Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history …..
1887: Paul Faussier, President of the Sport Velocipedique Metropolitaine, staged the first automobile race in France, but the only entrant was Georges Bouton in a steam-powered DeDion, Bouton et Trepardoux quadricycle who averaged 14 mph for the nearly 20 mile race in and around Paris.
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. In fact his F Series Harley-Davidson had no brakes, virtually no exhaust pipes and ran with only one gear.
1940: Alberto Ascari made his automobile racing debut driving the new Ferrari 815 in the closed-circuit Mille Miglia,
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. Both had been legal because they were available to the public.
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.
1974:Cale Yarborough won the NASCAR GN ‘Virginia 450’ at Martinsville Speedway. Yarborough’s Chevy finished 2.1 seconds ahead of Richard Petty’s Dodge. Despite new NASCAR rules giving a larger carburetor to cars using bigger engines, the top 6 finishers all were using small block motors.
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.
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. This would re-occur in the 2004 race.
1915: Bob Burman drove his Peugeot to victory in the ‘Southwest Sweepstakes’ AAA Championship race held on a course of public roads in Oklahoma City. Burman averaged 67.9 mph for the 199.5 mile distance.
1948: Bob Gerard driving a ERA B-Type won the 176 mile Jersey Road Race held in St Helier. George Abecassis finished second and Reg Parnell in third. Another famous name in post-war motor racing who participated in 1948 was Roy Salvatori.
1951: Louis Rosier in a Talbot-Lago T26C-DA won the Bordeaux Grand Prix.
1951: Dale Earnhardt, one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, was born in North Carolina, US. In 1979 Earnhardt was named Winston Cup Rookie of the Year and the following year won the first of his seven Winston Cup Series championships. Driving the black No.3 Chevrolet, Earnhardt earned his nickname, “The Intimidator,” as a result of his uncompromising driving style, racking up a career total of 76 victories. Earnhardt’s life was cut short on February 18, 2001, when he was fatally injured in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500.
1962: The 7th Aintree 200 motor race, run to Formula One rules, was held at Aintree Circuit, England. The race was contested over 50 laps of the circuit, and was won by British driver Jim Clark in a Lotus 24.
1962: Racer Herman ‘The Turtle’ Beam, known for driving in the slow lane but always finishing, recorded his best-ever finish – 6th, but 31 laps behind the winner – in the Volunteer 500 held at Bristol International Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee, US.
1962: Miami’s Bobby Johns won the NASCAR Grand National ‘Volunteer 500’ on the 1/2 mile Bristol International Speedway, Tennessee, US. Johns led 430 of the 500 laps on his way to a 6 lap victory in a Pontiac owned by his father. Fireball Roberts led the first 61 laps before a coil problem cost him 12 laps in the pits. From then on, the only time Johns was out of the lead was during routine pit stops. Roberts still finished 2nd, having made up 6 laps under green flag conditions in the Banjo Matthews Pontiac (!). It was Johns 2nd (and final) career GN win and first since 1960.
1969: A Porsche 917 was driven in public for the first time at the Le Mans test weekend. The 917 gave Porsche its first overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and 1971. Powered by the Type 912 flat-12 engine of 4.5, 4.9, or 5 litres, the 917/30 Can Am variant was capable of a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 2.3 seconds, 0–124 mph (200 km/h) in 5.3 seconds, and a top speed of up to 240 mph (390 km/h). This is not, however, representative of the majority of 917s. The highest official speed ever clocked for a 917 at Le Mans is 362 km/h or 224.4 mph. There are at least eleven variants of the 917. The original version had a removable long tail/medium tail with active rear wing flaps, but had considerable handling problems at high speed because of significant rear lift. The handling problems were investigated at a joint test at the Österreichring by the factory engineers and their new race team partners John Wyer Engineering and after exhaustive experimentation by both groups, a shorter, more upswept tail was found to give the car more aerodynamic stability at speed. The changes were quickly adopted into a new version of the 917, called the Kurzheck, or short-tail, with the new version being called the 917K. The 917K, and the special Le Mans long-tail version (called the 917 Langheck, or 917L), dominated the 1970 and 1971 World Sportscar Championships. In 1971, a variant of the 917K appeared with a less upswept tail and vertical fins, and featured the concave rear deck that had proved so effective on the 1970 version of the 917L. The fins kept the clean downforce inducing air on the top of the tail and allowed the angle of the deck to be reduced, reducing the drag in direct proportion. The result was a more attractive looking car that maintained down force for less drag and higher top speed. By this time the original 4.5-litre engine, which had produced around 520 bhp in 1969, had been enlarged through 4.9-litres (600 bhp) to 5-litres and produced a maximum of 630 bhp. The 917K models were generally used for the shorter road courses such as Sebring, Brands Hatch, Monza and Spa-Francorchamps. The big prize for Porsche however, was Le Mans. For the French circuit’s long, high speed straights, the factory developed special long tail bodywork that was designed for minimum drag and thus highest maximum speed. On the car’s debut in 1969, these long-tail (917L) models proved to be nearly uncontrollable as there was so little down force. In fact, they generated aerodynamic lift at the highest speeds. For 1970, an improved version was raced by the factory (although the John Wyer team still preferred the security of the 917K) and for 1971, after very significant development in the wind tunnel, the definitive 917L was raced by both factory and JW. These cars were so stable that the drivers could take their hands off the steering wheel at speeds which reached 246 mph. In 1971 Jo Siffert raced an open-top 917PA Spyder (normally aspirated) in the 1971 CanAm series. The 917 is one of the most iconic sports racing cars of all time, largely for its high speeds and high power outputs, and was made into a movie star by Steve McQueen in his 1971 film Le Mans. 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the 917, and Porsche held a special celebration at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
1973: At the Spanish Grand Prix held at Montjuich Park, Lotus driver, Emerson Fittipaldi had a great drive from his 7th spot on the grid to win the race in 1:48:18 over Francois Cevert in his Tyrrell 42 seconds back. Third spot went to George Folmer in his Shadow who also had a great drive coming from his 14th spot on the grid. Polesitter Ronnie Peterson had the fastest lap and was going well until gearbox trouble put him out on lap 57.
1973: Brian Redman won the season opening SCCA Formula 5000 race at Riverside International Raceway, California, US. A new race format debuted featuring two 60 mile qualifying heats followed by a 100 mile final. At the start of the 100 mile feature race, Brett Lunger jumped into the lead followed by Redman and Jody Scheckter. Lunger continued to lead with Redman pressuring, until the halfway point when a stuck throttle sent Lunger for a brief off course excursion. Lunger pitted his Carl Hogan Lola T330 for a quick damage check, returning to eventually place 6th. Redman went on to take his Jim Hall/Carl Haas owned Lola T330 across the line first with Scheckter driving his Trojan T101 to 2nd and 1969 champ Tony Adamowicz taking 3rd in another Lola T330.
1984: The Belgian Grand Prix was held at Zolder. Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto secured his first career pole position and his first win for Ferrari, becoming the first Italian to win for the Prancing Horse since Ludovico Scarfiotti won the 1966 Italian Grand Prix. Team mate René Arnoux qualified 2nd in what would be the last all-Ferrari front row until the 1988 British Grand Prix.
1984: Geoff Bodine scored his first career NASCAR GN win by taking the 500 lap race on the 1/2 mile Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. It also marked the first GN victory for car owner Rick Hendrick. Bodine took the lead from Bobby Allison with 49 laps left and took his Chevy across the line 6 seconds ahead of Ron Bouchard’s Jack Beebe Buick.
2001: Michael Schumacher won the Spanish Grand Prix driving a Ferrari F2001 even though he was 40 seconds behind Mika Häkkinen on the penultimate lap. The Finn, who had lapped the third placed Juan-Pablo Montoya, suffered from a hydraulic failure on the final lap of the race. This handed Michael Schumacher probably one of his luckier wins as he was suffering with a bad vibration.
2002: Bob Akin, American industrialist and race car driver died. Four days earlier he was gravely injured in a violent crash while testing a powerful 1988 Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo for the Walter Mitty Challenge. His injuries included a broken neck, left leg, left shoulder and right arm, along with third-degree burns over 15 percent of his body. He was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital after the accident. After briefly rallying, the 66 year old succumbed due to complications from his injuries.
2007: A1 Team Great Britain broke the home race curse, winning the Brands Hatch Sprint race at the 2006/07 season finale. Forty-two races into the series, Great Britain became the first team to win on home soil.