Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history …….
1900: The Salzburg-Linz-Vienna road race started and was won the following day by Ritter von Stern in a Daimler 24 hp.
1908: The St. Petersburg-Moscow race was won by Victor Héméry in a Benz Grand Prix at the remarkable speed of 51.4 mph over 438 miles of ‘cart-tracks’.
1909: US president William Howard Taft touched a key in Washington, D.C. that sent a signal to Seattle to open the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Expo at the Seattle World’s Fair, as well as a signal to New York City to initialise the New York to Seattle Ocean to Ocean auto race. The first transcontinental race was promoted and sponsored by the Seattle Automobile Club, the AYPE, the Automobile Club of America, Henry Ford, and Robert Guggenheim. The race was intended to showcase the latest products of the automobile industry and to emphasize the need for new and improved roadways across the nation. Because of the lack of roads (particularly west of the Mississippi), participants went west to Chicago, south to St. Louis, on to Denver, and then up through Wyoming, Idaho, and across Washington. Automobiles were still a new technology in 1909 and many people considered cars too dangerous to be on city streets. Because of the concerns about speed, the organizers divided the Ocean to Ocean race into two events, an endurance run from New York City to St. Louis and a speed race from St. Louis to Seattle. East of the Mississippi, driving was only permitted during daylight and only at legal speeds. West of St. Louis, the rules were wide open. The Auto Club believed the western roads were so bad that speed law violations would be impossible.The Pace or Pathfinder car, preceded the racers in order to select the best routes. The famous Thomas Flyer, winner of the 1908 New York to Paris race, was used as the Pathfinder. When the Thomas Flyer car took two months to cross the country, it was clear that the roads along the way were in bad shape. Robert Guggenheim donated the transcontinental trophy and the prize money for the race. The winner received the trophy and $2,000. Second prize was $1,500. Inscribed with: “Alaska-Yukon Automobile Race Guggenheim Trophy New York to Seattle,” the trophy has small figureheads of Chief Seattle at its base, and pictures of the Agriculture Building and a view of Seattle’s main street near its top.The declared winner of the race was Ford No.2, a stripped down Ford Model T driven by Bert Scott. The Ford arrived in downtown Seattle at 12:55pm on June 23rd, covering the 4,106 miles from New York in 23 days.Five months after the race (and after the close of the AYP), the Model T was disqualified for breaking race rules for changing engines part way through the race. The second place finisher, a Shawmut, was declared the new winner. In the meantime Henry Ford used the victory to help advertise and market the Model T. The roads were bad west of the Mississippi. H.B Harper, one of the participants for Ford, wrote, “every day we wore rubber coats and hip boots and pushed through mile after mile of mud.” Thirty-five miles outside of Denver, both Fords mired in quicksand. Harper said, “with the aid of the roof of a deserted pig pen which. . . we shoved under the wheels. . . we got both cars out and made Denver.” The worst part of the trip for the winning car was over Snoqualmie Pass. The racers crossed Lake Keechelus by ferry at five in the afternoon then floundered in snow in the Pass. They reached the summit at 8pm and went on for another hour and a half. After sleeping for a while, they started out again at 2:30AM. The drivers noted that “in many places we had to dig our way out of the snow and practically climb over logs which lay across the road.” “Besides the snow there were steep grades, and it was pushing pulling, holding back, and digging all the way through the fifty miles.”
1919: The Gilly-Burtigny Climb at Geneva, Switzerland was held, the first hill climb event in Europe.
1953: The first East African Coronation Safari Rally finished at the same time the Queen Elizabeth II was being crowned in Westminster Abbey. It was won by A M Dix & J W Larson driving a 1131cc VW. In 1960 it was renamed the East African Safari Rally and kept that name until 1974, when it became the Safari Rally.
1975: Arturo Merzario and Jacques Laffite drove an Alfa Romeo T33/TT/12 to victory in the 1000km sports car race on the Nurburgring in Germany.
1980: Alan Jones driving a Williams-Cosworth FW07B won the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama. Jochen Mass finished second for Arrows and Elio de Angelis third for Team Lotus.
1986: Jo Gartner (32) died whilst contesting the 1986 24 Hours of Le Mans. At 2:10 am on the Sunday Gartner’s Porsche 962 suffered a mechanical failure and turned hard left into the barriers on the Mulsanne Straight at 160 mph (260 km/h). The car somersaulted down the track and caught fire resting on the barriers on the opposite side of the track. Gartner was killed on impact.
1986: Pole-starter Darrell Waltrip took the lead from Tim Richmond with two laps left to prevail at Riverside (California, US) International Raceway’s 2.62-mile road course. Richmond, who led the most laps (43 of 95), held on for second place with Ricky Rudd third.
2003: Juan Pablo Montoya driving a Williams-BMW FW25 won the Monaco Grand Prix from a third position start. Kimi Räikkönen finished second driving for McLaren, with Michael Schumacher third in a Ferrari.There were no recorded on track overtakes during this race, one of the very few occasions in Formula One history where this has occurred. The next race where this happened was the 2009 European Grand Prix.
1934: Mannin Moar (formally known as II Mannin Moar), a Grand Prix that was held at a street circuit in Douglas, Isle of Man, United Kingdom. It was the twelfth round of the 1934 Grand Prix season, but it did not count towards the championship. The race, contested over 50 laps of 3.659 mi, or 5.889 km, was won by Brian Lewis driving a Alfa Romeo Tipo B after starting from pole position. Tim Rose-Richards made the best start of the line, overtaking both Christopher Staniland and Freddie Dixon to get into second place after Lewis, who would eventually stay in the lead the entire race. Staniland retired after just two laps due to gearbox problems and Rose-Richards retired with a broken water pump, leaving second and third place open for Dixon and Vasco Sameiro.Between lap fifteen and lap forty, five drivers were forced to retire and the field was brought down to three cars. Although it was not an easy victory – his Alfa Romeo had lost a gear early in the race – Lewis took the flag after fifty laps ahead of Charlie Dodson and Cyril Paul.
1956: Future stockcar great Junior Johnson and his father were arrested for making moonshine whiskey. His father, a lifelong bootlegger, spent nearly twenty of his sixty-three years in prison, as their house was frequently raided by revenue agents. The Johnson family experienced the largest alcohol raid in United States history, seizing upwards of 400 gallons of moonshine from the house. Junior spent one year in prison in Ohio for having an illegal still, although he was never caught in his many years of transporting bootleg liquor at high speed. In 1955, Johnson began his career as a NASCAR driver. In his first full season, he won five races and finished sixth in the 1955 NASCAR Grand National points standings. In 1958 he won six races. In 1959, he won five more NASCAR Grand National races (including a win from the pole position at the 1959 Hickory 250); by this time he was regarded as one of the best short-track racers in the sport.His first win at a “superspeedway” came at the Daytona 500 in 1960. Johnson and his crew chief Ray Fox were practicing for the race, trying to figure out how to increase their speed, which was 22 miles per hour (35 km/h) slower than the top cars in the race. During a test run a faster car passed Johnson. He noticed that when he moved behind the faster car his own speed increased due to the faster car’s slipstream. Johnson was then able to stay close behind the faster car until the final lap of the test run, when he used the “slipstream” effect to slingshot past the other car. By using this technique Johnson went on to win the 1960 Daytona 500, despite the fact that his car was slower than others in the field. Johnson’s technique was quickly adopted by other drivers, and his practice of “drafting” has become a common tactic in NASCAR races.In 1963 he had a two-lap lead in the World 600 at Charlotte before a spectator threw a bottle onto the track and caused Junior to crash; he suffered only minor injuries. He retired in 1966. In his career, he claimed 50 victories as a driver, and 11 of these wins were at major speedway races. He retired as the winningest driver never to have a championship. Johnson was a master of dirt track racing. “The two best drivers I’ve ever competed against on dirt are Junior Johnson and Dick Hutcherson,” said two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett. In the 1970s and 1980s, he became a NASCAR racing team owner; he sponsored such NASCAR champions as Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. He now produces a line of fried pork skins and country ham. He is credited as the first to use the drafting technique in stock car racing. He is nicknamed “The Last American Hero” and his autobiography is of the same name. In May 2007, Johnson teamed with Piedmont Distillers of Madison, North Carolina, to introduce the company’s second moonshine product, called “Midnight Moon Moonshine”.
1962: Dennis Taylor (40) was killed in the Formula Junior race at Monte Carlo in 1962.
1967: Jim Paschal stormed to the 24th of his 25 wins in NASCAR’s top series, leading 111 laps of the Asheville 300 at New Asheville (North Carolina, US) Speedway. Donnie Allison led the most laps (157) but wound up second, eight seconds behind at the finish. Pole-starter Richard Petty finished third, two laps down.
1970: New Zealand race-car designer and manufacturer Bruce McLaren died at the age of 32, after crashing at the Goodwood Circuit in Sussex. He had been testing his new M8D Can-Am car when the rear bodywork came adrift at speed, leading to the loss of aerodynamic downforce and destabilising the car, which spun, left the track and hit a bunker used as a flag station.
1991: Nigel Mansell decided to wave to his fans during the last lap of the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix as he cruised to what seemed to become yet another dominant win. But as the electronic brain of his Williams-Renault got confused as to why the driver would want to drop the revs below the recommended level and disengaged the clutch. Nelson Piquet sped past the frustrated Englishman to score what would turn out to be Piquet’s last ever victory in Formula 1.
1996: The Spanish Grand Prix was held in Barcelona. Michael Schumacher’s first Ferrari victory, it is generally regarded as one of his finest. In the torrential rain, he produced a stunning drive, and a prime example of why he earned the nickname “Regenmeister” (“Rainmaster”), despite his early and unforced crash at a wet Monaco Grand Prix two weeks earlier. Mika Salo was disqualifed for the second time this season, for changing cars after the field was under starter’s orders. Damon Hill had started the race from pole position, but dropped to 8th after spinning twice in the opening laps, before another spin into the pit wall on lap 12 ended his race. Schumacher recovered from a poor start to take the lead from Villeneuve on lap 13, and from then on he dominated the race, lapping over three seconds a lap faster than the remainder of the field. Rubens Barrichello, who was running in second place after Jacques Villeneuve and Alesi made their pit stops, put in a strong performance in this race, but was forced to retire with 20 laps to go after a clutch problem caused his engine to fade out. On the previous lap, Gerhard Berger had spun his Benetton out of fourth place while trying to lap Diniz. After an uneventful race on his part, Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished in fourth, while Mika Häkkinen took fifth after surviving a spin off the track in the closing stages of the race. Jos Verstappen, running fifth after the retirements of Barrichello and Berger, crashed into the tyre barrier with 12 laps left, guaranteeing Pedro Diniz his first Formula One point as by this time only six drivers were left in the race. With no further retirements, Diniz brought his car home in sixth, after driving at a more cautious pace that saw him fall two laps adrift of the front runners by the end.
2002: The FIA Top Fuel class at the Santa Pod Raceway saw its first side-by-side fours and its first 300mph runs, in the same race! Qualifying saw Barry Sheavills clock a 4.970/304.71 while alongside him Andy Carter ran 4.897/303.07. Barry was officially the first to the 300mph mark even though he pulled a red light. Later on in Round One of eliminations Carter ran a 4.92/288.26 to back up the previous run for a new European E.T. record while Sheavills ran 4.95/301.65, the previous 304 backing up the speed for a new European speed record. Carter went on to the final where he was defeated by Kim Reymond who ran his first four, a 4.99/283.96. In the second round of the Nitro Funny Car Championship John Spuffard took the win with a 5.38/286.05, the highest funny car speed outside the USA. Top Methanol Dragster saw Dave Wilson set new European E.T. and speed records of 5.56 seconds and 252.84 mph.