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12-13 January: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~January 12~

1934: Hans Stuck gave the Auto Union “P-Wagen” Grand Prix car its first official test runs on the Avus Circuit in Germany.

1936: Al Gordon beat Rex Mays in the Oakland 150 AAA National Championship race on the 1 Mile Dirt Oval Oakland Speedway, Oakland California, US.

Ken Wharton

1957: British driver Ken Wharton (40), who drove 16 grands prix, was killed while testing a Ferrari Monza at the Ardmore Circuit in Auckland New Zealand. An official statement said he came too fast out of a corner, moved onto loose gravel and piled into drums, bales and the timekeeper’s tower. He had certainly had his share of luck until then. In the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally his car crashed into a gorge and finished upside down on top of two other wrecks, and in 1955 he was involved in a massive pile-up in a race in Belfast when two other drivers died.

1975: The Fittipaldi brothers created Formula 1 history as Emerson won the opening round of the 1975 season in Argentina as reigning World Champion for McLaren and Wilson debuted the family clan’s own Formula 1 team in the self-built Copersucar FD01.

1988: Pierino ‘Piero’ Taruffi (81) racing driver from Italy, and also the father of lady racer Prisca Taruffi, died.

1998: Four time British Rally champion Roger Clark died in Leicestershire, England, at the age of 58, after suffering a stroke. Although justly famous for the first British driver to win a World Rally championship event and twice winning Britain’s RAC International Rally in Ford Escorts – in 1972 (with Tony Mason as his co-driver) and in 1976 (with Stuart Pegg) – in a glittering career he won 25 other major international rallies, in Britain, Europe, Canada, and South Africa. For two decades he was not only the best of British, but was warily respected by rivals all over the world. When not rallying, which was rarely, he helped run the expanding family businesses in the Leicester area, and opened Roger Clark Cars in Narborough (Leicestershire) in the 1970s. Hit hard by the collapse of the economy in 1990, these had to close down, but in his final years, even though in precarious health, he set up Roger Clark Motor Sport, which prepared cars for others to use in rallying.

2005: The British Automobile Racing Club Limited (BARC) purchased Mallory Park (Motorsport) Ltd, the company that arranged motor sport at the Mallory Park circuit, thereby effectively taking control of all activities at the Leicestershire (England) circuit.

2006: After three years in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Toyota announced it would field Camrys in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition in 2007. Bill Davis Racing, Team Red Bull, and Michael Waltrip Racing were the first to sign with Toyota.

~13 January ~

1952: The Interlagos Grand Prix, Brazil was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Ferrari 166.

1957: The Argentine Grand Prix held at Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Maserati. Fangio and Behra raced away into the distance as the rest of the field floundered. Moss’s throttle linkage broke on the startline and he lost 10 laps having it fixed. The Ferraris were all suffering terribly with clutch problems-both Collins and Musso burnt theirs out, whilst Hawthorn’s was slipping badly. Both Collins and von Trips took over Perdisa’s Ferrari in an attempt to stop the Maseratis,but were powerless to stop them taking the first four places. Moss rejoined and set fastest lap on his way to 8th place.

1969: Production of James Garner’s movie “The Racing Scene”, about his American International Racing’s (AIR) 1969 racing season, was announced at the grand opening of AIR’s new offices in Hollywood, California, USA. Unfortunately, AIR would cease operations before the season was over.

1974: Former world champion Denny Hulme, who had announced his decision to retire at the end of the season a few weeks earlier, won the season-opening Argentina Grand Prix, his last F1 victory. It did not go down well with a huge 120,000 crowd, including President Peron, which for 50 of the 53 laps had cheered local hero Carlos Reutemann before he was forced to retire. Reliability was a major worry as only six of the 26 starters completed the race.

1980: The Winston-Western 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race began. It ended six days later after being delayed by rain on lap 26.

1980: Buenos Aires was again the venue for the first round of the F1 championship, and Alan Jones’ win in his Williams Ford set him on his way to that year’s drivers’ championship. Conditions were harsh, and sections of the track had to be relaid overnight after drivers complained it was falling apart during qualifying; unsurprisingly, the repairs disintegrated from the tenth lap onwards making the surface slippery and 15 cars retired. Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg were second and third respectively, both standing on the podium for the first time, while Derek Daley took a career-best fourth.

2003: The Jaguar R4 Formula One car. with the new Cosworth V10 was unveiled.

Danny Oakes

2007: Danny Oakes, one of America’s leading Midget Race Car drivers winning 100s of races in the 1940s and 1950s across the US, died. He won the Turkey Night Grand Prix and 3 West Coast Midget Championships in 1945. In 1947, he won the American Automobile Association. Midget title and the United States Auto Club Pacific Coast Midget championship in 1959. At age 40, he tried to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 from 1952 to 1955, without success. But as a mechanic, he put many others into the winners circle and earned the reputation as one of the best mechanics in the Indy pits. As chief mechanic in 1963, for 1952, 500 winner Troy Ruttman, his car finished 12th and driver Johnny White, brought Oakes his best finish of 4th in 1964. He quit driving midgets in his mid-60s, but continued his racing career into his 70s as a throttle man in offshore boat racing. He was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1996.

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