24 February – 1 March

Discover the momentous motoring events that took place this week in history ……

120 years ago this week, the National Cycle & Automobile Company Limited opened a showroom in Toronto, Ontario – the first automobile dealership in Canada, to sell bicycles and Locomobile steamers [25 February 1900]……….100 years ago this week, Jimmy Murphy wins the 250 mile race in a Duesenberg at the just opened Beverly Hills race track in California, US [28 February 1920]……. The Beverly Hills Speedway – 1¼ mile boardway – opened. Jimmy Murphy was the star turn in a Duesenberg [29 February 1920]. The Speedway operated for four years and attracted many historically

significant competitors including Ralph DePalma, Jimmy Murphy, and Tommy Milton. It was also the site of a racing accident that killed National Champion (posthumous) and Indianapolis 500 winner Gaston Chevrolet in 1920. Because of rapidly increasing real estate values, the Speedway became an uneconomical use of property. The track was torn down and the Association moved its racing operation a few miles away to Culver City, California in 1924…….60 years ago this week, racer Ettore Chimeri (35) was killed during a practice run for the Cuban Sports Car Grand Prix, after his Ferrari 250TR

Ettore Chimeri

crashed through barriers and plunged 150 feet into a ravine [27 February 1960]. He participated in one Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, the 1960 Argentine Grand Prix on 7 February 1960, in his Maserati 250F (a car he owned, previously raced by Juan Manuel Fangio and Francisco Godia, prepared in Venezuela and sold to an Italian buyer sometime after his death) failing to finish the race having experienced electrical problems. He scored no championship points……..Richard Petty, the king of stock car racing, recorded his first Grand National victory at the old Charlotte, North Carolina, fairgrounds [28 February 1960]. Eight months earlier Richard had edged out his father, Lee, at the Grand National race in Lakewood, Georgia, only to watch his victory reviewed on the grounds of his own father’s protest. The protest was upheld, and Lee Petty was awarded the win. It’s not hard to tell how Richard developed the competitive instinct that would make him the winningest NASCAR race of all time……..50 years ago this week, the second generation 1970 1/2 Pontiac Firebird was introduced [26 February 1970]……. James Hylton held off a furious rally by Richard Petty to win the Richmond 500 at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway in Richmond, Virginia, US [1 March 1970]. It was Hylton’s first career NASCAR Grand National win and his first start in a Ford after campaigning a Dodge for four years………40 years ago this week, Darrell Waltrip drove the DiGard Chevy to victory in the ‘Richmond 400’ NASCAR GN race. Waltrip took the lead from Richard Petty with 19 laps to go and crossed the stripe 1.2 seconds ahead of Bobby Allison in the Bud Moore Ford [24 February 1980]……. Qualifying for the South African Grand Prix was marked by spectacular crashes involving Marc Surer and Alain Prost [28 February 1980]. Surer failed to negotiate a bend and smashed head-on into a trackside wall. He was trapped for half an hour before he could be freed and taken to hospital. Prost, meanwhile, had his second accident of the week – two days earlier he had damaged his McLaren during unofficial practice. He walked away without injury both times. Off track, a stormy meeting of the drivers was held in the light of a decision to ban skirts on cars in 1981, with Alan Jones and John Watson reportedly resigning in protest……..The Osella made its Formula One debut in the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami [1 March 1980]. But the car designed by Enzo Osella and Giorgio Stirano and driven by Eddie Cheever was involved in an accident and was forced to retire on lap 8. The race was won by French driver René Arnoux driving a Renault RE20. It was Arnoux’ second World Championship victory adding to his win at the previous race the 1980 Brazilian Grand Prix. Arnoux won by 34 seconds over fellow French driver Jacques Laffite driving a Ligier JS11/15. Laffite’s Ligier team mate Didier Pironi was third, completing an all France podium. This was the first race since the 1968 United States Grand Prix to have a podium made up of drivers from just one country. All three drivers were also driving French built cars…….30 years ago this week, Mark Martin won the Pontiac Excitement 400, but the car was found to have an illegal carburetor spacer [25 February 1990]. NASCAR found the spacer was 2½ inches tall, a half-inch more than allowed. Martin kept the victory, but was fined $40,000 (at record at the time), and was docked 46 points. At season’s end, Martin lost the championship by a mere 26 points to Dale Earnhardt, with the penalty representing the deciding margin. Later, it was admitted that the spacer plate was technically not illegal, and did not enhance the car’s performance, but actually fell within a “gray area” of the rulebook. NASCAR competition director Dick Beaty even stated that “We don’t know if [a taller spacer] is an advantage or not………Cornell Gunter (53) of the Coasters was shot and killed while sitting in his car in Las Vegas, Nevada, US [26 February 2000]…….20 years ago this week, Ford, GM, and DaimlerChrysler jointly announced that they were planning to combine their efforts to form a business-to-business integrated supplier exchange through a single global portal [25 February 2000]……. Tony Schumacher drove his Top Fuel dragster through the 1/4 mile at 330.23 mph at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. His speed is nearly 4 mph faster than his previous record in 1999 [28 February 2000]…….. Eric Clapton was banned from driving for six months after speeding at 45mph in a 30mph zone near his UK home in Surrey [29 February 2000].

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