9-10 December: This Weekend in the History of Motor Sport

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

~9 December~

1910: Daniel MacKinlay Jr., driving a Spyker, and L de Dantos, driving a Daracq, finish in a dead-heat in the first documented motor race competition in Argentina, a trial from Buenos Aires to Tigre.

1927: The Hon Mrs Victor Bruce and her husband, assisted by J.A. Joyce, started a 10-day endurance record in fog at Montlhéry, driving an AC Six fitted with a racing screen but minus roof, mudguards and lights. The average speed was 68 mph (109 km/h) over about 15,000 miles (24,140 km).‪ On 6 June 1929, she drove a Bentley 4½ Litre at Montlhéry for 24 hours, to capture the world record for single-handed driving, averaging over 89 miles per hour (143 km/h). She is said to be the first woman ever arrested for speeding, on her brother’s motorcycle, appearing before Bow Street police court in 1911 in her teens. In every race she wore a skirt, blouse and a string of pearls, her trademark as a ladylike professional. While window shopping in London in June 1930 she was astonished to see an aeroplane and bought it to fly around the world because it had wings that could be folded and carried between the continents by ship. She bought a Blackburn Bluebird, took flying lessons with its maker Norman Blackburn, and set out after only 40 hours of flying experience.When reporters clamoured for her itinerary she refused, figuring that if she lost her way nobody would know, and rejoiced when the press called it a mystery flight. With only a small shoulder bag containing her husband’s compass, her passport, logbook, a bottle of water, sun helmet, light cotton dresses and an evening frock, Mrs Bruce took off from Heston Field, now Heathrow Airport, near London, on September 25, 1930.Great Britain, still a colonial power, provided her with contacts to supply fuel, lodging and occasional rescue en route.Mrs Bruce became the first person to fly from England to Japan, the first to cross the Yellow Sea, and the first woman to circumnavigate the world alone. The press unkindly dubbed her the “flying housewife” but though she was overshadowed by her contemporaries, Amy Johnson and Amelia Earhart, Mrs Bruce has remained an inspirational heroine to womankind. Upon her return in triumph she resumed car racing, joined a flying circus, flew helicopters, and won many horse show ribbons. Mrs Bruce pioneered mid-air refuelling in Britain and was a major force in pre-war commercial aviation, establishing several freight and passenger airlines. Her factory rebuilt damaged RAF planes during the Second World War, and when peace returned she continued her entrepreneurial ways that made her a millionaire. She never lost her love of speed, driving a Ford Ghia Capri at 110mph aged 79, her fastest speed. At age 81 she “looped the loop” in a De Havilland Chipmunk monoplane.

1994: The lid finally came off the simmering debate over who was to blame for the Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash the previous May, with comments in a Sunday newspaper by lead investigator Professor Enrico Lorenzini. Steering failure of some form was until then the favoured explanation, but Lorenzini was quoted as saying: “The rod joining the steering wheel to the wheels was virtually sliced in half … it had been badly welded together about a third of the way down and could not stand the strain of the race. It seemed like the job had been done in a hurry but I can’t say how long before the race. Someone had tried to smooth over the join following the welding. I have never seen anything like it.” The debate went on for years.

~10 December~

1934: A new speed record of 311.98 km/h (193.86 mph) was set over five kilometres with a flying start on the Avus racetrack in Berlin by Rudolf Caracciola driving the record-breaking Mercedes-Benz W25.

1992: Ayrton Senna tested a Penske Indy Car at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. The three-time World Champion also had to get used to driving a car with a clutch pedal, a turbo engine and iron brakes, none of which were on the Formula One cars of that time. After 14 acquaintance laps on this small track, he brought the car in to put on softer springs and have the rear anti-roll bar disconnected. Senna did another 10-lap run on the same set of tires, and set a best time in 49.09 seconds. When he returned to the pits he said, ‘Thank you very much, I’ve learned what I need to know.’ Then he got out of the car and that was the end of his testing. It is believed that he just wanted to understand the difference between Indy cars and F1 cars, and nothing more.
2003: An arrest warrant was issued for Eddie Irvine when he failed to turn up at Bow Street Magistrates Court in London to answer to a speeding charge. Irvine was accused of exceeding the 30mph limit on a scooter at Hyde Park Corner in London, as well as driving without insurance or a licence. Nothing more came of the incident or the warrant.
2004: Never a man to miss the chance to make a headline or two, Bernie Ecclestone announced he was interested in staging a grand prix through the streets of London. “I would sign a deal today,” he said. “It could happily run alongside a British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It’s finding the money to put it on.” The idea even got as far as a planning meeting at which it was established that grandstands would be erected in Hyde Park and a pit and paddock complex along Horse Guards Parade.

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