Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place on this weekend in history……
1899: The first hill climb in England was held over a 325-yard course at Petersham Hill, Richmond, London. Most of the drivers were employees of the dealers and manufacturers concerned. The fastest climb was made by a Barriere tricycle at about 14 mph, followed by a Leitner ‘dogcart’. It was reported that a Benz ‘tore up the hill’ at 10 mph and that the Right Hon. Charles Rolls averaged 8.75 mph with his ‘racing’ Panchard.
1930: S C H “Sammy” Davis established the first lap record to be recognised for the Mountains course at Brooklands. His supercharged Riley Nine lapped at 66.86 mph.
1936:The all-time motorcycle Test Hill Record (6.99 sec) at Brooklands, Surrey, England was set by Francis Beart, riding a 500cc Grindlay Peerless.
1963: Jim Clark won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in a Lotus-Climax on his way to clinching his first world drivers Championship.The weather was so bad towards the end of the race, that Colin Chapman, head of Lotus and Tony Rudd, BRM’s chief engineer, asked officials to stop it, but their pleas were ignored and the full 32 laps were completed. This race was notable for the debut of the new ATS team, set up by former Ferrari chief engineer Signor Carlo Chiti, with Phil Hill and Giancarlo Baghetti as drivers. They had to wait for their cars to arrive because of customs problems at the Belgian border, and were unable to take part in the practice sessions. As a result, both started at the back of the grid, and were forced out with gearbox problems before halfway. Graham Hill started on pole, but it was Clark who got a sensational start from the third row, taking the lead after only one lap. He soon pulled clear of Hill and after eight laps was over 13 seconds ahead, making up an extra second on each lap. By the halfway stage, Clark was 27 seconds in front of Hill, and when, on the 18th lap, thunder exploded overhead, Hill was forced to retire when his gearbox gave out, leaving Clark to drive on to victory.Dan Gurney now lay second in the Brabham Climax, with Richie Ginther and Bruce McLaren fighting it out for third. The weather then deteriorated rapidly, as lightning forked down through the pine forests and the rain became heavier and heavier. Twenty-foot plumes of spray trailed behind the cars, making visibility for the drivers almost impossible. Clark said afterwards; “Towards the end visibility was appalling. I had to hold the car in top gear for most of the race and my speed was dropping by nearly 100mph in the last stages. Some cars were spinning off on the straights and it was extremely dangerous.” Clark, driving brilliantly in the conditions, managed to splash his way to victory well ahead of the five other cars that finished. The pace was drastically slowed in the last six laps as the drivers had to shield their eyes from the blinding rain, making it extremely difficult to drive at high speed. McLaren managed to claw his way up into second and picked up six championship points, putting him ahead of Clark and Hill by one point.
1968: The McLaren team scored its first victory at the Belgian Grand Prix (see cover image) at Spa with founder Bruce McLaren at the wheel. The appearance of wings on the Lotus at Monaco did not go unnoticed and for the Belgian GP various teams arrived with experimental wings on the cars. McLaren thought he had finished second when he crossed the line but unbeknown to him, race leader Jackie Stewart had run out of fuel and been forced to pit at the start of the final lap. There was also a nasty crash when Brian Redman’s Cooper flipped and burst into flames. He escaped with a broken arm and minor burns. Only 5 of the 23 cars that started managed to reach the finish line.
1974: Jody Scheckter took his first Formula One victory at the Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp. Scheckter started from second on the grid but slipped ahead of Patrick Depailler, who had secured his first pole position. James Hunt chased the Tyrrells but there was no way he could catch them and so Scheckter scored his first world championship victory and became the sixth winner in seven races in the 1974 season.
1985: Pole-starter Bill Elliott took command to lead the last 11 laps of the Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500 at Pocono Raceway (Pennsylvania, US), marking his 10th victory in NASCAR’s premier series. Elliott was just .2 seconds ahead of runner-up Harry Gant at the end as he continued his hot streak with the sixth win for the No. 9 Ford in the first 13 races. Darrell Waltrip finished third while Geoffrey Bodine — who dominated in leading 154 of 200 laps before a subpar pit stop derailed his hopes — took fourth.
1991: A wild finish at the Banquet Frozen Foods 300 NASCAR race ended in controversy. Road course ringer Tommy Kendall (substituting for the injured Kyle Petty) led Mark Martin with 4 laps to go. Going into the circuit’s Turn 7 keyhole, Martin slid by on the outside, but the cars make contact, and Martin spun out. Kendall suffered a cut tyre, and limped back to the pits. Davey Allison who had been running third, took the lead. Allison led Ricky Rudd into the Turn 11 hairpin as the cars were anticipating seeing the white flag. Rudd’s nose got inside, touched Allison’s rear bumper, and Allison spun out with the white flag waving. The next time by, Rudd was displayed the black flag and was penalized 5 seconds for dirty driving. Allison, the second car in line, was declared the winner.
2002: The Canadian Grand Prix held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Michael Schumacher won his sixth Grand Prix of the season in a Ferrari F2002 and his fifth Canadian Grand Prix win. Schumacher fended off the challenges of Juan Pablo Montoya, who later retired, and his team-mate Rubens Barrichello, whose race strategy cost him a chance of victory and demoting him to third. Fresh off his victory at Monaco, David Coulthard finished second in the race and earned his fourth podium finish of the season.
1907: Five vehicles left Peking at the start of the Peking-Paris rally sponsored by Parisian daily newspaper Le Matin. There were no rules in the race, except that the first car to Paris would win the prize of a magnum of Mumm champagne. The race went without any assistance through countryside where there were no roads or roadmaps. For the race, camels carrying fuel left Peking and set up at stations along the route, to provide fuel for the racers. The race followed a telegraph route, so that the race was well covered in newspapers at the time. Each car had one journalist as a passenger, with the journalists sending stories from the telegraph stations regularly throughout the race. It was held during a time when cars were fairly new and the route traversed remote areas of Asia where people were not yet familiar with motor travel. The route between Peking and Lake Baikal had only previously been attempted on horseback. The race was won by Italian Prince Scipione Borghese of the Borghese family, accompanied by the journalist Luigi Barzini, Sr. He was confident and had even taken a detour from Moscow to St Petersburg for a dinner which was held for the team, and afterwards headed back to Moscow and rejoined the race. The event was not intended to be a race or competition, but quickly became one due to its pioneering nature and the technical superiority of the Italians’ car, a 7,433 cc (453.6 cu in) Itala 35/45 hp.Second in the race was Charles Goddard in the Spyker; he had no money, had to ask others for petrol, and borrowed his car for the race. He was arrested for fraud near the end of the race. Some of the other cars had difficulties in going up ravines, across mud, quicksand, and bridges across rivers not designed for vehicles. The Contal cyclecar became bogged down in the Gobi desert and was not recovered, with the crew lucky to be found alive by locals. Barzini published the book Peking to Paris in 1908, filled with hundreds of pictures.
1914: The Tourist Trophy held on the Isle of Man was won by Kenhelm Lee Guinness driving a Sunbeam 3255cc.
1954: The NHRA’s Drag Safari (later called Safety Safari) set out on their first country wide trip to help local organizers set up and run safe drag races.
1956: Ralph Moody wheeled a DePaolo Engineering Ford to victory at West Memphis Speedway, halting the 16-race win streak by the Kiekhaefer team. Two drivers, Clint McHugh and Cotton Priddy, were killed in accidents during the race weekend.
1962: Jack Hinkle drove a Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage” to victory in a sports car race at Ponca City, Oklahoma, US.
1962: Fred Lorenzen beat the field and the rain to the finish line to win an abbreviated Atlanta 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, scoring the fourth of his 26 wins in NASCAR’s top division. Banjo Matthews, a part-time competitor best known for his car-building expertise, won the pole and finished second — his best finish in the series. Bobby Johns took third in the race, which was shortened from 334 to 219 laps due to heavy rain.
1979: Paul Newman, the blue-eyed movie star-turned-race car driver, accomplished the greatest feat of his racing career by racing to second place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1969, he starred in “Winning” as a struggling race car driver who must redeem his career and win the heart of the woman he loves at the Indianapolis 500. To prepare for the movie, Newman attended the Watkins Glen Racing School. In the film he performed many of the high-speed racing scenes in the movie himself, without a stunt double. In 1972, Newman began his own racing career, winning his first Sports Club Car of America (SCCA) race driving a Lotus Elan. He soon moved up to a series of Datsun racing sedans and won four SCCA national championships from 1979 to 1986. Newman’s high point at the track came in June 1979 at Le Mans, where he raced a Porsche 935 twin-turbo coupe on a three-man team with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen. His team finished second; first place went to brothers Don and Bill Whittington, and their teammate, Klaus Ludwig. Drama ensued during the last two hours of the race, when the Whittingtons’ car, also a Porsche 935, was sidelined with fuel-injection problems and it looked like Newman’s team could overtake them to grab the win. In the end, however, they had trouble even clinching second due to a dying engine. The Whittington team covered 2,592.1 miles at an average speed of 107.99 mph, finishing 59 miles ahead of Newman, Barbour and Stommelen.
1979: Bobby Unser drove the “Norton Spirit” Penske-Cosworth to victory in both races of the Trenton Twin Indy at Trenton Speedway in Trenton, New Jersey, US.
1984: Al Holbert and Derick Bell drove a Porsche 962 to victory in the Mid-Ohio 500km IMSA Camel GTP race in Lexington, Ohio, USA. It was the first race win for the 962.
1989: Alain Ferté of France, in a Jaguar XJR-9LM recorded the fastest lap in the Le Mans 24-hour race, 3 minutes 21.27 seconds, an average speed of 242.1 km/h (150.4 mph).
1990: Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren MP4/5B won the Canadian Grand Prix held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the second time. It was Senna’s third win for the season having won the season-opening United States Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix just two weeks earlier. Senna won by ten seconds over fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet who drove a Benetton B190. Three second further back in third was British driver Nigel Mansell driving a Ferrari 641.
2001: It was a Schumacher 1-2 in Montreal at the Canadian Grand Prix, the first time brothers had finished winner and runner-up in an F1 race. But for once it was younger brother Ralf who took the chequered flag, his Williams 20.2 seconds in front of Michael’s Ferrari to take his second win of the season. Michael led until a fuel stop on lap 46 and Ralf took the chance to reel off a succession of fastest laps to open up a decisive gap. Championship aspirant David Coulthard had a wretched day in his McLaren, retiring 16 laps from the end and suffering a badly-blistered behind. “I knew I had a problem from the start when I reached down in the car and found a large nut during the parade lap,” he said. “The car was pulling to the left and the suspension dropped. As a result I ended the race with a huge blister on my backside. Unfortunately there was not enough time to change the car at the start so I had to carry on.”
2007: Having started in pole position, British driver Lewis Hamilton won his first F1 race in an incident-strewn Canadian Grand Prix. The safety car was deployed an unprecedented four times during the course of the race, on one occasion due to Polish driver Robert Kubica’s crash, which resulted in him suffering a sprained ankle and concussion. Brazilian Felipe Massa and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella were disqualified for failing to stop at the end of the pit lane when the exit was closed.