23-24 March: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~ 23 March~

1899: The first of the legendary Nice Speed Trials were held on the Promenade des Anglais, when cars were timed over 1 mile from a standing start. Lemaitre’s 20-hp Peugeot was the fastest with a time of 95.6 seconds (average speed 37.5 mph) – the first petrol car to win a sprint event. On the following day, Lemaitre also won the La Turbie Hillclimb at 25.4 mph.
1930: Baconin Borzacchini in a Maserati V4 won the Tripoli Grand Prix at Mellaha.
1932: Building work on the legendary Hockenheimring race track in Germany, commenced. It was originally built in 1932 using roads in the forest as an alternative to the Wildpark-Circuit in Karlsruhe, which became forbidden as a racing circuit by German officials. The Hockenheimring was used for motorcycle racing and was expanded to be used as test track for Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union in 1936. In 1938 it was renamed the Kurpfalzring and that name was used until 1947. After World War II, former DKW and NSU factory rider and world record setter Wilhelm Herz promoted the track successfully. Grand Prix motorcycle racing events were held, with the German motorcycle Grand Prix alternating between Hockenheim and other tracks. The original circuit was almost eight kilometres long and consisted of two long straights with a long “Eastern” corner in the forest and a U-turn inside Hockenheim joining them together.
1936: Hans Stuck in a 6.0L Auto Union established B and C class records for the flying 5 km {312.446 km/h 194.145 mph [57.61 s] along a closed section of the highway between Frankfurt and Heidelberg. During the return the engine overheated destroying two cylinders and Auto Union had to postpone further runs to the next day.

1963: Ferrari dominated, taking the first six places in the Sebring 12 Hour World Sports Car Championship race. John Surtees and Ludovico Scarfiotti drove a new 3.0 liter 250P to victory with another 250P of Willy Mairesse/Nino Vaccarella second. The American challenge of Cobra, Corvette and Chaparral collapsed and the new Jaguar E-Type of Bruce McLaren and Walt Hansgen had brake trouble to set up the Ferrari sweep.
1968: Hans Herrmann and Jo Siffert won the Sebring 12 Hour World Sports Car Championship race as Porsches finished 1-2. The Paul Hawkins/David Hobbs Ford GT40 took the lead when the Porsches refueled. Hawkins led until a collision with a “lady driver” forced the Australian to pit for repairs. Hawkins charged back to second before the repaired suspension collapsed after 9 hours, leaving the Porsches uncontested. Mark Donohue and Craig Fisher finished third overall in Roger Penske’s Camaro.
1981: Nine time world champion motorcyclist Mike Hailwood (42) died along with his young daughter Michelle in a car crash. Hailwood was en route with his two children – his son David survived – to pick up fish and chips for the family’s dinner when a lorry turned suddenly into the car’s path. The lorry driver was to be fined £100. Hailwood was world champion at 250cc three times, at 350 twice, and four years in a row at 500, immediately before Giacomo Agostini began his long reign. Only Ago and Valentino Rossi rival him for all-round brilliance on a bike. In a relatively short career (1959-67), Hailwood won 76 Grands Prix. If he hadn’t left the sport when he was only 27, Agostini might not hold all the records. And even Ago didn’t win 14 TT races on the Isle of Man or the TT world title when he was 38. At his funeral Hailwood’s pall bearers included James Hunt, John Surtees and Giacomo Agostini. His abilities on his bike can be measured in titles, 12 times a winner in the Isle of Man – “the scariest race in the world” – and nine times the Grand Prix Motor Cycling champion, as well as the less quantifiable but no less obvious esteem in which he was held by the sport. Hailwood revelled in the “here today, gone tomorrow” attitude that pervaded motorsport in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a dangerous game, and it was treated as a game. “He was a little bit wild,” said his wife, Pauline. Walker put it another way: “He was a party animal.” Legend has it Hailwood taught Hunt how to party. For a time Hailwood swapped two wheels for four. He drove in Formula One, competing in 50 Grands Prix. He finished on the podium twice, as he did once at Le Mans, making a decent fist of driving for lesser teams, believed Jackie Stewart. It was a sport Hailwood never felt at ease in, thinking the other drivers looked down on this scruffy bike rider – Stewart said Hailwood felt more comfortable with the mechanics than the drivers – but in Formula One came the moment that stripped away the “playboy” exterior to reveal the man beneath via an act of selfless, unthinking heroism. It happened in 1973 at the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. On the second lap, Hailwood and Clay Regazzoni collided. Regazzoni was knocked unconscious and his car caught fire. Hailwood rushed to Regazzoni’s car and tried to pull him out only for his own clothing to be set alight – footage of the incident shows Hailwood frantically waving his flaming hands around. A race marshal aimed a fire extinguisher at Hailwood, whereupon he went straight back to Regazzoni, whose car remained engulfed in flames. This time he managed to pull the Italian out. Hailwood’s actions saved Regazzoni’s life and what is astonishing in watching the footage is his return for a second go – many acts of bravery happen when there is time only to act and not think.
1985: Bob Wolleck and A.J. Foyt drove the Swap Shop Porsche 962 to victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
1986: The Brazilian Grand Prix was held at Jacarepaguá. Nigel Mansell was out of the race on the first lap after an overtaking attempt on Senna saw him in the wall. Otherwise it was a relatively uneventful race. Both Brazilian drivers in the race finished 1-2 in this race, with Nelson Piquet winning driving a Williams-Honda FW11and Ayrton Senna finishing second.
2003: The Malaysian Grand Prix was held at Sepang. the second race of the 2003 Formula One season, and was won by Kimi Räikkönen driving the MP4-17 for McLaren-Mercedes. This was Räikkönen’s first Formula One Grand Prix victory. This was Fernando Alonso’s first pole. He also became the first Spaniard to earn a podium finish. Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello predicted whilst on the podium with Alonso and Räikkönen that both drivers would be future world champions.

~24 March~

1899: Georges Lemaitre won the La Turbie Hillclimb in a Peugeot, the first time that a hill climb had been won by a gasoline-powered vehicle.
1929: The Tripoli Grand Prix was won by Gastone Brilli-Peri driving a Talbot 700. Despite the support of the colony’s extremely enthusiastic governor, General Emilio de Bono, and some initial success, the events failed financially. Only personal intervention by General de Bono kept the 1929 event from being cancelled, and 1930 was marred by a spartan field, little public interest, and the death of Gastone Brilli-Peri in an accident.
1953: The Rand Grand Prix held at Palmietfontein in South Africa was won by Peter Whitehead in a Ferrari 555.
1956: Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Porsche and Lotus all entered the Sebring 12 Hour World Sports Car Championship race. Also on hand was an official team of 4.4 liter Corvettes. Moss’ Aston Martin fell out early, the Mike Hawthorn/Desmond Titterington Jaguar led 6 hours before retiring with brake failure, and Carlos Menditeguy crashed. Juan Fangio and Eugenio Castellotti won in a brakeless Ferrari. 1955 Indy 500 winner Bob Sweikert impressed by taking third in a private Jaguar he co-drove with Jack Ensley.
1962: Ferrari 250 GTO made its debut in the 12 Hour sportscar race at Sebring, Florida, US.
1963: NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson drove a Ray Fox-owned Chevrolet to a one-lap victory over Richard Petty in the Hickory 250 at Hickory Speedway, North Carolina, US. Petty, who led 84 laps before Johnson took control at the halfway point, places second with Ned Jarrett third.
1967: The inaugural race in the European Formula Two championship was won by Jochen Rindt in a Brabham-Ford. Graham Hill finished 2nd as F1 stars dominated the initial event. Third finisher Alan Rees was the only non-F1 driver in the top 6. Denis Hulme, Bruce McLaren and Jack Brabham finished 4th through 6th and Jackie Stewart, Hill and Rindt tied for the fastest race lap on the 2.7 mile Snetterton circuit.
1970: Buddy Baker drove a Dodge Charger Daytona to a new World Closed Course Speed Record of 200.447 mph at Talledega International Speedway, Alabama, US.
1985: The inaugural race in the European Formula 3000 championship was won by Mike Thackwell. John Nielsen was 2nd in the race, held on the 2.9 mile Silverstone circuit. Christian Danner, Gabriele Tarquini and Roberto Moreno finished 4th through 6th.
1986: Bobby Unser set a closed-course speed record for four-wheel drive vehicles with an Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro at 206.825 mph. The car was compliant with NASCAR rules.
1989: Richard Petty failed to qualify for the NASCAR race at Richmond. This ended his run of 513 consecutive starts which started in November 1971.
1991: The Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos was won by Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren-Honda MP4/6 by a mere 2.9 seconds from Riccardo Patrese, who had to be lifted bodily from the car due to exhaustion and driven to the podium in the medical car.

2002: Racer Boris ‘Bob’ Said (69), first American to win a road race in Europe after World War II – the 1953 Rouen Grand Prix – died while watching TV. He began racing in 1952 in the US but turned his attention to Europe where he raced with Masten Gregory. He raced in the American Grand Prix in 1959 at Sebring, driving Paul Emery’s ancient Connaught. Bob had to give up racing as he lost his entire fortune in 1962. Not only did Boris Said rebuild his wealth, he through property speculation and real estate, he also took up winter sports as a member of the US’s bobsled team, participating in the Winter Olympics in 1968 and 1972. Thereafter he became involved with the film industry and turned into an Emmy award winning producer. He got so involved in the industry that he died on the night of the Oscar award ceremony, victim of a heart attack while watching the event on TV. He is the father of NASCAR’s Boris Said Jr.

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