13-14 June: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~13 June~

1895: The Paris–Bordeaux–Paris Trial of June 1895, sometimes called the “first motor race” although it did not conform to modern convention whereby the fastest finisher is the winner, ended. The Comte Albert de Dion led a group of organizers for a motor race between Paris and Bordeaux before returning to Paris, a distance of 732 miles. Regulations for the event stipulated a pure race where the winner was the first car home, seating more than two passengers. Drivers could be changed during the race and repairs were allowed only with materials carried on the car, supervised by “Commissaires”. Manufacturers were prohibited to enter several identical cars so as not to “swamp” the smaller amongst them but were allowed an unlimited number of cars if they were deemed sufficiently different. Twenty-three vehicles took of from Versailles, amongst this group were steamers from de Dion, Serpollet and Bollées and petrol cars from Benz, Peugeot, Panhard et Levassor and an electric car from the famous carriage maker Jeantaud. The face was a triumph for Émile Levassor who arrived first after completing the 1,178 km in 48 hours, nearly six hours ahead of the runner-up and at a stout average speed of 15 miles per hour. However, the official winner was Paul Koechlin, who arrived third in his Peugeot, exactly 11 hours slower than Levassor, but officially the race had been for four-seater cars, whereas Levassor and the runner-up drove two-seater cars. However as witnessed by the statue later erected at Porte Maillot in his honor it was Levassor who gained glory from the crowd. Nine out of twenty-three cars finished the race, eight of them petrol. The sole steamer was the Bollée which was built in 1880 and carried seven passengers. One car that finished, but outside of the 100 hour window was entered by the Michelin brothers and had pneumatic tires. The car they were driving was called the Lightning, not because of its speed but rather due to an issue with it’s steering mechanism its trajectory followed the zigzag outline of a lightning bolt.

1907: A phenomenally large entry list of 93 cars for the inaugural Kaiser Prize Race, which replaced the Gordon Bennett race, necessitated the running of two eliminating races the day before the main event. The circuit was already well-known in the Taunus region of Germany and close to the Kaiser’s summer residence It was the second and last international automobile race in Germany before World War I. Vincenzo Lancia (Fiat) won the first one from Fritz Opel (Opel), Lucien Hautvast (Pipe), Paul Geller (Adler), Alessandro Cagno (Itala) and Hugo Wilhelm (Métallurgique), while the second one went to Felice Nazzaro, followed by Louis Wagner (both Fiat), C. Deplus (Pipe), Arthur Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich), Willy Pöge and Otto Salzer (both Mercedes).

1911: The first long-distance race in England (100 laps / 277 miles) was held at Brooklands race circuit in Surrey.

1920: The first race at the Circuit of Mugello (Italy) was won by Giuseppe Campari in an Alfa Romeo. It was also the first racing victory for the marque.

1937: Bernd Rosemeyer driving an Auto Union Typ C won the XI Adac Eifelrennen run over 10 laps (228.1 km) of the Nürburgring.

1953: (13-14th): The highlight of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 21st Grand Prix of Endurance was the introduction, by Jaguar Cars, of disc brakes on all four wheels of each C-type car, which gave Jaguar 1st, 2nd, and 4th place finishes. This race saw the death of American driver Tom Cole Jr. when his Ferrari was involved in an accident late in the race.

1954: Al Keller made history in the first road-course event in NASCAR’s top series, notching the only win for Jaguar at the Linden, New Jersey (US) airport. Keller, whose only other win came in a Hudson, led 28 of 50 laps on the 2-mile runway layout. Joe Eubanks was second in a Hudson while pole-starter Buck Baker was third, one lap down. Keller’s car was one of 13 Jaguars in the 43-car field, which also featured MGs, an Austin Healey and a Porsche.

1965: The Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa-Francorchamps was won by British driver Jim Clark who led every lap of the race driving a Lotus 33. It was one of the Scot’s most dominant wins. In the rain, he pulled away and with a third of the race to go, the Lotus driver was leading his fellow Scotsman Jackie Stewart by 1 minute and 20 seconds. However, for the last six laps Clark eased off dramatically and when the chequered flag was waved his lead was down to just under 45 seconds.

1971: Dr Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep, driving a Porsche 917K, set a new record for the 24-hour Grand Prix d’Endurance at Le Mans, France, covering 3,315,203 miles.

1976: The 1976 Swedish Grand Prix held at the Scandinavian Raceway in Anderstorp, Sweden, is the only ever Formula One race to be won by a car other than four-wheeled – indeed, the best four-wheeler could do no better than third, and it was the second race in succession that it took no less than 16 wheels to bring home the podium-finishers: South African Jody Scheckter and Frenchman Patrick Depailler in six-wheeled Tyrrell/Ford P34s and Austrian Niki Lauda in a four-wheeled Ferrari 312T2. The six-wheel design, with four 10-inch-diameter (250-mm) wheels at the front to reduce drag and increase grip, was banned by the FIA in 1983. When it was revealed it was the instant sensation of the 1976 season. The car was a photo opportunity on wheels – six of them, which was precisely why – and must have given Elf more free publicity in the 1976 pre-season and beyond than it garnered during the whole of 1974 and 1975. Tyrrell’s Jody Scheckter took pole, with Patrick Depailler in fourth. In the race it was Mario Andretti in the Lotus 77 who led for much of the race. Andretti however had been penalised sixty seconds for jumping the start. Andretti’s engine failed on lap 46 while attempting to build his lead over the two Tyrrells. They went on to finish first and second, Jody Scheckter leading Patrick Depailler to the line for his second Swedish Grand Prix victory. The South African, who when later probed confided that he thought the six-wheeled concept ridiculous, was beaming on the podium. However the Swedish walkover proved to be the only win for the P34. It was retired at the end of the 1977 season. Eight laps before Andretti’s retirement Chris Amon crashed his Ensign N176 after a suspension failure, allowing championship leader Niki Lauda to move into the position that became third in his Ferrari 312T2. Jacques Laffite continued to show the promise of the Ligier JS5 in fourth. James Hunt was fifth in his McLaren M23 and Clay Regazzoni climbed into the final point in the second Ferrari late in the race.

1981: Racer Jean-Louis Lafosse was killed when his Rondeau crashed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans – also killed in the incident was race marshall Jean Pierre Mobila.

1982: Riccardo Paletti (23) died when his car ran into the back of the stationary Ferrari of Didier Pironi who had stalled on the start grid of the Canadian Grand Prix. Nelson Piquet won driving a Brabham-BMW BT50. Paletti was the last driver to be killed during a Formula One race weekend until the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, when Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna died on consecutive days. In 1986, Elio de Angelis was killed during testing at the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet.

1993: Not a day to look back on fondly for the Williams pit crew as they ruined Damon Hill’s hopes of a 1-2 with Alain Prost when they botched a pit stop at the Canadian Grand Prix. As Hill, who was in second, came in for a tyre change, the crew realised too late they had the wrong specification replacements ready and the delay allowed Michael Schumacher to nip past. Hill made the podium after Ayrton Senna was forced to retire six laps from the end with alternator trouble. “I was surprised to see the mechanics rushing round to look for tyres,” Hill admitted.

1999: Heinz-Harald Frentzen suffered a brake failure and had a massive crash with four laps to go at the Canadian Grand Prix. Frentzen was unhurt, but his crash caused this contest to be the first ever F1 race to finish behind the safety car. Mika Häkkinen won the race in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-14.

2004: The Loton Park Hill Climb (nr Shrewsbury, 1349 yards) record was set by Adam Fleetwood, with a time of 44.90 seconds for an average speed of 67.19mph (108.14 km/h).

2007: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Hendrick Motorsports announced a five-year deal for Earnhardt, Jr., to drive for the team starting in 2008.

 

~14 July~

1889: The first sprint meeting in England was held on a public road just outside Colchester, Essex. Only one car entered, a Delahaye, which covered the flying-start one mile at 26.8 mph.

 

1900: The first of the famous Gordon Bennett Cup races, instigated by the eponymous proprietor of the New York Herald after he moved to Paris to set up a French edition of the paper, was run over a 340-mile course (Paris-Chartres-Orléans-Nevers-Moulins-Roanne-Lyon). France, Germany, England, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and the United States were invited to take part and each nation could enter a maximum of three cars powered by an internal-combustion engine, steam or electricity. There was a minimum requirement of 40 kg weight, an insistence on two seats and a requirement that the cars should be built entirely in the country they represented. In future the race was to be held each year in the country that won the cup. Only four teams were represented at the start that year – the United States, France, Germany and Belgium. Fernand Charron won the race for France in a Panchard at an average speed of 39 mph, beating fellow countryman Léonce Girardot by 1 hour 27 minutes.

1907: The inaugural Kaiser Prize Race, the ‘Kaiserpreisa’, a replacement for the Gordon Bennett Cup, was held. The race was staged in the same region that had hosted the Gordon Bennett Race three years earlier. The new course even included a section of the old circuit, although in the opposite direction of travel. Since only forty vehicles were allowed to enter the race, while ninety had signed up, two elimination trials were held on 13 June 1907. These would determine who could participate in the main event. When Emil Schmidt on a Dürkopp automobile started at around 4:10 a.m., the Kaiser himself was among those present in the stands watching the elimination proceedings. Many vehicles dropped out due to accidents or engine damage: the weather was far from fit for a Kaiser. On the day of the main race, Friday the 14th of June, 1907, the skies cleared and the roads gradually grew dusty. The race got underway at 6:00 a.m., the vehicles starting, at two minute intervals, for what was to be a five-hour battle for victory. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the race course, cheering the cars as they passed. Several drivers were forced to drop out of the race in the very first circuit: Pöge on a Mercedes, because of a defective carburettor; a cylinder in need of repair took out Florio and his Darraq; Hugo Wilhelm had a collision with a milestone; and Gabriel on his Dietrich dropped out because of a defect in its petrol tank. At the end of the first round, the Italian Felice Nazzaro on a Fiat was in the lead, with a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes. As the end of the race approached, the Kaiser had to face the fact that the leading automobiles were not of German manufacture. At the end of the 4th round, Nazzaro crossed the finish line first, with a time of 5 hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds. Five minutes later Hautvast, a Belgian, came in on a Pipe. After another five seconds, the first German car crossed the finish line: Carl Jörns driving an Opel. The winner’s average speed was 84.81 km/h. None of the highly lauded favourites had made the grade, including Camille Jenatzy on the Mercedes, the winner of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race. Jenatzy needed 32 minutes more than the winning Italian driver to finish. Of the 39 teams that had started out, 21 crossed the finish line. The Kaiserpreis, designed by the supreme leader himself, was awarded to the Italian before a cheering crowd. A large, attractive vase went to the second-placed Belgian team. Then Jörns, as the best German driver, received an almost 60-centimetre tall lidded vase from the Kaiser’s own hand. Jörns and Opel were later fêted as victors in Germany.

1928: Leon Duray drove his Miller 91 Packard Cable Special to a world close-coursed speed record, recording an astonishing top speed of 148.173mph, at the Packard Proving Ground in Utica, Michigan. Two weeks earlier, Duray had posted a record lap of 124mph at the Indy 500, a record that stood for 10 years until the track was banked.

1931: Enzo Ferrari won the Italian Bobbio Penice Hillclimb with a 2.3 litre Alfa Romeo. This was his last of the season as a regular competitor before taking up full-time team management for the Alfa Romeo factory and eventually designing his own cars.

1936: 300,000 people gathered on a rainy and fog swept Nürburgring to see the Adac Eifelrennen, the first major race of the year on German soil, the AVUS race being cancelled as the track was under re-construction. As the cars lined up for the start the fog lifted but the heavy rain continued. Nuvolari took the start followed by Caracciola coming up from third row of the grid and Rosemeyer. As expected it was rain master Caracciola who soon took the lead after passing the Alfa at the Karussell curve. After two laps Nuvolari charged and took back the lead and soon afterwards Caracciola had to retire with engine failure. The increase of the engine volume to 4.7 litres had weakened the cylinder block. Von Brauchitsch now held third place behind Nuvolari and Rosemeyer. Then the fog came back with dramatic results. Rosemeyer closed in on Nuvolari and passed the Alfa, coming out from Südkehre to the joy of the spectators and continued into Hatzenbach and out of sight in the fog. The fierce race between the Auto Union and the three Ferrari Alfa Romeos continued, von Brauchitsch having retired with the same problems as Caracciola. In places the sight was reduced to 20 – 40 meters and the drivers slowed down, except for Rosemeyer who continued to race at high speed. Nuvolari tried to follow, but could do nothing to Rosemeyer’s extraordinary ability to see through the fog. The Auto Union driver opened up the gap to the Italian by 30 seconds per lap and went on to take a remarkable victory. Nuvolari led home a good Ferrari 2-3-4, Lang finishing 5th as best Mercedes-Benz driver. The other Auto Unions came home a disappointing 7-8-9, Chilean driver Zanelli was last with the Scuderia Torino entered Maserati. Eifelrennen (Nürburgring), 14-6: Bernd Rosemeyer, Auto Union Typ C.

1953: Jaguar cars finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in Le Mans 24-hour Grand Prix d’Edurance. At 4:00pm on the Saturday, the flag fell and the race was on. At the end of the first lap, the Allard led the field, which was closely bunched behind. The first few laps at Le Mans means very little and it was not until after the 30 minutes that the true picture really become close. Rolt had already put in a lap record at 96.48 mph, while Moss led the way, closely followed by Villoresi, Tom Cole, Rolt, John Fitch, with Karl Kling rounding out the top six. Sydney Allard early lead lasted hardly any time, and by lap four he had to retire with a collapsed rear suspension that severed a brake pipe. Moss was also in trouble. Although he had smoothly pulled away from the chasing pack, until a misfire set in. His subsequent unplanned pitstop for spark plugs, plus another later to the eventual cure – removal of a clogged fuel filter. At least Jaguar remembered the pit regulations. Ferrari topped up the brake system on Mike Hawthorn’s 340 MM before the specified 28 laps had been completed, thereby Hawthorn/Farina were disqualified. Whilst all this was going on, Villoresi had taken the lead. By 5:00pm, the order had settled down, and it became clear that the Jaguars, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos were the forces to be reckoned with. The Lancias and Talbots were quite outclassed, as was the Aston Martins. Consalvo Sanesi in his Alfa Romeo 6C, continued to lower the fastest lap, with Rolt moving into the lead for Jaguar. Just before 6:00pm, Fangio retired with engine troubles in his Alfa Romeo. The pace continued at a fantastic pace and now it was Jaguar setting it. At the three-hour mark, Rolt/Hamilton led from Ascari/Villoresi, followed by Cole and his partner, Luigi Chinetti, Sanesi with Piero Carini, and the Germans of Kling and Fritz Riess. Already these five cars had pull out a two lap advantage over the rest of the field. As darkness fell, the Ferrari-Jaguar battle continued unabated, between Ascari/Villeoresi and Rolt/Hamilton, with the Alfa Romeos close behind. During the early hours of the morning, Rolt/Hamilton continued to lead with no sign of tiring, while Ascari/Villoresi was now losing ground. By 3:00am, the rear suspension on Sanesi/Carini car has collapsed, and they were out, along with George Abecassis and Roy Salvadori as oil was getting into their Aston Martin’s clutch.Although the Ascari and Villeroesi still was taking the fight to the Jaguars, the car was lame, for it was suffering from a sticking clutch and drinking a lot of water. However, the Italians, in a win-or-burst attempt were driving flat out at all times, but it had no effect on Rolt and Hamilton. Their Jaguar now had a lap lead over the Ferrari. Despite the night being very clear and fine, dawn approached a certain amount of mist in the air, making driving conditions very tiring. The windscreen on the leading Jaguar had been smashed early in the race, and as result Rolt and Hamilton were suffering from wind buffering, but the pair kept up the pace, nevertheless, with an average speed of well over 105 mph. By the time the mist had cleared, Rolt and Hamilton still lead by a lap ahead of the Ascari and Villoresi’s lame Ferrari. Third place was over three adrift was the Cunningham of Fitch/Walters. A lap further back was the fast Jaguars of Moss/Walker and Whitehead/Stewart. It was during this period, when disaster struck at Maison Blanche, when Cole crashed his Ferrari and was killed instantly.Shortly after 8:30am, the leading Jaguar and Ferrari both made routine refuelling stops at the same time, while Moss moved up to third when the Cunningham came for its stop. At 9:00am, the lame Ferrari was dropping back, and was now back in fifth place, following clutch issues. Rolt and Hamilton were now clear up front, but they could not rest as the American of Fitch/Waters started to challenge the Moss/Walker Jaguar for second place. The lame Ferrari retired at 11:00 am having dropped down the order to sixth place. This left only the Marzotto car to challenge the Jaguars and the lead Cunningham. It could not do it and raced to finish in fifth, keeping the Gordini of Maurice Trintignant and Harry Schell behind them. With three hours to ago, the Jaguars were still lapping at over 105 mph, however the pace had slackened a little. In the closing stages the order did not change, as Hamilton took over from Rolt to complete the last stage of the race, they were followed home by Moss, Fitch, Stewart, Giannino Marzotto, and Trintignant. Rolt and Hamilton driving their British license plated Jaguar C-Type, to victory covering a distance of 2,555.04 miles (4,088.064 km), over 304 laps, averaging a speed of 106.46 mph (170.336 km/h). Their team-mates, Moss and Walker were four lap adrift at the finish, in second place was their C-Type. The podium was completed by Walters and Fitch, in their Cunningham-Chrysler C5-R. The third works Jaguar finished fourth, two laps behind the Americans. The fourth Jaguar, entered by Ecurie Francorchamps for Roger Laurent and Charles de Tornaco, although supported the works team, with a standard C-Type, but still finished in ninth place.The winning duo’s performance, other than not being bothered by a bird to the face at 130 mph, set a number of records: The first win with an average speed over 100 mph (105.85); The first win with a distance over 4000 kilometers (4088.064); The first win with more than 300 laps completed (304). Just to put these numbers in perspective, the total distance would have been enough to win the race in 1995.

1959: Richard Petty took the checkered flag at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta for his apparent first victory in NASCAR’s premier series, but his win was overturned on a protest of the scoring — by his father, Lee. A recheck of scoring revealed that Richard had been credited with an extra lap. Lee Petty, who started 37th in the 40-car field after a draw for starting position, had lodged the protest in part to claim bonus money for winning in a current-year car. Richard Petty was scored in second in a two-year old Oldsmobile. Buck Baker finished third in the last race on Lakewood’s 1-mile dirt track.

1964: Jim Clark won the Belgian Grand Prix in a Lotus-Climax 25, due to Dan Gurney running out of fuel while leading most of the race. Graham Hill retired while leading on the last two laps, and had also just managed to hold off Bruce McLaren at the flag. This was also Clark’s third consecutive victory in Belgium.

1969: John Woolfe (37) was killed when he crashed his Porsche 917 on the first lap of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an event which caused the traditional “Le Mans start” to be abolished the following year – cover image. The Le Mans race began with a traditional standing start: the drivers stood opposite their cars in the open pit-lane before running to them as the French flag was dropped to signal the start of the race, starting the engines and driving away as soon as possible. In the scramble to start Woolfe did not fasten his belts and started aggressively the race, making up several places on the opening lap. At the very fast Maison Blanche curve, however, towards the end of the lap, Woolfe lost control of the 917, which crashed heavily into the barriers, overturned and caught fire. He was thrown out of the cockpit by the force of the impact, and died from his injuries as he was being helicoptered to hospital. It was also reported that Woolfe had lost his door on the opening lap, but this was not confirmed. The 917’s fuel tank was torn off in the impact and struck the Ferrari 312P of Chris Amon, causing it to burst into flames. Amon was able to bring his car to a halt and evacuate the cockpit, narrowly escaping serious injuries, though sustaining minor burns.

1970: Dickie Attwood and Hans Herrmann won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 917K. Porsche’s first overall win at Le Mans. Martini “Hippy” Porsche 917L of Gerrard Larrouse and Willie Kauhsen was second. Attwood was suffering from the mumps during race. Herrmann retired after the race.

1985: Hans-Joachim Stuck recorded the fastest practice lap speed in the Le Mans 24-hour race, 251.664 km/h (156.377 mph).

1992: Gerhard Berger driving a McLaren-Honda MP4/7A won the Canadian Grand Prix held in Montreal. At the start Senna took the lead from the two Williams-Renaults with Mansell getting ahead of Patrese then Berger, Schumacher, Herbert and Brundle. For the first 13 laps the top 8 followed in close attention until next lap 14 Mansell tried to overtake Senna at the last chicane but the car ended off track and spun and came to a stop on the main straight. The Williams driver was out of the race and accusing Senna of pushing him off. As this was happening Berger had got Patrese to make it a McLaren 1-2. Lap 18 saw the exit of Capelli who crashed hard into the wall on the exit of turn 4. On lap 37 Senna retired from the lead with electrical problems. Berger had by now pulled a couple of seconds lead on Patrese who was being chased by Brundle after the Englishman had taken advantage of Schumacher getting stuck behind Morbidelli’s Minardi while lapping him. A few laps later Patrese was out as his gearbox failed. Brundle now chased after Berger and set fastest lap but then was also forced to retire with transmission problems. Berger was in comfortable lead followed by Schumacher. Katayama was driving a good race but had to retire from 5th on lap 61 when his engine expired.

2006: A1 Grand Prix announced plans to change the sporting and technical regulations for the second season, increasing the length of the Feature race, reducing the Sprint race and changing the overall points system.

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