25-26 February: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

~25 February~

1934: The Norwegian Grand Pix at Mjosa was won by Per-Viktor Widengren driving a Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza.

1968: Racer Jim Clark won his final motor race, the seventh leg of the Tasman Series at Melbourne Australia’s Sandown

Park. The heat on race day was intense with the temperature over the 100 degree mark by 10am. The drivers begged off the parade in sports cars and also the presentation of drivers to the stands. These were cancelled, along with the traditional warm-up lap. Jim Clark was first away followed by Amon, and Brabham made a complete botch of the start, getting away in fifth place as the field set itself up for Shell corner. Clark won the race after 55 laps of intense battle with Amon, whom he praised for his tough and challenging drive. Graham Hill finished third, taking the checkered flag almost a minute after the two leaders, emphasizing the frantic speed the two were going. And with a 42 points in the series versus Amon’s score of 36 with just the final round the championship remaining, the Scotsman now had a sizable advantage over his rival in this two-way battle. Clark won the championship by finishing fifth in the final race of the series.

1968: The 1968 Daytona 500 race saw a duel involving Cale Yarborough and Lee Roy Yarbrough. For much of the day, both drivers traded the lead. With 5 laps to go, Yarborough made a successful slingshot pass on the third turn to take the lead from Yarbrough and never look back as he won his first Daytona 500 by 1.3 seconds.

1990: Mark Martin won the Pontiac Excitement 400, but the car was found to have an illegal carburetor spacer. NASCAR found the spacer was 2½ inches tall, a half-inch more than allowed. Martin kept the victory, but was fined $40,000 (at record at the time), and was docked 46 points. At season’s end, Martin lost the championship by a mere 26 points to Dale Earnhardt,[52] with the penalty representing the deciding margin. Later, it was admitted that the spacer plate was technically not illegal, and did not enhance the car’s performance, but actually fell within a “gray area” of the rulebook. NASCAR competition director Dick Beaty even stated that “We don’t know if [a taller spacer] is an advantage or not.

2002: A potentially volatile row between tyre manufacturers Bridgestone and Michelin was avoided, after Michelin scrapped plans to run a tyre with asymmetrical grooves. Under Formula 1 regulations at the time tyres had to have four grooves, but it did not say they had to be evenly spread out. Michelin saw an opportunity to gain a potential advantage but heeded a warning from the FIA not to.

2004: Cosworth resumed production of its legendary DFV engine, which powered drivers to 12 F1 world championships between 1968 and 1982. The powerplant was being used so extensively in historic racing that it once again became financially viable to produce spares and replacements for the V8 engines.

2005: Jean Todt raised eyebrows in the paddock by suggesting that Ferrari should take a larger share of the sport’s revenues than any other team. Todt said: “Maybe wrongly, I think Ferrari is unique. Without underestimating what the other teams have done, I feel that Ferrari has achieved more than the others. It’s like when you produce a movie. You need stars so that you know you are going to sell the movie all over the world. And then you have stars with different contracts. And Ferrari in its business is a star and wants to be paid like a star. I say that without arrogance.” When Ferrari threatened to leave the sport in 2009, it emerged that it had been paid an extra £50 million in 2005 for signing up to the Concorde Agreement, as well as an extra bonus each year over the other teams.

2008: Ashley Alan Cooper (27), an Australian race car driver died from severe head and internal injuries after a high speed racing accident. Preliminary investigation suggests that his car may have clipped a guard rail at over 200 km/h at the Clipsal 500 meeting in Adelaide. Cooper began his racing career in 1998 driving Holden HQ sedans. Leading the 2005 Commodore Cup championship for most of the year, Cooper finished fourth at the final round at Eastern Creek Raceway. In 2006, Cooper was crowned V8 Utes Rookie of the Year. He competed in three rounds of the 2007 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, with a top 15 finish at Queensland Raceway

~26 February ~

1922: Vincenzo Lancia and Felice Nazzaro laid the first stone as construction began on the Autodromo di Monza, universally known as the Temple of Speed. But only a few days later it was ordered the suspension of work for reasons of

“artistic and monumental value and landscape conservation”. As the intricate controversy developed the argument for the absolute necessity of the autodrome prevailed, and at the end the circuit was built with features comparable to those originally called for, although with a total length reduced to 10 kilometres. Work began on May 15th with completion date set for August 15th: 3,500 workers, 200 waggons, 30 lorries, and a narrowgauge railway 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long with 2 locomotives and 80 cars were employed. The autodrome was completed in the record time of 110 days and the track was entirely covered for the first time on July 28th by Petro Bordino and Felice Nazzaro in a Fiat 570. The circuit included a road track of 5.5 kilometres and a high-speed loop with a total lenght of 4.5 kilometres featuring two banked curves that made possible a theoretical top speed of 180-190 km/h. They were linked by two straights, each 1,070 metres long. The road and speed tracks intersected on two levels with an underpass in the Serraglio zone. The public was received in two separate areas. The stands enclosure included the central grandstand with 3,000 seats, and six side stands with 1,000 seats each. The park enclosure included bleachers on the outside of the high-speed curves, the small south curve, and near the confluence of the two tracks. The track was officially opened on a rainy 3rd September 1922 with Premier Facta present, a race being run with Voiturettes and won by Pietro Bordino in a racing model Fiat 501.This was followed on September 8th by the motorcycle Grand Prix of Nations with overall factory going to Amedeo Ruggeri on a Harley Davidson 1000 and Gnesa with a 2- stroke Garelli 350 in the 500 class. On September 10th the second Italian Grand Prix for automobiles was again won by Bordino in a 6-cylinder Fiat 804.

1961: Marvin Panch took the lead when Fireball Roberts dropped out with 13 laps left and went on to win the third Daytona 500. Panch was running nearly a lap behind teammate Fireball Roberts when Roberts’ Pontiac limped to the pits trailing smoke. Panch crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of Joe Weatherly with Paul Goldsmith third, as Pontiacs finished 1-2-3. Panch averaged 149.601 mph in the caution free race.

1965: Lee Roy Yarbrough set a new world closed course speed record in his hemi-powered Dodge, reaching 181.818 mph at Daytona Beach, US.

1966:  Mario Andretti made his first Daytona 500 start, driving a Chevrolet for Smokey Yunick. Richard Petty, driving a Plymouth, won the race, which was shortened by two laps because of rain.

1967: Mario Andretti dominated the Daytona 500 race. He led 112 of the 200 laps including the last 33 laps to capture his only NASCAR Grand National win.

1981: Driver Ulf Grönholm (38) – the father of future World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm – and co-driver Bob Rehnström were killed after their car hit a snowplower and caught fire during a preparatory run on public roads for the Hankiralli, the Finnish round of the European Rally Championship scheduled two days later.

2001: Dennis Nalon (87), an American midget car, sprint car, and Indy 500 driver from Chicago, Illinois, United States, died. Duke Nalon’s first appearance in the Indy 500 came in 1937 but he would have to wait until 1948 to become a frontrunner finishing 3rd and score pole-position the following year, but crashing out of the race lead. From 1950 on, when the Indy 500 race counted as a round of the Formula 1 World Championship, Duke would enter F1 stats as pole-man in 1951, but didnít manage to repeat the performances he had shown in recent years. He retired after the 1954 Indy 500 and, after living a while in Phoenix, moved to Indianapolis.

2007: In an effort to raise awareness of environmental issues, the Honda Formula One (F1) team unveiled its Earth Car, a race car emblazoned with a large image of the planet instead of the typical advertising and sponsorship logos featured on most F1 vehicles.Honda announced that people who made a donation to an environmental charity through a special Web site would get their name (in the size of an individual pixel) on the Earth Car. The vehicle’s debut came at a time when F1’s governing body was interested in shedding the sport’s reputation for gas-guzzling vehicles and wastefulness.

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