7-8 April: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~7 April~

1903: E.T. Stead in a 40-hp Mercedes Simplex climbed La Turbie at a record average speed of 34.73 mph to become the first Englishman to win a continental hillclimb. The 40hp Mercedes-Simplex succeeded the 35hp version and included numerous new features: Its engine compartment was encapsulated so that the cooling air could be fed to the radiator via the flywheel which was fitted with blades. It needed only 7 litres of water. Water was also required for cooling the brakes.
1922: Racer Sig Haugdahl drove the 13.8 litre aero engine powered Wisconsin Special over 180.27 mph on a one-way run at the Daytona Beach racing oval. Haugdahl’s speed was remarkably 24mph faster than the previous world land speed record. There was no clutch, the engine was hooked directly to the rear axle. He structurally taped the body to reduce drags. Haugdahl was the first racer to balance the wheels and tyres on his race car and also the first to travel three miles in a minute. His record however, was never observed by the USAC governing body as none of its members were present to witness the event. Haugdahl’s unofficial record would go untouched for over a decade.

1935: Joseph Cattanéo driving a 1500 cc racing Bugatti skidded into the crowd at the Château-Thierry hillclimb, just 100 metres from the finish, killing 7 and injuring 18. Later that year, Cattanéo was acquitted in court while the organiser of the event, Victor Breyer, had to pay a fine of 200 Francs and hundreds of thousands of Francs compensation to the survivors as well as to relatives of those killed.
1958: The Glover Trophy, run to Formula One rules over 42 laps of the Goodwood Circuit, was won by British driver Mike Hawthorn in a Ferrari Dino 246.
1966: Racer Walter Hansgen (46), who enjoyed some early success in the SCCA series, driving a Jaguar-based, self-built Special before being hired by Briggs Cunningham in 1956 and becoming a multiple sports car champion, died. After a stint in Europe in 1958 he began racing in Formula Junior and won a number of races in a Cooper. His shot at Formula 1 came in 1961 when Cunningham agreed to enter him in a Cooper in the United States Grand Prix. He qualified 14th and was doing well in the race until he went off in order to avoid a spinning Olivier Gendebien and wrote off the car. A year later he took part in the non-championship Mexican GP and again did well but retired with mechanical trouble. His 3rd and last opportunity came in 1964 with a 3rd Lotus in the US-GP in which he finished a remarkable 5th. But he stayed in sports cars and in 1966 he and his pupil Mark Donohue shared a Holman Moody Ford GT MKII at Sebring and finished 2nd. Hansgen then went to Indianapolis to test the new Mecom-Lola IndyCar before flying to France for the Le Mans test day. Pushing too hard he went off up an escape road only to find that two large piles of sand had been left there. The car flipped and Walt Hansgen suffered series head injuries from which he died five days later.

1968: The wee Scot, Jim Clark OBE (32), from Kilmany, Fife – one of the greatest grand prix racers of all time, died in a tragic accident during a Formula 2 race in Hockenheim, Germany. Clark, widely regarded as the most naturally gifted Formula One racer of all time, competed his entire career on behalf of Colin Chapman’s Team Lotus. He won two World Championships, in 1963 and in 1965. Clark’s 1965 season is undoubtedly the sport’s greatest individual achievement. At the time of his death, he had won more Grand Prix races (25) and achieved more Grand Prix pole positions (33) than any other driver.
1974: James Hunt driving a Hesketh-Cosworth 308 won the the 26th BRDC International Trophy, a non-championship Formula One race held at Silverstone, England.

1984: Niki Lauda won the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami driving a McLaren-TAG Porsche MP4/2. Teammate Alain Prost was second and Derek Warwick was third. Patrick Tambay set fastest lap of the race but was out on lap 66 with fuel metering unit problem. Continue Reading 1985: Alain Prost driving a McLaren-TAG Porsche MP4/2B won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Jacarepagua. Even though René Arnoux finished 4th for Ferrari, he was sacked after the race, with both the team and Arnoux never revealing the reason behind the sacking.
1996: The Argentine Grand Prix was held at the Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, Buenos Aires. Despite suffering a bout of food poisoning, Damon Hill made it three wins out of three, with Jacques Villeneuve helping Williams complete their second one-two of the season.

~8 April~

1901: The first formal automobile race in Great Britain was staged at the Crystal Palace in London and won by Charles Jarrott driving an 8-hp Panhard et Levassor.
1908: A White steam racer driven by Walter C White won the Fort George Hill Climb in New York City, defeating over 80 other cars. He completed the climb in 32 1/5 seconds, averaging of 40.2 miles an hour. Attendance totals for the 1908 contest ranged anywhere from fifteen to thirty thousand. “The hill presented an animated appearance,” wrote an industry reporter. “All the competing cars were parked in the streets at its base, together where can i buy alprazolam powder with several hundred pleasure vehicles, while that many more afforded grandstands at the summit. The hill on both sides of the street was lined with spectators three or four deep…Near the top of the hill, in sight of the finish line, was a natural amphitheater which held several thousand people, and which resembled the bleachers at a league ball game in mid-summer.The 1908 climb was the largest event of its type ever to be held. In addition to the racecars and industry demos, thousands of car owners showed up with their own vehicles. According to one estimate at least 1,200 automobiles were parked in the vicinity of Fort George. With a selling value of more than $5,000,000 this would have been the largest assemblage of vehicles to date.

1910: The Los Angeles “The Boards” Motordome, the first speedway with a board track, opened near Playa Del Rey, California, with a nine day series of races and exhibitions. The wooden track had a circumference of 5,281 feet. Board tracks were paved with 2×4’s and were steeply banked at angles as high as 45 degrees allowing car-racing daredevils to reach speeds up to 100mph with no hands on the steering wheel.The L.A. Motordome, affectionately known as “The Boards,” was a huge success. By 1915, nearly a half-dozen board tracks had popped up around the country. By 1931, there were 24 board tracks in operation including tracks in Beverly Hills, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Atlantic City. The Beverly Hills track stood approximately where the prime-time shopping blocks of Rodeo Drive are located now. No tracks have ever approximated the speeds allowed on the heavily banked boards. Board tracks began to fade from existence during the Depression. The lifetime for 2×4’s exposed to racing tires is approximately five years after which deadly splinters and potholes begin to dot the track’s smooth surface. During the Depression, the expensive upkeep of the board tracks made them impractical. The last decade of board racing was a sight to behold. Cars tore down straightaways at 120 mph while carpenter’s patched the tracks from beneath. It wasn’t unheard of for mischievous children to peek their heads up through holes in the board tracks to watch their favourite racers with a squirrel’s eye view. Entertainment just isn’t what it used to be!
1916: Racer Bob Burman crashed through a barrier into the crowd at the last Boulevard Race in Corona, California. Burman, his riding mechanic Eric Scroeder, and a track policeman were killed, and 5 spectators were badly injured. The boulevard race started in 1913 as part of the AAA national championship schedule. The race was run on Grand Boulevard, a street that formed a perfect three-mile circle. Bob Burman was coming off an attempt at the world land-speed record at Brighton Beach, New York, where he had run 129 mph. Burman led most of the race at Corona before his blue Peugeot broke a wheel, sending the car over the curb and into a pole. A short time later Eddie O’Donnell crossed the finish line in his Duesenberg and took first place. The tragedy ended racing in inland Southern California for almost 40 years.
1951: Marshall Teague won the first NASCAR Grand National event on the US West Coast. Driving his Hudson Hornet, Teague led all 200 laps at Carrell Speedway in Gardena, California. Frank Mundy drove a rental car to an 11th-place finish, winning $25. Mundy waited until after dark to return the car so the attendant wouldn’t notice the bald tires.
1973: The 25th BRDC International Trophy, a non-championship Formula One race held at Silverstone, over 40 laps, was won by Jackie Stewart in a Tyrrell-Cosworth 006.

1977: The International Gold Cup at Oulton Park was won by Derek Bell driving a Penske-Cosworth PC3.

1979: In the Rebel 500 event at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, drivers Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty swapped the lead four times in a last-lap battle before Waltrip finally won the race. The race also featured a pit stop mishap in which driver David Pearson, following a miscommunication with his crew, drove away with only two of his four tires properly changed. Pearson’s car flipped over and retired from the race. The embarrassing incident led to Pearson, who was a top driver, being released from his team, the Wood Brothers.
1979: Canadian Gilles Villeneuve captured pole, fastest lap and the win for Ferrari at the United States West Grand Prix at Long Beach, California, followed by teammate Jody Scheckter, as the Prancing Horses took a big step toward reclaiming the Constructor’s and Driver’s Championships from Lotus. Villeneuve’s second straight win came by almost half a minute over Scheckter, as Alan Jones joined them on the podium for Williams. It was the third win of Villeneuve’s career, his second consecutive, and the third United States Grand Prix win in a row for Ferrari.
1990: Davey Allison edged Mark Martin by eight inches in a thrilling last lap to win the Valleydale 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Tennessee, US. Allison led 109 of 500 laps in a Robert Yates Racing Ford for his seventh victory in NASCAR’s top series. Ricky Rudd finished third after spinning out Sterling Marlin on the final lap.
2007: The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang was won by Fernando Alonso in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-22. McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished second. This marked McLaren’s first one-two finish since the 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix.

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