1-2 February: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~1 February ~

1953: Lee Petty (cover image) won the season opening 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race on the 1/2 mile dirt Palm Beach Speedway at Daytona Beach, Florida (US). Pole winner Dick Rathmann led the first 3 laps before a coil problem retired his Hudson Hornet. Herb Thomas then took over, leading through the 48th lap when his Hudson Hornet fell out because of universal joint failure. Petty took the lead and drove his short wheelbased Dodge Diplomat to the checkered over 2 laps ahead of runner-up Jimmie Lewallen, giving the Petty Engineering team a 1-2 finish as Lewallen was in a Petty Engineering Plymouth. Petty averaged 60.220 mph in taking the 7th win of his GN career.

1959: Practice sessions began on the new Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the ­inaugural Daytona 500. Shakedown runs were conducted despite the fact that the guardrail wasn’t completed.

1969: Richard Petty, making his first start in a Ford, won the twice delayed NASCAR Grand National ‘Motor Trend 500’ at Riverside International Raceway. The race was postponed by flood causing storms two straight Sundays and was run on a Saturday before 46,300 fans. Petty spun off track twice, but still led 103 of the 186 laps, finishing 25 seconds ahead of polesitter and early leader A J Foyt. 1968 GN champ David Pearson finished 3rd with relief help from Parnelli Jones, as Ford swept the top 3 positions. The event ran caution free with Petty averaging a record 105.498 mph in the race that took 4 hours, 45 minutes and 37 seconds to complete. Five time race winner Dan Gurney never led, spun twice and retired on lap 66 with engine failure.

1969: Johnny Coy Sr. won the TQ Midget feature at the indoor Atlantic City Convention Hall (new Jersey, US).

1970: Brian Redman finished first and second in the 24 Hours of Daytona when the Gulf Porsche 917K he shared with Jo Siffert finished behind the Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen team car which he also co-drove late in the race.

1980: Floyd Sam Nunis, a pioneering figure in American stock car racing, being involved in both the American Automobile Association and the National Stock Car Racing Association, died. Nunis worked with the American Automobile Association to promote stock car racing in the late 1940s, encouraging the group to promote the sport, which they had previously written off, in addition to AAA’s traditional sanctioning of IndyCar races. He primarily promoted races at Lakewood Speedway near Atlanta in Georgia, both under AAA sanction and under the aegis of the National Stock Car Racing Association, which he co-operated along with Weyman Milam between 1946 and 1951.

1981: The Daytona 24 Hour Race was won by Bob Garretson, Bobby Rahal and Brian Redman in a Porsche 935.

1987: Al Holbert, Chip Robinson, Derek Bell, and Al Unser Jr. drove the Lauwenbrau Porsche 962 to victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

1998: A bad day for Martin Brundle who was rushed to a Miami hospital after his IndyCar smashed into a wall during a practice session at the Homestead Motorsports Complex. Fortunately, there was more damage to the car than the driver.

2000: FIA president Max Mosley launched an attack on the EU for its investigation into the sport’s TV rights handling and accused a top official of malpractice. “[The EU’s] services have made a hopeless muddle of the facts and are completely confused about the regulation and general functioning of motorsport,” he fumed.

2005: Narain Karthikeyan signed for Jordan to become the first Indian driver in Formula One. He joined the team just after it was bought out by the Midland group and came to the sport with high hopes. Dubbed “the fastest Indian in the world”, he said: “I’ve got the hopes of a nation behind me so I’ve no choice but to succeed now”.

2005: Renault launched its title winning R25 car in Monaco. At the event its president Patrick Faure warned the team that it had to produce results to stay in the sport. It did just that and went on to win eight races and take both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships that year.

2006: Valentino Rossi completed his first full day of F1 testing with Ferrari. The multiple MotoGP champion set the ninth-fastest time of the day ahead of established F1 stars such as David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli. He was just one second shy of Michael Schumacher’s time, albeit in a different car to the German. A Ferrari spokesman said: “It was a very good performance, we cannot deny it.” Despite two more tests, one in 2008 and one in 2010, Rossi still has no plans to move to F1.

~2 February~

1954: Enrico Plate (45), Argentine motor racing driver and team manager, died. A decent, but not overwhelming driver in both pre- and post-war Grands Prix, Enrico Plate then became a significant and influential figure in post-war grand prix and early Formula One racing as a team owner running Maseratis for notable drivers such as Prince ‘Bira’ Harry Schell, Toulo de Graffenried and notably Tazio Nuvolari, providing the car the Italian legend scored his final victory in the 1946 Albi Grand Prix. He was killed a few days after his 55th birthday in a tragic accident during the 1954 Argentine GP, when Jorge Daponte lost control of his A6GCM and ran into the signalling area where Plate was preparing the pit board for his driver Prince ‘Bira’.

1958: Juan Manuel Fangio won the Buenos Aires Grand Prix held at Buenos Aires in the Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez. Not one of the four British drivers – Ghorace Gold, Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn managed to complete the race.

1962: Rod “Black Bandit” Perry won the Modified Stock Car race over Dur Howe and Pee Wee Griffin at the Palmetto Speedway in Miami, Florida, US.

1962: Jerry Blundy won the opening event of the Winternational Sprint Car series at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa, Florida (US). Bob Kinser finished second followed by Billy Cassella, Ray Lee Goodwin, Steve Schultz, Roger Rager, Doc Dawson, Jon Backlund, Hank Albers and Chuck Amati.

1969: In a race that saw the Porsche and Ford teams collapse, the Daytona 24 Hours World Sports Car Championship race was taken by the Roger Penske entered Lola of Mark Donohue/Charlie Parsons…despite spending over 2 hours and 10 minutes in the pits with fuel, oil and exhaust problems. The Donohue/Parsons Lola fell as far back as 7th and as many as 54 laps behind. The Porsches were slowed by split manifolds filling the cockpits with smoke, then fell out when their camshafts broke. Jacky Ickx crashed a John Wyer Ford GT40 while leading on Sunday morning and the David Hobbs/Mike Hailwood Wyer Ford GT40 led before retiring with a cracked cylinder head. Donohue/Parsons averaged 99.27 mph and ran 626 laps (2,383.75 miles) for the 24 hours. It was Lola’s first long distance win. The James Garner owned Lola of Lothar Motschenbacher/Ed Leslie finished 30 laps behind in second with a Pontiac Firebird of Joe Ward/Jerry Titus third. 1966 USRRC champ Parsons was a late replacement for Ronnie Bucknum, who had broken a finger in a recreational motorcycle accident 2 weeks earlier.

1969: Chris Amon drove his 2.4 liter Ferrari 246T V6 to victory in round 5 of the 1969 Tasman Cup series, the 34th running of the Australian Grand Prix, held on the undulating 1.5-mile Lakeside circuit. On the pole with a record lap, Amon got a good start and jumped into the lead as fellow front row starter Piers Courage, winner of the previous round at Teretonga, apparently had trouble selecting a gear on his Frank Williams “bi-plane” Brabham. By the time Courage got his gear problem sorted, he was 3rd behind Graham Hill’s Lotus entering turn 1. In 4 laps, Amon was already 4 seconds ahead of Hill and pulling away. When Courage tried to pass Hill on the outside just past a bend, the two cars touched, sending Courage running off road and down a bank into retirement. Courage stomped angrily (mostly at himself) back to the pits. Interestingly, Hill was using Courage’s spare Cosworth motor, his own having expired after day 1 practice. In recovering from the contact, Hill lost 2nd to Amon’s teammate Derek Bell, putting the Ferraris 1-2. By the 39th of the 65 laps, Amon was 20.5 seconds ahead of Bell with Hill still within striking distance for 2nd. On lap 51, Hill’s rear suspension mounted wing broke. Hill continued to hurtle the car along with the wing hanging on the left rear tire, giving the Lotus mechanics time to find a hacksaw. Pitting to have the wing removed, Hill lost 3rd to Leo Geoghegan. Amon went on to take his 3rd checkered flag of the ’69 series, crossing the line 23.9 seconds ahead of Bell with Geoghegan’s 2.5 liter Lotus 39-Repco V8 a lap down in 3rd. Amon’s 3 wins and 2 thirds gave him a 13 point lead over Courage with two rounds remaining.

1975: Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood won the Daytona 24 Hours Sports Car race, round 1 of the 1975 Sports Car World Championship for Makes. Gregg and Haywood’s Porsche 911 Carrera RS took the checkered flag 15 laps ahead of the 2nd place finisher as Porsche 911s swept the top 6 spots. The winning duo averaged 109.440 mph for the 24 hours, covering 684 laps around the 3.84 mile Daytona International Speedway road circuit.

1975: Warwick Brown drove his Chevrolet powered Lola T332 to victory in the Tasman Cup Formula 5000 series round at Oran Park Raceway, Narellan, New South Wales, Australia. The win was Brown’s 2nd of the series.

1979: Jim Childers won the Sprint Car feature as part of the third annual Rocky Fisher’s Florida Sprint Car Nationals, at the DeSoto Memorial Speedway, Bradenton, Florida, US. Dave Scarborough finished second followed by Donnie Tanner, Lennie Waldo, Don Mack, Bill Roynan, Allen Barr, Mack McClelland, Robert Smith and Curt Kelley.

1985: Bob Glidden became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to run the 1/4-mile in under 7.6 seconds (7.557), at Pomona, California (US).

1986: A Lauwenbrau sponsored Porsche 962 was driven to victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona by Al Holbert, Derek Bell, and Al Unser Jr.

1992: A Nissan R91 became the first Japanese car to win the 24 Hours of Daytona event in Daytona Beach, Florida. Japanese engineering quality became the standard for consumer compact vehicles in the 1970s and early 1980s. Nissan’s victory in the 24-hour race proved that Japanese cars had achieved the highest level of performance and engineering.

1997: Seven drivers (Rob Dyson, James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace, John Paul Jr., Elliott Forbes-Robinson, John Schneider) shared the Daytona 24 Hours winning Dyson Racing R&S Mk III-Ford.

1997: Tony Stewart, driving the Steve Lewis , won the USAC Western States Midget race at the Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix, Arizona, US.

1999: David McComb (37), former leader of the Black-Eyed Susans and Triffids, died in Melbourne, Australia, while recovering at home from a car accident he had been involved in three days earlier.

2000: Ford Motor Company and UPS Logistics Group, a subsidiary of United Parcel Service, formed a strategic alliance to reduce vehicle delivery time from Ford plants to dealers and customers.

2000: Eddie Jordan called on F1 bosses to “strive earnestly” to put Africa back on the schedule, seven years after the last race on the continent. Three months earlier Bernie Ecclestone had visited Egypt to discuss the possibility of holding a grand prix there, but nothing came of it.

2004: A standard 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10, driven by NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan (US), reached a speed of 248.783 km/h (154.587 mph) at the DaimlerChrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, US, to establish a new speed record for production pickup trucks.

2005: Chanoch Nissany became the first Israeli F1 driver when he signed a testing contract with Minardi. He only started racing competitively in 2002 and completed tests with both Jordan and Minardi. His race weekend debut came at the Hungarian Grand Prix where he completed eight laps and was over 12 seconds off the pace of the front runners. He never competed in top level motorsport again.

2008: Bernie Ecclestone launched a remarkable verbal attack on Ron Dennis when asked about the £50 million fine slapped on McLaren as a result of the Spygate scandal. “What happened last year has been going on in F1 for years,” Ecclestone said. “If McLaren had come clean and owned up none of it would have happened the way it did. He is a good friend of mine but Ron was six months pregnant and said he was a virgin. He knows he got off cheap.”

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