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1-2 December: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~ 1 December~

1962: High praise for Stirling Moss who was described by Enzo Ferrari as the world’s best driver, likening him to the legendary Tazio Nuvolari. At the same time at Monza, Peter Arundell won a challenge from a German sports writer who claimed Lotus had used oversized engines in winning the formula junior races that season. Lotus offered £1000 that one of their cars could match speeds achieved in races.

1963: African American driver Wendell Scott (cover image) passed Buck Baker with 25 laps to go, to win the 200-lap, 100-mile Grand National race at the Jacksonville Raceway Park by two laps. However, Baker was recognised as the winner, and celebrated in victory lane. Racial tensions of the time was blamed for the move, but it ultimately became a black eye for the sport. Hours after the race, NASCAR officials made scoring corrections and declared Scott the winner, but long after fans had left the track. Baker (2013) and Scott (2015) are both in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

1968: The first official event was staged at Sears Point, in the southern Sonoma Mountains in Sonoma, California (US), an SCCA Enduro.

1974: John Greenwood drove a Greenwood Corvette to victory in the IMSA sports car race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, US.

1997: Michael Schumacher was revealed by Forbes magazine as the fourth-highest earner in world sport. His income from F1 of £21.9 million ranked below Michael Jordan (£48.9m), Evander Holyfield (£33.9m) and Oscar De La Hoya (£23.5m).

2001: Bernie Ecclestone hit out at rumours of a rival F1 championship being launched, warning it would drive sponsors away from the sport. Paolo Cantarella, chief executive of Fiat, had met F1 teams to propose a rival competition offering them a bigger income. “The manufacturers came in because it was a shop window for them, so why do they want to destroy it?” said Ecclestone. “I have told them to wait and see what happens. They became involved because they liked the stability of F1 and knew that things were done properly. Once these companies leave it is hard to get them back.”

~2 December~

John R Cobb

1899: British racing legend John R. Cobb, was born. He set a series of lap records at the famous Brooklands track, including an unbroken record of 143.44 mph in 1935 as well as breaking the land speed record on three occasions. Driving a Railton he set a new land speed record in 1938 of 350.194 mph, breaking the 345.489 mph record set by George Eyston two weeks earlier. Eyston, driving a Thunderbolt, regained the land speed title later that year. Cobb returned to Bonneville to snatch the title from Eyston for good, raising the record to 369.741 mph (595.04 km/h). This record stood until 1947, when Cobb himself returned to Utah in another Railton and set a new record of 394.196 mph (634.40 km/h). Cobb was killed at the age of 52 while trying to set a new water-speed record on Loch Ness in Scotland. His land-speed record stood until 1963, when Craig Breedlove, driving a jet-propelled vehicle.

Uniontown Speedway c. 1917

1916: The Uniontown (Pennsylvania) Board Speedway staged its first event, a 112.5 mile race was won by Louis Chevrolet driving a Frontenac. Hughie Hughes was sadly killed during the race. Motorsport was extremely dangerous in the days of the board tracks, but the inaugural race at Uniontown was an especially bloody event, even for the standards of the day. Two were killed (a driver and his riding mechanic) during practice a few days prior, and five (two spectators and three participants) died during the race.

1962: Peter Arundell won a one-car “race” at Monza, Italy. Journalist Richard von Frankenberg had accused Lotus of using an illegal engine in Arundell’s car in a race there a few months earlier. He challenged them to match their race speed in an “inspected, standard” Lotus 22. Arundell bested his race average by 2.5 mph.

Bruce Halford

1997: Ken Tyrrell announced that he had sold his eponymous team to British American Racing. The outfit, which entered the championship for the first time in 1968, won three world championships with Jackie Stewart in the 1960s and 1970s, but had not won a race since 1984. “This is the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to take,” Tyrrell said. “I believe it is the right one. The cost to compete in F1 has escalated dramatically and the Tyrrell racing organisation is not satisfied with being relegated to the back of the grid. Our competitive spirit is too high.”

1998: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced plans to host the United States Grand Prix Formula One race at the Speedway starting in 2000. Work began to prepare the track for the race, including the development of a 2.605-mile road course and 36 pit-side garages for the Formula One teams.

2001: Bruce Halford died in Devon, aged 70. He competed in nine F1 races between 1956 and 1960 but only managed to finish one – the German Grand Prix in 1957.

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