7-8 July: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~7 July~

1898: The Paris-Amsterdam race organised by the Automobile Club de France began and was the first occasion when a major motor race crossed an international border. Held over 7 days and covering 890 miles, the race was won by Frenchman Fernand Charron driving a Panhard et Levassor for 33 hours at an average speed of 26.82 mph over unsurfaced roads.
1908: The first fatal accident at a Grand Prix occurred during the French Grand Prix at Dippe, when Ciassac and his riding mechanic Schaube were killed after their Panhard crashed after a front tyre blew. “Pits” entered motoring terminology at this Grand Prix when a divided trench with a counter just above ground level was provided for team crews, although inappropriate in that structures above ground-level were subsequently used, the term has stuck. The race was won by Christian Lautenschlager in a Mercedes.
1957: Juan Manuel Fangio won the French Grand Prix in a Maserati 250F. The shared drive of Mike MacDowel (30 laps) and Jack Brabham (38 laps) in a Cooper-Climax came in seventh.
1966: Elmo Langley landed his second and final win in NASCAR’s premier series, at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia, US. Langley, who led 231 of the 400 laps, was seven laps ahead of runner-up John Sears at the finish. James Hylton took third. Langley, a veteran with 536 Cup series starts, was NASCAR’s pace car driver for many years after his final race in 1981. Langley also won a 1991 exhibition race among NASCAR legends at Charlotte Motor Speedway, edging Cale Yarborough with a last-lap pass
1968: Jo Schlesser (40) – cover image, died during the French Grand Prix after only two laps, after his car slid wide at the Six Frères corner and crashed sideways into a bank. The magnesium-bodied Honda and 58 laps worth of fuel ignited instantly, leaving Schlesser with no chance of survival. As a result, Honda withdrew from Formula One at the end of the 1968 season after Surtees again refused to drive the car at the Italian Grand Prix.

1974: Nikki Lauda’s pole at the French Grand Prix was the fastest lap in the Formula One’s history. He completed the 2.044 mile Dujon circuit in just 58.59 seconds. Ronnie Peterson won the race for Lotus-Cosworth 72E, with Lauda’s Ferrari in finishing second. To honor the 80th birthday of the ACF, a parade of vintage cars was organized with a selection of great drivers from the 20s and 30s up to the present day. The race itself was largely uneventful. Tom Pryce put in a superb performance to be 3rd on the grid behind Ronnie Peterson and Niki Lauda. However, he was slow off the start and was hit by Carlos Reutemann, ending his race. James Hunt and Henri Pescarolo were also taken out in the ensuing accident. Lauda led convincingly from Peterson and Clay Regazzoni with Emerson Fittipaldi up to 4th by lap 15. Lauda dropped back with handling problems on lap 16, and was passed by Peterson, who led to the flag. He was followed by Lauda and Regazzoni, who came home 3rd despite vibration problems. Regazzoni had been challenged strongly by Fittipaldi, but just as the McLaren driver was preparing to pass, Fittipaldi’s engine exploded, ending his race. Jody Scheckter was fourth, less than a second behind Regazzoni.
1979: Sammy Miller won the £5000 prize for Europe’s first 300mph terminal speed at the Summer International Meeting at the Santa Pod Raceway, Northamptonshire, England. After a 4.68/245 shakedown run and a 4.43/265 when he inadvertently hit the chutes after a bumpy top end ride, he ran 4.20seconds with a terminal speed of 307.6mph.
1985: Nelson Piquet won the French Grand Prix driving a Brabham BT54-BMW. It turned out to be the Brabham team’s last victory in Formula One. It was also the first Grand Prix victory since their return to Formula One for Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli. Piquet won the race by six seconds over pole winner Keke Rosberg driving a Williams FW10-Honda. Third was French driver Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/2B-TAG Porsche. Prost’s podium finish allowed him to close to within five points of championship leader Michele Alboreto (Ferrari).
1990: Part-time driver Hendrick driver Greg Sacks won the Pepsi 400 pole position. But in post-qualifying inspection, NASCAR officials determined that the Hendricks team’s engines had an unapproved “floating block” in the intake manifold sitting under the restrictor plate. NASCAR officials required the team to weld the block in place for race day, which effectively robbed the engine of horsepower. At the start, Sacks was essentially a sitting duck, and at the conclusion of the first lap, his car was sent spinning in front of nearly the entire field. At least 22 cars were collected in the huge pileup in the tri-oval. The crash became known as the original “Big One.” Six cars in the lead pack narrowly escaped the incident, among those was Dale Earnhardt who dominated the depleted field on the way to victory.
1991: The first French Grand Prix to be held at the new Magny Cours venue, was won by Nigel Mansell in a Williams-Renault FW14.

2000: Eight weeks to the day after Adam Petty’s crash, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kenny Irwin (30) was killed in the same turn on the same race track in Loudon, New Hampshire, during practice for the thatlook.com 300. Irwin’s car hit the concrete wall and flipped on its roof. Both Irwin’s and Petty’s crashes at the speedway are blamed on a stuck accelerator that prevented the drivers from slowing down.
2001: Less than five months after Dale Earnhardt’s death in the Daytona 500, NASCAR returned to Daytona International Speedway. Much to the delight of the crowd, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated most of the Pepsi 400. After a late-race caution for a crash on lap 143, Earnhardt, Jr. charged from 7th place to first in less than a lap and a half, and took the lead with 5 laps to go. With teammate Michael Waltrip protecting the position in second place, Earnhardt, Jr. took the dramatic victory. An emotional post-race celebration saw Earnhardt, Jr. mimic his father’s actions by spinning donuts in the tri-oval grass. Ironically, Earnhardt, Jr. and Waltrip finished in reverse order of the Daytona 500.
2007: Lewis Hamilton set Silverstone alight by qualifying on pole at the British Grand Prix, but was unable to follow up with victory the following day as he came home third.

~8 July~

1950: The first race meeting was held at the former wartime airfield of Castle Combe, Wiltshire although spectators were not allowed. Spectators were allowed into the next meeting on the 7th October, where a crowd of 12,000 saw Peter Collins and Stirling Moss competing in F3 race.

1951: Fonty Flock prevailed in a wreck-strewn 100-mile race at the Bain­bridge, Ohio, Fairgrounds. Only five cars finished the brutal event on the one-mile dirt oval.
1961: The front-engined, four wheel drive Ferguson-Climax Project 99 made its racing debut in the Intercontinental British Empire Trophy race at Silverstone with Jack Fairman driving.
1962: Dan Gurney won the French Grand Prix at Roue-Les-Essarts driving a Porsche 804, the only Formula 1 victory for the marque.Gurney won a non-championship race in Stuttgart the following week, but Rouen remains Porsche’s only Grand Prix win. Qualifying resulted in Jim Clark setting the fastest time for Team Lotus with Graham Hill’s BRM and McLaren’s Cooper alongside on the front row. On the second row Jack Brabham’s private Lotus was beside John Surtees’s Reg Parnell Lola while the third row featured Dan Gurney’s Porsche and the two British Racing Partnership Lotuses: Masten Gregory’s BRM-engined car being slightly faster than

Innes Ireland’s Climax-engined one. Hill took the lead with Surtees, Clark, McLaren and Brabham chasing him. McLaren dropped out after 10 laps when he spun because of a gear-selection problem and crashed. Brabham retired at the same moment when his suspension failed but McLaren did manage to get going again and spent a long time in the pits having the car repaired. On lap 13 Surtees pitted because of fuel feed problems and he dropped down to eighth place, leaving Hill to be chased by Clark, Gurney, Gregory and Jo Bonnier (Porsche). Gregory and Bonnier soon dropped out of the running with mechanical troubles. On lap 30 Hill was hit by backmarker Jack Lewis when the privateer Cooper driver suffered brake failure. Clark took the lead but he was in trouble with his suspension and stopped three laps later. This put Hill back in the lead but in the closing laps his BRM began to misfire and he dropped quickly back, leaving Gurney to take the lead. He duly won his first and Porsche’s first World Championship victory. Tony Maggs survived to get second in his Cooper while third place went to Ritchie Ginther’s BRM, who drove the final laps controlling the throttle by hand after the cable came loose from the pedal. Surtees struggled across the line with gearbox trouble and then slowed dramatically, Maurice Trintignant was caught by surprise by this and had to swerve his Rob Walker Lotus to avoid hitting the Lola. In doing so, the Frenchman moved into the path of Trevor Taylor’s Lotus and there was a nasty accident – although both drivers escaped without injury.
1973: Benny Parsons used help from relief driver John A. Utsman to win the Volunteer 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Tennessee, US. Utsman recalled in a 2010 article on NASCAR.com that he drove nearly half of the 500-lap race in what would be Parsons’ only win at the Tennessee track. Despite the extra time to make the driver change, Parsons was still credited with finishing seven laps ahead of runner-up L.D. Ottinger. Cecil Gordon came home third.
1990: The French Grand Prix almost saw one of the most remarkable upsets in Formula One history with the Leyton House Racing team of Italian driver Ivan Capelli and Brazilian driver Mauricio Gugelmin running first and second for an extended period of the race in their Leyton House CG901s. French driver Alain Prost claimed the lead late in the race to take the win in his Ferrari 641 by eight seconds over Capelli. Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna finished third in his McLaren MP4/5B.

2007: Kimi Räikkönen won the British Grand Prix after overtaking pole position driver Lewis Hamilton during the first round of pit stops and took control of the race. Second place was taken by Fernando Alonso and Hamilton was third.

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