19-20 October: This Weekend in Motor Sports History

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

~19 October~

1924: Count Louis Vorow Zborowski (29), of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame, died during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. On the death of his mother in 1911, 16-year old Louis instantly became the fourth richest under-21-year-old in the world, with cash of £11 million and real estate in the United States, including 7 acres (2.8 ha) of Manhattan and several blocks on Fifth Avenue, New York. Louis Zborowski raced for Aston Martin at Brooklands and in the 1923 French Grand Prix. He drove a Bugatti in the 1923 Indianapolis 500 and drove an American Miller 122 in the 1923 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He joined the Mercedes team in 1924. He is best remembered for the cars that he built. Zborowski designed and built four of his own racing cars in the stables at Higham Park,England assisted by his engineer and co-driver Captain Clive Gallop, who was later racing engineer to the “Bentley Boys”. The first car was powered by a 23,093 cc six-cylinder Maybach aero engine and called “Chitty Bang Bang”. A second “Chitty Bang Bang” was powered by 18,8828 cc Benz aero engine. A third car was based on a Mercedes 28/95, but fitted with a 14,778 cc 6-cylinder Mercedes aero engine and was referred to as the White Mercedes. These cars achieved some success at Brooklands. The final car, also built at Higham Park with a huge 27-litre American Liberty aero engine, was called the “Higham Special”. After Zborowskis death the “Higham Special” was purchased by J.G. Parry-Thomas to make attempts at breaking the land speed record. Designer/driver Thomas improved the car and christened her “Babs”. In April 1926 J.G. Parry-Thomas successfully took the Land Speed Record at over 170 mph at Pendine Sands. Thomas’ second attempt on the same location in 1927 turned out fatal. At over 100 mph a rear wheel collapsed, turning over the car and killing the driver.
1969: Pole-starter Bobby Isaac led all but two laps to coast to victory in the final race for NASCAR’s premier series at Augusta (Georgia, US) Speedway’s half-mile asphalt track. Richard Petty, who led the other two laps in the 200-lap main event, drove to a second-place finish as the only other driver on the lead lap. David Pearson claimed third, one lap back.

1987: Racer Hermann Lang (78), one of the great drivers of the 1930s, died of natural causes. The German made his racing debut on the 16th June 1935 at the Nürburgring, finishing 5th. He went on to win several Grands Prix and to become the 1939 European Hill Climb Champion, at the time quite a desirable title. World War II robbed him of his best years, but he emerged as a Formula 1 driver in 1951 with an outdated Mercedes-Benz W 154. Driving the Mercedes 300 SL sports car he won the 1952 Eifelrennen, the Prix de Berne and together with Fritz Riess, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The following year he showed up at the Swiss GP with a Maserati, finishing fifth. Mercedes entered Formula 1 officially in 1954 but at age 45 Lang missed out on a podium finish at his home Grand Prix by going off. Hermann had to accept that his racing days were over, he retired from the sport but remained working for Mercedes.
1997: Cory McClenathan became the first person in NHRA history to register a 320 mph top speed at the end of a 1/4-mile run. His exact speed was 321.77 mph at Ennis, Texas, US.

~20 October~

1898: The world’s first one-marque race was staged as Pierre Levegh won the St Germain-Vernon-St Germain (France) road race.
1957: The world’s first one-marque race was staged as Pierre Levegh won the St Germain-Vernon-St Germain (France) road race.
1963: Richard Petty worked his way up from fourth starting position to land a convincing victory in the South Boston 400 at South Boston (Virginia, US) Speedway, marking a rare win for Petty in a car without his iconic No. 43. Petty led the last 287 of 400 laps in his No. 41 Petty Enterprises Plymouth, besting runner-up David Pearson by three laps at the end. Joe Weatherly drove home third, another lap behind Pearson. Petty — who leads NASCAR’s all-time list with 200 wins — he had six wins in the No. 41, two in the No. 42 and the remainder in his trademark No. 43.
1963: The first Chaparral car (retroactively called the “Chaparral 1”) appeared in its last race, an event in Laguna Seca, California in which driver Skip Hudson failed to finish.
1968: Mazda made its competition debut when two Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S coupes entered the 84 hour Marathon de la Route ultra endurance race at Nürburgring, one finishing in fourth place and the other breaking an axle after 81 hours.
1978: Racer Gunnar Nilsson died exactly one month short of the age of 30. Nilsson was a works-driver for March in the 1976 Formula 2 championship and came into Formula 1 in mid-season as the result of a swap involving countryman Ronnie Peterson leaving Lotus and joining the March F1 team. Nilsson filled the vacant seat at Lotus and scored 11 points that year with impressive third places in Spain and Austria. The following year, his first full season in F1, the young Swede overtook Niki Lauda at to score his first Grand Prix win. But what could have been a terrific season ended with shocking news: Gunnar was diagnosed with cancer. His deal with the new Arrows team for 1978 never came to fruition as his condition worsened quickly. One of the last things he did was to set up the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Research fund. 

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