2-3 October: This Weekend in Motorsport History

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

~2 October~

1912: Only eight race cars participated in the Vanderbilt Cup Race held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.The race consisted of 38 laps over the 7.88 mile Wauwatosa road course for a total of 299.44 miles and won was by Ralph de Palma in a Mercedes GP.

1947: The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) formally established Formula One racing in Grand Prix competition for the first time. Technological leaps made during World War II had rendered pre-war racing rules obsolete, so the Formula One guidelines were established in order to encompass the new type of racing–faster and more furious than anything the racing world had ever seen. Formula One was initiated for cars of 1,500 cc supercharged and 4,500 cc unsupercharged, and the minimum race distance was reduced from 500 km to 300 km, a change that allowed the famous Monaco Grand Prix to be reintroduced into official Grand Prix racing.

1948: The Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix was staged at Silverstone Airfield in Northamptonshire. Although commonly cited as the first British Grand Prix of the modern era, it did not have official Grande Épreuve status. Italian Luigi Villoresi, in a Maserati 4CLT/48 won the 239 mile race run over a ‘figure 8’ 3.67 mile circuit of runways and perimeter track, at an average 72.28 mph. The race meeting marked the opening of the Silverstone Circuit, although at the time the site was only on a one-year loan to the RAC from the Air Ministry, having been a bomber station during World War II.

1949: The seventh race of the inaugural NASCAR  Strictly Stock season was held at Heidelberg Raceway, near Pittsburgh (US). Al Bonnell won the pole. In the first Strictly Stock event in Charlotte in June, Lee Petty entered a bulky Buick Roadmaster. The enormous automobile was fast on the straights, but it wobbled like a tank through the turns. Just past the halfway point, petty rolled the Buick a number of times. After dismounting the mangled mass of metal, the North Carolina speedster vowed never to drive a heavy vehicle in competition again. In the 100-mile event at Heidelberg Speedway, Petty driving his number 42 lightweight Plymouth, was five full laps ahead of his nearest competitor. “We figured the lighter car would get through the turns better,” said Petty. “It would also be easier on the suspension parts. We knew we could win one with the Plymouth.” The big triumph at Heidelberg was the largest winning margin of any NASCAR Strictly Stock race in 1949. Dick Linder’s Kaiser finished second, but was in no position to challenge the fleet Petty. Bill Rexford finished third, Sam Rice’s Chevrolet was fourth with relief driver Glenn Dunnanway at the helm. Fifth place went to Sara Christian, the first time a female driver has cracked the top five in a premier NASCAR event. She was 10 laps off the pace in her 1949 Ford. Al Bonnell, a driver of open wheel fame, qualified for the pole with a speed of 61.475 mph. However, Bonnell’s Olds was the first car out of the race, and we placed at the end of the 23 car field in the final rundown. Bonnell then relieved Don Rogalla and carried his Ford to 10th and the finish. Petty averaged 57.458 mph.

1966: The American Grand Prix won by Jim Clark in a Lotus 43 powered by the BRM H-16 – the only 16- cylinder car to win a Grand Prix – at an average speed of 114.94mph.

1977: Fourth at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen was enough to secure Niki Lauda his second world championship in three years, with James Hunt, who was champion in between Lauda’s triumphs, winning a wet race from Mario Andretti.

1987: Mike Dunn became the first man to record a top speed in excess of 280 mph in an NHRA Funny Car, when he ran 280.72 mph at Dallas, Texas, USA

1988: John Force became the first NHRA Funny Car driver to run the 1/4-mile in less than 4.8 seconds when he clipped off a 4.787 second pass at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.

1988: Alain Prost secured a crucial victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, his second win in eight days, to gain five-point lead over McLaren team-mate and rival Ayrton Senna, who managed fourth after problems with his fuel consumption computer. Post-race, March complained its driver Ivan Capelli had been blocked for 30 laps by the “adolescent driving tactics” of Riccardo Patrese in a Williams, but stewards dismissed the protest.

~3 October~

1912: In the first professional racing victory for a car fitted with a Duesenberg engine, race car driver Mortimer Roberts won the 220-mile Pabst Blue Ribbon Trophy Race, held in and around the village of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, US.

1948: Ted Horn won the sprint car race on the 1-mile dirt oval at Trenton, New Jersey, US. He also set a 1-lap record of 40.13 seconds.

1964: Legendary drag racer Roland Leong, in his own “Hawaiian” rail (cover image), drove a nitro-fueled dragster for the first time.

1965: Buddy Cortines won and posted the UK’s first 200 mph terminal speed at RAF Woodvale Dragfest. He also recorded the fastest time of the ’65 Dragfest with a 7.74/201, which stood as an unofficial UK record until 1970. Also at this meeting Allan Herridge matched his 12.31 et with a terminal speed of 117mph.

1970: Tony Densham, driving the Ford-powered “Commuter” dragster set a British land speed record at Elvington, Yorkshire, averaging 207.6 mph over the Flying Kilometre course. This broke Campbell’s record set 43 years previously.

1971: John Young ‘Jackie’ Stewart retained the World Drivers Championship driving a Tyrrell. He retired after clinching his third title in 1973, with a record 27 Grand Prix victories in his scintillating career.

1976: James Hunt cut Niki Lauda’s lead in the drivers’ championship to eight points with two races remaining with victory in front of 85,000 at the Canadian Grand Prix. He was pursued all the way by Patrick Depailler, eventually winning by 100 yards. Both drivers needed medical treatment after finishing, Hunt because he drove into a barrier on his victory lap, Depailler because of burns to his back caused by leaking fuel in his Tyrrell.

1982: Jackie Ickx and Jochen Mass drove a Rothmans Porsche 956 to victory in the World Endurance Championship 6-hour race at Fuji, Japan.

2004: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., took the lead in the title chase with a win in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Super­speedway, Alabama (US). During the television interview in victory lane, Junior’s response to a question included an expletive. Following a precedent set earlier in the year, NASCAR docked Earnhardt $10,000 and 25 points, dropping him from first to second in the standings.

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