12-13 May: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~12 May

Douglas Promenade – 1904

1904: The first and only speed trials staged at Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man were won by S. F. Edge in a Napier with a speed of 57.3 mph.

1935: The Cape Cod Challenge Cup Race, the first race held at the Marston’s Mills track in Massachusetts, US was won by Sidney Shurcliff in a Ford.

1957: Spanish road racer Alfonso de Portago and his co-driver Edmund Nelson were killed in a crash during the course of the Mille Miglia about 40 miles from Brescia, the start-finish point of the road race. The wrecked Ferrari 335S also claimed the lives of ten spectators, among them five children. Twenty more people were injured. Enzo Ferrari spent 4 years fighting manslaughter charges as a result of the crash, which also ended the Mille Miglia. Italian Pierro Taruffi won that last Mille Miglia, also in a Ferrari 335S.

A J Foyt

1957: A.J. Foyt won his first major race, a midget car race in Kansas City, Missouri. He is one of only three men to have won four Indianapolis 500s, winning in 1961, 1964, 1967, and 1977. In Foyt’s first championship, a late-fuel stop nearly cost him the race he had worked so hard to win. Fortunately, competitor Eddie Sachs, who had taken the lead from Foyt during the fuel stop, had to a make a fluke tire change in the last few laps of the race, giving Foyt his first Indy 500 crown. Foyt was so overwhelmed by the post-race excitement that he sneaked out for a burger. “We had so many people congratulatin’ us, talkin’ and all that,” he recalled. “Hell, I was hungry, so I just pulled over to White Castle. Hamburgers, I think, were 10¢ or 12¢ apiece.” His 1964 victory was marred by the tragic deaths of fellow racers Eddie Sachs and Dave McDonalds. The 1967 Indy 500 saw Foyt drive a Coyote of his own design to victory. His father, Tony, was chief mechanic. “What really made me feel good,” said Foyt, “is I built my own car, drove my own car, and my father was chief mechanic.” Perhaps Foyt’s greatest achievement was his 1977 victory, when Foyt became the first man to win the Indy four times in front of track owner Tony Hulman. Hulman had acted as a mentor to Foyt, and he rode a victory lap with Foyt after the 1977 race. A.J. Foyt now runs A.J. Foyt Enterprises from his home city of Houston, Texas. He founded the Foyt Race Team in 1965. His multifarious business interests include car dealerships, funeral service businesses, oil investments, and thoroughbred racehorses.

1961: Melvin Eugene ‘Tony’ Bettenhausen (44), a dedicated and fearless driver, winner of the National US-Championship in 1951 and 1958, died. He retired from racing three times but always came back as he found life away from the cockpit boring. Bettenhausen was killed in a crash at Indianapolis while testing a Stearly Motor Freight Special vehicle for Paul Russo. The car smashed into the outside wall of the track and then rolled 325 feet along the barrier. The car came to rest in a grassy plot between the wall and Grandstand A, with the tail of the car on fire. Results showed the accident was caused by an anchor bolt which fell off the front radius rod support, allowing the front axle to twist and misalign the front wheels when the brakes were applied, which drove the car into the wall.

Parnelli Jones

1962: Parnelli Jones, driving his Watson Roadster “Old Calhoun” became the first driver to qualify over 150 mph at the Indianapolis 500, winning the pole position at a speed of 150.370 mph (241.997 km/h). Jones dominated the first two-thirds of the race until a brake line failure slowed him, and he settled for a seventh-place finish. He won the race in 1963, then famously broke down while leading the 1967 race with three laps to go in a turbine car. During his career as an owner, he won the Indy 500 in 1970-1971 with driver Al Unser, Sr.

1962: Nelson Stacy executed a last-lap pass of Marvin Panch to win a 300-miler at Darlington (South Carolina, US) Raceway by two car-lengths. It was the second of four victories for Stacy in NASCAR’s top series. Pole-starter Fred Lorenzen, a teammate to Stacy in a Holman-Moody Ford, was a lap back in third place.

1968; The Spanish Grand Prix was held at Jarama Circuit. It was the first race after the death of former double World Champion Jim Clark, who had died in a non-championship Formula Two event in Hockenheim, Germany. Graham Hill driving a Lotus-Cosworth 49 won the race ahead of Denny Hulme and fellow Brit Brian Redman.

1974: The Spanish Grand Prix was held at Jarama Circuit. It was the first race after the death of former double World Champion Jim Clark, who had died in a non-championship Formula Two event in Hockenheim, Germany. Graham Hill driving a Lotus-Cosworth 49 won the race ahead of Denny Hulme and fellow Brit Brian Redman.

1984: Tom Sneva became the first to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 over 210 mph (338.0 km/h) in his Texaco Star March 84C/Cosworth, driving for the new Mayer Motor Racing team. His one and four lap track records were 210.689 mph (339.1 km/h) and 210.029 mph (338.0 km/h), respectively.

1991: Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren-Honda MP4/6 won the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo. Ayrton Senna shocked no-one by taking pole position, but second place was a surprise with Stefano Modena taking full advantage of the superior Pirelli qualifying tyres to be second followed by Patrese, Piquet, a disappointed Mansell, Berger, Prost, Moreno, Alesi, and de Cesaris. Alex Caffi had a huge accident in practice and would not participate in the race. Elsewhere Martin Brundle was disqualified for missing a weight check. At the start, Senna got away well followed by Modena, Patrese, Mansell, and Prost. In the usual first corner mayhem Berger ran into the back of Piquet, dropping the Austrian to the back of the pack and breaking Piquet’s suspension, Berger would later crash out. Senna quickly built up a huge lead over Modena and Patrese, and both the chasers were eliminated on lap 42 when Modena’s engine blew in the tunnel spreading oil on the track which caused Patrese to crash. Senna now had a huge lead over Prost and Mansell, but the Englishman was in no mood to stay third and passed Prost with a daring move going into the chicane. Prost would later pit to repair a loose wheel and problems with the stop dropped him down to fifth. Senna duly won his fourth Monaco Grand Prix in five years by 18 seconds over Mansell, who drove a brilliant race, Alesi, Moreno, Prost, and Emanuelle Pirro in the Dallara. The second-place finish was Nigel Mansell’s first points of the season and the gearbox issues that had troubled the start of his season did not re-appear.

Arie Luyendyk

1996: The fastest qualification for the Indianapolis 500, taken as an average speed for four laps, is 381.392 km/h (236.986 mph), was set by Arie Luyendyk (Netherlands) in a Reynard-Ford-Cosworth.

2000: Adam Petty (19), the fourth-generation driver of NASCAR’s most famous family, died in a crash during practice for the Busch 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway, US.

2002: The Austrian Grand Prix was held at the A1-Ring. This race is best remembered for its infamous “staged finish”, where race leader Rubens Barrichello, who was running first, was ordered to allow Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher to overtake him under “team orders” and win the Grand Prix. Ferrari wanted their number one driver Schumacher to win the race and collect the maximum points for the Drivers’ Championship. Barrichello let him pass on the last lap at the finish line which greatly upset the spectators. Barrichello had also yielded second place to Schumacher at the line in the previous year’s event.

~13 May~

1900: Friz Held driving a Benz won the Mannheim-Pforzheim-Mannheim road race (cover image).

1923: The racing debut of Tatra was successful as Josef Vermirovsky won the Ledec Alej flying kilometre in Brno, Czechoslovakia driving a T11.

1934: “Eric Lora” and 6 spectators died, many more were injured, when his Bugatti ran into the crowd at Fontainebleau in France.

1950 British Grand Prix Silverstone

1950: The very first round of the Formula One World Championship was held on the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire. The event was graced by the presence of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth – the first and only time a reigning monarch has attended a motor race in Britain. Silverstone was originally a military airfield and the British Racing Drivers’ Club had organised the first post-war British Grand Prix there in 1948 after pre-war circuits such as Brooklands and Donington Park had fallen into disuse. The introduction of the ‘official’ World Championship in 1950 was the butt of much criticism from the ‘diehard’ purists in the sport and was virtually ignored by the media. Alfa Romeo went on to dominate the race and filled the first three places, with the top British driver Reg Parnell finishing third, despite hitting a hare. Italy’s Guiseppe Farina took pole position, set the fastest lap and won the 70-lap race by 2.6 seconds.

Stirling Moss, Monaco Grand Prix 1956

1956: Race 2 of 8 in the 1956 World Championship of Drivers was held in Monaco. As a result of Alberto Ascari’s accident the previous year, the Monaco chicane had been altered so that a repeat of the crash would be less likely in the future. In the four months since the Argentine GP the Lancia-Ferrari, Maserati, Vanwall and Gordini teams had been developing their cars and they were joined in Monaco by BRM although engine problems in practice meant that neither Mike Hawthorn nor Tony Brooks would be able to start the race. The cars were also a long way from the pace, Hawthorn lapping the track five seconds slower than Juan-Manuel Fangio’s Lancia-Ferrari. Stirling Moss was alongside his old Mercedes-Benz team mate on the front row with Eugenio Castellotti completing the front row in his Lancia-Ferrari. Then came Jean Behra’s Maserati and Harry Schell in the first of the Vanwalls. The third row was a similar mixture with Maurice Trintignant in the second Vanwall, Cesare Perdisa in a Maserati and Luigi Musso in another Lancia-Ferrari. Peter Collins – Ferrari’s fourth driver – was back on row four but he was three seconds a lap clear of the Gordinis and privateer Maseratis at the back of the field. At the start Moss took the lead with Castellotti, Fangio and Schell hot on his trail. It did not take long for Fangio to pass Castellotti but Moss was five seconds clear by the end of the first lap. At Ste Devote on the second lap Fangio made a rare mistake and spun. While some the cars arriving on the scene were able to get through, Schell and Musso both went off into the haybales and were out. Fangio rejoined and tried to make up for lost time. Castellotti ran into trouble early and retired with clutch trouble and when Fangio passed Behra he was third. Ahead was Collins and he quickly moved aside to let his team leader through so that Fangio could chase after Moss. The Argentine driver was not having a good day, however, and after clouting a wall at the chicane he pitted and handed his car over to Castellotti. Just after the halfway point Collins was called into the pits and Fangio took over his car – an odd move in the circumstances. Fangio had obviously regained his composure because he quickly caught and passed Behra and then set off to close the 45 second gap to Moss. He had 30 laps to do it. Fifteen laps later Moss had a fright when lapping his team mate Perdisa, who suffered a brake failure just as Moss was passing him. The two cars made contact and Moss damaged one of the catches which secured the bonnet of his car so that it was lifting up slightly in some of the corners. Moss remained calm despite the fact that Fangio was closing at two seconds a lap and he got to flag with six seconds to spare.

Darel Dieringer

1960: American driver Harry Schell (38) died in practice for the non-championship International Trophy event at Silverstone in 1960, when he crashed his Cooper at Abbey Curve. Schell was driving at approximately 100 mph when his car slid into the mud on the side of the track and lost a wheel. The Cooper somersaulted and penetrated a safety barrier, causing a brick wall to collapse.

1961: Eddie Sachs, of Center Valley, Pennsylvania, US A, became the 3rd driver in Indy 500 history to win the pole for consecutive races by qualifying at 147.481 mph, the second-fastest qualifying speed posted up until that date.

1966: Darel Dieringer led 178 of 250 laps to cruise to victory in the Independent 250, the only race for NASCAR’s premier series at Starlite Speedway in Monroe, North Carolina, US. Dieringer bested runner-up Clyde Lynn by eight laps on the half-mile dirt track to score the first win in NASCAR’s top division for a car with the number zero. Wendell Scott took third place, 12 laps back at the finish.

1967: Over 100,000 people attended the burial of racing driver Lorenzo Bandini who had died from injuries sustained from an horrific crash at the Monaco Grand Prix.

1979: At the Belgium Grand Prix in Zolder, Ferrari driver, Jody Schecter came from seventh on the grid to win in a time of 1:39:59 over polesitter, Jacques Laffite in the Ligier. Didier Pironi in a Tyrrell finished in third. Even though he finished out of the points in 7th, Gilles Villeneuve clicked off the fastest lap of the race. Sixth place finisher, John Watson and fifth place man, Riccardo Patrese had a good drives through the streets of Monaco, starting 19 and 16th respectively. Carlos Reutemann finished fourth in a Lotus.

1990: Italian driver Riccardo Patrese driving a Williams FW13B won the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. It was Patrese’s third Grand Prix victory, his first since 1983 and his first for Williams. Patrese took a five second victory over Austrian driver Gerhard Berger driving a McLaren MP4/5B. Third was Italian driver Alessandro Nannini driving a Benetton B190.

1994: Duncan Hamilton (74), British amateur racing driver who famously won Le Mans 24 Hours, died. Hamilton was a garage owner as his primary job description and raced a Talbot-Lago and an HWM in a handful of Championship Grands Prix as an amateur driver. He won Le Mans in 1953 sharing a works Jaguar C-type with his close friend Tony Rolt. Story has it the two of them had resorted to drinking in a French pub prior to their glorious win because their car had initially had its entry refused. By the time the team managed to rectify the steward’s mix-up, Hamilton and Rolt had a few and had to be put into a severe dark coffee and cold shower regime to get them back into shape.

1995: Tony Stewart won the Indiana Sprint Classic at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Indiana, US.

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