14-15 April: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~14 April~

1926: The first Maserati Tipo 26 racing car was first produced. It had a steel ladder-type frame supporting a supercharged inline-8 engine with a three-speed manual transmission and an aluminum two-seater bodywork made by Medardo Fantuzzi. The engine featured crankshaft-driven Roots supercharger, twin gear-driven overhead camshafts and a dry sump lubrication; to comply with the 1926 Grand Prix regulations the displacement was fixed to 1.5 litre.

1929: Prince Pierre inaugurated the first Monaco Grand Prix, with a lap of honour in a Torpedo Voisin driven by Charles Faroux. It was set up by wealthy cigarette manufacturer, Antony Noghès, who had set up the Automobile Club de Monaco with some of his friends. This offer of a Grand Prix was supported by Prince Louis II, with a prize of 100,000 French francs. Course Director, Louis Chiron was notable by his absence at the starting line, as the young Monegasque had enrolled in the Indy 500. There were 16 cars on the starting grid, positions drawn by lots: 8 Bugattis, 3 Alfa Romeos, 2 Maseratis, 1 Licorne and 1 Mercedes SSK. Williams went on to win the Grand Prix in a green 35B Bugatti in 3 hours, 56 minutes and 11 seconds, with an average speed over 100 laps of 49.83 mph (80.194 km/h). The race was a phenomenal success.
1951: Motorcycles made their one and only ever appearance at Goodwood circuit. The main 500cc race was won by future star Geoff Duke on his Norton from Doran (AJS) and Dale (Norton).

1952: Alberto Ascari driving a Ferrari 500 won the Formula 2 Pau Grand Prix

1952: George Wicken, the “Flying Milkman”, won the International London Trophy race at Brand Hatch, England, driving a Norton-powered Cooper Mk6.
1964: Ronnie Bucknum became Honda’s unlikely choice to spearhead their Grand Prix challenge back. Honda engineers had seen him racing a Porsche 904 at Sebring and felt that his lack of an international racing pedigree had its attractions since he could test and race the RA 272 without raising undue attention or expectations.
1985: Bill Elliott drove his Ford Thunderbird to victory in the 500 mile NASCAR GN race at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina. Elliott led the final 36 laps and took the checkered 1.8 seconds ahead of Darrell Waltrip, who edged Tim Richmond in a great duel for second.
1986: The inaugural season of Indy Lites opened at Phoenix, Arizona, USA. The original Indy Lights series was formed as an open-wheeled racing series that acted as a developmental circuit for CART from 1986 to 2001. It was founded in 1986 as the American Racing Series (ARS). The series was renamed Indy Lights in 1991. The CART-sanctioned series became widely popular and secured the title sponsorship of Firestone. Later, Firestone’s subsidiary Dayton Tires took over as tire supplier and title sponsor. A spec-series, CART Indy Lights used March chassis (essentially a modified 85B Formula 3000 chassis, renamed to Wildcat) from 1986 to 1992. Lola provided chassis from 1993 to 2001. Buick V6 engines were used for its entire existence. The ARS/Indy Lights series’ championship winners included two CART champions, two IndyCar Series champions, seven CCWS race-winners and two Formula One drivers. The Indy Lights schedule closely followed that of the CART series, with the noteworthy exception of Indianapolis. The series typically had a gap of up to a month while the primary CART teams raced at the Indy 500. The races were usually held the morning of the CART series races, as an undercard, support event. In early years, the Indy Lights series skipped superspeedway races such as Michigan, but eventually found its way to race there. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, CART was suffering from financial problems. Meanwhile, in 1996, the rival Indy Racing League was formed. CART canceled the minor league outright after the 2001 season. By this time, the Toyota Atlantic series was equally effective in providing CART with new drivers. In addition, the Atlantics served as a springboard for such drivers as Greg Ray, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Richie Hearn to enter the IRL. The Atlantics effectively became CART’s primary feeder system, and later became Champ Car World Series’ official in-house feeder championship for a time.

1993: Speedway President Tony George, and the president of NASCAR, Bill France, Jr. jointly announced that the inaugural Brickyard 400 would be held Saturday August 6th, 1994 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The 400 was the first race other than the Indianapolis 500 to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1916. In its inaugural season, the Brickyard 400 became NASCAR’s most-attended event, drawing an estimated crowd of more than 250,000 spectators in 1994. It also pays NASCAR’s second-highest purse, second only to the Daytona 500. The term “Brickyard” is a reference to the nickname historically used for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When the race course opened in 1909, the track surface was crushed stone and tar. That surface was the cause of numerous and sometimes fatal accidents, so the track was repaved with 3.2 million bricks in time for the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911, giving rise to the name Brickyard. Over time the bricks have been covered with asphalt, and now only a one-yard strip of brick at the start/finish line remains exposed. From 2005 to 2009, the race was known as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard under a naming rights arrangement with Allstate Insurance. From 2011 to 2014, Big Machine Records was the presenting sponsor. From 2011 to 2016, Crown Royal was the title sponsor of the race; Under Crown Royal sponsorship, the race was part of Crown Royal’s “Your Hero’s Name Here” program, in which the race is named after an armed forces member or first responder nominated by fans. Accordingly, the 2016 race was branded as Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard. The names of the winners of the Brickyard 400 are inscribed on the PPG Trophy, which is permanently housed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 on August 6, 1994. He is the most-successful driver in the history of the race, with a record five victories and three pole positions. Hendrick Motorsports has been the most successful team with nine total wins and five poles. The race is currently part of the Super Weekend at the Brickyard, which features races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series, and previously the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The stock car races.
2002: The San Marino Grand Prix was held at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. It was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher. His team mate Rubens Barrichello finished second and Williams-BMW driver Ralf Schumacher finished third. It was the first one-two finish for Ferrari, in another dominating season for the team.

~15 April~

1916: Eddie O’Donnell drove a Duesenberg to victory in the 150 mile ‘Ascot Motor Derby’. O’Donnell averaged 65.4 mph on the 1 mile dirt Ascot Speedway oval, California.

1923: Run over 4 laps of the Media Circuit (108 km), the Targa Florio was won by Ugo Sivocci, in an 3 litre 6 cylinder Alfa Romeo RLTF. Despite Italian tradition associates #13 with bad luck, Sivocci won the race sporting # 13 on his radiator grille after contending the race with Steyr, Minoia and the formidable Antonio Ascari in a similar Alfa. Ascari dominated the race but his engine quit at the last turn even though his car was # 14. He managed to fire the engine again after 10 minutes, but by then Sivocci had taken the checkered flag. Sivocci won in 7 hours, 18 minutes driving at an average speed of 36.8 mph (59.177 km/h). He was followed by less than 3 minutes by Ascari, who posted the fastest lap time in 1 hour, 41 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 39.76 mph (63.98 km/h).
1937: S C H Davis driving a BMW 328 established an unofficial record of 102.22 miles in one hour at the Brooklands race circuit.
1949: Abarth, the racing car maker was founded by Carlo Abarth of Turin. Its logo is a shield with a stylized scorpion on a red and yellow background. The company built and raced sports cars and in 1952 began an association with Fiat, utilising their mechanicals on some vehicles.
1951: Fonty Flock posted a wire-to-wire victory from the pole position at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, North Carolina, US in a race shortened from 150 to 95 laps because of rain. Frank Mundy finishes a distant second on the mile-long dirt track with Bill Blair third. The win was just the second for Flock in NASCAR’s top series; he went on to register 19 wins in his brief career.
1956: The Syracuse Grand Prix, set to Formula One rules, was held at the Syracuse Circuit, Sicily. Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio won the race, in his Scuderia Ferrari entered Lancia D50.
1962: Richard Petty won the NASCAR Grand National ‘Gwyn Staley Memorial’ on the 5/8 mile paved North Wilkesboro Speedway, South Carolina, US. Petty’s Plymouth finished 4 car lengths ahead of Fred Lorenzen’s Holman-Moody Ford. 2 time GN champ Herb Thomas ended a 5 year retirement, finishing 14th. The supply of racing gas ran out just past half-way. Some crew members siphoned gas out of passenger cars. A yellow was throw on lap 250, to allow a fuel track to leave the track and get more gasoline. The truck never returned!
1963: The 11th Glover Trophy was a motor race, run to Formula One rules, held on 15 April 1963 at Goodwood Circuit, England. The race was run over 42 laps of the circuit, and was won by British driver Innes Ireland in a Lotus 24, after polesitter Graham Hill suffered fuel injection problems while leading in his BRM.
1966: Displeased with NASCAR rule changes, Ford pulled out of Grand National competitions.

1968: Jochen Rindt recovered from a spectacular mid-race spin to win the F2 ‘Thruxton Trophy’ on the 2.35 mile Thruxton circuit.

1971: Richard Petty drove away from determined bids by Benny Parsons and Friday Hassler to win the NASCAR GN ‘Maryville 200’ on the 1/2 mile paved Smoky Mountain Raceway, Tennessee. Independent Hassler, who won his first career pole, led the first 52 laps in his Chevelle before Petty took over in his Plymouth. Parsons led laps 140-154 before Petty regained the lead & went on to triumph by 8 seconds over Parsons.
1973: David Pearson drove the Wood Brothers Mercury to a 13 lap victory in the NASCAR GN ‘Rebel 500’ at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina. It was the largest winning margin on a superspeedway since the 1965 ‘Southern 500’ at the same Darlington Raceway. Pearson waded through 11 cautions, many caused by wrecks. Bobby Allison was in position to challenge Pearson when the engine blew in his Chevy with 18 laps left. Benny Parsons, caught up in a big crash on lap 345, managed to limp his Chevy around the remaining laps to take second at about 40 mph. Allison still finished third, despite sitting in the pits the final 18 laps.
1973: A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti drove to victory in twin 150 mile USAC Championship races at Trenton Speedway, New Jersey, ending long winless streaks for both drivers. It was Andretti’s first Champ car win in 3 years while Foyt’s was his first in more than a season. Gordon Johncock won the pole for the races with a 168.434 mph lap, which was noteworthy because it broke Bobby Unser’s streak of 4 straight poles on the on the 1.5 mile kidney shaped track. In race 1, Foyt outpulled Johncock to lead by the end of lap 1. Soon, Unser put Dan Gurney’s Eagle into the lead and began pulling away while Foyt’s engine began “sneezing”. It looked like a runaway for Unser, but, on lap 68, Unser suddenly slowed and came into the pits with a broken gearbox. From there, Johncock, Andretti and Foyt contended for the win. Andretti was leading when the turbocharger and handling went sour on his Offenhauser powered Parnelli. Foyt went by and went on to the win ahead of Johncock and Billy Vukovich. Foyt’s first Champ car win since Phoenix in October 1971 came driving with a bad back. Foyt, who originally injured his back in a 1965 Stock Car crash at Riverside, re-injured himself doing chores on his Texas ranch. It was Foyt’s 9th Trenton win, but first since the tracks 1969 re-configuration. After a 1 hour, 20 minute break to allow teams to make repairs, the second 150 took to the track with 19 of the 24 race 1 starters and an alternate making the parade lap. As the pace car pulled off, Gurney’s crew fired up Unser’s Eagle and Bobby roared off 1/2 lap behind the field. Johncock got by Foyt in turn 1 to take the lead, but then fell behind Foyt, Vukovich and Andretti, retiring after 2 laps with a broken valve. Andretti pulled a neat manuever coming on to the front straight to take the lead. Shortly afterwards, Vukovich pulled under Andretti to re-take the lead. B. Unser had charged to 5th by lap 20 and to 3rd by lap 70 when smoke began pouring from the Eagle. 4 laps later, Unser parked with a broken piston. A struggling Foyt retired after dropping a valve 88 laps in. Andretti went on to take the win ahead of Vukovich’s Eagle-Offy and Parnelli “super team” teammate Al Unser. Andretti’s win broke a nearly 3 year drought, his last Champ car win having come on the Continental Divide Raceway road course in July 1970 and also was his 4th Trenton win.
1978: Danny Ongais, drove a Parnelli-Cosworth, to win the Indycar race at Texas World Speedway, at a speed of 173.594 mph.

1979: The Race of Champions, a Formula One non-championship motor race held at Brands Hatch, England. The field was made up of seven Formula One cars that competed in the World championship while the rest of the field usually compe
1999: Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite (55), a prolific and successful designer of Formula 1 cars for teams such as Hesketh, Wolf, and Ferrari in the 1970’s, 80’s, and into the 90’s, died.
2001: At the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Ralf Schumacher got the best of the field from his third place starting position and set fastest lap on his way to victory in a time of 1:30:44. Pole sitter, David Coulthard was second 4.35 seconds behind and Rubens Barrichello finished third from his 6th place starting position. Fourth place starter, Michael Schumacher had a suspension failure 24 laps in.
2005: Art Cross (see cover image) died aged 87. A decorated military veteran of World War II and the 1951 AAA National Midget champion was the first ever winner of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award, finishing 5th in the 1952 Indy 500. In 1953 he came close to winning the big race in a dirt-track car, only beaten by Bill Vukovich. Both of them were the only drivers refusing to concede their cars to a relief driver despite the melting heat. Sadly both he and his wife died within a few weeks of each other in 2005.

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