20-21 February: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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


-20 February-

1909: The Hudson Motor Car Company was founded. Hudson may be most famous for its impact on NASCAR racing, which it accomplished thanks to a revolutionary design innovation. In 1948, Hudson introduced the Monobuilt design which consisted of a chassis and frame that were combined in a unified passenger compartment, producing a strong, lightweight design. An added benefit was a lower center of gravity that did not affect road clearance. Hudson called the innovation the “step-down design” because, for the first time, drivers had to step down to enter their cars. In 1951, Hudson introduced the Hornet. Fitted with a bigger engine than previous Hudson models, the Hudson Hornet became a dominant force on the NASCAR circuit. With its lower center of gravity, the Hornet glided around corners with relative ease, leaving its less stable competitors in the dust. For the first time a car not manufactured by the Big Three was winning big. In 1952, Hudson won 29 of 34 events. Excited by their success on the track, Hudson executives began directly backing their racing teams, providing the team cars with everything they needed to increase success. The Big Three responded, and in doing so brought about the system of industry-backed racing that has become such a prominent marketing tool today. The Hudson Hornet would dominate NASCAR racing until 1955 when rule changes led to an emphasis on horsepower over handling.

1954: Cotton Owens captured a modified-sportsman victory in an event that featured 136 starting entries; the largest ever starting field in a NASCAR event. A day later, Tim Flock reached the checkered flag first, but was disqualified for using a two-way radio, and Lee Petty was awarded the victory. It was the first time that radios were used in a NASCAR event, and Flock quit after the disqualification

1959: The first races on the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway took place, twin 100 mile qualifiers for the first ‘Daytona 500’. One for Convertibles and one for Hardtops. The Convertible race started 21 cars with Glen Wood, Richard Petty, Marvin Panch and Shorty Rollins pulling clear of the field. The foursome swapped the lead 5 times in the last 9 laps before Rollins edged Panch by a bumper for the win. In the Hardtop 100, Bob Welborn moved his Chevy from 7th starting to the lead by lap 2, but couldn’t shake Denver’s Fritz Wilson. Welborn beat Wilson’s T-Bird by a half car length to take the win. Peruvian driver Eduardo Dibos finished 5th.

1963: Dan Gurney drove a Holman-Moody Ford to victory in the ‘Motor Trend 500’ NASCAR Grand National race at Riverside International Raceway, California. Gurney earned $14,400 for his first NASCAR GN win, leading 110 of the 185 laps in a race which took 6 hours to run. A.J. Foyt’s Pontiac was 36 seconds behind. 3rd through 10th was a who’s who: Troy Ruttman, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Johns, Ned Jarrett, rookie Billy Wade, Jim Pardue, West Coast champ Danny Letner and Joe Ruttman in his first start. Richard Petty tried an automatic transmission, but it broke on lap 27. Point leader Jim Paschal flipped a dozen times, was unhurt, but fell to 14th in points. Pardue took over the points lead ahead of Jarrett.

1972: A.J. Foyt won the NASCAR Daytona 500 at Daytona Beach, Florida, US.

1977: Cale Yarborough beat Benny Parsons by 1.39 seconds to win the NASCAR Daytona 500. Donnie Allison won his second pole position for this event.[2] Janet Guthrie was notable for competing at this race as a female NASCAR Cup Series driver.

1983: Cale Yarborough of Timmonsville, South Carolina, became the first driver to run a qualifying lap over 200 mph (320 km/h) at Daytona in his Hardees Chevrolet Monte Carlo. However, on his second of two qualifying laps, Yarborough crashed and flipped his car in turn four. The car had to be withdrawn, and the lap did not count.

1993: Marian Bublewicz (42) – cover image), the best Polish rally driver of the 80s and 90s, died in an accident just 2 kilometres after the start of 5th special stage “Orłowiec-Złoty Stok” of the Zimowy Rajd Dolnośląski – Winter Lower-Silesian Rally – in Poland. After a right fast bend he crashed his red and white Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4 with race number 1, into an ash, the only tree growing in that place. Bublewicz was stuck in the car. Rescuers helped him only after three-quarters, he was still conscious when he was in the ambulance, and according to witness it seems he was talking with his 18-year-old daughter Beata. But when he arrived to the Ladek Zdrój hospital the doctors had no chance: squashed pelvis, broken leg and many inner lesions. Marian Bublewicz sadly died a few hours later.

1994: Sterling Marlin held Ernie Irvan at bay in the final laps to record his first career NASCAR Winston Cup victory in the Daytona 500. Marlin’s first triumph came in his 279th start, the longest it has ever taken a driver to post his first win.

2000: Dale Jarrett exercised patience to grab his third victory in the Daytona 500. After following Johnny Benson, Jr., for 50 miles, Jarrett made the decisive pass with four laps to go to beat Jeff Burton.

2003: Ron Dennis accused the FIA of dictatorial behaviour after it banned refuelling and set-up changes between qualifying and the race as well as putting an end to teams changing settings remotely while the car is on track. Dennis claimed: “The FIA is trying to ‘dumb down’ Formula One.” In the end 2003 turned out to be one of the most competitive seasons in years and the rule changes, as well as some more dramatic ones since, still stand today.

2005: Flavio Briatore defended Kimi Raikkonen’s exploits in a London lap-dancing club, saying the Finn was like a “breath of fresh air” in F1. Raikkonen received wide criticism for exposing himself in the club, but Briatore reckoned it was good to see drivers with a bit of an edge in the sport. “If Raikkonen was my driver and he went to a club for a drink and some fun, I would have no problem with that,” said Briatore.

2005: Jeff Gordon squeaked past Tony Stewart in the waning laps to win the first Daytona 500 in history to go into overtime. The race was also the first for the new Dodge Charger, which replaced the Intrepid.

2010: Kyle Busch won the Starter Brothers 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California, US

-21 February –

1944: The winner of the first grand prix motor race Ferenc Szizs died in France aged 60. He was a locksmith by trade but joined Renault as an engineer in 1900. He quickly rose through the ranks to the manufacturer’s testing department, and after riding as mechanic for Louis Renault, became a racing driver. In 1906 he won the first French Grand Prix at Le Mans with an average speed of 62.9 mph. He competed in a handful of other grand prix before setting up his own garage in 1909. He fought in World War I and caught typhoid while serving in Algeria. He later worked for an aircraft company before retiring to the countryside just outside Paris.

1948: The National Association for Stock Car Racing – NASCAR – was officially incorporated. NASCAR racing would become one of America’s most popular spectator sports, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry. The driving force behind the establishment of NASCAR was William “Bill” France Sr. (1909-1992), a mechanic and auto-repair shop owner from Washington, D.C., who in the mid-1930s moved to Daytona Beach, Florida. The Daytona area was a gathering spot for racing enthusiasts, and France became involved in racing cars and promoting races. After witnessing how racing rules could vary from event to event and how dishonest promoters could abscond with prize money, France felt there was a need for a governing body to sanction and promote racing. He gathered members of the racing community to discuss the idea, and NASCAR was born, with its official incorporation in February 1921. France served as NASCAR’s first president and played a key role in shaping its development in the sport’s early decades. NASCAR held its first Strictly Stock race on June 19, 1949, at the Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina. Some 13,000 fans were on hand to watch Glenn Dunnaway finish the 200-lap race first in his Ford; however, Jim Roper (who drove a Lincoln) collected the $2,000 prize after Dunnaway was disqualified for illegal rear springs on his vehicle. In the early years of NASCAR, competitors drove the same types of cars that people drove on the street–Buicks, Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, among others–with minimal modifications. (Today, the cars are highly customized.) From the beginning, stock car racing had a widespread appeal with its fan base. As the legend goes, the sport evolved from Southern liquor smugglers who souped up their pre-war Fords to outrun the police. NASCAR brought the sport organization and legitimacy. It was Bill France who realized that product identification would increase enthusiasm for the sport. He wanted the fans to see the cars they drove to the track win the races on the track. By 1949, all the post-war car models had been released, so NASCAR held a 150-mile race at the Charlotte Speedway to introduce its Grand National Division. The race was restricted to late-model strictly stock automobiles. NASCAR held nine Grand National events that year. By the end of the year, it was apparent that the strictly stock cars could not withstand the pounding of the Grand Nationals, so NASCAR drafted rules to govern the changes drivers could make to their cars. Modified stock car racing was born. Starting in 1953, the major auto makers invested heavily in stock car racing teams, believing that good results on the track would translate into better sales in the showroom. In 1957, rising production costs and tightened NASCAR rules forced the factories out of the sport. NASCAR is the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in the United States. The three largest racing series sanctioned by this company are the Sprint Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. The company also oversees NASCAR Local Racing, the Whelen Modified Tour, the Whelen All-American Series, and the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 of the 50 US states as well as Canada. NASCAR has presented exhibition races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico, and the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia.

1954: A starting field of 136 cars, the largest ever in a NASCAR event, took the green flag in the 100-mile Modified-Sportsman race at Daytona (US). Cotton Owens won the race.

1982: Dave Marcis stayed out during a caution while the leaders pitted and was at the head of the pack 5 laps later when rain stopped the NASCAR GN ‘Richmond 400′ after 250 laps at Richmond, Virginia (US). It was Marcis’ first win in almost six years and his 6th career GN win. Marcis only led the last 5 laps in his Chevrolet Malibu from his own shop. Continue Reading →

1986: Canadian driver Bertrand Fabi suffered a terrible accident when testing a Ralt RT30 – Volkswagen for West Surrey Racing in a private session at Goodwood, England. Fabi had just pitted and possibly due to cold tyres he went off the road and overturned. He sustained serious head injuries in the crash, and died the following day in a hospital in Chichester, not far from the circuit.

2001: Max Mosley offered his opinion on one of the most controversial sporting moments ever in F1. He said that Ayrton Senna should have been excluded for deliberately crashing into Alain Prost at the penultimate round of the 1990 championship at Suzuka, which swung the title in the Brazilian’s favour. The crash followed a long and heated personal battle between the two that came to a head at the same race the previous year, when they crashed and Senna was disqualified despite going on to win the race. “Senna should probably have been excluded from the championship for doing something that dangerous,” Mosley said. “But I think the feeling was that what happened the previous year was absolutely outrageous – that he genuinely won the race and it was taken away from him quite wrongly. So you couldn’t help but have slight sympathy.”

2008: Ralf Schumacher admitted that he lied to reporters when he told them he would be staying in F1 in 2008, in order to have a quiet end to his career. Sick of being pestered by journalists about his plans for the following year, Schumacher told the press that he would be staying in F1 just to get them off his back. Schumacher said: “I did make those comments, but the situation never changed for me. I just said that [I would remain in F1] because there were a lot of people talking, and the situation was difficult at Toyota, so I just wanted to finish the season in peace.” Despite testing for Force India he wasn’t offered a drive and in the end settled for a race seat in DTM.

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