15-16 May: This weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~15 May~

1902: The first race arranged for promotional purposes began in Paris. The 537-mile Circuit du Nord (Paris-Arras-Paris) ‘alcohol race’, sponsored by the French Ministry of Agriculture to promote the use of alcohol as a fuel, was won by Maurice Farman, who averaged 44.8 mph in his 40-bhp Panhard et Levassor.

1938: The fastest time of the day at the inaugural Prescott Hill Climb, Gloucestershire, run over what is now the Short Course (880 yards) was set by Arthur Baron in a 2,270 c.c. supercharged Bugatti in a new record time of 50.70 seconds. Sydney Allard set the sports car record driving Hutchison’s V12 Lincoln-engined Allard Special in a time of 54.35 seconds.

1953: Racer Chet Miller (50) was killed when his Novi crashes during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500.

1958: Hall of Famer Lee Petty scored his first victory in NASCAR’s Convertible Division, winning in a runaway by seven laps at Charlotte Fairgrounds’ half-mile dirt track (North Carolina, US). Petty, who started second, led 107 of 200 laps in ’57 Oldsmobile and collected $800. Ken Rush finished a distant second with Billy Rafter third.

1960: Walt Hansgen beat Gus Andrey when their Maserati Tipo 61s, better known as Birdcage Maseratis, finished first and second in the Modified Class in the SCCA National event at Cumberland, Maryland.

1969: In a dramatic finish to Le Mans 24 Hours, Jacky Ickx in a Ford GT mark 1 (cover image) and Hans Herrmann in a Porsche repeatedly overtook. In the last lap, Ickx let Herrmann pass him early on the Mulsanne Straight, faking he had not enough fuel anymore. Ickx used the slipstream of Herrmann to pass him again just before the end of the 5km straight. Ickx managed to hold on and beat Herrmann by a few seconds, or about 120 meters (394 feet). Ickx and Oliver won with the GT40 chassis 1075, the same car that had won the previous year. This was second time the same car had won two years in a row; a Bentley Speed Six had done it in 1929 and 1930. Joest Racing would later repeat this feat twice.

1971: Alfa Romeo T33/3s finished 1-2 in the Targa Florio road race. The winners, Nino Vaccarella and Toine Hezemans completed the 11 lap, 493 mile (792 km) race in 6:35:46. Second was Andrea de Adamich and Gjs van Lennep only 1:11 seconds behind.

1982: Racer Gordon Smiley (36) died from the impact of a crash in Indianapolis. The following is an extract from the statement of Dr Steve Olvey, Indycar Medical Director between 1979 and 2003, about the fatal accident: “During an attempt to qualify for the Indy 500, Gordon Smiley, a cocky young driver from Texas, was determined to break 200 mph or die trying. Several veteran drivers had warned him that he was in way over his head, driving all wrong for the Speedway. Smiley was a road racer and was used to counter-steering his car to avoid a crash if the rear wheels broke traction. While rushing to the car immediately after the impact, I noticed small splotches of a peculiar gray substance marking a trail on the asphalt leading up to the driver. When I reached the car, I was shocked to see that Smiley’s helmet was gone, along with the top of his skull. He had essentially been scalped by the debris fence. The material on the race track was most of his brain. His helmet, due to massive centrifugal force, was literally pulled from his head on impact. I rode to the care centre with the body. On the way in I performed a cursory examination and realized that nearly every bone in his body was shattered. He had a gaping wound in his side that looked as if he had been attacked by a large shark. I had never seen such trauma.’

1983: The Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo was won by Keke Rosberg driving a Williams-Cosworth FW08C. His son Nico Rosberg, won the 2013 race for Mercedes, becoming the first father and son to win in the principality.

1986: Elio de Angelis (28) died, during Brabham testing in at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France. He is sometimes referred to as Formula One’s “last gentleman player,” and although he was probably not the most talented driver ever, he was certainly among the most popular.

1988: Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo was won by Alain Prost driving a McLaren-Honda MP4/4.

1992: Philippine IndyCar driver Jovy Marcelo (27) was killed in an accident while practicing for his first Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

1994: Michael Schumacher driving a Benetton-Ford B194 won the Monaco Grand Prix. It was the first race following the death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger in San Marino.

1998: John Force became the first National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car driver to exceed 320 mph when his Castrol Ford Mustang reached 323.35 mph at the end of the quarter-mile in Englishtown, New Jersey.

2004: Adam Fleetwood set the record for the Barbon Hillclimb in Cumbria when he propelled his Gould up the 890 yards (814 metres) course in 20.51 seconds.

~16 May~

1921: Frank C Clement, driving the second experimental Bentley 3-litre, won the Brookland Whitsun race, the first victory for the marque.

1922: During practice at Brooklands, Kennelm Lee Guinness as timed by friends on the Railway Straight reached 144 mph driving a V12 Sunbeam. On the following day in windy conditions he clocked an official 140.51 mph one way to take a new Brooklands lap record of 123.39 mph along with several other speed records over various distances. His official 137.15 mph flying kilometre record was to stand unbeaten for another seven years.

1936: The first ever motor race in Ireland, the 200 mile Cork Road Race, was held. There were 24 starters and 9 finished the race, which was won by Reggie Tongue in a 1488cc supercharged ERA.

1948: From 1938 to 1947, the Monaco Grand Prix could not be held due to both financial difficulties and a shortage of competitors as well as a deteriorating international climate. Finally on this day, the almost forgotten roar of the engines was once more heard on the streets of the Principality. The race was won by Giuseppe Farina in a Maserati 4CLT.

1948: Racer Ralph Hepburn (51) died when his Novi crashed during a practice run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

1951: Ibsley Circuit, situated at RAF Ibsley, on the Fordingbridge to Ringwood Road in Hampshire, UK, staged its first motor racing meeting. According to ‘Motor Cycling’ magazine it was a great success.

1953: Tim Flock, with riding companion “Jocko Flocko,” prevailed in a 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Hickory, North Carolina, US. Jocko, a rhesus monkey, had a driver’s uniform and a custom-made seat. It was the first time a NASCAR Grand National winner has a copilot.

1976: The Belgian Grand Prix was won by Niki Lauda driving a Ferrari 312T2, who increased his lead in the World Drivers’ Championship to 29 points by doing so.

1982: The Porsche 956 made its race debut in the World Endurance Championship 6-hour race at Silverstone, England, with Jackie Ickx and Derek Bell starting on pole and winning the Group C class while a Group 6 Lancia LC1 wins overall.

1992: Lights were installed at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it became the first non-short track to host night racing. The first race held under-the-lights was The Winston “all star” race. During the final 10-lap sprint, Dale Earnhardt led Kyle Petty and Davey Allison. On the final lap, Petty nudged Earnhardt in turn three, spinning him out. Petty took the lead into turn four, but as he entered the qual-oval, Davey Allison pulled alongside. The two cars touched as they crossed the finish line, with Allison edging out Petty by less than half a car length. The two cars clipped, and Allison crashed hard into the outside wall, showering bright sparks over the track. Allison spent the night in the hospital instead of victory lane.

1999: The Monaco Grand Prix, contested over 78 laps, was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher after starting from second position. It was Schumacher’s 16th win with Ferrari, breaking the record held by Niki Lauda. His team-mate Eddie Irvine finished second with Mika Häkkinen third for the McLaren team.

2010: Mark Webber won for the second GP in a row, at Monaco, leading home Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica, who drove brilliantly all weekend to keep his Renault in contention.

2013: Short track racing great Richard “Dick” Trickle took his own life. Trickle is estimated to have raced in more than 2,220 races, logging more than a million laps while becoming a fan favourite, especially in his home state of Wisconsin. He is regularly billed as the most winning racer in short track history.

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