21-22 November: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

21 November

1951: Racer Carlos Panini was killed near Oaxaca, Mexico during the Pan-American Road Race.

1953: Felice Bonetto (50) died in Silao Mexico. Bonetto was a fearless competitor who took no prisoners and was possessed of so much courage that some of his racing exploits placed him in the category of the foolhardy. He won the Portuguese GP in Lisbon and placed third in the Mille Miglia before competing in the gruelling Carrera Panamericana. He lay in second place to Taruffi when he was killed after skidding off the road and crashing into a lamp standard in the village of Silao. Benetto reportedly marked dangerous corners along the route with blue signs. It was at one of these locations, despite this care in marking these corners, that Felice would take a 60mph corner at 125. Bonetto swerved his Lancia D24 into a building and was killed at the scene. Teammate Juan Manuel Fangio went on to win without ever winning a single stage of the race.

1955: The radical Bugatti Type 251 Grand Prix racer, with a straight-8 engine mounted transversely behind the driver, made its press debut. The Type 251 of 1955 represented the last hurrah for ‘old’ Bugatti. By now, the company was focusing on maintenance for old vehicles and engines for the military, rendering the Type 251 little more than a footnote at the end of an exceptional book.

1973: Timo Makiinen and Henry Liddon won the RAC Rally with a Ford Escort RS 1600.

1979: Hannu Mikkola and Ame Hertz won the RAC Rally with a Ford Escort RS 1800.

1980: Henri Toivonen and Paul White won the RAC Rally with a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.

1982: Tim Richmond capped a dominating day at Riverside (California, US) International Raceway with his second victory in NASCAR’s top series as Darrell Waltrip finished third to clinch his second straight championship. Richmond, who tallied four of his 13 career victories at the 2.62-mile road course, led 92 of 119 laps in a Jim Stacy-owned Buick, beating Ricky Rudd to the finish line by seven seconds. Waltrip, who started from the pole, led eight laps and topped 16th-finishing Bobby Allison by 72 points in the final standings.

2000: Giancarlo Fisichella had his road licence confiscated for speeding after he was caught driving at 148kph (92mph) in a 60kph (37mph) zone in Rome. It happened just six days after he appealed to Italian teenagers in a front-page article in Gazetta dello Sport not to engage in street racing after a 16-year-old was killed in a high- speed crash.

2004: A new era in NASCAR commenced as the first Chase for the NEXTEL Cup came to its exciting conclusion. The new 10-race “playoff” system saw five drivers mathematically eligible for the championship in the final race, the Ford 400 at Homestead. Jimmie Johnson had won four of the past five races, and four-time champion Jeff Gordon was also in the hunt. Through consistency, Kurt Busch held an 18-point lead over Johnson in the championship standings, and Gordon was 3 points behind in third. A caution-filled event went down the final lap before the championship was decided. On lap 93, points leader Kurt Busch had a tire problem with the right rear, and was forced to the pits. Just as he was about to enter the pit area, the entire wheel flung off of the car, and rolled on the track. Busch sweved and just barely missed crashing into the pit divider wall. A caution flag came out, and it allowed Busch to stay on the lead lap. In the waning laps, Busch worked his way back up to 5th place, while his closest championship contenders, Johnson and Gordon were running 2nd–3rd. A green-white-checker finish saw Greg Biffle win the race. Kurt Busch held on to finish 5th, and clinched the championship by 8 points, the second closest margin in NASCAR history.

22 November

1918: Enzo Ferrari made his racing debut driving a 3-litre CMN to third place in the first Parma-Berceto (Italy) race.

1954: Umberto Maglioli won the final Carrera Panamerica road race through Mexico in a Ferrari.

1962: Jim Paschall drove a Petty Engineering Plymouth to victory in the NASCAR Grand National race at Tar Heel Speedway in Randleman, North Carolina, USA.

1970: Ronnie Sox became the first person to run 140 mph (225.3 km/h) at the end of the 1/4-mile in an NHRA Pro Stock car when he ran 140.18 mph at Ontario, California, US.

1990: Stan Fox won the last race ever held at the legendary Ascot Park dirt track, located near Gardena in Los Angeles, California. The track opened in 1957, as Los Angeles Speedway, on the site of a former city dump.With seating for only 7,500, Ascot Park was smaller than the other tracks of the area including the Ontario Motor Speedway (closed in 1980), and the Riverside International Raceway (closed in 1989). However, the park was equally well-known, due to: its location, surrounded, by freeways for easy access; its regularly scheduled races; and, its heavy radio advertising. The half-mile course featured tight semi-banked turns, long straight-ways, and a tacky surface that was conducive to dramatic sprint car racing. Other motorsport events, such as Figure 8 racing and motorcycle flat track and TT racing, were also held at Ascot. The dirt racetrack hosted the United States Auto Club (USAC) championship series, the AMA Grand National Championship motorcycle series and was used in movies like the original Gone in 60 Seconds, A Very Brady Christmas, and CHiPs. Ascot was also the site of the annual USAC Turkey Night Grand Prix midget race on Thanksgiving. Though he began doing stunt jumps in 1966 at small venues such as fairs and carnivals, Evel Knievel (Robert Craig Knievel) gained international attention with his first televised jump on ABC’s Wide World of Sports at Ascot Park Raceway on March 25, 1967, successfully clearing 15 cars. The 50th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix for United States Auto Club midget cars became the last of more than 5,000 main events held since the track opened. Ascot Park was closed in November 1990. It remained unused after a failed development project occupied the former site for a number of years. The track site was later replaced by an auto auction building and storageyard.

1994: Colin McRae (cover image) became the first ever British driver to win a World Rally Championship title. With co-driver Derek Ringer, he won the Network Q RAC Rally ahead of chief rival and teammate Carlos Sainz, with new boy Richard Burns taking the third podium spot for a Subaru 1-2-3. By beating Sainz, McRae had done exactly what he needed to win the world title, following a season in which Sainz had started with much stronger results. Indeed, Sainz took three wins in 1995, to McRae’s two – but a late-season charge by the Scot, with two wins and two second-place finishes while Sainz suffered a non-start and retirement in New Zealand and Australia, were enough to claw back the deficit to the Spaniard.

2001: The Prost Grand Prix team were placed into receivership by a French court but vowed to fight on and make it to the grid for the opening race in 2002. Prost failed to secure funding to ease the team’s spiralling debts, which were estimated at $30 million. Founder Alain Prost said: “I’m still very motivated and excited about this project.” The team eventually folded on the eve of the 2002 season.

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