6-7 May: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

~6 May~

1906: The inaugural running of the Targa Florio, the legendary open-road endurance race held in the mountains of Sicily near Palermo. Founded by wealthy Sicilian wine producer Vincenzo Florio, the race was held at Madonie and run over three laps of the 92.47-mile circuit, totalling 277.41 miles. Each lap was an ordeal as the roads weren’t designed for cars. Drivers encountered both domestic and wild animals as well as bandits. Entries had to be production cars of which ten had been made. Other than that, there were no rules. Vincenzo Lancia organized the betting, common at auto races in those days.Thirty cars entered, but a dock strike in Genoa hampered travel, so only ten made it to the start. Each car was sent off from Campofelice every ten minutes. First away was bookie Lancia in his Fiat followed by Jacques Le Blon in a Hotchkiss with his riding-mechanic wife. To the dismay of those who had money on him, Lancia retired due to mechanical failure. Le Blond suffered a number of tire punctures; Mrs. Le Blon had to help changing them. Alessandro Cagno in an Itala 35/40 HP won in 9 1/2 hours averaging 29 mph. Carlo Graziani was second in another Italia while Paul Bablot in a Berliet was third.

1928: The first Algerian Grand Prix was first held over a road course in Staouéli, west of the capital Algiers. The race had a small grid made up mostly of Grand Prix Bugattis and Amilcar cyclecars. Local racing driver Marcel Lehoux won the 350 km race, lapping the field as the only Grand Prix car to finish in good order with Guy Cloître finishing second in the first of the Amilcars.

1934: The Formula Libre Tripoli Grand Prix was held on the high-speed Mellaha circuit in Libya (an Italian colony in those days). The track had been widened and the high speed corners had received a slight banking. As the race was held in conjunction with the state lottery there was as usual a high number of entries. Continue Reading →

1939: The Maserati 4CL race car debuted in the Brooklands International Trophy dash in Surrey, England. The entry of private owner Reggie Tongue, finished third.

1961: Vanwall made its final racing appearance, as John Surtees finished fifth at the Intercontinental Formula International Trophy race in Silverstone, England in the unique rear-engined VW14, known as ‘The Whale’. Vanwall was a motor racing team and racing car constructor that was active in Formula One during the 1950s. Founded by Tony Vandervell, the Vanwall name was derived by combining the name of the team owner with that of his Thinwall bearings produced at the Vandervell Products factory at Acton, London. Continue Reading →

1973: Henri Pescarolo lapped the 8.76 mile the Francorchamps circuit, near Spa, Belgium in 3 min 13.4 sec (average speed163.086 mph) driving a 2993cc V12 Matra-Simca MS670 Group 5 sports car- to establish a new world speed record for a road race circuit.

1984: McLaren driver, Alain Prost from his outside pole position, won the San Marino Grand Prix in a time of 1:36:52. The only other driver to finish on the same lap was sixth place starter, Rene Arnoux in his Ferrari, 13.4 seconds back. Continue Reading →

1987: Mario Andretti set the one-lap speed record at Indianapolis 500 at 218.204 mph.

1991: NASCAR racer Harry Gant broke his own record to become the oldest man to win a NASCAR race, when he won the Winston 500 at the Alabama Superspeedway in Talladega. At 51, Gant ran the fastest on the circuit’s fastest track. The year 1991 would turn out to be a banner one for Gant. Continue Reading →

~7 May~

1927: The record for the fastest single lap driven on a board track (championship car) was set by Frank Lockhart on the Atlantic City track in a Miller 91 rear drive with an average speed of 147.229 mph. This record was finally exceeded in 1960 at Indianapolis with a qualifying speed of 149.056 mph set by Jim Hurtubise.

1933: Henry Birkin, one of the British ‘Bentley Boys’, finished third in the Tripoli Grand Prix in a new 3-litre Maserati. During his pit stop Birkin burnt his arm badly against the hot exhaust pipe while picking up a cigarette lighter. There are different opinions of what then happened. The traditional view is that the wound turned septic. Others said Birkin suffered from a malaria attack. Probably it was a combination of both that proved fatal, as Birkin died at a London nursing home the following month.

1933: Finnish driver Karl Ebb in a Mercedes-Benz SSK took a surprise home victory in the second Finnish Grand Prix, held over 50 laps of the Eläintarhanajot circuit, after having dropped to the rear of the field early in the race due to a forgotten radiator blank that created overheating. Alfa Romeo privateer Bjørnstad had ignition troubles from the start so Widengren in another Alfa Romeo could dominate most of the race. Dahlin was disqualified after persistently baulking several of the competitors. Continue Reading →

1939: The Mercedes-Benz W165 is a racing car designed by Mercedes-Benz to meet voiturette racing regulations, won its only race, the  Tripoli Grand Prix, driven to a 1-2 victory by Hermann Lang and teammate Rudolf Caracciola. Continue Reading →

1967: Lorenzo Bandini running second to Denny Hulme on the 82nd lap, when he lost control of his car at the harbour chicane at the Monaco Grand Prix. He had just entered an S-turn when his Ferrari’s left rear wheel hit the guard rail, sending him into an erratic skid. It impacted a light pole and overturned. Continue Reading →

1967: Don Prudhomme, driving a modified Ford, became the first dragster to run the quarter mile in less than seven seconds when he reached 226 mph at the National Hot Rod Association World Series in Carlsbad, California. Prudhomme first appeared on the national hot rod scene by dominating the March Meet at Bakersfield, in his home state of California. So quick was he off the starting line that he earned the nickname “The Snake”. Continue Reading →

1968: British driver Mike Spence (31), who participated in 37 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix (1 podium, and scored a total of 27 championship points, died. During practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Spence driving the #60 Lotus 56 turbocar (later qualified and driven by Joe Leonard), ran a lap of 169.555 mph – fastest of the month so far. Continue Reading →

1978: Patrick Depailler won the Monaco Grand Prix driving a Tyrrell-Cosworth 008. It was won by Patrick Depailler of France, his first Formula One victory.

1989: The Monaco Grand Prix around the temporary street circuit in Monte Carlo was won by Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren-Honda MP4/5.

2000: Mika Häkkinen won the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona driving a McLaren-Mercedes MP4.

2001: The first five second jet car run was recorded at the Shakespeare County Raceway, Warwickshire, UK. Supertwin Modified racer Tim Boutle set a new world record for a twin-cylinder production bike on his Honda CX650 at 11.151 seconds and 132.39 mph. Supertwin Gas racer Jerry Collier re-set his own world record of 9.671 with a 9.612 on his Jade Racing machine, the quickest two-stroke drag bike in the world. Job Heezen reset the track speed record for Top Gas bikes with a 166 mph run. Tim Blakemore recorded a 7.24 in the semi final of funnybike to advance to the final before losing out to Ken Cooper. Steve Pateman reset the Custom Car speed record again with a 168mph run. Mark Newby took his Viper Jet Dragster  to new track records of 203.62 mph on the Saturday and an E.T. of 7.655 seconds on the Sunday.

2006: The European Grand Prix at Nürburgring was won by Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari 248 F1.

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