21-22 January: This weekend in Motor Sport History

~21 January~

1911: Twenty-three cars from 11 different locations around Euroep converged on the tiny Principality of Monaco to compete in the first Monte Carlo car rally. Organised by the Automobile Club de Monaco, the challenging race took place

along the French Riviera. Results depended not on driving time alone, but on judges’ assessments of the automobiles’ design and passenger comfort, as well as the condition the vehicles were in after covering the 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) of roads not really made for the horseless carriage. The arbitrary system provoked a minor outrage, but the judges’ decision stood. French car dealer Henri Rougier won first place in a Turcat-Méry 45-bhp model. Second place went to a driver named Aspaigu in a Gobron and third to Jules Beutler in a Martini. The rally was held again the following year, but then not again until 1924. World War II and its aftermath interrupted the annual event, with no rallies from 1940 through 1948.

1921: Ralph Mulford, driving a Paige roadster at Daytona Beach, Florida, set a new Class B stock car record by covering a mile at 102.3 mph.

1964: Mini driver Patrick (Paddy) Hopkirk, and his navigator, Henry Liddon, piloted a Mini Cooper S, (Car No. 37, registration 33 EJB) to victory 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. Hopkirk crossed the finish line just 17 seconds behind Bo Ljungfeldt in the far more powerful V8-powered Ford Falcon. The handicap formula at the time, designed to even out the weight and power differences between the various cars, meant the classic Mini actually led the way in the overall standings. Hopkirk defended his advantage in the sprint through the streets of Monte Carlo that rounded off the rally. Such was his fame after this win that he was invited on Britain’s most watched television programme, Sunday Night at the Palladium, and he got to meet the Beatles.

1966: The Monte Carlo rally ended in uproar over the disqualification of British cars. The first four to cross the finishing line were Timo Makinen (Finland) driving a British Motor Corporation Mini-Cooper, followed by Roger Clark (Ford Lotus Cortina), and Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk, both also driving BMC Minis. But they were all ruled out of the prizes – with six other British cars for alleged infringements of complex regulations about the way their headlights dipped. The official winner was announced as Pauli Toivonen, a Finn who lived in Paris, driving a Citroen.

1968: Overcoming a blown tyre and a resultant long pit stop, Dan Gurney won the NASCAR Grand National Motor Trend 500 at Riverside International Raceway for the fifth time. Gurney took the lead for good on the 160th lap, going on to take the Wood Brothers Ford under the checkered flag 36 seconds ahead of David Pearson. Parnelli Jones, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough rounded out a Ford top five sweep. Gurney led Jones by 52 seconds when a rear tyre blew on lap 145. The pit stop took 1 minute, 25 seconds when chunks of rubber had to be removed from around the rear axle. Gurney re-entered the race in third, but it only took him 15 laps to regain the lead. A new safety device made it’s first appearance as a number of cars carried a screen over the driver’s side window. Gurney drove #121, marking the last time that a car with a three digit number won a NASCAR GN race.

1973: Mark Donohue drove Roger Penske’s AMC Matador to victory in the NASCAR Grand National Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway. The Matador was equipped with disc brakes on all four wheels. Donohue, who led 138 of the 191 total laps, took the lead to stay on lap 117 and won by more than a lap. Bobby Allison’s Chevy was 2nd with GN West champ Ray Elder, Bobby Unser and GN West driver Jim Insolo rounding out the top five. The win was the first and only NASCAR GN win for Donohue, and came in only his fifth NASCAR start.

1978: Round 1 of the FIA Cup for Rally Drivers, the 46th Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo (29 stages, 570 km) began. It was won a week later by Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Vincent Laverne in a Porsche 911 Carrera.

1979: Jacques Laffite dominated the season-opening Argentina Grand Prix, taking pole position, fastest lap and the win in his Ligier Ford even though he was briefly headed by Patrick Deppailler. John Watson took third place despite being involved in an eight-car pile-up on the first corner which caused the race to be restarted. Laffite also won the next grand prix, but reliability issues dogged the rest of his campaign and he finished fourth in the drivers’ championship.

1981: Former British racing driver, Thomas Cuthbert Harrison (74) died. For an amateur driver like Cuth Harrison a 6th place in the 1949 Italian Grand Prix was quite a result. He founded the T.C.Harrison Ford dealership.

1989: At 11 minutes and 56 seconds past 3:00 a.m., a Subaru Legacy completed 100,000-kilometers in the fastest time ever-  447 hours, 44 minutes, and 9.887 seconds. The record was set at the Arizona Test Center, an oval course 9.182 kilometers in circumference.

1993: There was a row before the season had even started when the Williams team – the holders of the drivers’ and constructors’ titles – were omitted from the list of entrants for the opening race in South Africa. While the oversight was easily remediable by all the other teams agreeing to let them enter, Frank Williams revealed two unnamed rivals had refused to do so without being given “concessions”. A Williams’ insider said: Frank feels he has been publicly humiliated, and his sponsors are up in arms. But he has no need to do anything but just sit it out. Everybody knows that the cars will be on the grid come South Africa.” And so it turned out.

2005: The F1 world was taken aback by the tabloid revelations about the behaviour of Kimi Raikkonen who, so papers claimed, danced drunkenly with a lap-dancer and staged his own impromptu strip show for onlookers in a Mayfair club. “It doesn’t make me any slower,” said a huffy Raikkonen after a team press conference had been dominated by the subject. “It’s my private life. What I do in the car is completely different because I am giving everything I can to the team.” A team spokesman said: “We have multi-national backers who don’t invest for this imagery.”

~22 January~

1951: Bill Holland, winner of the 1949 Indianapolis 500, was suspended from AAA Indy Car racing. Holland, who had never finished worse than second in four starts in the Memorial Day classic, was kicked out of AAA for one year for competing in a three-lap Lion’s Charity race at Opa Locka, Florida, on November 14, 1950. The AAA had a strict rule forbidding its drivers to participate in any race other than its own.

1956: The story of Luigi Musso’s first Grand Prix victory is a curious one. Taking an early lead in the 1956 Argentine Grand Prix, he fell back behind Oscar Gonzalez, Carlos Menditeguy, Stirling Moss and Eugenio Castellotti. Meanwhile Ferrari team-leader Juan Manel Fangio encountered mechanical problems and was forced to retire on lap 23. In those days the rules allowed drivers to switch to another car during the race and so Musso was ordered to the Ferrari pit to hand over his car to Fangio. And the maestro put in one of his startling drives closing in on Moss’ Maserati which was trailing oil. After two-thirds of the distance Fangio overtook the Brit and, despite a quick spin, took the win for himself and, of course, for the delighted debut winner Luigi Musso. The two drivers shared the 8 points!

1959: Mike Hawthorn, only months into his retirement after becoming Britain’s first World Drivers Champion, was

tragically killed at the age of 29 in a car crash on the A3 Guildford bypass in Surrey. He won Le Mans in 1955 with Jaguar, a year sadly best remembered for the Mercedes crash that killed French driver Pierre Levegh and over 80 spectators. For most of his Grand Prix career Hawthorn drove for Ferrari, for whom he had clinched the World Drivers Championship the previous October by a single point from his great rival, fellow countryman Stirling Moss.

1986: Porsche 959s finished first (Metge/Lemoyne), second (Ickx/Brasseur), and sixth (Kussmaul/Unger) in the Paris-Dakar Rally.

1988: A wooden platform built at Dakar for the podium ceremony at the end of the final stage of the 1988 Rallye Paris-Alger-Dakar, in Senegal, collapsed. Too many spectators had gathered on the platform to witness the finish of the race, their weight was too much for the rickety structure, which gave way, killing one female young spectator.

2000: Open-wheel racer Larry Deaton (41) was killed in a three-car accident during the opening day of the Laughlin Desert Challenge in Laughlin, Nevada. During the third lap on the 13-mile course, Deaton’s car flipped and stalled before being hit by two other cars. Deaton was dead by the time he was airlifted to a hospital in Las Vegas.

2007: The last surviving starter from the inaugural Formula One World Championship race, the 1950 British Grand Prix,

Toulo de Graffenried (92), died in Lausanne, Switzerland. He participated in 23 World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 13 May 1950, and scored a total of nine championship points. He also participated in numerous non-Championship Formula One races. De Graffenried began his racing career in 1936, driving his own Maserati voiturette. Some of his most memorable results came at his home track: the challenging, cobbled, street circuit at Bremgarten near Bern. He won the 1949 British Grand Prix, a year before the FIA World Championship began. In that inaugural year de Graffenried contested five of the season’s seven races, with mixed results. He continued to drive in occasional races over the next six years, with his best finish being fourth place at the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix. Following his retirement from racing, de Graffenried managed his car dealership in Lausanne, featuring Alfa Romeo, Rolls-Royce and Ferrari automobiles. He also acted as stunt double for Kirk Douglas during the filming of The Racers. Later, he became a common figure at Formula One events during the 1970s and 1980s as the corporate ambassador for Phillip Morris’ Marlboro cigarette brand. In recognition of his win at the first British Grand Prix, de Graffenried made his last appearance at the wheel of a racing car during the 1998 celebrations of Silverstone’s 50th anniversary at age 84.

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