11-12 November: This weekend in Motor Sport History

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Momentous motor sports events that took place during this weekend in history …….

~11 November~

1906: Peugeot made its official racing debut finishing 3rd, 4th and 8th in a 126.1-mile race in Rambouillet, France.

1934: The Briarcliff Trophy Race in Briarcliff, New York was staged for the first time since 1908 with a 99-mile race being won by Langdon Quimby in a Willys 77.

Rudolf Caracciola

Rudolf Caracciola

1936: Rudolf Caracciola established a series speed records driving a 5.6-litre Mercede-Benz on a stretch of autobahn between Frankfurt and Heidelberg. After 4 test runs Caracciola bettered the world record for 10 miles {207.218 mph (333.485 km/h) [2 min 53.73 s]} and took two class B records on the shorter distances at the same time {5 Miles: 209.302 mph (336.839 km/h) [1 min 26.00 s] and10 km: 206.226 mph (331.889 km/h) [1 min 48.47 s]}.

1949: Rex Mays (36) was killed during a race held at Del Mar, California, when he was run over by another car after being thrown from his vehicle in a mishap. A 1993 inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Mays earned his place among the all-time greats of motor racing as much for his willingness to put the welfare of others before his own as

Grim death of Raymond Mays

Grim death of Rex Mays

for his actual racing ability. Mays got his start on the West Coast midget racing circuit in the 1930s, winning numerous races before entering national competition where he added sprint and champ-car racing to his repertoire. In 1934, he entered the racing big leagues when he placed ninth in his first Indianapolis 500. Mays never managed to win the esteemed event, but he placed second in 1940 and 1941, the same two years that he won the national titles for champ-car racing. In 1941, Mays gave up the fame and fortune of motor racing to serve his country as an Air Force pilot during World War II. After the war, Mays returned to racing. Although he was not as winning a racer as before the war, two separate incidents demonstrated the distinction of his character, and guaranteed his venerable place in the racing history books. In June of 1948, while competing in a champ-car race at the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin, Mays deliberately crashed into a wall, nearly ending his life, in order to avoid hitting racer Duke Dinsmore, who was thrown from his car a moment before. And in the fall of 1949, at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York, May prevented a possible fan riot when he silently took to the racetrack alone after other racers refused to compete because of a dispute over prize money. One by one the other racers joined him and violence was prevented. In addition to his place in the Motorsports Hall of Fame, Rex is honored with a special plaque at the Milwaukee Mile, at the exact spot on the Turn One wall where he nearly gave up his life to save another.

1951: Tim Flock took the lead on the 14th lap and breezed to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, US. It was the first official NASCAR race staged at the venerable one-mile oval. Young Jesse James Taylor, runner-up in the 500-miler at Darlington, was critically injured in an early spill.

1956: In one of the most peculiar doubleheader days in NASCAR history, Speedy Thompson won the 100-mile race at Hickory and Marvin Panch won the same-day event at Lancaster, Calif. Curiously, Thompson’s win counted as a 1956 race, while Panch’s triumph was ­considered the opener of the 1957 NASCAR Grand National season.

Robert "Red" Byron

Robert “Red” Byron

1960: Robert “Red” Byron (45), who won the first NASCAR sanctioned race and the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup Series) championship, died of a heart attack in a Chicago hotel room. Along with Bob Flock, he is considered one of the best drivers of the era.

1976: Billy Arnold (70), winner of the 1930 Indianapolis 500 in which he became the first winner to average better than 100 mph while driving without a relief, died. His winning margin was 7 minutes and 17 seconds. He was 24 years old at the time. In 1931 he led 155 laps but crashed on lap 162 while holding a five-lap lead, becoming seriously injured along with his riding mechanic Spider Matlock. A tire came off the car, bounced over the fence and killed a young boy playing in his front yard outside the track. In 1932 Arnold led 57 laps before crashing on lap 59. He suffered a broken shoulder and riding mechanic Matlock suffered a broken pelvis.

1980: Prospects of a Formula 1 breakaway competition faded with an announcement six leading constructors, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Renault, had decided to compete in the official championship in 1981. A dispute between FOCA and FISA had split manufacturers and sponsors, resulting in plans for a breakaway event. The teams committed only four days before the FIA deadline.

1987: Early NASCAR stockcar racer Gober Sosebee (81) died from injuries suffered in an agricultural accident. He won on the Daytona Beach Road Course in 1949, 1950 and 1951. Sosebee also won 2 Grand national (now Sprint Cup Series) races, one in 1952 and another in 1954. He also had 4 pole positions (including his first NASCAR race at Daytona Beach) and 33 top 10 finishes during his Cup career.

1997: The FIA World Motorsport Council [WMSC] met to discuss the fate of Michael Schumacher for his part in attempting to drive title rival Jacques Villeneuve off the circuit in the final race of the season at Jerez. A hefty fine or even a several race ban for the following season seemed possible but ultimately the FIA decided to merely exclude him from the championship standings and make him participate in a road safety campaign. Even German tabloid Das Bild described the decision as ‘crazy’.

~12 November~

1895: The Automobile Club de France was founded. During the first 8 years of its existence the club organised 34 intercity races, including the first international race, the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris in 1898 won by Frenchman Fernand Charron in a Panhard et Levassor.

1921: Tommy Milton drove the Durant Special to victory in a sprint race in Phoenix, Arizona, USA

1928: Racers Earl de Vore and Norman Batten, winning co-driver of the 1925 Indianapolis 500, were lost at sea en route to South Africa aboard SS Vestris.

1950: Juan Manuel Fangio in a Ferrari 166 won the Paraná Grand Prix held at Urquiza.

Golden Gate Speedway

Golden Gate Speedway

1962: Richard Petty led 158 of 200 laps to prevail in the only race for NASCAR’s top series at Golden Gate Speedway’s 0.3-mile paved track in Tampa, Florida, US. Petty finished just a car-length ahead of Jim Paschal in a 1-2 sweep by Petty Enterprises Plymouths. Joe Weatherly came home third as the final driver on the lead lap. Sunshine State native Buzzie Reutimann, father to current Sprint Cup Series driver David Reutimann, started 18th and finished 10th in his only start in NASCAR’s premier division.

1966: Racer Don Branson (46) was killed when he crashed during a midget race at the Ascot Motor Speedway in Gardena, California.

1967: John Surtees drove a Lola T70-Chevrolet to victory in the Can-Am race at Las Vegas, Nevada. This was Surtee’s final Can-Am win while Bruce McLaren clinched the Can-Am Championship.

1995: Dale Earnhardt dominated the race but comes up short in the final standings as Jeff Gordon clinches his first championship in NASCAR’s premier series at Atlanta Motor Speedway (US). Gordon, who entered the season-ending NAPA 500 with a commanding 147-point lead, clinched the title early by gaining five bonus points for leading a lap and then coasted to a 32nd-place finish. Earnhardt, who led 268 of 328 laps, wound up 34 points shy of notching a record-breaking eighth championship. Sterling Marlin finished second with Rusty Wallace third.

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