25-26 April : This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~25 April~

1925: Alfieri Maserati’s first car, the Tipo 26 (cover image), made its racing debut by winning its class at the Targa Florio. Alfieri Maserati drove the car himself.

1926: Racer Giulio Masetti (30) was killed when his Delage crashed in Madonie, Italy during the Targa Florio, Together with his brother Carlo, who was also passionate about motors and competitions, he began competing as a boy. After buying an obsolete but still efficient Fiat S57 / 14B of 1914 he began to race as early as 1920. With this car, in the same 1920, he took part in the Parma-Poggio di Berceto, finishing second behind Giuseppe Campari, who raced on Alfa Romeo and, in the same year, he still placed second in the Coppa della Consuma . The following year his first victory arrived, always on the same Fiat, at the Targa Florio . His victory was a true masterpiece in that he managed to defeat, with a much less powerful means, the Alfa Romeo and Mercedes squadrons that had arrived in Sicily with the intent of winning the race at all costs. After the victory, contacts with Mercedes began, but the German team finally did not hire him, considering his victory as a stroke of luck. The refusal of the Mercedes caused a sense of anger and frustration in Masetti and, to redeem himself, he decided to buy a Mercedes personally and, after having repainted it in the Rosso Italia color, in 1922 he presented himself at the start of the Targa Florio. The Florentine rider proved that he had not been lucky and repeated the success of the previous year, preceding the two official Ballot and Alfa Romeo cars. With his red Mercedes, in the same year, he also won the Circuit of Brescia and, again in Brescia , he placed third in the speed race on the kilometer launched. The double success in the Sicilian race made him a favorite of the public and earned him the nickname of ” Leone delle Madonie “. In 1923 the Alfa Romeo hired him as an official driver and, with the new car, won the Consuma Cup and placed second, behind Gastone Brilli Peri , in the Mugello Circuit , fourth at the Targa Florio and third, behind his brother Carlo , in the Circuit of Brescia. In 1924 he was still an official Alfa Romeo driver and at the wheel of an Alfa RL TF he came second to the Targa Florio. In 1925 he competed for the Sunbeam – Talbot – Darracq team, finishing first in the Klausen Race in Switzerland where, for the first time, he wore a hard helmet covered in brown leather, second to Booklands 200 miles and third at the French Grand Prix. But his passion was the Targa Florio that he had not run that year. The Sicilian public loved it and he loved Sicily. In 1926 he went down again to Sicily to run the 17th edition of the race. He decided to compete on a Darracq owned by him but, due to a delay in the preparation of the car, he was forced to fall back on a Delage two liters, twelve cylinders. The car carried the number 13 and was conducting a good race when, on a bridge to Sclafani Bagni , Masetti lost control of the car, crashing into an embankment which was followed by the takeoff and the subsequent overturning, which crushed the body of the pilot, who lost his life instantly when he was only 31 years old. When the first rescuers arrived to extract it they found him dressed as usual: white suit and brown leather belt with silver buckle. A memorial stone rises at the site of the accident.

1948: Ted Horn drove his T.H.E. Special to victory in the 100 mile AAA Championship race on the 1 & 1/16 mile Arlington Downs dirt track. Jack McGrath made his champ car debut.

1954: Gober Sosebee drove to his second and final victory in NASCAR’s premier series, scoring a home-state win at Central City Speedway in Macon, Georgia, US. Sosebee, an Atlanta native, led 58 of 200 laps on the half-mile dirt track. Pole-starter Dick Rathman finished second with Jim Paschal third, one lap down.

1959: Mario Andretti made his racing debut driving his own 1948 Hudson to victory at the Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. While most people remember Mario either for his success at Indy or for his Formula One Championship, he started his career as an American stock car racer. His career as a stock car racer reached its apex in 1967 when Mario won the Daytona 500. Driving for the Ford team, Andretti was forced to overcome the influence of the team’s ownership in his bid to defeat the team’s first driver Fred Lorenzen. Mario held off Lorenzen even though Lorenzen had been able to draft him for most of the race and is one of only three drivers in history to have won races on paved ovals, road courses, and dirt tracks in a single season. Andretti and A.J. Foyt are the only men to have won both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500, and Mario is second only to Foyt in Indy Car victories. He has career Indy Car earnings of $11,552,154. Mario’s Formula One Championship gave him the diversified credentials that led motor sports media members to vote him the driver of the century. He retired from racing in 1994.

1961: The 11th Syracuse Grand Prix, run to Formula One rules, was held at the Syracuse Circuit, Sicily, over 56 laps. The Grand Prix was won by Italian driver Giancarlo Baghetti in a Ferrari 156 in his first Formula One race, the only driver to achieve this feat. Baghetti went on to win his next two Formula One races, including his first World Championship race.

1962: Fred Frame (66), winner of the 1932 Indianapolis 500, died. Frame relocated to from New Hampshire Los Angeles, California, where he began dirt track racing in about 1922. On July 5, 1923, Frame set his first world record in San Luis Obispo, California, driving a mile on a dirt track in 43.4 seconds. Frame’s record mile, established in a non-competitive event, surpassed the previous record for a dirt track mile of 45 seconds, held by Barney Oldfield of St. Louis since August 1917. By 1924, Frame was running his own car on the hard track at Culver City, California, finishing second in a 100-mile race held there on July 5. Frame also continued to race on dirt tracks and began to venture outside of California in 1926, escaping serious injury in a crash in September of that year in a five-mile race in Abilene, Texas, held in conjunction with the West Texas Fair. A Texas racer was less fortunate, being killed in the same race when his car went through a railing and rolled. Frame began running at the Indianapolis 500, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1927. In that year he drove a machine owned by George Fernic, finishing in 11th place. He was brought back in 1928 by car owner Bill White to drive the same Dussenberg which had won the race the previous year. Frame would finish in 8th place in that race.In 1929, Frame arrived in Indianapolis just four days ahead of the race to drive a Cooper Special Front Drive.[5] Despite limited practice time, Frame was able to qualify the car at over 111 miles per hour and sat in second place at the halfway point of the race, which was started by 33 cars on a quest for a share of $100,000 in prize money. He would finish in 10th place, after leading the race for 11 laps — receiving bonus prize money of $100 per lap led provided by race sponsors. Frame would race at Indianapolis eight times in all, including a second-place finish in the 1931 race. Frame’s greatest career victory was a win in the 1932 Indianapolis 500 on May 31, 1932. Driving a tan Müler-Hartz front wheel drive machine, the 10-year racing veteran Frame finished the course in 4 hours, 48 minutes, 3.79 seconds. Frame dueled fellow competitor Howard Wilcox of Indianapolis over the last 75 miles in front of a packed crowd of 155,000 spectators to win the victory in a race in which only 10 of 40 starting cars managed to finish. Frame took the lead in lap 157 and never relinquished the advantage. Frame’s winning average speed of 104.14 mph topped the previous course record of 101.13 mph, set by Peter DePaolo in his 1925 Memorial Day victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Frame became the third Indy 500 winner to win with an average speed of more than 100 mph.

1965: Fred Lorenzen led the final 332 laps to win the NASCAR Grand National ‘Virginia 500’ at Martinsville Speedway. It was Lorenzen’s 4th straight win at Martinsville. A late charge by Marvin Panch fell 2 car lengths short. The story of the race was the incredible charge by Junior Johnson. Johnson was leading when he blew a tire and lost a lap & a half in the pits. Johnson put on a stunning charge to regain the lead in just 32 laps. On lap 178, Johnson held a 17 second lead when the left front wheel collapsed. After again losing time in the pits, Johnson began another charge, working his way to 3rd before another blown tire sent his Ford into the wall on lap 258.

1965: Mike Parkes and Jean Guichet drove a Ferrari 275P2 to victory in the Monza 1000 Kilometer World Sports Car Championship race.

1965: Jim McElreath won the rain shortened USAC Championship race on the 1 mile paved Trenton Speedway, New jersey, US. The race was halted after 87 of the 100 laps.

1966: Coming back from severe injuries suffered in a late 1965 Sports Car crash, John Surtees teamed with Mike Parkes in a new Ferrari 3330P3 coupe to win the Monza 1000 Kilometer World Sports Car Championship race on the Monza circuit. Parkes turned in a great co-drive, especially when the wipers failed during the rainy event. None of the factory backed 7 liter Mk. 2 Fords were on hand and the production 4.7 liter Ford GT40s of the privateers weren’t able to keep pace with the Ferrari. Sir John Whitmore and Masten Gregory finished 2nd, 1 lap back, in their 4.7 liter Ford GT40.

1967: John Wyer’s Mirage, based on the Ford GT40, made its racing debut in a 1000 km race at Monza, Italy, but the car was plagued with minor breakdowns as Ferrari captured the top two places.

1971: The John Wyer Porsche team completely dominated the Monza 1000 Kilometer World Sports Car Championship race with the team of Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver coming home first followed the Jo Siffert/Derek Bell team car. Jacky Ickx’s Ferrari was destroyed in an early crash in the rain and both Martini Porsches fell out, one with a hole in the gas tank and the other with a cracked chassis.

1971: Frank Matich ran 2nd in both heats to take the win in the SCCA Continental Championship Formula 5000 race at Riverside International Raceway, California, US. With 2 heat format F5000 races decided on combined time, Matich came out with the best overall finish in a crash filled event that opened the ’71 F5000 season. A sudden rain and hail storm hit while cars were on the grid for Heat 1, then David Hobbs spun and stalled avoiding the pace car on the pace lap. The race started in a light rain and Monte Shelton took the lead going into turn 9, having come from 12th starting. Shelton, one of only two drivers that switched to rain tires, used his tires and wet weather experience to pull to a 10 second lead by the end of lap 2 and a 21.4 second lead by lap 5. Even with the track drying, Shelton continued to stretch his lead in his Eagle-Chevy. 30 seconds ahead on the lap 16, Shelton went wide in turn 6 in a lapping attempt and hit the wall to end his great run. With Shelton out, a great 5 car duel went on up front with Lou Sell, Skip Barber, Posey, Ron Grable and Jim Dittemore closely bunched. Starting lap 21, Posey made a move to pass Barber on the start/finish straight. At the same moment, Barber made a feint on Sell and clipped the nose of Posey’s Surtees. Posey pitted the next lap to repair the nose as Sell and Barber continued their battle. A half-lap later, while trying to lap Sell’s car owner Ozzie Pohl, Pohl hit Sell, bounced off and into Barber, sending all three out of the race with Barber’s F1 March 701-Ford resting upside down in a ditch. No one was injured. Grable pulled away from Dittemore, taking the flag first by 9 seconds. Matich recovered from an early spin and passed Dittemore in the final turn for 2nd. Matich took the lead on the start of the 2nd 36 lap heat with Grable 2nd. Posey soon was 3rd from 11th starting, getting by Grable for 2nd on lap 4 and Matich for 1st, 2 laps later. Hobbs, still without a clutch, charged from 25th to 5th in 5 laps before parking with a sticking throttle. Knowing Matich could not take the overall win without winning heat 2, Grable was content in 3rd. But with 3 laps to go, Grable hit the rear of a car he was trying to lap and came to a rest minus his left side wheels in turn 4. Posey stretched his lead to 18 seconds as Matich cruised home 2nd to take the overall win in a race flagged 2 laps late. Utah Super Modified ace Mel Andrus died in a practice crash the day before.

1972: Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni drove a Ferrari 312P to victory in the Monza 1000 Kilometer World Sports Car Championship race.

1972: Darrell Waltrip won the NASCAR GN ‘Virginia 500’ on the .525 mile paved Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. Waltrip’s DiGard Chevrolet finished a lap ahead of Cale Yarborough in the Junior Johnson Chevrolet.

1982: In the San Marino Grand Prix held at Imola, it was Didier Pironi clicking off the fastest lap to win from his sixth place starting spot. The field was only comprised of 14 cars. Pironi’s Ferrari teammate Gilles Villeneuve was third on the grid and finished second, right on his gearbox, .366 of a second. Michele Alboreto in his Tyrrell was third 1:07 back from the winner. Polesitter Rene Arnoux in his Renault was out on lap 44 due to an engine failure.

1993: Alain Prost in his Williams, he took pole position and set the fastest lap on his way to victory at the San Mario Grand Prix at Imola in a time of 1:33:20. Michael Schumacher, from his third spot on the grid, was making his presence known, finishing second in the Benetton 32 seconds back. Martin Brundle in the Ligier had a fine drive from 10th on the grid to finish third, though one lap down from the leaders. Outside pole man, Damon Hill was a bit too quick for himself and spun off on lap 20.

1997: Warren Johnson made the first 6.8 second 1/4-mile run (6.894 seconds) and the first 200 mph pass (200.13) in a Pro Stock drag racer in NHRA history, at Richmond, Virginia. He is the driver with the most wins in pro stock with 97 career wins, and the only current active driver in the Pro Stock class to win more than three championships, with six, earning himself the nickname “The Professor of Pro Stock.”

2001: Michele Alboreto (44) died in a testing crash.

2004: The San Marino Grand Prix held at Imola was won by Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2004.

2004: Jeff Gordon won the controversial Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Alabama (US) when a caution flag froze the field as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., attempted a decisive pass for the lead. Rules implemented in late 2003 ­prohibited “racing back to the flag” ­during a caution period.

~26 April~

1931: Achille Varzi in the new 2300 twin-cam Bugatti, possibly the best driver with the fastest car, led from start to finish of the VIII° Circuito Di Alessandria, winning uncontested.

1953: The Mille Miglia, the second round of the 1953 F.I.A. World Sportscar Championship, was held on public roads between Brescia and Rome, with start/finish, in Brescia. A total of 577 cars were entered 1953 running of the Mille Miglia, across eight classes based on engine sizes, ranging from up to 750cc to over 2.0 litre, for both Touring Cars and Sport Cars. Of these, 490 cars started the event. Although this not strictly a race against each other, this was race against the clock, as the cars are released at one-minute intervals with the larger professional class cars going before the slower cars, in the Mille Miglia, however the smaller displacement, slower cars started first. Each car number related to their allocated start time. For example Juan-Manuel Fangio’s car had the number 602, he left Brescia at 6:02am, while the first cars had started late in the evening on the previous day. The race came down to a battle between Juan Manuel Fangio’s 3.6 liter Alfa and wealthy privateer Giannino Marzotto’s 4.1 liter Ferrari. When Fangio broke a track rod mount heading into Bologna, Marzotto charged ahead and went on to win.

1964: Fred Lorenzen continued his recent domination of major NASCAR Grand National short track races by winning the ‘Virginia 500′ at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. Lorenzen led all but 13 laps, only losing the lead when making routine pit stops, on his way to a 1 lap victory. In the three 250 mile short track races held to this date in 1964, Lorenzen had led 1,349 of 1,400 total laps. A lap behind Lorenzen’s Holman-Moody Ford came Marvin Panch’s Ford and Junior Johnson, making his first start in Banjo Matthews’ Ford after quitting the Ray Fox Dodge. Billy Wade, 2nd in points, did not start after tech inspectors told car owner Bud Moore to re-do the air scoops. Moore loaded up the Mercury and Wade fell to 4th in points.

1964: Local favorite Skip Hudson drove his Nickey Cooper to victory in the USRRC Sports Car race at Riverside International Speedway, California, US.

1964: At the 48th Targa Florio road race in Italy, the new Porsche 904s driven by Antonio Pucci, and Colin Davis, and the second place car Herbert Linge and Gianni Balzarini, triumphed over the Ferraris and Alfas. An A.C. Cobra piloted by Dan Gurney and Allen Grant was eighth overall and first in class.

1969: Jo Siffert and Brian Redman drove a Porsche 908LH to victory in the 1000 km endurance race at Monza, Italy.

1970: Derek Bell drove his Brabham BT30 to a flag to flag victory in the F2 ‘Barcelona Grand Prix’ around the scenic Montjuich Park circuit. Bell crossed the line 22 seconds ahead of Henri Pescarolo, also in a Brabham BT30. Emerson Fittipaldi finished a lap back in 3rd in a Lotus 69.

1970: Lloyd Ruby out-dueled Mario Andretti and Al Unser to win the 200 mile USAC Championship race on the 1.5 mile peanut shaped Trenton Speedway, New Jersey, US. At the start, pole winner Al Unser took the lead followed by Ruby. Local favorite Wally Dallenbach got by Ruby for 2nd on lap 7 and took the lead at the line on lap 34. Dallenbach closely led A. Unser until lap 59, when Dallenbach lost it and spun into the wall while lapping A.J. Foyt. Foyt spun to avoid and A. Unser’s Lola-Ford managed to slip by after just clipping Dallenbach’s Eagle-Offy. The yellow flew and the leaders pitted. Andretti’s crew got him out first and Bobby Unser fell from contention when his crew had trouble removing the right rear wheel. Andretti and A. Unser swapped the lead 2 more times before Ruby made his winning pass low into the right hand backstretch dogleg on the 104th of 134 laps. A yellow 2 laps later bunched the field, but Ruby pulled out a slight gap on the restart. Ruby kept his turbocharged Drake-Offy powered Mongoose out front, with Andretti closing to 1.4 seconds at the checkered. A. Unser finished 3rd, 3.6 seconds behind Ruby. A. Unser said nicking Dallenbach’s car threw the handling off. It was the 7th, and final, Indy Car win for the 42 year old driver from Wichita Falls, Texas, who had only finished one prior start at Trenton.

1981: “Rookie” Morgan Shepherd won the NASCAR GN ‘Virginia 500’ at Martinsville Speedway. Shepherd’s Cliff Stewart Pontiac crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of Neil Bonnett’s Wood Brothers Ford with Ricky Rudd a lap down in 3rd in the DiGard Buick. It was the first GN win for Pontiac since 1963. Shepherd, 1980 NASCAR Sportsman champ, was making the 15th GN start of his career. Qualifying brought many surprises with Ricky Rudd on the pole, long time independent Buddy Arrington 3rd in his Dodge and short track ace Butch Lindley 4th while rookie Mike Alexander set a new track record in second round qualifying.

1987: John Morton and Hurley Haywood drove the Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7 to victory in the IMSA Camel GT Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside, California.

1987: Glen Seton won the ATCC race at Wanneroo, Western Australia, driving a Nissan Skyline.

1998: The San Marino Grand Prix at Imola was won by David Coulthard driving a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-13. Ferrari drivers, Michael Schumacher set the fastest lap on his way to second and Eddie Irvine was third. The two Williams teammates Villeneuve and Frentzen were 4th and 5th and Jean Alesi was 6th from his 12th place starting position.

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