3-4 July: This Weekend in Motorsport History

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

~3 July~

1905: The first 24 hour motor race run in Columbus, Ohio, US on a one mile oval circuit horse racing track, ended. Remarkably the three cars that started all survived the race, which was won by Charles and George Soules driving their pope-Toledo, with a Frayer-Miller second and a Peerless third. The winning car covered 828 ½ miles in the 24 hours, to average 34.5 mph.

1927: Held at Monthlèry over 48 laps of a 12.50 km course for a total distance of 600.00 km, the French Grand Prix was won by Robert Benoist driving a Delage.

1932: Tazio Nuvolari driving an Alfa Romeo B/P3 won the French Grand Prix at Reims.

1949: Alberto Ascari driving a Ferrari 125 G won the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten.

1954: Herb Thomas, a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, drove a Hudson to victory at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, South Carolina, US. Thomas was the only driver to complete all 200 laps on the half-mile dirt track. Jimmie Lewallen matched his career-best finish in second place, which happened five times in his 142 starts in NASCAR’s top series.

1966: The French Grand Prix -the ’60th Anniversary race’ of Grand Prix racing – at Reims was won by the 1959 and 1960 world champion, Australian driver Jack Brabham driving his Brabham BT19. It was Brabham’s eighth Grand Prix victory, his first since the 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix, six years earlier. It was his first win since establishing his own team, Brabham Racing Organisation and the first win for the Australian developed Repco V8 engine.

1971: Mark Donohue, driving the Penske Sunoco McLaren M16, won the inaugural USAC Schaefer 500 at Pocono International Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, US, for Team Penske’s first Indy car win.

1982: Ferrari entered Patrick Tambay in the Dutch Grand Prix to replace Gilles Villeneuve, who had been killed during qualifying a few race weekends prior, at the Belgian Grand Prix. This race was won by the other Ferrari driver Didier Pironi, which turned out to be his last win in Formula One.

1988: Alain Prost drove a McLaren-Honda MP4/4 to victory at the French Grand Prix held at the Paul Ricard Circuit.

1994: Contested over 72 laps, the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours was won by Benetton driver Michael Schumacher, who extended his drivers championship lead to 37 points by taking his sixth victory in seven races. His main rival for the title, Williams driver Damon Hill finished the race in second place and was also second in the standings.

2005: Renault driver Fernando Alonso won the French Grand Prix at Magnys Cours. McLaren driver Kimi Räikkönen, Alonso’s main title rival, finished the race in second position whilst Michael Schumacher completed the podium for the Ferrari team.

2007: The Royal Mail issued six Grand Prix stamps to celebrate one hundred years of UK motorsport and the 50th anniversary of Stirling Moss winning the British Grand Prix. The six stamps featured Moss’s 1957 Vanwall, Graham Hill’s 1962 BRM P57, Jim Clark’s 1963 Lotus 25 Climax, Jackie Stewart’s 1973 Tyrrell 006/2, James Hunt’s 1976 McLaren M23 and Nigel Mansell’s 1986 Williams FW11.


~4 July~

1902: The first motorcycle race in America was held from Boston to New York.

1903: The first Irish speed trials were held two days after the Gordon Bennett Cup race, in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Over the flying-kilometre, Baron de Forest’s privately owned Mors beat Gabriel’s works Mors, and a 80hp Panchard driven by the Right Hon. Charles Rolls.

1912: The 8,000-seat Newark Motordrome, New Jersey (US) opened and regularly ran motorcycle races on Sunday afternoons until it closed in 1917 after a fire. Racing fans from in and around Newark would pack the grandstands that ring the 60-degree, quarter-mile wooden “saucer” to see riders from around the country compete at speeds approaching 90 to 100 mph.

1914: Mercedes finished 1-2-3 at the French Grand Prix at Lyon, the last Grand Prix before World War One.

1915: Bob Burman won the main event at Ascot Park in Los Angeles, California, US, driving a Peugeot.

1948: Despite racing for nearly two hours, at the finishing line of the Swiss Grand Prix, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Wimille was only 0.2 seconds behind the race winner, the Italian driver Carlo Felice Trossi. Trossi’s compatriot Luigi Villoresi finished over two and a half minutes behind the pair, in third place. Pre-WWII star driver Achille Varzi was killed when he crashed during practice, and the wealthy Swiss privateer Christian Kautz died in an accident during the race.

1952: Troy Ruttmann driving the Offenhauser-powered Agajanian Special, won the inaugural 200-mile race at the Southland Speedway, later known as the Raleigh Speedway in North Carolina, US.

1952: Curtis Turner tamed a 56-car field to win the 200-mile NASCAR Modified-Sportsman race at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina. Rex Stansell was fatally injured in a late-race crash. NASCAR inserted the Darlington race into its crowded Modified-Sportsman schedule to counter the AAA Indy Car race staged at the new Southland Speedway in Raleigh, North Carolina, US.

1953: Junior Johnson won the 200-mile NASCAR Modified-Sportsman race at Darlington Raceway. In a same-day NASCAR Grand National event at Spartan­burg, South Carolina, title contender Tim Flock was run over by a car as he took a nap in the infield. Flock’s injuries kept him out of action for several weeks.

1954: The long-awaited Mercedes-Benz team arrived at the French Grand Prix with the new W196 cars for Juan-Manuel Fangio, Karl Kling and Hans Herrmann. With Giuseppe Farina out of action after an accident Gianni Lancia agreed to release Alberto Ascari to drive for Maserati, ensuring that there was an Italian driver in the race. Ferrari fielded Froilan Gonzalez, Mike Hawthorn with Maurice Trintigant. In practice Fangio was fastest from Kling with Ascari on the front row alongside the silver cars. Gonzalez shared the second row with Maserati’s Onofre Marimon while Prince Bira did well in his Maserati to record a faster time than Herrmann and Hawthorn. Ascari’s race was short as he retired with transmission failure during the first lap which left Fangio and Kling to run away with the race. There was a lively battle for third place with Hawthorn battling with Marimon before he had to retire. The Argentine also had to stop for a change of plugs and dropped to the tail of the field and so Prince Bira battled with Jean Behra’s Gordini and Trintigant’s Ferrari. Behra made a mistake and went off and Trintigant lost time trying to avoid his countryman and so Bira was able to escape but on the final lap he ran out of fuel and was overtaken by Robert Manzon in a Ferrari who had inherited fourth place when Trintignant went out with engine trouble.

1957: Paul Goldsmith wheeled Smokey Yunick’s Chevrolet to victory in the 250-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Raleigh Speedway. Herb Thomas made his first start of the season after injuries suffered in October 1956.

1958: Fireball Roberts continued his winning spree by taking first place in the 250-mile race at Raleigh Speed­way, North Carolina, US. The Daytona Beach driver outrun a 55-car field on the one-mile banked oval.

1965: Jean-Pierre Beltoise won the Reims Grand Prix in a Matra, the first major Grand Prix victory by a French car since 1952.

1969: The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) was founded by John Bishop.

1976: The 54th French Grand Prix and the fourth to be held at the Paul Ricard circuit was won by the eventual 1976 world champion James Hunt driving a McLaren M23. Hunt won by twelve seconds over the Tyrrell P34 of Patrick Depailler. It was Hunt’s second win for the year and his third career Grand Prix victory.

1984: Richard Petty, the king of stock car racing, won his 200th career victory at the Firecracker 400 race in Daytona, Florida.

1985: Unheralded Greg Sacks stunned the favorites by winning the Pepsi Firecracker 400 at Daytona, driving an unsponsored car to a 23.5 second triumph over runner-up Bill Elliott. It was not only Sacks’ first NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory, but was also his first top-five finish.

1987: Bobby Allison blasted out of the middle of the pack and roared past Ken Schrader with two laps to go, to win the Pepsi Firecracker 400 at Daytona. Allison was running 13th with five laps to go, but made up the deficit and drove to an impressive triumph.

1993: Contested over 72 laps of the 2.651 mile Magny Cours circuit, the French Grand Prix was won by Williams driver, and home favourite, Alain Prost, who extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship; his team-mate Damon Hill was second, and Michael Schumacher completed the podium for Benetton. The race was also the last for Fabrizio Barbazza.

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