4-5 July: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~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.

1908: 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.

1913: Frank Verbeck won $50,000 when he drove a Fiat to victory in the 444 mile Pan-Pacific Road Race from Los Angeles to Sacramento. It is the longest race held on public roads in California history.

1914: Mercedes finished 1-2-3 at the French Grand Prix at Lyon, the last Grand Prix before World War One. An estimated crowd of over 300,000 watched 37 cars start in pairs with a 30-second gap between each pair. German Christian Lautenschlager won the 480-mile race at 65.55 mph. A Peugeot driven by Georges Boillot, who had won 19th French Grand Prix in both the previous 2 years and was seen as the defender of French honour against the Germans, retired after 19 laps with engine failure.

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

1936: Charles Martin (ERA) won the Nuffield Trophy handicap race at Donington Park, England.

1939: Noel Pope riding a Brough Superior recorded the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle at Brooklands (124.51mph).

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.

1956: Fireball Roberts recorded his first superspeedway triumph in the 250-miler at Raleigh Speedway. Carl Kiekhaefer files a protest against the weight of Roberts’ flywheel. No scales were available at the speedway, so NASCAR officials took the flywheel to a local fish market to be weighed. Roberts’ win was upheld by NASCAR

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.

1959: Fireball Roberts scored his first win in his hometown by driving a Pontiac to victory in the inaugural Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Roberts outran Joe Weatherly’s Convertible Thunderbird in the caution-free event.

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

1974: Coming to take the white flag at the Firecracker 400, leader David Pearson realised he is a sitting duck with Richard Petty riding second and ready to slingshot into the lead. As he crossed the start-finish line, Pearson suddenly pulled onto the apron as if he has a blown engine. Richard Petty swept into the lead, but suddenly realised that Pearson was back up to speed and running on his back bumper. Off of turn four, Pearson himself slingshot past Petty into the lead to win.

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 (cover image), the king of stock car racing, won his 200th career victory at the Firecracker 400 race in Daytona, Florida, in front of a record crowd that included NASCAR’s first presidential patron, Ronald Reagan. Petty’s record for wins will very likely never be broken. The Firecracker 400 win was especially dramatic, as Petty hadn’t been winning regularly on the circuit and had suffered an embarrassment eight months earlier when he was found to have run too big an engine in his victory at the 1983 Miller 500 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The convergence of the king’s 200th win, the presence of the president, and the date of July 4th led NASCAR critics to suggest that the win may have been arranged. NASCAR had long been suspected of aiding certain drivers in need, the most serious allegation being that it allowed Junior Johnson to run illegal engines in 1994 in order to encourage McDonald’s to remain a team car sponsor. Petty fans bristle at the accusation that the king’s crowning achievement wasn’t courtly, and while their case is solid, a shadow of doubt remains. His supporters contend that Petty leased his car engine from Robert Yates, the headman of the Digard racing team–whose driver was Petty’s lifelong rival, Bobby Allison. Why would Digard give Petty a bigger engine than Allison? Moreover, Petty had been caught running too big an engine eight months earlier, and the so-called “Pettygate” scandal had resulted in a lot of unpleasant publicity for NASCAR. Additionally, Petty’s cars had been running strong all year. He’d led over 200 laps already in 1984, and he had won five weeks earlier at the Dover 500, where Daytona 500 champion Cale Yarborough had described Petty as “real strong” at the season’s first event. Finally, Petty had never relied heavily on power to win him races, instead preferring to outmanoeuvre his opponents and preserve his car for the later stages of the race when he could take control. NASCAR’s restrictor plates create fertile ground for conspiracy theories, as slight size adjustments in the plates can create an edge in horsepower that would give an insurmountable advantage to most of today’s drivers. It’s true that the ’80s saw NASCAR trying to promote itself to a broader fan base, and that a spectacle such as an Independence Day victory for the sport’s greatest racer in front of the nation’s president was an irresistible lure. But there was a reason Richard Petty won his first 199 victories when his closest competition won only 105–so why question number 200?

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.

1992: Ernie Irvan squeezed past Sterling Marlin to register a two car-length victory in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. President George Bush accompanied Richard Petty in prerace ceremonies, commemorating The King’s final race at Daytona International Speedway.

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.

1998: Raging forest fires in the state of Florida forced Daytona International Speedway officials to postpone the Pepsi 400 until October. Wildfires burn more than 300,000 acres in the Sunshine State. It was the first time the holiday NASCAR classic was postponed since the track was built in 1959.

2004: Michael Schumacher used a unique four-stop strategy to beat Fernando Alonso’s Renault to claim the French Grand Prix for Ferrari. Rubens Barrichello finished third in his Ferrari, having overtaken Jarno Trulli on the last corners of the last lap.

~5 July~

1905: The last of the six Gordon-Bennett Cup Races, took place in France over a 85 mile (137 km) mountainous circuit in the Auvergne near to Clermont-Ferrand. Frenchman Léon Théry in a 96 hp Richard-Brasier won the Cup for the second year in a row after completing the 340 mile (548 km) race in 7hr 2min 42sec, at an average speed of 48 mph (77.78 km/h).The race took place on the doorstep of the Clermont-Ferrand headquarters of Michelin, and cars fitted with Michelin tyres took the first four places.

1912: The main event of the first Montamara Fiesta Road Races in Tacoma, Washington, US, a 250 mile ‘Free-for-all-Race. was won by Teddy Tetzlaff in a Fiat.

1915: The Omaha 1-mile board track in Nebraska, US, opened with a 302-mile race won by Eddie Rickenbacker in a Maxwell.

1936: Jean-Pierre Wimille (Bugatti T57G) won the Grand Prix de la Marne sports car race at the Reims-Gueux track in France.

1937: The second and last Vanderbilt Trophy race was staged at the Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, Long Island, New York and was won by Bernd Rosemeyer in a Typ C Auto Union.

1953: Mike Hawthorn’s Ferrari beat Fangio’s Maserati by just 1 second after two and three quarter hours of racing at the 1953 French Grand Prix at Reims. This was the first victory for a British driver in the World Championship. time record with a run of 4.595 seconds at Topeka, Kansas, USA.

1954: Held on the same day as the 1954 World Cup Final, Manuel Fangio driving a Mercedes W196 powered by a straight-8 fuel-injection engine, won the Reims Grand Prix.

1959: The sun was so hot at the French Grand Prix, that the track surface began to melt. Tony Brooks mastered the conditions to give Ferrari their first Championship victory in 12 months. His French team-mate, Jean Behra, was fired for punching the team manager!

1970: Clermont-Ferrand staged the French Grand Prix, which was won by Jochen Rindt in a Lotus-Cosworth 72C. It was the last Formula One race to be held on public roads with no Armco lining around the circuit.

1981: Alain Prost driving a Renault RE30 claimed the first of an eventful 51 wins for Renault, at the French Grand Prix.

1987: British driver Nigel Mansell in a Williams FW11B won the French Grand Prix. It was Mansell’s second win of the year and his second victory in the French Grand Prix. Mansell finished seven seconds ahead of team mate Brazilian two-time World Champion Nelson Piquet. Reigning champion Frenchman Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/3 finished third.

1992: Nigel Mansell won the French Grand Prix in a Williams-Renault FW14B. A lorry driver blockade meant the Andrea Moda Formula team did not appear at this race. Every other team was also affected but all managed to make their way to the circuit and compete in the race. Both Williams cars qualified ahead of the McLarens with Nigel Mansell in pole position ahead of his teammate Riccardo Patrese, Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger, Michael Schumacher and Frenchman Jean Alesi. At the start, Patrese got by Mansell while Berger got ahead of Senna and Martin Brundle was able to sneak by Alesi. At the Adelaide hairpin, Schumacher tried to pass Senna but instead hit him, taking Senna out and forcing himself to pit. Meanwhile, Patrese and Mansell were side by side but Patrese kept the lead. Patrese led Mansell, Berger, Brundle, Alesi and Häkkinen. Nothing changed until lap 11 when Berger’s engine failed. Soon afterwards it began to rain so heavily that the race was stopped. After some time the rain decreased and the grid formed up again. The race would be decided on the aggregate times of both parts of the race. Patrese took the lead again with Alesi getting ahead of Mika Häkkinen’s Lotus as well. Mansell tried to pass his teammate again but Patrese defended and once again kept the lead. Further back, Schumacher again tried too hard, hitting Stefano Modena in the Jordan, dropping out of the race with a broken front suspension. Patrese led Mansell, Brundle, Alesi, Häkkinen and Comas on aggregate. Patrese then waved Mansell through on track and soon Mansell got ahead on aggregate. When Patrese was quizzed after the race on whether team orders existed in the Williams team he refused to comment. It began to rain again and everyone pitted for wets with Alesi leaving the change too late and dropping down to sixth. His engine failed on lap 61. Mansell won with Patrese making it a Williams 1-2 ahead of Brundle, Häkkinen, Comas and Herbert. This was Brundle’s first podium – he had been disqualified from his podium finish at the 1984 Detroit Grand Prix. Thus, at the halfway stage of the season, Mansell led the championship with 66 points compared to Patrese’s 34. Schumacher was third with 26, Senna was fourth with 18, Berger was fifth with 18, Alesi was sixth with 11, Brundle was seventh with 9 and Alboreto was eighth with 5. In the constructors championship, Williams had 100 points and were well ahead of the field: McLaren were second with 36, Benetton were third with 35 and Ferrari were fourth with 13. Due to his sabbatical from Formula One in 1992, the race was only the second time since he first appeared on the podium for his home race in 1981 that Alain Prost was not on the podium for the French Grand Prix. Prost had won the French GP in 1981, 1983, 1988, 1989 and 1990. He was second in 1982, 1986 and 1991, and finished third in 1985 and 1987. The only podium he missed from 1981-1991 was at Dijon in 1984 when he finished seventh after problems with a loose wheel.

1996: Joe Amato set an NHRA Top Fuel 1/4-mile elapse time record with a run of 4.595 seconds at Topeka, Kansas, US.

1997: John Andretti held off Terry Labonte on the final lap to score his first career NASCAR Winston Cup ­victory in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, Florida (US). Andretti’s win gave Cale Yarborough his first win as a NASCAR team owner.

2003: Rookie Greg Biffle pulled off an upset win in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speed­way. Pit strategy put Biffle out front, and he coasted home when Bobby Labonte ran out of fuel on the final lap.

2012: Senior vice president of Mini brand management, Dr. Kay Segler, announced that, “the Mini Paceman was the official name of the brand’s seventh model, which will be launched next year (2013) in the U.S.”

2015: Lewis Hamilton won the 70th British Grand Prix in front of 140,000 spectators at Silverstone, for the second consecutive year with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finishing 11 seconds behind him in second place. Hamilton took pole position during Saturday’s qualifying, his eighth of the season, ahead of Rosberg and the two Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. The first lap of the race saw the Massa and Bottas take first and second place respectively through fast starts. They were able to hold their positions until the pit stops. Rain in the latter part of the race gave Sebastian Vettel the chance to overtake the two Williams for the last podium position. Hamilton won the race for the second consecutive year, 11 seconds ahead of his teammate, extending his championship lead to 17 points.


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