23-24 August: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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


~22 August~

1927: Mercedes finished 1-2-3 at the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten. After the start, Hans Stuck (Mercedes W125) chopped across the nose of the other drivers to take the early lead, followed by Rudolf Caracciola (Mercedes W125) and Bernd Rosemeyer (Auto Union Typ C). Rosemeyer was soon in trouble though, under pressure from Hermann Lang (Mercedes W125) he skidded off the circuit and was bogged down in the wet ground. Some spectators came to his assistance but their help would have resulted in a disqualification so he retired his car. Stuck could not maintain his early pace under pressure from the Mercedes’ and was soon passed by Caracciola, Lang and Manfred von Brauchitsch (Mercedes W125). Tazio Nuvolari drove for the Auto Union team for this race as he wasn’t impressed with the new Alfa. However, the tricky rear-engined Auto Union was not a car to race without some practice, even for a man of Nuvolari’s skill. The wet track simply compounded his problems. Whilst running in 8th place he was called into the pits and the carless Rosemeyer took over, eventually getting up to 5th place and putting in the fastest lap in his chase after the Mercedes’. In the closing laps Lang closed on Caracciola but was ordered to maintain position and von Brauchitsch passed Stuck.

1954: Juan-Manuel Fangio won the Swiss Grand Prix to become World Drivers Championship for the second time. Works Ferrari driver José Froilán González needed to win to stay in contention to beat Mercedes driver Fangio on points and after finishing 2nd to Fangio, he still had 23 1/7 points to Fangio’s 42. With the rules in place at the time, González could not overhaul Fangio’s total with 2 races left. This would be the last Formula 1 race in Switzerland. Following the 1955 Le Mans disaster the Swiss government banned all forms of motor racing. Swiss Grands Prix were subsequently held in 1975 (non-championship) and 1982 but both races took place in France.

1956: Billy Myers scored the last of his two victories in NASCAR’s premier series, lapping the field in a 250-lap feature at Norfolk Speedway, Virginia, US. Myers, the 1955 NASCAR Sportsman champion, was one lap ahead of Jim Paschal at the finish. Rex White finished third on the 4/10-mile dirt track. Only half of the 14-car field was running at the finish.

1965: Jochen Rindt won the Austrian Grand Prix for sports cars at Zeltweg behind the wheel of a Ferrari 250LM.

1980: Alfred Neubauer (89) racing manager of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team from 1926 to 1955, died.

1982: John Fitzpatrick and David Hobbs won the IMSA Pabst 500 IMSA race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin in a Porsche. The Group 44 Jaguar XJR-5 GTP racer driven by Bill Adam and Bob Tullius finished third in its race debut.

1983: Nimrod Racing Automobiles was disbanded.

1999: Juan Pablo Montoya won the CART Target Grand Prix at the Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Illinois, US.

~23 August~

1922: The 23-litre Maybach engined ‘Chitty Bang Bang’ car won the first Southsea Speed Carnival in Hampshire, England driven by British racing driver Count Louis Zborowski at 73.1 mph. This chain driven customized Mercedes was the first car known as Chitty Bang Bang, but three more would be built by Zborowski. These cars would inspire a similar name ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ that appeared in Ian Fleming’s 1964 book about a magical car, and again in the 1968 movie of the same name starring Dick Van Dyke.

1953: Alberto Ascari won the Swiss Grand Prix at Brengarten driving a Ferrari 500. With his victory at this race, Ferrari driver Ascari won his second World Driver’s Championship in a row; as teammates Nino Farina and Mike Hawthorn, and Maserati driver Juan Manuel Fangio (who failed to score) now could not beat Ascari’s total points score. The race marked the brief return of Grand Prix-era legend Hermann Lang. He was given a chance to participate in Formula 1 racing driving for Officine Alfieri Maserati after one of their team drivers was injured. He raced in two World Drivers’ Championship events overall—one in 1953 and one in 1954—and his result here, a fifth-place finish, was his best result.

1959: The Portuguese Grand Prix was won by British driver Stirling Moss, his eleventh Grand Prix victory, driving a Cooper T51 for privateer race team Rob Walker Racing Team. Moss finished a lap ahead of American racer Masten Gregory driving a similar Cooper T51 for the factory Cooper Car Company team. American Scuderia Ferrari driver Dan Gurney finished third in his Ferrari Dino 246.

1964: Eduardo Lualdi drove a Ferrari 250GTO to victory in the Ascoli Hillclimb in Italy.

1964: Lorenzo Bandini won the first Austrian Grand Prix, held over 105 laps of the Zeltweg Airfield circuit, for Ferrari. Richie Ginther finished second for the BRM team and Brabham driver Bob Anderson came in third. This was the debut race of the future world champion Jochen Rindt.

1980: Pole-winner Cale Yarborough warded off Dale Earnhardt’s charge by two car-lengths to win the Volunteer 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Tennessee, US. Yarborough led 379 of 500 laps in what would be his last Bristol appearance; the NASCAR Hall of Famer continued on a limited schedule from 1981 on. Darrell Waltrip finished third — come spring, Waltrip would embark on a streak of seven straight Bristol victories. The win allowed Yarborough to chop 10 points off Earnhardt’s lead in the standings, but Earnhardt ultimately prevailed in the championship fight by 19 points for the first of his seven Cup titles.

1986: Darrell Waltrip became the first racing car driver to earn $7 million, making him the best-paid driver in NASCAR history.

1987: Didier Pironi (35) – cover image – was killed during a powerboat race in the UK. During his career he competed in 72 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, driving for Tyrrell (1978–79), Ligier (1980) and Ferrari (1981–1982). Pironi found himself at the centre of one of the biggest team disputes in Formula One history when he disobeyed team orders to steal a last-gasp victory from Gilles Villeneuve at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix. An enraged Villeneuve vowed never to speak to Pironi again and was killed trying to take pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder two weeks later. Pironi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978 driving a Renault Alpine A442B.

2009: Rubens Barrichello driving a Brawn claimed his first win in 5 years at the European GP staged at the Valencia Street Circuit in Valencia, Spain. after starting from third on the grid. The 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton finished second for McLaren-Mercedes, while 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen finished in third for Ferrari. Championship leader Jenson Button finished in seventh for the second race in a row, but extended his lead as Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel both failed to score.

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