18-19 July: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~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. Born to an Italian immigrant family outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fangio learned to race on the death-trap tracks of Argentina for little reward. But, when his talent was recognised by Argentine dictator Juan Peron, Fangio’s racing career received the boost that was needed. Formula One Grand Prix racing began in 1950, and Fangio took second place in the World Driver’s Championship driving for Alfa Romeo. The next year he won the championship. A crash kept him out of the circuit for the next two years, but in 1954, he switched to the Mercedes team and won his first of four consecutive World Driver’s Championships.

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. Along the way, he bumped the slower car of his son into the wall, leaving him to finish 17th in the 19-car field. Despite the inauspicious start, Richard Petty competed in 1,183 more races and scored 200 wins in his NASCAR Hall of Fame career. Cotton Owens finished second in Toronto with Jim Reed third.

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 – cover image. 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. The Surtees made it Formula 1 debut, but the Type TS7 driven by sponsor and designer John Surtees was forced to retire with oil pressure problems

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. Tragically he died four months later along with five members of the Embassy Hill team when the light aircraft he was piloting crashed near Elstree Airport. He is the only driver ever to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport—the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship. Hill and his son Damon are the only father and son pair to have both won the Formula One World Championship.

1976: James Hunt was involved in a first corner crash at the British Grand Prix, at Brands Hatch, that brought out the red flags. Hunt drove his damaged car back to the pits, but did not complete a full lap of the track to do so, instead driving through an access road on the Cooper Straight. The officials declared that, since he had not been on the circuit when the red flag was waved, Hunt would not be allowed to take part in the restart. This news led to much angry feeling amongst the British crowd, who chanted Hunt’s name until the stewards, fearing crowd trouble, announced that Hunt would be allowed to take the restart. Hunt duly won the restarted race. Immediately after the race, the Ferrari, Tyrrell and Fittipaldi teams protested the inclusion of Hunt’s car. In September, two months after the event, a decision was reached and Hunt was disqualified, giving Niki Lauda the race win.

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.

2002: NASCAR Busch Series Driver, Andy Kirkby (40) was killed in a motorcycle accident in his home town White House, Tennessee.

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.

~19 July~

1905: The oldest sprint meeting regularly held in Britain, the Brighton Speed Trials, was held for the first time, after hotelier Sir Harry Preston persuaded Brighton town council to tarmac the surface of the road adjacent to the beach between the Palace Pier and Black Rock to hold motor-racing events. This stretch of road was renamed Madeira Drive in 1909. The event is still held annually, normally on the second Saturday of September. In 1936 Motor Sport magazine described the Brighton Speed Trials as ‘undoubtedly the most important speed-trials on the British Calendar’.

1931: Rudolf Caracciola, in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL won the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring.

1952: Alberto Ascari’s win at the British Grand Prix for Ferrari, coupled with yet another fastest lap, allowed him to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship once again. He now enjoyed an eight-point lead over fellow Ferrari driver Piero Taruffi. Farina, having not scored any points, was seven points adrift of Taruffi. The three works Ferraris, led by Farina, qualified in the top three positions on the grid, this time being joined on the four-car front row by Manzon. The second row consisted of Downing alongside Reg Parnell and Mike Hawthorn in a pair of Cooper-Bristols. The Connaughts of Dennis Poore and Eric Thompson shared row three with Prince Bira’s Gordini and Duncan Hamilton in his HWM. Ascari took the lead at the start of the race and held onto it for the whole 85 laps, taking his third consecutive victory in the World Championship. Polesitter Nino Farina was in second place for the first 26 laps but he dropped down the field when he needed to pit to change spark plugs, eventually finishing in sixth, just outside the points. Despite making a bad start that saw him drop to ninth by the end of the first lap, fellow Ferrari driver Taruffi recovered to take second place, finishing a lap behind Ascari. Dennis Poore, who had been running in third after Farina’s pit stop, needed to make a stop of his own in order to refuel his car. This allowed Hawthorn to inherit third place, which he held for the remainder of the race. He finished a lap behind Taruffi and took his first World Championship podium in just his third race. Poore took fourth, ahead of Connaught teammate Eric Thompson in the fifth and final points position. Ascari’s win, coupled with yet another fastest lap, allowed him to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship once again. He now enjoyed an eight-point lead over fellow Ferrari driver Taruffi. Farina, having not scored any points, was seven points adrift of Taruffi.

1958: Peter Collins thrilled a massive crowd at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone by becoming the fourth English driver that season to win a grand prix, leading home team-mate Mike Hawthorn by 24 seconds. Within a fortnight Collins would become the latest in a depressingly long line of Ferrari drivers to lose his life. With British manufacturers and drivers dominating, and with Hawthorn and Stirling Moss joint leaders in the drivers’ championship, a record attendance was guaranteed, and when Moss put his Vanwall on pole he was odds-on to take the race. But Collins took the early lead while Hawthorn settled in behind Moss, Ferrari’s tactics being to hope the Vanwall would fail trying to match Collins’ pace. On the 25th lap the plan worked as Moss’ car spluttered into the pits and was immediately retired.But Hawthorn was unable to get close to Collins, and his own chances ended when he had to pit with oil problems. He resumed more than a minute adrift, and while he clawed back half that time and in so doing set the fastest lap, he was still 24 seconds adrift at the finish. Bernie Ecclestone was again on the entry list with his Connaught but decided to let Jack Fairman drive it. It proved a wise decision because the car retired early with ignition problems.

1959: Racer Van Johnson was killed when his rebuilt Vargo Special crashes during a race in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, US three months to the day after Dick Linder had been killed by the same car.

1964: Denny Hulme, driving a Brabham, won the Trophee d’Avergne F2 race at Clermont-Ferrand, France. On his F2 debut, Jackie Stewart finished second driving a Lotus.

1964: Lee Petty ran his last NASCAR race, at Watkins Glen, New York, US. Petty was a key figure in the early development of stock car racing and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Inc.

1969: Jackie Stewart was victorious at the British Grand Prix in a Matra-Cosworth, as he lapped the entire field and took his fifth win in six races.

1975: Emerson Fittipaldi in a McLaren-Cosworth M23 won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It was the 30th British Grand Prix to be held since the race was first held in 1926 and the 17th time the race had been held at Silverstone. The race was held over 56 of the scheduled 67 laps of the four kilometre venue for a race distance of 264 kilometres.The results were overshadowed by a heavy hail storm from Lap 53, which caused three out of the top four cars (Jody Scheckter, James Hunt, and Mark Donohue), to aquaplane and crash in the same corner, bringing an early finish to the race, and a significant absence on the podium. A number of other cars crashed at the same corner as well, including Wilson Fittipaldi, Jochen Mass, and John Watson. The race results were finalised the lap after the lap most cars crashed, giving Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, who had been the race leader prior to the storm, a one lap win in his McLaren M23. Carlos Pace, who was one of the crashers in his Brabham BT44B was classified in second position with another of the crashers, Tyrrell 007 driver Jody Scheckter classified third.

1987: Dale Earnhardt nudged past Alan Kulwicki in the final stages to win the Summer 500 at Pocono Raceway, Pennsylvania (US) denying Kulwicki his first win in NASCAR’s top series. Earnhardt led 85 of the 200 laps, including the final two after the last-ditch contest for the lead. Kulwicki held on for second place, one second behind Earnhardt at the finish. Buddy Baker came home third. The race was also notable for Tim Richmond, who scored his final pole position in the Cup series — Richmond led 14 laps and finished 29th with engine failure.

1992: Darrell Waltrip outran the field to win the Miller Genuine Draft 500 at Pocono, Pennsylvania (US) as Davey Allison survived a scary tumble with 50 laps to go.

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