27-28 April: This Weekend in Motor Sport History ……

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Discover the momentous motoring sports events  that took place this week in history ……

~27 April~

1887: The first motor car race in history took place, the Neuilly-Versailles-Neuilly, a distance of 20 miles, organised by the journalist Fossier. Compte de Dion and his steam tricycle completed the course in 1 hour and 14 minutes – not so fast in a vehicle that could do almost 40 mph. However, one detail should be mentioned – he was the only competitor!
1922: Jimmy Murphy drove his Miller to victory in the ‘Raisin Day Classic’ 150 mile AAA Championship race on the 1 mile board Fresno Speedway. Murphy averaged 102.85 mph.

1924: The Targa Florio was run over four laps of the mountainous 108 km course along narrow roads of Sicily with over 7,000 bends, while the Coppa Florio required the competitors to complete an extra tour of the circuit, i.e. a total of 540 kilometres. In a supercharged Mercedes Christian Werner won the Targa Florio in a time of 6:32:37 hours and triumphed in the Coppa Florio in a time of 8:17:1.4 hours and also drove the fastest lap in 1:35 hours. Positions 2 and 3 in the same racing class were likewise occupied by Mercedes with drivers Christian Lautenschlager and Alfred Neubauer.
1930: Jean de Maleplane in a Bugatti T35C won the Oran Grand Prix held at Arcole, France.
1947: Eugene Chaboud won the Grand Prix du Rousillon at Perpignan, France, in a Talbot 26.

1952: Herb Thomas was leading when darkness forced the NASCAR Grand National race at Central City Speedway (Georgia, US) to be flagged after 198 of 300 scheduled laps. Jack Smith won the pole and led the first 186 laps on the muddy track before his Studebaker broke a wheel. Fonty Flock, still recovering from his dislocated shoulder, finished only a few lengths back in 2nd. Heavy rains forced a 3 hour delay. After the 1/2 mile dirt track was worked on, the 28 drivers voted on whether to start or not. The vote was 15 to 13 in favor of racing.
1957: Mike Hailwood took part in his first motorcycle race, at Oulton Park, England.
1958: Jim Reed won a rainy NASCAR GN race on the 1/2 mile paved Old Bridge Stadium oval, New Jersey, US. Reed won the pole and led all 187 laps in his Ford when officials red flagged the race. It had begun raining on lap 85, but the race continued. West Coast star Eddie Pagan finished 2nd, Rex White 3rd and New Jersey’s Frankie Schneider 4th.
1963: The 8th Aintree 200 motor race, run to Formula One rules, was held at Aintree Circuit, England. Contested over 50 laps of the circuit, the race was won by British driver Graham Hill in a BRM P57. This race saw one of the last instances of car changing in Formula One, as it was already illegal in World Championship races. Jim Clark’s Lotus 25 was left on the starting line with a flat battery and joined the race a lap down, but after 16 laps, he swapped cars with his team-mate Trevor Taylor who was in fifth place at the time. Clark moved up to finish third, while Taylor was left in seventh place. Clark set the fastest lap of the race in Taylor’s car.
1973: Argentinean racing driver and polo player Carlos Alberto Menditeguy (58), who entered 11 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, achieving one podium, and scoring a total of nine championship points, died.
1975: One of the most controversial and tragic races in the Formula 1 history after the death of five spectators who were hit by the crashing Hill GH1 of Rolf Stommelen at the Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuich Park. It was also the race in which Lella Lombardi became the first and so far only woman to score points towards the World Championship. It was the 21st Spanish Grand Prix since the race was first held in 1913. It was the fourth, and last, Grand Prix to be held on the Montjuïc street circuit. The race was shortened to 29 of its scheduled 75 laps, a race distance of 109 kilometres. The race was won by German driver Jochen Mass driving a McLaren M23. It would be the only Formula One win of his career. Mass had just a second lead over the Lotus 72E of Belgian driver Jacky Ickx when the race was declared. Argentine racer Carlos Reutemann was declared third in his Brabham BT44B, a lap behind the race leaders after a penalty was given to Jean-Pierre Jarier.
1975: Richard Petty drove past Darrell Waltrip with 21 laps to go, going on to win the NASCAR GN ‘Virginia 500’ at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. Petty’s Dodge finished 6 seconds ahead of Waltrip’s Chevy.
1980: Darrell Waltrip came back from a penalty to win the NASCAR GN ‘Virginia 500’ at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US as a new tire rule wreaked havoc. In an effort to cut costs, NASCAR imposed a 2 lap penalty for tire changes under caution. Leader Waltrip pitted before the green fell at the end of the day’s 3rd caution, incurring a 2 lap penalty.
1986: The San Marino Grand Prix was held at Imola. As with the previous year’s event, fuel consumption was a big issue, changing the points finishers in the closing laps. Alain Prost driving a McLaren-TAG Porsche MP4/2C dominated the race after Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell retired early, before almost running out of fuel, three corners from the chequered flag. Frantically weaving the car back and forth to slosh the last drops of fuel into the pickup, he managed to keep it running just long enough to creep over the line and win the race.
1991: David Green raced to his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in just his 10th start, winning the Nestle 200 at Lanier Speedway in Gainesville, Georgia, US. Green, who later won the 1994 series championship, led the final 111 of 200 laps. Fellow rookie Jeff Gordon took second place for his first top-five finish in the series.
1997: Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the Williams, won the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in time of 1:31. He qualified second and set the fastest lap of the race trying to stay ahead of Michael Schumacher who finished right behind him 1.2 seconds later.
2011: Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes announced that he had purchased Caterham Cars.

~28 April~

1899: The 90 km Limone-Cuneo-Turin road race was won by De Gras driving a Peugeot 10 hp at an average speed of 50.86 mph.
1900: L Gastè riding a Perfecta 6 hp tricycle won the 48 km road race between Turin and Asti in a time of 52 minutes 2 seconds.
1921: Douglas Davidson riding a Harley Davidson at the Brooklands circuit became the first motorcyclist to exceed 100 mph in Britain. He achieved this amazing feat on a V-Twin Harley-Davidson. Considering his bike used tyres more suited to a bicycle and his only protection was a thick sweater and a leather hat this was no mean feat.

1940: Despite a suspension of the Mille Miglia by Mussolini due to the fatal accident in 1938 that resulted in the death of 10 spectators a smaller version of the event, officially called the Gran Premio di Brescia was held over a triangular course with Brescia, Mantua and Cremona at its apexes. The race entailed nine laps over the 104 mile circuit. Enzo Ferrari having left Alfa Romeo was preparing cars of his own based upon engines and chassis of the 1100 Fiat. The Auto Avio Costruzioni 815 was the first Ferrari car that was fully designed and built by Enzo Ferrari. Bound by contracts after leaving Alfa Romeo, however, Ferrari was not allowed to call this car a Ferrari. Instead he set up shop under the name AAC (Auto Avio Costruzioni), and strictly speaking the car was named AAC tipo 815. It was named this because it had an eight cylinder, 1.5 L engine. Using the same facilities as his earlier Scuderia, Ferrari hired well-known technicians Luigi Bazzi and Federico Giberti, and engineers Vittorio Bellentani and Gioachino Colombo. Huschke von HansteinFerrari then put in charge of the project Alberto Massimino, a talented 45-year-old engineer who had moved to Modena to work on the Alfa 158 racecar. Increasing border tensions throughout Europe were causing severe materials shortages, so Ferrari had his men use a Fiat 508 C as their starting point. Fiat had made a handful of these mainstream sedans into endurance racers, so Ferrari’s team reinforced the chassis but left untouched the brakes, transmission, steering, and front suspension. For the engine Ferrari took two 508 C 1100cc four-cylinder engines, reduced the bore and stroke, cast a new block and cylinder heads, and joined the two engines together. The result was an inline 1496cc 8-cylinder that produced 72 horsepower at 5500 rpm.The two 815s were to be driven by Lotario Rangoni and the son of Antonio Ascari, Alberto. One dominated its class and ran as high as 10th overall late in the race. Both had to retire with mechanical failures, causing Ferrari to note a bit harshly, “The experiment that started so brilliantly ended in failure, largely because the car had been built too hastily.” 1940 Mille MigliaAlfa Romeo entered a team of 4 2.5-litre roadsters and were thought to be prohibitive favorites some pre-race experts pointed to one of the five car German BMW team as potential winners. Headed by Huschke von Hanstein the cars were both light and fast. The 328 became world famous after a special low drag and light weight touring ‘Superleggera’ coupe finished fifth overall during the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans, convincingly winning the two-litre class in the process. One of the BMW 328s entered in the Mille Miglia was a limousine-bodied car that was tailored for racing and given aerodynamic features courtesy of Professor Wunibald Kamm. Kamm is best known for his breakthroughs in reducing car turbulence at high speeds; the style of car bodywork based on his research has come to be known as the Kamm-effect, Kammback or Kamm-tail. It is a car design characterized by a long, tapering roof and an abrupt, cut-off tail. Two Delages were entered but the French government there refused to allow any of their citizens to enter as drivers and the cars were handed to Italians Piero Taruffi and Gianfranco Comotti. Mechanical troubles forced both cars to retire. The lead Alfa driven by Farina was able to work its way up to 2nd but could reach no higher. The spectators who were there that day saw the German team finish first, third, fifth and sixth with von Hanstein taking the top laurels. This would be the last major race on the continent before it became fully engulfed in the war.

1949: The Jersey Road Race held in St. Helier, Jersey was won by Bob Gerard in an ERA B-Type.
1951: Luigi Villoresi, driving a Ferrari Tipo 340 Vignale, won the Mille Miglia in Italy.
1957: Paul Goldsmith drove his Smokey Yunick Ford to victory in the 250 lap NASCAR Grand National race at the Greensboro Agricultural Fairgrounds 1/3 mile dirt track in Northa Carolina, US. Jack Smith’s factory backed Chevrolet finished 5 seconds behind in second. Under pressure from the manufacturers association, Bill France banned superchargers and fuel injection.
1957: The Ferrari Dino 156 F2 debuted in the Naples Grand Prix, Italy with Luigi Musso at the wheel. He finished third. Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn in their Lancia-Ferrari D50A’s were first and second. Hawthorn sat on pole and also set fastest lap but could not out drive Collins on that day.
1967: Bobby Allison drove away from a duel with James Hylton to win the 100 mile NASCAR GN race on the 1/2 mile dirt Savannah Speedway, Georgia. Allison took the lead from Hylton on lap 86. Hylton stayed in contention until lap 183, when he spun his Dodge and was hit by Buck Baker. Allison’s J.D. Bracken Chevrolet went on to finish 16 seconds ahead of Richard Petty. Shortly before the race, Allison was named to replace David Pearson in the Cotton Owens Dodge.
1968: Mark Donohue drove Roger Penske’s McLaren 6A-Chevy to victory in the United States Road Racing Championship Sports Car race at Riverside International Raceway. Jim Hall won the pole in his Chaparral 2G at a record 118.481 mph, but broke a halfshaft in final practice, badly damaging a new automatic transmission he was experimenting with. Hall later said he lost the half shaft in the pits “fooling around”. With his main opposition not making the start, Donohue took the lead on the green and immediately began stretching it. Donohue led by 4.5 seconds in 3 laps and 10 seconds after 7 laps. 3rd running Peter Revson retired on lap 21 with a bent shifting fork on his Shelby Racing Lola-Ford. Donohue’s run was not without incident, at one point spinning backwards through the tire markers after getting into turn 7A “too hot”. He was quickly able to restart his motor and be on his way. Leading by more than a minute with 2 laps to go, Donohue’s ignition failed and the 427 c.i., fuel injected Traco Chevy engine began misfiring. Donohue said he “just began flipping switches and the last one worked”. He went on to take the checkered flag 49 seconds ahead of Lothar Motschenbacher’s McLaren 6D-Gurney/Weslake-Ford. Sam Posey drove his Caldwell to 3rd, 1 lap down. Moises Solana finished 5th to hold a 1 point lead over Donohue in the USRRC standings after 2 races.
1974: Cale Yarborough dominated from the pole position, leading 360 laps — including the final 259 — to win the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway (Virginia, US). Richard Petty finished second and Bobby Allison third in a 1-2-3 sweep by NASCAR Hall of Famers. Amazingly, Allison never won in 44 starts in NASCAR’s top series at Martinsville, finishing either second or third six times each.
1974: Niki Lauda won the Spanish Grand Prix at the Jarama circuit, his first victory in Formula 1 and the 50th win for Ferrari, after a nearly two year winless streak.
1991: At the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, polesitter, Ayrton Senna in his McLaren, narrowly won over his teammate Gerhard Berger who set fastest lap. Berger was 6th on the grid and drove well to come in second. JJ Lehto in a Dallara was third 1 lap down, but he had an excellent drive from his 16th starting spot.
1996: Jacques Villeneuve driving a Williams-Renault FW18 won the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring. It was his first F1 win after four starts. The Tyrrells were disqualified for separate infringements – Salo finished 10th but his car was found post-race to be underweight, while Katayama finished 12th but was disqualified for receiving an illegal push-start on the parade lap.
1996: Sterling Marlin held on for a narrow victory in the Winston Select 500 at Talladega, Alabama (US) an event that sent Ricky Craven and Bill Elliott to the hospital. Craven was only bruised, but Elliott suffered a broken leg in a single-car crash.
2002: Contested over 65 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, the Spanish Grand Prix was won by Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2002 car after starting from pole position. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second driving for the Williams team, with David Coulthard third driving for McLaren. During the race, Juan Pablo Montoya ran over his front jackman during the pitstops.
2002: Rookie Jimmie Johnson surged into the lead with 13 laps remaining and outran Kurt Busch to win the California 500 held at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, US. Johnson’s first NASCAR Winston Cup victory came in his 13th career start.
2007: BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld made history as the first driver in over 30 years to tackle the Nürburgring Nordschleife track in a contemporary Formula One car. Heidfeld’s three demonstration laps round the German circuit in an F1.06 were the highlight of festivities celebrating BMW’s contribution to motorsport. About 45,000 spectators showed up for the main event. Former F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck was injured during the race when he crashed his BMW Z4.
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