a 12 second lead over team-mate Riccardo Patrese before bizarrely slowing and allowing him past before sitting on his gearbox. The strange spectacle ended with a hydraulics failure for the Williams. Patrese led Senna before a hydraulics problem also forced his retirement, Martin Brundle and Michael Schumacher following the Brazilian home.

1997: At the European Finals at the Santa Pod Raceway Barry Sheavills became the quickest ever British Top Fuel driver with a 5.08/257. Jarmo Roivas set a European Top Alcohol record at 5.77/236. In the final of Pro Stock, Tomi Laine set a new European record at 7.06/194.10 against Jari Konolas losing 7.20/192.02. Gary Page, driving Rune Fjelds Mustang Funny Car ran a best ever 5.482/245 against Alan Jackson, very close to John Spuffards record 5.46. In his next race, which was the final against John Spuffard, he blew the motor at 1000ft due to a rear axle failure and burnt the chutes off into the bargain. He got the win though with a 5.77/187. Spuffard himself came very close to the record with a 5.47/276, the terminal speed being the fastest recorded funny car speed in Europe. Andy Robinson set a new European Pro Mod record at 6.787/205 on his first qualifing run. Leif Andreasson became the first European Top Alcohol Funny Car driver to run under six seconds, he recorded a 5.964/229.45.

1998: Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine gave Ferrari a 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix. This was also the last win for tyre manufacturer Goodyear in Formula One.

2003: Bill France, Jr., stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of NASCAR and named his 41-year-old son Brian as his successor.

2007: McLaren were fined $100m and docked all their points in the constructors’ championship as a result of the Formula One spy scandal. However, both team drivers kept their individual points after a hearing in Paris.

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