Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this week in history ……
1907: The first track records were set at Brooklands Frank Newton in a 25.6 hp Napier covered the flying 1/2 mile at 77.92 mph and H C Tyron in a 38.4 hp Napier raised this record to 86.75 mph later in the day.
1909: Joe Nikrent drove a Buick to victory in the Los Angeles-to-Phoenix road race. Nikrent covered the 480 miles in 19 hours and 13 minutes at an average speed of 24.98 mph.
1933: English Racing Automobiles, the name by which ERA. was known until it was changed in 1954 to Engineering Research & Application Ltd., was founded by Humphrey Cook, a wealthy young Oxford graduate who had a passion for motor racing and was determined to construct a competitive British car to compete successfully on the international circuits.
1949: Rex Mays (36), AAA Championship Car driver was killed in a crash during the only Champ Car race held at Del Mar Fairgrounds race track in Del Mar, California. Mays swerved to miss a car that had crashed in front of him. The car went out of control and flipped, throwing Mays to the track surface, where he was hit by a trailing car.
1955: Jack McGrath died at the age of 36 at the last race of the 1955 season, the Bobby Ball Memorial Race on the dirt track in Phoenix, Arizona. The first driver to qualify for Indy at over 140 mph, McGrath had a fine record at the brickyard but never won the race. The race was won by Jimmy Bryan driving a Kuzma-Offy.
1965: Richard Atwood and David Piper drove Piper’s Ferrari 365P2 to victory in the Rand 9 Hour Race at Kyalami, South Africa.
1977: The first side-by-side eight second bike race in Europe occurred during Santa Pod Raceways Fireworks Spectacular. Henk Vink just got to the line first with an 8.47/155 to John Hobbs 8.76/166.
1988: Alan Kulwicki notched his first victory in NASCAR’s premier series, winning the Checker 500 — the first race for the tour at Phoenix International Raceway (North Carolina, US). Kulwicki, who won the 1992 series title, took command when Ricky Rudd retired with engine failure after leading a race-high 183 laps. The Wisconsin native took the checkered flag 18.5 seconds ahead of runner-up Terry Labonte and celebrated with what would become his trademark — the backward “Polish Victory Lap.” Davey Allison, Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace completed the top five.
1994: Damon Hill’s victory in the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix kick-started his faltering, and ultimately futile, championship bid. In a two-part race, interrupted because of rain, Hill beat Michael Schumacher by three seconds leaving him needing just to finish ahead of him in the season finale in Adelaide to take the title. “I was on the radio on every lap,” Hill said, “being informed of Michael’s progress and it just served to spur me on. I told them there was no point telling me to go faster, because I was already on the limit.” In dreadful conditions, Martin Brundle admitted he had a lucky escape when he came within an inch of hitting a caterpillar tractor removing Gianni Morbidelli’s Footwork. “I really thought that was it,” he said. “I hit a patch of standing water and closed by eyes … I really thought this is the end.”
1963: “Miss STP” Paula Murphy (cover image), became the first woman to pilot an Indycar around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when she drove 5 laps in a Novi during a tyre testing session.
1965: NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett outdueled Bobby Isaac in the Tidewater 300 at Dog Track Speedway in Moyock, North Carolina, US to post the final victory of his 50-win career in NASCAR’s premier series.
1968: Ian Raby (46) died three months after a serious accident at Zandvoort in a Formula Two race. He was initially treated in the Netherlands before being flown back to a London hospital by the Grand Prix Medical Service and appeared to be recovering before his condition worsened. A superstitious man, he carried a rabbit’s foot, preferred red cars with white wheels and refused to race under No. 13. He participated in 7 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 20 July 1963 in the British Grand Prix, where he retired on Lap 60. He scored no championship points.
1993: Three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna earned his final victory in Formula 1 with a win at the Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide.