5-6 September: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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


~5 September ~

1896: The first race held on a track in the U.S. took place at Narragansett Park near Providence, Rhode Island on September 5, 1896. The race was won by Andrew L. Riker of New York on the Riker Electric Trap No. 1. The Riker employed two Riker electric motors mounted on the rear axle, with 32-100 amp accumulators mounted in a ‘battery’.The Riker finished the five mile distance first in 15:01. Second was an Electrobat built by Morris & Salom of Philadelphia, :13 seconds behind, and a Duryea gasoline carriage another 3:33 behind. Riker later became chief engineer at Locomobile in 1902 and was elected the first president of the Society of American Engineers (SAE) in 1904.

1926: Louis Charavel ‘Sabipa’ in a Bugatti T39A won the Italian Grand Prix run over 60 laps of the 10 km circuit at Monza. It was the final race of the 1926 AIACR World Manufacturers’ Championship season, which was won by Bugatti. The World Manufacturers’ Championship, also known as Automobile World Championship, was a competition organised by the AIACR between 1925 and 1930. Unlike the modern Formula One points system, the championship awarded fewer points for higher finishes; the champion would be the manufacturer which ended the season on the lowest points score. A manufacturer eligibility was gained by competing in at least two Grands Prix in addition to the mandatory Italian Grand Prix and only score points from its highest-placed car.

1948: Curtis Turner bagged the doubleheader at North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Carolina, US Turner won the opener from the pole. An inverted start for the second event failed to slow Turner, who slashed through the field to beat ­runner-up Bob Smith, who owned the cars he and Turner are driving.

1948: Ferrari made its Grand Prix debut finishing third at the Italian Grand Prix in Turin behind an Alfa Romeo and a Maserati.

1953: F W Wilcox competed without success in the Brighton (England) Speed Trial in the Swandean Spitfire Special powered by a 27-litre Rolls Royce Merlin engine, the largest car to ever appear at the venue.

1954: Juan Manuel Fangio won the Italian Grand Prix for Mercedes, in a race that lasted nearly 3 hours, from the Ferrari trio of Mike Hawthorn, Umberto Maglioli and Frolian Gonzalez. Karl Kling and Alberto Ascari had led the race early on but their retirements meant that Stirling Moss chased victory in his Maserati. Sadly, for Moss, a forced oil change followed by an engine failure ended his hopes, leaving Hawthorn to follow Fangio home.

1955: In his fourth start since returning from injuries suffered at Charlotte in May, Herb Thomas drove to victory in the Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina, US. A crowd of 50,000 watched the factory-backed teams duel.

1956: Curtis Turner edged teammate Joe Weatherly for a Convertible Series victory in the first NASCAR race held at McCormick Field, currently the home of the Asheville (North Carolina, US) Tourists minor-league baseball team. Turner and pole-starter Weatherly ran 1-2 in Pete DePaolo-owned ’56 Fords in the 150-lap race on the quarter-mile asphalt track. Bill Lutz finished third, one lap down. Only 10 of the 17 starters were running at the finish.

1960: Mechanics Paul McDuffe and Charles Sweatland along with race official Joe Taylor were killed when two cars crashed into the pit area during a NASCAR race in Darlington, South Carolina, US.

1970: Jochen Rindt (28) lost his life in an accident during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Denny Hulme, who was following Rindt at the time, described the accident as follows: “Jochen was following me for several laps and slowly catching me up and I didn’t go through the second Lesmo corner very quick so I pulled to the one side and let Jochen past me and then I followed him down into the Parabolica, […] we were going very fast and he waited until about the 200 metres to put on the brakes. The car just sort of went to the right and then it turned to the left and turned out to the right again and then suddenly just went very quickly left into the guardrail” Upon impact, a joint in the crash barrier parted, the suspension dug in under the barrier, and the car hit a stanchion head-on. The front end of the car was destroyed. Although the 28-year-old Rindt was rushed to hospital, he was pronounced dead. The German-born driver, who drove for Austria throughout his career, had a 20-point lead in the world championship and, as none of his rivals were able to exceed his total of 45 points by the end of the season, he became the sport’s first and only posthumous champion. Rindt started motor racing in 1961, switching to single-seaters in 1963, earning success in both Formula Junior and Formula Two. In 1964, Rindt made his debut in Formula One at the Austrian Grand Prix, before securing a full drive with Cooper for 1965. After mixed success with the team, he moved to Brabham for 1968 and then Lotus in 1969. It was at Lotus where Rindt found a competitive car, although he was often concerned about the security of the notoriously unreliable Lotus vehicles. He won his first Formula One race at the 1969 United States Grand Prix. Overall, he competed in 62 Grands Prix, winning six and achieving 13 podium finishes. He was also successful in sports car racing, winning the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans, paired with Masten Gregory in a Ferrari 250LM.

1971: At the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, only 0.61 seconds separated the race winner, Peter Gethin from the fifth placed driver. This race is often referred to as the fastest Formula One race of all time, with a record average speed of 150.754 mph, a record that was not broken until 32 years later at the 2003 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. None of the 6 points-scoring drivers had ever previously won a Grand Prix.

1976: James Hunt used a weekend off in his successful title campaign to race in the Formula Atlantic series in Canada at Trois Rivieres. It was the highlight of the Formula Atlantic season and the street circuit attracted a host of F1 names. However, all of them were soundly beaten by championship leader Gilles Villeneuve, who Hunt, on his return to the UK, immediately recommended to his McLaren team. In 1977 Villeneuve took part in a couple of races for McLaren before being signed up by Ferrari.

1993: Mark Martin racked up his fourth straight victory with a win in the rain-delayed Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina (US). Martin was 1.51 seconds in front of Brett Bodine when the race ended 16 laps short of its scheduled distance due to darkness.

~6 September~

1954: Race mechanic Clay Smith (49) was killed in a pit accident at a 100-mile race in DuQuoin, Illinois, US.

1959: The USAC Road Racing Championships were run at Meadowdale International Raceway in Carpenterville, Illinois, US. The main event was won by Augie Pabst in a Scarab Mk II-Chevrolet.

1963: Junior Johnson completed a season sweep of events at Hickory (North Carolina) Motor Speedway, driving from the seventh starting position to win the Buddy Shuman 250. Johnson led the final 125 of 250 laps and pulled away to a four-lap victory over runner-up G.C. Spencer, who matched his career-best finish. Bob Welborn took third, 13 laps off Johnson’s pace.

1964: Ferrari’s John Surtees won the Italian Grand Prix to the delight of the assembled Tifosi, a result that went a long way to enabling him to become the only man to have won world championships on two and four wheels. The race also marked the last grand prix for French driver Maurice Trintignant, who retired at the age of 47. Trintignant was the first Frenchman to win a grand prix and he also won twice at Monaco.

1970: In a race overshadowed by the death of Jochen Rindt the day before, Clay Regazzoni won the Italian Grand Prix.

1970: The Ontario Motor Speedway, California staged its first event, the California 500, an Indycar event won by Jimmy McElreath in a Coyote-Ford. It was the first and only automobile racing facility built to accommodate major races sanctioned by all of the four dominant racing sanctioning bodies: USAC (and now IndyCar Series) for open-wheel oval car races; NASCAR for a 500-mile (800 km) oval stock car races; NHRA for drag races; and FIA for Formula One road course races. Constructed in less than two years, the track opened in August 1970 and was considered state of the art at the time. The first full year of racing included the Indy-style open wheel Inaugural California 500 on September 6, 1970; the Miller High Life 500 stock car race on February 28, 1971, the Super Nationals drag race on November 21, 1970 and the Questor Grand Prix on March 28, 1971. Each of these inaugural races drew attendance second only to their established counterparts, the USAC Indianapolis 500, the NASCAR Daytona 500, the NHRA U.S. Nationals, and the U.S. Formula One race at Watkins Glen. The track was purchased for real estate development by Chevron Land Company in late 1980 and demolished at a cost of $3 million in 1981. It is estimated that the 800-acre (3.2 km2) facility, with 155,000 permanent seats and an air-conditioned private stadium club would have a replacement cost in 2009 of over $350 million.

1987: The Italian Grand Prixwas won by Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet driving a Williams FW11B. It was Piquet’s third and final victory for the year as he raced towards his third world championship. It was also the sixth consecutive victory for the Williams team, a run of wins that had begun at the French Grand Prix back in early July. Piquet, racing an active ride suspension system in his FW11B for the first time, won the race by 1.8 seconds, having taken the lead from Ayrton Senna’s Lotus 99T with eight laps remaining as the younger Brazilian attempted to run the race without stopping for tyres. Piquet’s British team mate Nigel Mansell finished third.

1998: Jeff Gordon bagged his sixth victory in the last seven races and won another Winston No Bull 5 $1 million bonus with a win in the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina, US. Gordon padded his lead in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings to 199 points over Mark Martin.

2015: Lewis Hamilton driving a McLaren led every practice session, led every qualifying session thereby taking pole, led every lap of the race and took fastest lap of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

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