23-24 June: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

Discover the momentous motor sports events that have taken place this weekend in history …….

~23 June~

1909: A Ford Model T crossed the finish line in the New York City to Seattle Endurance Race after 22 days and 55 minutes to claim the Guggenheim Cup and a $2,000 first prize. A Shawmut came in 17 hours later to win the second-place prize of $1,500, and an Acme car came in on 29 June to claim a $1,000 third prize. The Ford was later disqualified for having switched engines en route. The New York-to-Seattle or Ocean-to-Ocean Endurance Race was dreamed up by Robert Guggenheim to coincide with the start of the equally little-known Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle in 1909. Seattle is better-known as sponsor of the 1962 World’s Fair which saw the debut of the Space Needle. The “A-Y-P”, as it is sometimes called, has been largely forgotten, though the 1962 event was in fact developed with the earlier A-Y-P in mind. It was meant to showcase Seattle as a gateway city to Alaska and western Canada as well as the Pacific Rim in general. This all occurred in the wake of the Klondike Gold Rush when thousands of people were headed northwest to seek their fortune in the Yukon and Seattle was a major stopover along the route.Guggenheim was, in part, motivated by his interest in the “better roads” campaign to create a better road system for the country and make roads more suitable for automobiles. Guggenheim had hoped to attract at least 30 participants for the race but, unfortunately, the affair had problems from the start. Deaths from automobile accidents were a public concern even then–324 people had been killed in 1907 alone–and the Manufacturers’ Contest Association refused to sanction the event. Organizers eventually promised that all speed limits would be obeyed and even dropped the word “race” from the event name and called it an “Endurance Contest,” which was probably more accurate anyway. The prize, ponied up by Guggenheim himself, was $2,000 and a trophy plus bragging rights. Unfortunately, only six contestants entered. The start of the race coincided with the start of the A-Y-P on June 1, 1909. President William Howard Taft pressed a golden telegraph key to open the fair and also as a signal to the mayor of New York, George B. McClellan (son of the Civil War General), to fire a golden revolver to start the race. The Stearns dropped out due to mechanical problems on the outskirts of New York City. The rest faced a daunting challenge of summer rains producing deep mud, streams and rivers with few bridges (they often crossed on railroad trestles), and snow in the mountains. The decreased weight of the Fords was an advantage; when stuck, they were light enough for a couple of men to lift up and put wooden planks under the wheels for traction. The race was followed nationally through newspaper accounts. This paragraph ran in the New York Times on June 16: “Hard luck befell the cars in the New York to Seattle automobile race during the past twenty-four hours, and their positions have changed. The Acme car stuck in the mud at Pierce, forty miles south of Cheyenne, early this morning and was nearly all day extricating itself.” Finally, 22 days later Ford No. 2 crossed the finish line at Drumheller Fountain on the University of Washington campus (the fountain is still there) and was declared the winner. The Shawmut crossed the finish line 17 hours later, closely followed by Ford No.1 and the Acme a week later. The Itala dropped out in Wyoming. Ford immediately began a massive advertising campaign touting the inexpensive, lightweight Model T as the best automobile in the race. Sales jumped from 239 in 1908 to over 12,000 in 1909 and kept climbing from there; by 1914 Ford was producing more cars than all other manufacturers combined and by 1916 more than half the cars in the world were Model Ts. Some have even argued that the race saved the company.

1935: The French Grand Prix (formally the XXIX Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France) held over 500km (12.5 km x 40 laps) at Montlhéry, was won by Rudolf Caracciola driving a Mercedes-Benz W25/35.
1963: Worth McMillion made his Grand National racing debut driving a Pontiac at South Boston, Virginia, US. He participated in 62 races until his retirement in 1969. McMillion (cover image) finished only once in the top-five and eighteen times in the top-ten. Total earnings for this driver were $15,690 ($102,469.08 when considering inflation) after competing in 9,142.0 miles (14,712.6 km) of stock car racing experience. While McMillion had raced in 16161 laps, he was the leader in none of them. His average start was 24th place while his average finish was in 14th place.From 1962 to 1965, McMillion was a driver/owner. Starting in 1965, Worth McMillion drove for other owners like Allen McMillion and Roy Tyner. Most of his races were done in Pontiac vehicles (either in a 1962 Pontiac Catalina or in 1964 generic Pontiac vehicle) while two races would have him use a generic 1962 Chevrolet vehicle. The most money that McMillion has ever earned in a race was at the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He would earn $1,200 ($9,266.52 when considering inflation) for his 14th-place finish after starting in 37th place (out of 44 qualifying drivers).

1963: Jim Clark won the 1963 Belgian Grand Prix scoring Team Lotus’ 10th victory in the World Championship. After starting eighth on the grid Clark passed all of the cars in front of him, including early leader Graham Hill. About 17 laps into the race, with the rain coming down harder than ever, Clark had not only lapped the entire field except for Bruce McLaren, but he was almost five minutes ahead of McLaren and his Cooper. This would be the first of 7 victories for Clark and Team Lotus that year.
1968: Jackie Stewart led the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort from flag to flag, scoring the first Grand Prix win for the Matra MS10-Ford. His teammate Jean-Pierre Beltoise finished second and BRM driver Pedro Rodríguez came in third.
1971: Bobby Allison routed the field for his fifth consecutive victory, winning the Space City 300, the only event for NASCAR’s premier series at Meyer Speedway in Houston, US. Allison started from the pole and led 253 of 300 laps on the half-mile asphalt track. James Hylton finished second, two laps down, with Walter Ballard eight laps off the pace in third.
1985: The Detroit Grand Prix was held over 63 laps of the 7 km street circuit for a total race distance of 260 kilometres. Finland’s Keke Rosberg (Williams FW10) took the lead from pole-sitter Ayrton Senna (Lotus 97T) on lap eight, avoided the tyre and brake problems that plagued the other front-runners and held off the Ferrari 156/85s of Stefan Johansson and Michele Alboreto to win. Stefan Bellof earned a scintillating fourth place in his Tyrrell 012, scoring the last points for the legendary Cosworth-Ford V8 engine until 1988. It was the fourth Formula One Grand Prix victory for the 1982 World Champion. Alboreto’s third place allowed him to expand his points lead over Lotus driver Elio de Angelis to seven points. Eventual 1985 World Champion Alain Prost was now nine points behind Alboreto and as far from the championship as he would get all year.

1991: Bertrand Gachot, Johnny Herbert, and Volker Wiedler won the 24-Hours of Le Mans driving a Mazda. It was the first time a marque outside of Western Europe had won the prestigious title. The 1990s has seen a resurgence of interest in Le Mans, as companies struggle to make better handling more durable sports cars for the world market. The 1991 Mazda was also the first car to win Le Mans with a Wankel rotary engine. The engine consisted of four rotors with three sequential spark plugs per rotor. The Mazda drove 3,059 miles (4,923 km) at an average speed of 183 mph (295km/h).
1996: Rusty Wallace ran out of gas while racing in the Miller 400 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, US. Fortunately for Wallace, his tank ran dry after he had crossed the finish line to win the race.
2002:The European Grand Prix held at Nürburgring was won by Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello, his first win since his victory at the 2000 German Grand Prix. His team mate Michael Schumacher finished second in another dominating performance by the team. McLaren-Mercedes driver Kimi Räikkönen finished third. This was the first race at the modified Nürburgring circuit, as the first chicane was replaced by the Mercedes Arena corners.

~24 June~

1923: Opel recorded its finest racing moment when a 12-litre car built in 1913 won a beach race on Fano Island, Denmark at a speed of 128 mph.

1951: Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead in their works-entered Jaguar C-type, claimed the first Le Mans win for the marque. This year marked the real start of the modern era of sports-car racing, with the arrival of Jaguar’s purpose-built racer, and the first showing for Porsche and Lancia. It was also the final time for Delahaye and Bentley (for 50 years). The race was marred by the death of French driver Jean Larivière within the opening laps of the race.
1951: Curtis Turner scored a convincing victory at Dayton (Ohio, US) Speedway, pulling away from Dick Rathman to win the 200-lap main event. Runner-up Rathman was nearly a full lap behind Turner — who led 177 laps — at the finish on the half-mile asphalt track. Pole-starter Tim Flock led the other 23 laps and came home third, just ahead of his brother Fonty.
1956: George Amick won the USAC Championship race at Langhorne, Pennsylvania. It was the first win for an Andy Dunlap prepared car.
1962: Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien drove a Ferrari 330 TR/LM to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Second overall and first in the GT class was the Ferrari 250 GTO of Jean Guichet and Pierre Noblet.
1973:The National Drag Racing Championship held its first meeting at Silverstone, Northamptonshire (UK). It attracted a less-than-expected 8000 spectators.
1984: Starting on pole, Nelson Piquet in a Brabham BMW led from flag to flag at the Detroit Grand Prix and held off a brilliant charge by first-year driver Martin Brundle in the normally aspirated Tyrrell to win by less than a second.

1990: Alain Prost driving a Ferrari 641/2 won the Mexican Grand Prix held at Hermanos Rodriguez. In winning Prost became only the second multiple-winner in Mexican Grand Prix history, joining British driver Jim Clark. It was Prost’s second win for the year after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix. Prost won the race by 26 seconds over his British team mate Nigel Mansell. Third was Austrian driver Gerhard Berger driving a McLaren MP4/5B. Prost’s win and Berger’s third coupled points leader Ayrton Senna stopping with a puncture late in the race allowed both drivers to close to be eight points behind Senna.
2001:Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2001 won the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second driving for Williams, with David Coulthard third driving for McLaren. The race was Michael Schumacher’s fifth win of the season, his third at the Nürburgring, and the result meant that he extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 22 points over Coulthard and 36 ahead of Rubens Barrichello. Ferrari maintained their lead in the Constructors’ Championship, 41 points ahead of McLaren and 57 ahead of Williams, with 8 races of the season remaining.

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