31 August – 1 September: This Weekend In Motor Sport History

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


~31 August~

1951: James E. Lynch, the stunt driver, died in Texarkana, Arkansas (US), at age 50. He was founder of the “Jimmie Lynch Daredevils” stunt drivers show.

1956: Curtis Turner edged teammate Joe Weatherly to win in NASCAR’s Convertible Series at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, South Carolina, US. Turner, the pole-starter, and Weatherly were the only drivers on the lead lap in a pair of ’56 Ford ragtops owned by Pete DePaolo. Glen Wood, a 2012 inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, finished third.
1969: Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme finished 1-2 in their Team McLaren M8B-Chevrolets in the Can-Am race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA.
1980: Australian driver Alan Jones became the first man to win the world championship with Willliams in 1980 but he was made to work for the title. The Dutch Grand Prix of that year marked the first time he failed to finish on the podium. Jones suffered a big crash in practice but still manage to qualify fourth. Jones then took the lead on the second lap after a good start but damaged one of his skirts in his car after driving over kerbing. Having been forced to pit for repairs, Jones struggled home 11th, three laps down on race winner Nelson Piquet, who closed the gap in the standings to just two points with three races remaining. Jacques Laffite and Carlos Reutemann also maintained slim hopes of the title after finishing third and fourth behind Rene Arnoux.
1996: Jeff Gordon prevailed in a fender-rubbing final-lap skirmish with Jeff Burton to win Darlington’s Mountain Dew Southern 500 (South Carolina, US) and the Winston Million bonus. Gordon was the first driver to pocket the $1 million bonus since Bill Elliott won in the inaugural offering in 1985.
2003: Terry Labonte won the last Labor Day weekend Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, North Carolina, US. NASCAR announced that beginning in 2004, the race date would be moved from NASCAR’s original superspeedway to California Speedway.
2003: Drunk driver Dr William Faenza from New York was clocked by police driving his Lamborghini Diablo at 182 mph in a 55 mph zone on State Road 443. He was sentenced to 48 hours in jail plus a year of probation and fined $1,375 plus court costs. In addition, Faenza lost his licence for a year and was required to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation.
2006: Jenson Button escaped injury in a high-speed accident during testing at Monza. His Honda went off the track at the 160mph exit of the Parabolica late in the afternoon, skipping over the gravel trap before hitting the barriers. The impact caused major damage to the entire left side of the RA106 but Button was able to climb out of the car unaided and reported no injuries.

~1 September~

1899: The Paris-Ostend race ended in a dead heat between Girardot (Mors) and Levegh (Panhard), when both completed the 203 miles in 6 hours 11 minutes (32.5 mph) – there was no possibility of a time keeping error as this was one of the few early races with a mass start (9 cars), and Girardot and Levegh crossed the line at Ostend racecourse wheel-to-wheel.
1946: The first race under the new Formula One regulations, the Turin Grand Prix was won by Achille Varzi in an Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta, although in reality the cars were no different to those that had raced earlier in the season. Formula One was first defined early in 1946 by the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) of the FIA, forerunner of FISA, as the premier single seater racing category in worldwide motorsport. It was initially known as Formula A, but the name Formula One was widely used early on and became official in 1950. In the beginning, the formula was largely based on pre-war regulations defined by engine capacity. The regulation was expected to bring a new balance between supercharged and normally aspirated cars. Non supercharged 4.5 litres pre-war Grand Prix cars were allowed to race against the pre-war 1.5 litres supercharged ‘voiturettes’ while pre-war supercharged Grand Prix cars were banned.

1952: Pole-starter Fonty Flock, wearing bermuda shorts and a short-sleeve shirt, led 341 of 400 laps, including the final 216, to win the third annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina, US collecting a winner’s check of $9,430. Flock’s Air Lift Special Oldsmobile was followed by four Hudsons. Johnny Patterson and Herb Thomas finished second and third, respectively, each one lap down.
1958: Fireball Roberts took his fourth win of the NASCAR Grand National season at Darlington’s Southern 500. Roberts had won four of his seven starts during the 1958 ­campaign.
1960: The British Hot Rod Association (BHRA) was formed by the amalgamation of clubs like the Highwaymen with the intent of unifying Sprint Clubs and holding organised Drag Races at disused airfields like Duxford and Graveley. Brian Coole was chairman.
1962: Bill Krause drove a Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage” to victory in a sports car race in Santa Barbara, California, US.
1963: The first Austrian Grand Prix (cob=ver image) was run at Zeltweg Airfield and was won by Jack Brabham, driving a Brabham-Climax, at 96.34 mph. In the following year the Grand Prix gained Championship status. This race marked the Formula One debut of 1970 World Champion Jochen Rindt, and also the only Formula One appearance of his compatriot Kurt Bardi-Barry, who was killed in a road accident in February 1964.
1980: Sophomore driver Terry Labonte scored his first NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory in the Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina, US. Labonte came from fourth to first when a crash wiped out the three leaders in the closing laps.
1985: Stefan Bellof (27) was killed at the 1000 km Spa sports car race, when he tangled his Walter Brun-entered Porsche 956 with Jacky Ickx’s works 956 at Eau Rouge corner, with both cars catching fire and halting the race. Bellof was pronounced dead one hour later at the circuit’s medical centre.
1991: Harry Gant (51) won the Heinz Southern 500 in Darlington, South Carolina, to extend his record as the oldest winner of a NASCAR race.
1996: Jeff Gordon scored his third straight victory at Darlington, South Carolina (US) and seventh of the season, thwarting Hut Stricklin’s upset bid. Stricklin led the most laps, but overheating problems knocked him off the pace in the final laps.
2004: Michael Schumacher held a press conference to announce that he had no intention of leaving the sport he loves in the near future. “Apparently I’m supposed to announce my retirement here, but that is not the case,” said Schumacher.

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