15-16 April: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

~15 April~

1912: Washington Augustus Roebling II, car racer and designer, perished in the RMS Titanic when the ship sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. Roebling was the son of John A. Roebling, president of Roebling and Sons Company of Trenton, New Jersey. Continue Reading →

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).

1962: Richard Petty won the NASCAR Grand National ‘Gwyn Staley Memorial’ on the 5/8 mile paved North Wilkesboro Speedway., South Carolina. Petty’s Plymouth finished 4 car lengths ahead of Fred Lorenzen’s Holman-Moody Ford. Continue Reading →

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.

1968: Jochen Rindt recovered from a spectacular mid-race spin to win the F2 ‘Thruxton Trophy’ on the 2.35 mile Thruxton circuit. Rindt was about a 1/4 mile ahead when his Brabham hit an oil slick. Rindt’s car spun sideways off track, tore down a billboard and narrowly missed a steel guard rail before sliding into a shallow ditch. With the engine still running, Rindt drove out of the ditch and back onto the track barely in front of Jean-Pierre Beltoise. Rindt went on to stretch the margin and crossed the line 8 seconds ahead of Beltoise’s Matra with Derek Bell 3rd in another Brabham. Rindt spun again on his victory lap. Henri Pescarolo retired his Matra early after he spun and split a fuel tank. Earlier, Rindt and Pescarolo won 15 lap preliminary heats. The race was round 2 of the ’68 European F2 Championship. It was the first time the traditional Easter Monday meeting had been held on the recently re-opened Thruxton circuit. It previously had been held at Goodwood.

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. Continue Reading →

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 competed in the Aurora series. Gilles Villeneuve won driving a Ferrari 312T3.

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. 

2005: Art Cross 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. Continue Reading →

2007: A1 Team Germany’s third place finish in the Shanghai Feature race was enough to put them clear of New Zealand in the championship standings, making them the 2006/7 world champions.

2007: Felipe Massa driving a Ferrari F2007 won the Baharain Grand Prix held at the Baharain International Circuit from Lewis Hamilton, who made history to become the first driver ever to finish on the podium in all his first three races.

~16 April~

1928: Pietro Bordino (41), one of the three greatest racing drivers from Italy in the 1920’s (the others are Felice Nazzaro and Antonio Ascari) died from injuries suffered in the Targa Florio.

1933: Racer Bob Carey (27) died after his Miller 255 crashed during a track record attempt at the Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles, California, US.

1950: Curtis Turner won a hard fought NASCAR Grand National race on the 1 mile dirt Langhorne Speedway, Pennsylvania, US. Five different drivers exchanged the lead 7 times over the 150 laps. Tim Flock and Bill Blair, in a Cadillac, swapped the lead three times in the first 8 laps before Flock’s Lincoln prevailed and 23 year old rookie Bill Rexford moved to 2nd. The two ran nose to tail around the circular track for 25 laps before Rexford got by. Eighteen laps later, the motor began to sour in Rexford’s Olds, moving Turner out front. Ray Erickson roared by Turner on lap 84, and it appeared Erickson might take his first GN win. But a rock went through the radiator on Erickson’s Mercury, retiring him on lap 114. Turner regained the lead and led until the checkered, winning by a lap. Turner’s Olds was on Dunlop tires. It was Erickson’s last GN start of the year, as he lost an arm in a hot rod crash a short time later (he did return to run some GN races).

1950: Brands Hatch, the first purpose-built post-war racing circuit in England, staged its first car racing meeting on tarmac. The RAC had formally approved the 1-mile kidney-shaped circuit following a demonstration by a handful of 500s in February. Amongst those giving the demonstration was a very young Stirling Moss. Continue Reading →

1954: The first stock car race in Great Britain took place in London at New Cross Stadium, on Good Friday. A 26,000 sell-out crowd saw this first meeting. As many as 20,000 more were locked out of the packed venue. Continue Reading →

1961: The 2nd Vienna Grand Prix, run to Formula One rules, was held at the Aspern Circuit. Run over 55 laps of the circuit, the Grand Prix was won comfortably by British driver Stirling Moss in a Lotus 18.

1972: Making his first start in the Wood Brothers Mercury a winning one, David Pearson drove to victory in the NASCAR GN ‘Rebel 500’ at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina, US. Continue Reading →

1972: Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti were followed by teammates Ronnie Peterson and Tim Schenken in the 1000 Kilometer World Sports Car Championship race on the Brands Hatch circuit, giving Ferrari their 4th straight 1-2 sweep in in 1972.

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