26-27 September: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

-26 September –

1965: A.J. Foyt, drove a Lotus-Ford to victory at the USAC Championship race on the kidney-shaped oval at Trenton, New Jersey.

1965: The Mini Marcos made its racing debut at a rain soaked Castle Combe race track. Driven by Geoff Mabbs, it lapped all but one car to win the BRSCC race by 81 seconds at an average of 76 mph.

1993: Ernie Irvan won the Goody’s 500 at Martinsville, Virginia (US) in his fourth start with the Robert Yates team. Irvan was wearing a Davey Allison T-shirt under his uniform in honor of the late driver he replaced on the Yates Ford team.

1993: Alain Prost became only the second man after the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio to win four world championships when a second-place finish at the Portuguese Grand Prix secured him the title. Ironically, the winner was Schumacher, the man who went on to take five and equal Fangio. “These records only mean anything when you are racing,” Prost said. “Once you have stopped they are of no consequence.” Prost drove a typically safe race, steering clear of several accidents, but the drive of the day was by Damon Hill. Starting the day on pole, he stalled on the grid before the parade lap, began the race at the back and then stormed through the field to take third. “My father once said to me you’re a better class of person from the back of the grid,” he said, adding: “But I’m not sure I would agree after that.”

2004: With Michael Schumacher’s fifth consecutive title for Ferrari wrapped up before the end of August, it was team-mate Rubens Barrichello’s chance to take his rewards for his yeoman-like support, and he followed victory a fortnight earlier at Monza with another win at the debut Chinese Grand Prix. The race as a spectacle was helped by Schumacher being forced to start from the back of the grid after a spin during qualifying, and without him dominating there was a real ding-dong battle, less than a second and a half covering Barrichello, Jenson Button and the McLaren- Mercedes of Kimi Raikkonen at the finish. Richard Williams in the Guardian said of the new venue that it was an “outstanding new track, which combines a rich architectural spectacle with a layout that encourages the drivers to attempt the overtaking manoeuvres that used to be the point of motor racing. The result is remarkable enough to make it seem a shame that it took the course designer, Hermann Tilke, three goes to get it right. But where the German architect’s previous efforts in Malaysia and Bahrain produced circuits manifestly unconducive to proper racing.”

2006: The ⅞ mile ocal paved Iowa Speedway, in Newton, Iowa (US) track opened with the Soy Biodiesel 250, won by Woody Howard, for the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Four Champions playoff.

-27 September –

1906: C.S. Rolls won the second Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man in a Rolls-Royce. He covered 259 kilometers in 4:06 hours at 63.5 km/h.

1925: Construction began on the infamous Nürburgring racing circuit. It was often referred to as the ‘green hell’, because the original 13-mile Nordschleife course through the Eifel forests was considered the most dangerous section of road on the planet, with 174 turns and covering a rise and fall of almost 1,000 feet. The circuit holds a strange spell over many drivers, beckoning the brave to test their skill. The ‘green hell’ proved lethal to many, and was once rumoured to average 20 accidents a day during public sessions.

1940: Louis Schneider (43), winner of the 1931 Indianapolis 500, died. Schneider raced micro sprint cars for much of his racing career after his victory in Indianapolis. A serious crash on a dirt track in California in 1938 led to a decrease in health, and he died shortly thereafter.

1970: Tony Denshams ‘Commuter’ slingshot ran a disputed 205.76mph at Santa Pod, Northamptonshire (UK), making it the first British car to go over 200 mph. The car was equipped with a hi-ratio rear axle and larger rear wheels in anticipation of Tonys attempts at the flying kilometer record at Elvington the following weekend. This meant that the elapsed time for the run was a full 9.4 seconds.

1981: Jacques Laffite won the Canadian Grand Prix driving for Ligier. It would prove to be Ligier’s last race win for fifteen years, until the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix. Williams clinched the 1981 Constructors’ Championship with one race left, as the two points scored by the Brabham team were not sufficient to allow them to catch Williams in the final race. This was also the last time the Canadian Grand Prix was held at the near-end of the season.

1987: Darrell Waltrip drove from third to first in the final lap after a three-car scramble with Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte to win the Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. All three cars collided heading into turn three on the last lap, sending Labonte (running second) into a spin and race leader Earnhardt high out of the groove. Waltrip sailed through to his only win in his first season driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt recovered to finish second with Labonte third.

1987: The Spanish Grand Prix was won by British driver Nigel Mansell driving a Williams FW11B. Mansell took victory by 22 seconds over Frenchman Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/3. Prost’s Swedish team mate Stefan Johansson finished third. It was Mansell’s fifth victory of the 1987 season. That win, along with Nelson Piquet’s fourth place, secured for the Williams F1 team their third constructors’ championship with three races still remaining in the season.

1992: Nigel Mansell won the Portuguese Grand Prix from pole position, in the process setting new records for most wins (nine) and most points (108) in one season, with McLaren drivers Gerhard Berger and Ayrton Senna second and third. However, the race is best remembered for the accident between Berger and Mansell’s Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese. Intending to make a pit stop, Berger moved towards the right side of the track at the beginning of the start/finish straight, with Patrese following in his slipstream. Failing to realise Berger’s intentions, Patrese swerved to avoid him, but his right front wheel hit Berger’s left rear and the Williams was launched into the air, almost hitting a pedestrian bridge over the track. Patrese escaped the accident shaken but unhurt, and neither driver was punished by the stewards. The debris from the crash, however, caused numerous other incidents.

1998: The Ferrari pair of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine took the front row of the grid, but it was Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren who won the Luxembourg Grand Prix in front of a capacity crowd at the Nurburgring, giving him a four-point lead in the drivers’ championship with one race to go. He out-braked Irvine on the 14th lap and then ate into Schumacher’s lead, and then passed him by staying out an extra five laps when the German made his pit stop.

2009: The Singapore Grand Prix was won under the lights by McLaren-Mercedes driver and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton. Toyota’s Timo Glock finished second and 2008 race winner Fernando Alonso took third position, making this the only race of the season with neither a Brawn nor a Red Bull driver on the podium.

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