9-10 September: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

~9 September~

1901: The first long-distance motor race in the United States began in New York City, ending 5 days and 464 miles later in Buffalo, New York. In these early days of motor racing, the determining factor was not speed or endurance, but reliability. David Bishop’s winning Panhard et Levassor only averaged a speed of 15 mph, but managed the entire journey without breaking down – a remarkable feat.

1913: The first Corona Road Races (California, US) were staged on the city’s unique circular track. The winner of the main event, a 301.81 mile ‘Free-for-all-Race’, was Earl Cooper in a Stutz.

1916: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted a day of short racing events termed the “Harvest Classic,” composed of three races held at 20, 50 and 100 mile distances.

1923: The Italian Grand Prix, held at Monza, the first race to be designated as the European Grand Prix, was won by Carlo Salamano in a FIAT 805.

1928: Run over 60 laps, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza was won by Louis Chiron driving a Bugatti 37A. It was the 8th Italian Grand Prix. This race was also the VI Grand Prix d’Europe. This race was marred by the death of Emilio Materassi on lap 17, when his car lost control on the main straight at over 120 mph while trying to overtake Giulio Foresti. The car swerved to the left of the track, bounced over a three-metre deep and four-metre wide protection ditch and a fence and crashed into the grandstand, killing him along with 22 spectators. Other sources have stated that 27 spectators were killed overall, but this is unconfirmed. By either estimation this was the worst accident, with respect to the number of lives lost, to occur at a Grand Prix and it is only surpassed by the 1955 Le Mans disaster in the history of motor racing. As a result the Italian Grand Prix was to not be held again until 1931.

1944: Robert Benoist (48) died. The Nazis executed the French Grand Prix motor racing driver and war Pre-World War II racing great, in the Buchenwald concentration camp, for being a French resistance leader.

1945: The first post-World War II auto races were held on the outskirts of Paris, France. The Robert Benoist Cup for cars with engines less than 1.5 litres was won by Gordini in a Simca-Fiat. The Coupe de la Liberation for cars with engines from 1.5-3.0 litres was won by Henri Louveau in a Maserati. The Coupe de la Prisonniers for cars with engines greater than 3 litres was won by Jean-Pierre Wilmille in a Bugatti.

1960: Mickey Thompson, driving the Challenger I at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, US recorded a one-way run of 406.60 mph, becoming the first driver to break the 400 mph barrier although the run was not recognised as a land speed record.

1973: Going into the Italian Grand Prix, Emerson Fittipaldi was faced with the almost impossible task of needing to win the final three races with Jackie Stewart failing to score to take the title. As it happened, Fittipaldi finished second behind team-mate Ronnie Peterson as Stewart coasted home fourth to secure his third and final drivers’ title.

1979: South African Jody Scheckter won the Italian Grand Prix for Ferrari, securing his one and only World Drivers Title. The field was slightly larger than normal at Monza with the return to the World Championship of Alfa Romeo which fielded a new 179 ch

assis for Bruno Giacomelli and the old 177 for Vittorio Brambilla, back in action for the first time since the crash at Monza the previous season. Ensign decided to give Formula 2 star Marc Surer a run in its car in place of Patrick Gaillard, while Hector Rebaque had his HR100 chassis ready for the first time. Continue Reading →

1984: Monza saw the first all-turbo race in Formula One history after the Tyrrell team was thrown out of the championship for running its cars underweight during the race before topping up its water injection supply tanks with extra water and lead shot to ensure they made the weight. In the race itself, Niki Lauda took advantage of the retirements of Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet to win from Michele Alboreto and Riccardo Patrese.

1990: Ayrton Senna took a pole to flag victory to win the Italian Grand Prix from title rival Alain Prost and Gerhard Berger but the star of the show was Jean Alesi, albeit only for four laps! Having qualified fifth, the Frenchman passed Mansell then Prost at the start before the race was stopped as Derek Warwick turned his Lotus upside-down on the start-finish straight. Once again, Alesi brilliantly overtook Mansell and Prost at the re-start before spinning and the race then became a procession to the finish. But Alesi had shown glimpses of brilliance in his less-powerful Tyrrell.

1990: Dale Earnhardt held off Mark Martin on a restart with three laps left to win the Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Virginia, US. Earnhardt, who led 173 of the 400 laps on the .75-mile asphalt track, logged the eighth of his nine wins for the season on the way to his fourth championship in NASCAR’s top series. Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace completed the top five.

2006: Spyker bought Midland F1 Racing, a Formula One team from Russian businessman Alex Shnaider. Spyker paid US$106.6 million for the team which was re-named Spyker MF1 Team for the last three races of the 2006 Formula One season. As part of the deal, the cars had a revised livery for the final three races of 2006.

~10 September~

1900: The Coppa Florio (or Florio Cup) was an automobile race first held in Italy on this day as the Coppa Brescia. It was renamed in 1905 when Vincenzo Florio offered the initial 50,000 Lira prize money and a cup designed by Polak of Paris. The cup was to be awarded to the car maker who gained the most wins in the first seven races, beginning with the race held in 1905. In the event, the first seven races were all won by different manufacturers, but Peugeot won the eighth race in 1925 and thus secured the cup with its second win. However, the competition for the cup continued after Lucien Rosengart, then a director of Peugeot, offered to make it available again. The Brescia race ran along the route Brescia-Cremona-Mantua-Brescia. In 1908, the race used the Circuito di Bologna: Bologna-Castelfranco Emilia-Sant’Agata Bolognese-San Giovanni in Persiceto-Bologna. After 1914, most of the Coppa Florio races were co-organized with the Targa Florio at the Circuito delle Madonie circuit outside Palermo, Sicily, running four or five laps, 108 km each. Only in 1927 did the race move to Saint-Brieuc, in honour of Peugeot’s second win in 1925. The race attracted teams from around Europe as well as the 1921 Grand Prix Sunbeams from England and saw such luminaries as Sir Henry Segrave and Jean Chassagne competing.

1911: The last of four Foundation Day Races staged by the Quaker City Motor Club at Faimount Park, Philadelphia, US, was won by Erwin Bergdoll in a Benz.

1932: The Mountain Championship at Brooklands was won by Malcolm Campbell driving a 4 litre V12 Sunbeam Tiger.

1933: The Italian Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, was one of the blackest days in Grand Prix racing history. Since the very beginning of automobile sport there had never been a tragedy of such proportions. Three of Europe’s greatest racing drivers had crashed fatally within a few hours of each other at almost the same spot in the South Curve: Campari, the most popular driver, the bulky, amiable Giuseppe, then Mario-Umberto Borzacchini, the great driver and famous friend of Nuvolari and finally Count Stanisłas Czaykowski, winner of the heat 1 race and the 1-hour world record holder.

1950: The first Sandberg Speed Hill Climb was staged at the Sandberg Ranch, north of Los Angeles, California, US.

1961: A crash during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza claimed 16 lives – Formula One’s worst tragedy. Wolfgang von Trips (33) and 15 spectators were killed on the second lap of the race at Monza after von Trips tangled with Jim Clark. Ferrari withdrew from racing for the rest of the season. Continue Reading →

1967: Richard Petty roared to his sixth victory in a row, winning the Capital City 300 at the Virginia State Fairgrounds in Richmond, US. The win was part of an unprecedented 10-race win streak during Petty’s remarkable 27-win title season in a Plymouth Belvedere. Dick Hutcherson was second on the half-mile dirt track as the only other car on the lead lap, with Paul Goldsmith third, one lap down.

1967: John Surtees snatched victory in Italy after Jim Clark’s epic drive was let down by a fuel pump failure. It was the sixth and final career Grand Prix victory for Surtees, as well as first ever race for the RA300 machine that he drove to the win. This race is considered one of Jim Clark’s greatest performances in Formula One.

1972: Emerson Fittipaldi of Brazil won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in a Lotus to clinch the world driver’s title. Aged only 25 years and 273 days, he became the youngest-ever world motor racing championship.

1978: Niki Lauda won the Italian Grand Prix for Brabham-Alfa Romeo. The race was marred by the death of Ronnie Peterson following an accident at the start of the race. With three races remaining, Mario Andretti (Lotus-Ford) led the World Drivers’ Championship by 12 points from his team-mate Ronnie Peterson.

1995: Johnny Herbert took his second win of the season and his career at the Italian Grand Prix.

2000: Contested over 53 laps the Italian Grand Prix was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher after starting from pole position equalling Senna’s 41 Grand Prix wins. Mika Häkkinen finished second in a McLaren car with Ralf Schumacher third for the Williams team. Marshall Paulo Gislimberti is sadly killed by flying debris

2006: Kimi Raikonnen started his 100th race, but Michael Schumacher beat him to the win at the Italian Grand Prix. After the race, in the press conference, Michael Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula One. The race was his 90th victory. Three years later however in 2010, Schumacher returned to F1 with Mercedes.

365 Days Of Motoring

Recent Posts



I We have no wish to abuse copyright regulations and we apologise unreservedly if this occurs. If you own any of the material published please get in touch.