14-15 March:This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~14 March~

1899: Ettore Bugatti in a Prinetti & Stucchi 3 won the 100 mile (161 km) Verona-Brescia-Mantua-Verona road race in just over 5 hours.

1935: The great “romantic” age of South American road racing began with the start of the first Gran Premio Internacional. The 2733.6 mile (4409 km) event from Buenos Aires to Santiago de Chili was a rally which was won by Arturo Kruuse of Patagonia, Argentina, in a Plymouth.

1937: Tommy Elmore drove a Ford V-8 Special to victory in a 100 mile Stock Car race on a 1 mile beach course in Florida. Elmore averaged 57.6 mph.

1964: The Daily Mirror Trophy at Snetterton, England was won by Innes Ireland in a BRP-BRM 1.

1972: David Pearson drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory as NASCAR inaugurated it’s new Grand National East division with a 100 mile race on the 1/2 mile dirt Jacksonville Speedway. Pearson finished 2 laps ahead of another Camaro driven by Charlie Blanton with veteran Buck Baker 3rd in a Pontiac Firebird. Veteran Grand National independents Wendell Scott and James Hylton rounded out the top 5. The series was created when the Grand National schedule was cut to 31 races after the 1971 season by eliminating most short tracks and all dirt tracks. Open to Grand American “muscle cars” as well as Grand National legal cars, the schedule was made up of traditional Grand National short track races of 250 miles or less in length. The division only lasted two seasons.

1976: James Hunt won his second in a row at the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch with his McLaren M23. He also set fastest lap on the way to victory. Alan Jones was second in his Surtees and Jacky Ickx finished third in one of Lord Hesketh’s cars. This was also the race debut of the Ferrari 312T2. The cars unfortunately DNF’d. Lauda was out with a brake problem 17 laps in, and Martini crashed his in the warm-up.

1976: Bobby Unser drove a Drake-Offenhauser powered Eagle to victory in the USAC Championship race at Phoenix, Arizona, US.

1992: Jeff Gordon notched his first-ever NASCAR victory, starting from the pole and dominating the Atlanta 300 Busch Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Georgia, US. Gordon, driving a Baby Ruth-sponsored Ford, led 103 of 197 laps to hold off runner-up Harry Gant by 3.57 seconds. Hut Stricklin finished third in the series’ first race on the Georgia track.

1993: The Sauber made its Formula 1 debut in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami with a Type C12 driven by J J Lehto finishing 5th.

1993: The last South African Grand Prix was held at Kyalami. Alain Prost scored took pole position, recorded the fastest lap, and won the race in his Williams Renault, despite a wobbly start which saw him beaten to the first corner by Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher respectively. “It is very difficult to find the clutch,” he said afterwards. “I was not very confident and I almost stalled the engine.” It was also Mark Blundell’s 100th grand prix start, and his first podium place. At the end there were just five cars running, mainly because of accidents caused by torrential rain. The unlucky Derek Warwick in an uncompetitive Footwork spun off when he only needed to cross the finishing line to claim a point.

2001: Jackie Stewart, a long-time campaigner for a safer sport, called on the FIA to ensure stewards were properly protected. His comments came after the death of a marshal at the season-opener in Australia, the second marshal to die in five races. “In exposed areas marshals might be issued with flack jackets in the same way that police are to mitigate against the impact of shrapnel in the milliseconds after accidents,” Stewart said. “There is also the issue of head protection and face guards as well as flack jackets. When an accident occurs you have to recognise there are lessons to be learned.”

~15 March~

1919: Cliff Durant won the 250-mile AAA Championship race over the streets of Santa Monica in California. Durant averaged 81.28 mph in a Stutz.

1930: Cliff Woodbury drove a front-drive Miller 91 to a 180.90 mph record over a measured mile at Daytona Beach, Florida, US.

1952: The Sebring 12 hour race (cover image) was won by Harry Gray and Larry Kulok in a Frazer Nash. They averaged 62.83 mph.

1958: Curtis Turner surged to victory on third-mile Champion Speedway in Fayetteville, North Carolina (US), for his 12th win in NASCAR’s top series. Turner led 145 of the 150 laps, besting Gwyn Staley by a car-length. Buck Baker took third place.

1958: Bruce McLaren left New Zealand for England, where he would drive for John Cooper. His good friend and mechanic Colin Beanland accompanied him.

1981: The US West Grand Prix was held at Long Beach. Defending World Champion Alan Jones driving a Williams-Cosworth FW07C. Defending finished nine seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Reutemann, and won his first Long Beach Grand Prix, as the 1981 season finally began after a winter of controversy and legal battles. It was the third consecutive Grand Prix win for Jones, and his second consecutive in the United States, after seizing the 1980 Driver’s title with season-ending wins in Montreal, Canada and Watkins Glen, New York. This was also the race in which the revolutionary twin-chassis Lotus 88, designed by Colin Chapman, was disqualified and later banned from Formula One.

1981: Ayrton Senna, just 20 years old, lined up for just his second event in a racing car, a Formula Ford 1600 race, at Brands Hatch track in England. He displayed wet-weather mastery that would become legendary by winning the race nearly 10 seconds from second-placed man. He won £70 for his troubles.

1987: Jack Ingram won his 31st and final Nationwide Series race, winning the Mountain Dew 400 at Hickory (North Carolina) Motor Speedway by two car lengths over Mike Alexander.

1994: Alain Prost ended months of speculation by ruling out a second comeback to Formula One with McLaren-Peugeot. Rumours had started after he test-drove the new McLaren MP4 9 at Estoril. “I am not ready to take the risks anymore,” he said. “To be truthful, I haven’t changed my mind since I made my original decision. I did the test drive to see if I really wanted to start all over again. The answer is no.”

1997: Jeff Green won the Las Vegas 300, the first Nationwide race west of the Mississippi, US. Dick Trickle finished second, 2.8 seconds back. It is Green’s first Nationwide victory. In 2000, he would win the series championship.

1997: IMSA president Andy Evans manipulated the rules during the 12 Hours of Sebring, helping himself, Fermin Velez, Yannick Dalmas, and Stefan Johansson to win the race in a Ferrari 333SP. His actions spawned the creation of both the ALMS and USRRC sportcar series.

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