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10-11 March: This Weekend in Motor Sport History


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

~10 March~

1928: Gustave Adolphe Clément-Bayard (72), French entrepreneur who raced motor cars and manufactured bicycles, pneumatic tyres, motorcycles, automobiles, aeroplanes and airships, died. In 1894 he was a passenger in the winning vehicle in the world’s first competitive motor event. As a result of selling the manufacturing rights to the “Clément” car, he changed his name to Clément-Bayard five years after the successful launch of the Clément-Bayard automobile brand.

Orange Speedway

1963: Junior Johnson won the “150 mile” NASCAR Grand National race on a dusty Orange Speedway. The race actually was 148.5 miles, but promoters still billed it as a “150”. Actress Jayne Mansfield presented the trophy to Johnson, who won $1550 for his efforts on the 9/10 mile dirt track. Johnson’s Ray Fox Chevrolet finished 2 seconds ahead of Jim Paschal’s Petty Engineering Plymouth. Herman “The Turtle” Beam was running at the finish, the 84th consecutive race he had done so.

Tony Vandervell

1967: Tony Vandervell (68), English industrialist, motor racing financier, and founder of the Vanwall Formula One racing team, died. Originally entering modified Ferraris in non-championship races, Vanwall constructed their first cars to race in the 1954 Formula One season. The team achieved their first race win in the 1957 British Grand Prix, with Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks sharing a VW 5, earning the team the distinction of constructing the first British-built car to win a World Championship race. Vanwall won the inaugural Constructors Championship in 1958, in the process allowing Moss and Brooks to finish second and third in the drivers standings, winning three races each. Vandervell’s failing health meant 1958 would be the last full season; the squad ran cars in a handful of races in the following years, but finished racing in 1961.

1991: The United States Grand Prix in Phoenix, the opening race of the 1991 season, saw Ayrton Senna take it to the streets in his McLaren in just over 2 hours. He started from pole ahead of second man, Alain Prost in his Ferrari and finished ahead of the Frenchman by 16.3 seconds. Nelson Piquet brought his Bennetton home in third. Jean Alesi set fastest lap of the race in the other Ferrari but finished 9 laps down. There were some notable new faces at the race. Future World Champion Mika Hakkinen made his first grand prix start for Lotus and impressed by qualifying in 13th. It was also the first Formula One race for the Jordan team.

1996: The United States Grand Prix in Phoenix, the opening race of the 1991 season, saw Ayrton Senna take it to the streets in his McLaren in just over 2 hours. He started from pole ahead of second man, Alain Prost in his Ferrari and finished ahead of the Frenchman by 16.3 seconds. Nelson Piquet brought his Bennetton home in third. Jean Alesi set fastest lap of the race in the other Ferrari but finished 9 laps down. There were some notable new faces at the race. Future World Champion Mika Hakkinen made his first grand prix start for Lotus and impressed by qualifying in 13th. It was also the first Formula One race for the Jordan team.

2017: Former Formula 1 and motorcycling world champion John Surtees died at the age of 83. Surtees is the only man to have won the grand prix world championship on both two wheels and four. He won four 500cc motorcycling titles – in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 – and the F1 crown with Ferrari in 1964.

~11 March~

1928: Tazio Nuvolari driving a Bugatti T35C won the Tripoli Grand Prix.

1928: Louis Chiron in a Bugatti T35C won the Saint Raphael Grand Prix at L’Estérel Plage, in France.

1951: The Syracuse Grand Prix held at the Syracuse circuit on Sicily was won by Luigi Villoresi in a Ferrari 375.

1979: Cale Yarborough roared to his 60th NASCAR Grand National victory, cruising to a six-second win at Richmond (Virginia, US) Fairgrounds Raceway’s .542-mile track. Bobby Allison finished second as the only other car on the lead lap with Darrell Waltrip third — completing a top three of drivers now enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Only two cautions slowed the race, which set a track record for average speed at 83.608 mph.

Gordon Johncock

1979: Gordon Johncock won the first ever CART sanctioned Indy Car race, the ‘Jimmy Bryan 150’ at Phoenix International Raceway. Bobby Unser led until Danny Ongais took over on lap 87. Ongais had a 20 second lead and had lapped all but four cars before a long pit stop under green on lap 119 dropped him to 5th. Johncock took over as Ongais closed quickly before blowing the motor in the Interscope Special 10 laps later. Rick Mears finished second and Johnny Rutherford third. Johncock was driving the Patrick Racing Penske PC6…the first time that a Penske fielded by another team had beaten Penske’s own entries.

1990: The first round of the 1990 season took place in Phoenix, Arizona and was won by Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren Honda. However, he didn’t have it easy, rain during qualifying shook up the order and Jean Alesi, just in his second season of F1 racing, took an early lead in the Tyrrell. Senna, who started in fifth, closed the gap and sat behind Alesi, expecting the Tyrrell’s Pirelli tyres to wear at a faster rate than his Goodyears. However, when it became clear that the Pirellis would hold up Senna made his move. The world champion expected it to be a cut and shut job, but Alesi held his line and retook the lead at the next corner. Senna was in no mood to mess around and on the next lap took a more ruthless approach to ensure he gained the lead. The move stuck, but Alesi held on for an impressive second-place finish, over 45 seconds ahead of third-placed Thierry Boutsen and just eight seconds off Senna.

1994: Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, announced plans for a new racing series, the Indy Racing League, to begin in 1996. The Indianapolis 500 would be its cornerstone event.

1994: Clive Roberts driving a General Motors’ Impact at Fort Stockton Test Center, Texas, USA, established the record for the highest speed achieved by an electric vehicle – 183.822 mph –over a two-way flying kilometer.

2000: Jenson Button walked away from a massive 160mph accident during Saturday practice for his debut grand prix. He had been running fifth fastest when he hit a kerb and smashed into the retaining wall, ripping off two of the car’s wheels. Driving the spare car in qualifying, he was caught out by yellow and red flags and ended up qualifying in 21st. He ended up retiring from sixth place with engine failure in the race.

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