1920: Racer Eddie O’Donnell died in Beverly Hills, California from injuries suffered the previous day when his Duesenberg collided with the Frontenac driven by Gaston Chevrolet.
1958: The FIA approved flame-proof clothing, a move considered long overdue given the high number of injuries and fatalities in the sport. The Avon tire company were at the forefront of the developments, although the initial garments only worked if they were kept dry, so in rain or if washed they had to be treated again to be effective.
1967: Dan Gurney drove an Eagle to victory in the Rex Mays 200 Indycar race at Riverside, California, USA. He was the first driver to win in the four major racing disciplines of Indycars, stockcars, F1, and sportscars.
1980: Peter DePaolo, who won a dazzling victory at the 1925 Indy 500, died at the age of 82. The nephew of racing legend Ralph DePalma, DePaolo first started racing for Duesenberg in the 1920s. For the 1925 Indy, racing car designer Harry Miller showed up with a dramatic new supercharged front-drive Miller Junior Eight, and Peter DePaolo, who was set to drive for Duesenberg, had his work cut out from him. However, DePaolo had set a promising 135mph record on the Culver City boards that same year, and as the
race got underway, he took an early lead over racer Dave Lewis in the Miller Junior Eight. By the halfway point of the race, the blisters on DePaolo’s hands had become intolerable, and Fred Duesenberg replaced him with Norman Batten. When DePaolo returned from the track hospital, he learned with horror that Batten had fallen to fifth place, and Dave Lewis was leading in the Miller. DePaolo reentered the race, and slowly but surely, DePaolo fought his way to the front of the pack again. When the dust cleared on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Peter DePaolo had prevailed. It was a great victory for the Duesenberg team, made greater by DePaolo’s passing of the 100mph Indy speed barrier with an average speed of 101.13mph.
1986: Ernesto Prinoth (58), racing driver from Italy, and founder of Prinoth AG, manufacturer of snow grooming vehicles and equipment, died.
2000: Richard Burns and Robert Reid won Great Britain Rally with a Subaru Impreza WRC.
2001: Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen won Great Britain Rally with a Peugeot 206 WRC.
2002: Niki Lauda was asked to stand aside as team principal of Jaguar by Richard Parry-Jones, the head of the Formula One programme for Ford, which owned the team. “Honestly, the decision did surprise me,” Lauda, who was the fourth boss in a little over two years, said. “But what you’ve got to know is that Britons do have their unique way of solving problems. They saw away at the legs of the chair.”
2008: Bernie Ecclestone unveiled proposals to revamp the points system by awarding gold, silver and bronze medals for the podium places. “It’s going to happen,” he told a press conference in London. “All the teams are happy. The whole reason for this is I am fed up with people talking about there being no overtaking. The reason there is no overtaking is nothing to do with the circuits or the cars – it’s because the drivers don’t need to overtake.” But for once he had not done his homework. Eddie Jordan said Ecclestone was “tinkering with something on which he has lost the understanding” and that was the view of the teams who kicked the idea firmly into touch. Had the scheme been in place then Lewis Hamilton and not Kimi Raikkonen would have been the 2007 champion.
1911: Ralph Mulford in a Lozier won the seventh Vanderbilt Cup, in the only year it was staged at Savannah, Georgia in a double-header along with the American Grand Prize three days later. An American winner driving an American car, Mulford became an overnight hero. Although facilities at Savannah were hugely improved to accommodate the two events, large crowds caused problems and there were a strong of accidents as spectators spilled onto the course; in one during practice, Jay McNay was killed when he swerved to avoid a wagon.
1956: Future NASCAR great Junior Johnson plead guilty to making moonshine whiskey.
1966: Mario Andretti won the USAC Sprint Car race on the dirt track at Manzanita, California, USA.
1975: The FIA unveiled a 17-race schedule for 1976, the most grands prix ever staged in one season. There were two new events, a second US Grand Prix early in the year and then the first Japanese Grand Prix at the end of the season.
1992: The Jordan Grand Prix team announced that Rubens Barrichello would make his F1 debut with the team.
1995: Giancarlo Baghetti died of cancer in Milan, Italy aged 60. Baghetti was selected for F1 by the Federazione Italiana Scuderie Automobilistiche (FISA), a coalition of independent Italian team owners who acquired a new Ferrari 156 for the 1961 French Grand
Prix at Reims. And won. He was promoted to the works Ferrari line-up for 1962, but took just two points finishes, 4th at the Dutch Grand Prix and 5th at the Italian Grand Prix, as Ferrari was outclassed by the British teams. After the ill-fated switch to ATS in 1963, he accepted to race the Scuderia Centro Sudís outdated BRM P57. A 7th place at the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix and three more one-off drives in the following years, all at the Italian Grand Prix, would see his career in F1 fading away. He then achieved some success in the European Touring Car Championship with Alfa Romeo and Fiat Abarth, but retired from driving after a huge accident at the 1968 Monza F2 Lottery. He went on as a journalist and photographer in motorsport and fashion.
2007: Best known as a three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, Hélio Castroneves and his partner, professional ballroom dancer Julianne Hough, won the fifth season of “Dancing With the Stars.” The popular Indy Car driver won out over the runner-up pairing of former Spice Girl Mel B (“Scary Spice”) and her partner, dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Following his victory, Castroneves returned to the Indycar racing circuit, but his good luck did not hold. Although he finished second overall in the 2008 season including a fourth in that year’s Indy 500, by 2009 the racer found himself in federal court, charged with conspiracy, fraud and income-tax evasion in a case where he was eventually acquitted. Castroneves came back to win the Indy 500 again in 2009.