Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history …….
1904: The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, commonly referred to as the FIA, a non-profit association, was established to represent the interest of motoring organisations and motor car users.
1937: Tazio Nuvolari in an Alfa Romeo 12C-36 won the 2nd Milan Grand Prix, held over 70 laps of the 2.75 km twisty circuit in the Sempione Park with its two tight hairpins.
1937: Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist won the Le Mans 24-hour race in a Bugatti Type 57G, becoming the first to exceed 2000 total miles during the event. Both men would go on to become active members of the French Resistance during WWII. Benoist did not survive the war. Wimille resumed his racing career, to become arguably the greatest driver of the immediate post-war era. This race saw the death of two drivers in a single accident. Briton Pat Fairfield and Frenchman René Kippeurt collided on lap 8 of the race and were killed.
1952: Luigi Fagioli (54), one of Italy’s greatest race car drivers, died. Fagioli has the second-highest percentage of podium finishes in the Formula One World Championship (85.71%).
1953: The Gordon Bennett Golden Jubilee Rally was held in Ireland to commemorate the original 1903 event that introduced automobile racing to that country.
1954: The Belgian Grand Prix was held at Spa-Francorchamps. Despite Nino Farina having an arm in plaster after a crash in the Mille Miglia he managed to lead his Ferrari away from the start. Juan Manuel Fangio Maserati soon overtook him, but lost the lead whilst adjusting his rain visor. A frantic duel ensued, with the Argentine coming out in the lead. Farina battled furiously, but an engine blow-up cost him a chance of a race win. Juan Manuel Fangio cruised home an easy winner from Trintignant and Moss in his privately entered Maserati.
1965: Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory drove a North American Racing Team Ferrari 250LM to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was the first non-works team to win since Ecurie Ecosse in 1957. It was also the first international race victory for Goodyear tyres. Perhaps surprisingly given their domination of the race it would prove to be, to date, the last Ferrari victory at Le Mans.
1971: The Dutch Grand Prix held at Zandvoort was won by Jacky Ickx in a Ferrari 312B2. This was the last Formula One race on a circuit with no safety features on it. Because of this the Dutch Grand Prix was cancelled the next year, but the circuit came back in 1973; and the layout had been modified.
1976: David Pearson outran Cale Yarborough for win No. 94 in NASCAR’s top series, prevailing by three car-lengths in the Cam 2 Motor Oil 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Michigan, US). Pearson led 24 of the 200 laps in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Mercury. Yarborough led 129 laps, and his runner-up finish helped him grab the points lead from Benny Parsons, who wound up 19th; Yarborough went on to win the first of three straight Cup titles. Bobby Allison finished third, followed by pole-starter Richard Petty and Buddy Baker.
1982: Rothmans sponsored Porsche 956s finished 1-2-3 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Jackie Ickx and Derek Bell drove the winning car. It was the first overall race victory for the 956.
1997: Auto Club Speedway (formerly California Speedway), a two-mile (3 km), low-banked, D-shaped oval superspeedway in Fontana, California which has hosted NASCAR racing annually since 1997, was officially opened. The first race, a NASCAR West Series race, was held the next day. The speedway is also used for open wheel racing events.
2004: The United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis was won by Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2004.
1925: The 2nd Coppa Acerbo held in Italy, named after Tito Acerbo, the brother of Giacomo Acerbo, a prominent fascist politician, was won by Guido Ginaldi in an Alfa Romeo RL.
1930: British cars took the first 4 places at the Le Mans Grand Prix. First was Sir Henry Birkin and Glen Kidson in the Bentley Speed Six, followed by Frank Clement and Richard Watney in another Bentley. Third and fourth places were claimed by Brian Lewis and Hugh Eaton and Johnny Hindmarsh and Tim Rose-Richards, respectively driving Talbot AO90s. The pairing of Odette Siko and Marguerite Mareuse would go in history as the first women to compete and finish in the race.
1931: The XVII Grand Prix of the AC de France was run to the 10-Hour International Formula, demanding two drivers per car. Three strong official factory teams from Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Maserati provided the main battle. The early leader was Fagioli in the 2800 Maserati until Chiron in the twin-cam Bugatti passed him. After one hour, Luigi Fagioli was again in first place next came Louis Chiron, Rene Dreyfus, Albert Divo, William Grover-Williams, Marcel Lehoux and Giuseppe Campari, the fastest of the 2300 Alfa Romeo drivers, in seventh place. For the first time since WW I, there was a German entry in the French Grand Prix, the independent team of Rudolf Caracciola/Otto Merz in a huge Mercedes-Benz. They held eighth place after the first lap; then fell back to 13th before retiring later. The Rene Dreyfus/ Pieto Ghersi pair twice held second place, but maintained third position during most of the first half of the race.Out of 23 starters only 12 finished the long race. The independent drivers were the first to retire. Jack Dunfee (Sunbeam) broke down at the start. Ivanowski (Mercedes-Benz) and Lehoux (Bugatti) disappeared before the the second hour ended. Scott’s 1920’s Delage broke down during the third hour to be followed by the Caracciola/Merz Mercedes-Benz in the fourth hour. The first factory car to retire was Fagioli/E.Maserati with the 2800 Maserati during the fifth hour. Five Bugattis retired over the next laps, all caused by mechanical failures. Chiron/Varzi (Bugatti) dominated the race and won three laps ahead of Campari/Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo) and five laps in front of Clemente Biondetti/Parenti (Maserati). Henry Birkin/ George Eyston (Maserati) an idependent entry finished fourth. A total of 12 cars were classified but only 10 were still driving at the end while Divo/Bouriat and Tazio Nuvolari/Giovanni Minozzi made it on distance alone as their cars broke down near the end.
1936: The first Hungarian Grand Prix (Magyar Nagydij) was held over a 3.1-mile track laid out in Nepliget, a park near the center of Budapest. The Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union, and Ferrari teams all sent three cars and the event drew a very large crowd. However, politics and the ensuing war meant the end of Grand Prix motor racing in the country for fifty years.
1947: The first postwar Mille Miglia (“Thousand Miles”) began in Brescia, Italy. The Mille Miglia was originally conceived by Aymo Maggi in 1927, who gained the approval of the Fascist government in Rome to run a road race from Brescia to Rome and back, over Italian roads. The course was plotted for 1,000 miles. This postwar version had 155 starters. Aided by a violent rainstorm that hampered runner-up Tazio Nuvolari’s small Cisitalia convertible, the driver Clemente Biondetti won the race in an Alfa Romeo. Even in its new incarnation, Italian drivers and cars dominated the race, which popularised such powerhouse brands as Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati. Tragically, driver Alfonso de Portago blew a tire and spun off the road during the 1957 edition, killing himself, his co-driver and 10 spectators. Three days later, the Italian government banned the Mille Miglia and all other motor racing on Italian public roads.
1953: A record crowd of over 100,000 spectators crammed into the forest track Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps to watch the Belgium Grand Prix.The Maseratis (Juan Manuel Fangio, José Froilán González and Johnny Claes) definitely capable of matching the Ferraris ( Luigi Villoresi, Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina) sheer speed – Fangio put in a record-shattering practice lap of 117 mph, breaking Ascari’s run of five consecutive pole positions (excluding the Indianapolis 500). The defending World Champion had to settle for second place on the grid this time. González completed the front row, while row two consisted of the Ferraris of Farina and Villoresi. On the third row were Marimón in a Maserati, the remaining works Ferrari of Hawthorn, and Trintignant in the leading Gordini. Toulo de Graffenried, in his own Maserati, out-qualified the fourth works Maserati of Johnny Claes, with both starting from row four, while the remaining Gordinis were split between the fifth and sixth rows of the grid. At the flag, Fangio waved González past and stunned everyone with another blitzkrieg lap of 110 mph from a standing start. After 11 laps, González had pulled out a full minute’s lead, but it had taken its toll on his engine which expired, leaving Fangio half a minute clear. On lap 13, it was the other Argentine’s turn to fall prey to engine troubles and so Ascari inherited the lead, initially ahead of Farina, before his race was ended by engine problems, handing second place to Hawthorn, while Marimón and Villoresi were third and fourth, respectively. Engine problems for Marimón allowed Villoresi to move up to third on lap 28, and a fuel leak for Hawthorn meant that Villoresi inherited second place on the following lap. Shortly after his own car had retired, Fangio took over Claes’s, and made something of a charge through the field: before Fangio retired on lap 14, Claes had been in ninth; by lap 30, Fangio had taken the car to third, behind only Ascari and Villoresi, who took another 1–2 victory. However, Fangio crashed heavily on the final lap of the race, giving his teammate Onofre Marimón his first podium position in the process. The remaining points were taken by the privateer Maserati of de Graffenried and the Gordini of Trintignant, while Hawthorn, in sixth place, just missed out. Alberto Ascari, who had taken his ninth consecutive World Championship victory (ignoring the Indy 500), already had a large lead in the points standings. He was twelve points ahead of his teammate Villoresi, while Bill Vukovich, who won at Indianapolis, was third. González, who took the fastest lap point for this race, now had seven points, putting him eighteen points behind Ascari, and the remaining Ferraris of Farina and Hawthorn only had six points each.
1953: Dick Rathmann led all the way to win the International 200 at Langhorne Speedway (Philadelphia, US), the first NASCAR event open to both domestic and foreign cars. Lloyd Shaw won the pole in a Jaguar. Oldsmobile driver Frank Arford was killed in a qualifying mishap.
1959: Santa Ana Drags dragstrip (cover mage), the first drag strip in the United States, closed. Many pioneers in drag racing began at Santa Ana. Art Chrisman, Don Yates, Calvin Rice, Joaquin Arnett, George “Ollie” Morris and others participated regularly. The strip was founded by C.J. “Pappy” Hart, Creighton Hunter and Frank Stillwell at the Orange County Airport auxiliary runway in southern California. The strip was created with $1000 start up money, and charged both spectators and participants 50 cents, of which 10% went directly to the owner of the airport.The strip installed timing clocks, so racers could actually get accurate times for each run. There was also a pit area, restrooms, a concession stand and primitive grandstands for spectators and plenty of parking. It was closed due to pressure from C.J Hart, whose wife had hired a private investigator to determine if Frank Stillwell was stealing money from the gate receipts in 1957.
1969: Jackie Stewart driving a Matra-Cosworth MS80 claimed victory at the Dutch Grand Prix held at Zandvoort.
1969: Pole-sitter Bobby Isaac dominated at Greenville (South Carolina, US)-Pickens Speedway, leading all but three laps of the Pickens 200. David Pearson, the race’s only other lap leader, took second place, nine seconds back at the finish. Richard Petty claimed third as the final driver on the lead lap.
1970: The wedge-shaped Lotus 72, with side-mounted radiators, made its debut. Jochen Rindt drove the car to its first victory at the Dutch Grand Prix. The race sadly claimed the life of driver Piers Courage (28).
1981: The Spanish Grand Prix held at the Circuito Permanente del Jarama, featured the second closest finish ever of a Formula One race: after Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari 126CK, the four following cars finished in just 1.24 seconds. This was Villeneuve’s last victory, often regarded as his tactical masterpiece.
1987: Jim Richards drove a BMW M3 to victory in the Australian Touring Car Championship race at Amaroo Park in New South Wales, Australia.
1987: The Detroit Grand Prix held in Detroit, Michigan over 63 laps of the four kilometre circuit for a race distance of 253 kilometres, was won by Ayrton Senna in the active ride suspension equipped Lotus 99T.
1992: British racing drivers Derek Warwick and Mark Blundell, helped by Yannick Dalmas won Le Mans 24 hour race ina Peugeot 905, at an average speed of 123.9 mph. The Peugeot led the gruelling 2,974 mile from the second hour.
1998: Jeremy Mayfield held off Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett in a stirring finish to bag his first career NASCAR Winston Cup win in the Pocono 500, Pennsylvania (US). Mayfield led 122 of the 200 laps on the triangular 2.5-mile speedway and the win comes in his 125th career start.