17-18 July: This Weekend inn Motorsport History

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


~17 July~

1926: A series of races were held on the 1.5 mile board Atlantic City Speedway, a track that featured turns banked at 45 degrees. Harry Hartz drove a Miller to victory in the featured mile race while Hartz, Norman Batten and Fred Comer won 60 mile ‘Sprint’ races, all in Millers. Hartz averaged 128.66 mph in winning his 60 miler, the fastest average of the events.

1937: “B Bira” (ERA) won the London Grand Prix at the Crystal Palace track in England.

1949: Louis Chiron driving a Talbot-Lago T26C won the French Grand Prix held over the Reims-Gueux circuit. The triangular layout of public roads formed three sectors between the villages of Thillois and Gueux over the La Garenne / Gueux intersection of route N-31. The circuit became known to be among the fastest of the era for its two long straights (approximately 2.2 km in length each) allowing maximum straight-line speed, resulting in many famous slipstream battles.

1954: The Vanwall Special made its debut at the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone in the hands of Britain’s Peter Collins.

1960: NASCAR came to New York’s Orange County Airport (New York, US) with the Empire State 200, on a two-mile course. Rex White held off Richard Petty for the win, in front of about 5,000 fans; the mediocre attendance killed any chance of making the race an annual event, as was planned. It remains the only NASCAR event ever held in the Hudson Valley.

1971: The first ‘grande epreuve’ to incorporate the name of a sponsor, the British Grand Prix was run. It was won by Jackie Stewart driving a Tyrrell-Cosworth 003. The Grand Prix was sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat, so that ‘Woolmark’ was included in its title.

1995: The legendary Argentinian driver Juan Manuel Fangio (84) nicknamed El Chueco (“the bowlegged one”, or El Maestro (“The Master”), who dominated the first decade of Formula One racing, died. He won the World Championship of Drivers five times, a record which stood for 46 years until beaten by Michael Schumacher—with four different teams – Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati. Regarded by many as one of the greatest drivers of all time Fangio holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One – 46.15% – winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered.

~18 July~

1926: Otto Merz, Rudolf Caracciola, and Willy Walb, all driving Mercedes-Benz K tourers, sweet the first three placs in the touring car race preceding the Grand Prix of Europe in San Sebastian, Spain in the first racing event for the new Daimler-Benz AG firm.

1930: Rudolf Caracciola won the 300-mile Grand Prix of Ireland, and with that the “Irish Times Trophy”, driving an “SSK” at an average speed of 139 km/h.

1948: Juan Manuel Fangio, made his Formula One debut finishing 12th at the Grand Prix de l’ACF in France. Fangio was 37 years old at the start of his first Formula One race, but his late appearance onto the racing scene did not diminish his impact.

1950: Darlington Raceway officials officially titled the 500-mile Labor Day race as the “Southern Five-Hundred.” Harold Brasington also announced NASCAR would co-sanction the $25,000 race. The original sanctioning body, the CSRA, had struggled attracting entries. Raceway officials reported that the field will be limited to 45 cars.

1953: Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari 500 won the British Grand Prix, a Formula Two at Silverstone Circuit. It was the sixth round of the 1953 World Drivers’ Championship, which was run to Formula Two rules in 1952 and 1953, rather than the Formula One regulations normally used.

1958: Lee Petty welcomed his son to the big leagues, knocking Richard Petty out of the way in his Cup debut to win at Canadian National Exposition Speedway in Toronto. Lee Petty took the lead from pole-starter Rex White in the 72nd lap and led the rest of the 100-lap main event at the .333-mile track

1959: Australian Jack Brabham in a Cooper-Climax T51 won the British Grand Prix at Aintree. On the final lap Bruce McLaren became the youngest driver to set a fastest lap in Formula One, aged 21 years and 322 days. This record stood for 44 years until Fernando Alonso, just one day younger relieved him of that achievement with fastest lap in the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix.

1970: Jack Brabham in a Brabham-Ford held a substantial lead in the British Grand Prix until his car ran out of fuel at the last bend and Jochen Rindt went on to win the race for Lotus.

1971: Mark Donohue drove his McLaren to victory in the 200 mile USAC Championship race on the 2 mile banked Michigan International Speedway. It was Donohue’s 2nd consecutive USAC Champ win, having won the prior round at Pocono.

1971: Richard Petty drove a Plymouth to victory in the NASCAR Winston Cup race at Trenton Speedway in Trenton, New Jersey, US.

1975: Graham Hill, twice World Driving Champion, with BRM in 1962 and with Lotus in 1968, announced his retirement.

1981: John Watson won his first race for five years, and McLaren’s first since James Hunt’s victory at the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix at the British Grand Prix held at Silverstone. The race also marked the first victory for a carbon fibre composite monocoque F1 car, the McLaren MP4/1.

1993: Dale Earnhardt held off Rusty Wallace on the final lap to win the Miller Genuine Draft 500 at Pocono International Raceway, Pennsylvania (US). After the race, Earnhardt and the RCR Enterprises crew paid tribute to the late Davey Allison in a moving prayer service.

1998: Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the construction of the Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Kentucky, US. The 1.5-mile (2.4 km) tri-oval speedway has hosted ARCA, NASCAR and Indy Racing League racing annually since it opened in 2000.

2010: The highest terminal velocity for a petrol-driven piston-engined motorcycle (Pro Stock) of 318.08 km/h (197.65 mph) was set by Michael Phillips (USA) at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US.

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