Discover the most momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history
1910: Racer William H. Sharp died two days after his Sharp-Arrow crashed during the American Grand Prize race in Savannah, GA – his car would become the basis for the Mercer Raceabout.
1945: Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Edward Rickenbacher for $750,000. The speedway was in a deplorable condition after four years of disuse during World War II, and before Hulman made his offer Rickenbacher was considering tearing the facilities down and selling the land. Hulman installed himself as chairman of the board of the raceway and named Wilbur Shaw as president. The two hastily renovated the racetrack for the return of Indy racing the following year, but also launched a long-range program of improvements that included replacing all of the old wooden grandstands with structures of steel and concrete. In May of 1946, the American Automobile Association ran its first postwar 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. George Robson, driving a prewar Adams-Sparks won the event with an average speed of 114.82 mph.
1948: Red Byron won the final race of NASCAR’s inaugural season at Jacksonville, Florida, US. Byron, winner of 11 of the 52 NASCAR-sanctioned events, edged Fonty Flock by 32.75 points to capture the inaugural championship. Flock is the top winner, taking the checkered flag 15 times, but he finishes 32.75 points behind Byron. Byron collects $1250 in points fund earnings. NASCAR is the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in the United States. The three largest racing series sanctioned by NASCAR are the Sprint Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. It also oversees NASCAR Local Racing, the Whelen Modified Tour, the Whelen All-American Series, and the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 US states and Canada. NASCAR has presented exhibition races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico, and the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia. The 1948 schedule featured 52 modified dirt track races. Red Byron won the inaugural national championship.
1965: Hap Sharp, driving a Chaparral, won the first race at the Stardust Road Course in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. It featured a flat, 3-mile (4.8 km), 13-turn road course, and a quarter-mile drag strip. It was built in 1965 by the Stardust Hotel and Casino to attract high rollers to the hotel. In 1966 it began hosting the season finale of the Can-Am championship. In 1968 the USAC Championship Car series held a race at Stardust. The hotel was sold in 1969, and the new owners largely abandoned the track. Larry Horton, the track’s manager, leased the land and ran drag racing events until 1970. Real estate developers Pardee Homes bought the land and built the Spring Valley community on it. Meanwhile, a replacement track, the Las Vegas Speedrome, was announced afterwards and opened in 1972, with a 1.8 mile drag strip and road course across from Nellis Air Force Base, which expanded into today’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
1993: Rusty Wallace nailed down his 10th win of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, (US). Despite posting the most wins, as well as the most top-five and top-10 finishes, Wallace fell 80 points shy of winning the championship. Dale Earnhardt took his sixth NASCAR Winston Cup title.
1998: Larry Kopp became the inaugural NHRA Pro Stock Truck champion when he qualified for the final race of the season in Pomona, California, US.
2003: The BMW Williams team announced that Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet Jr would test for the team at Jerez de Frontera in the first week of December to evaluate whether either had the potential to be test drivers in 2004. Jaguar Racing also announced that it would test Red Bull backed Christian Klien and Townsend Bell at Valencia at the end of the month. Both Rosberg and Klien went on to race for Williams and Jaguar Racing while Piquet Jr secured a Renault drive in 2008.
2004: Jimmie Johnson, counted out of the “Chase” a month ago, racked up his fourth win in five races in the final Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina, US. Johnson rallied from a 247-point deficit and ninth place in the standings to 18 points behind leader Kurt Busch with one race remaining.
1980: Benny Parsons won the season finale at Ontario Motor Speedway, California, US as Dale Earnhardt captured his first NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National title. Earnhardt rallied back from a lap deficit to finish fifth. His final margin of victory over Cale Yarborough, who finished third at Ontario, was 19 points.
1987: Gerhard Berger led home Michele Alboreto for a Ferrari 1-2 finish in the Australian Grand Prix on the streets of Adelaide. 1987 was the first time in the history of the Australian Grand Prix (dating back to the first race in 1928) that no Australian driver was on the grid. As it turned out, no Australian driver would compete in an Australian Grand Prix until David Brabham drove for the Brabham team (founded in 1962 by his father, triple World Champion Jack Brabham) in the 1990 Australian Grand Prix.
1992: The Hooters 500, final race of the 1992 NASCAR season, was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway and was televised live on ESPN. The race is widely considered one of the greatest NASCAR races of all time. Several sidebar stories complemented the closest championship chase in NASCAR history up to that point. The race served as Richard Petty’s final career race, and the first start for future champion Jeff Gordon. Six drivers entered the race with a mathematical chance to win the title, the most in history. As the laps dwindled down the race, and the championship, became a two-man battle between Alan Kulwicki and Bill Elliott. Kulwicki, known to be an intelligent and calculating driver, was facing his final fuel stop. He stayed out while leading one lap extra than his pit crew requested, allowing him to lead a total of 103 laps during the race. Elliott led the rest of the way, and won the race, while Kulwicki finished second. Elliott’s total laps led, however was only 102, and Kulwicki received the 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and clinched the championship.
1998: Nick Favre and Jeremy Agace drove a Bizzarini to victory in the GT class in the 24-hour historic race at Paul Ricard circuit in France. They finished nearly 10 laps ahead of the second place Porsche.
2002: Vivion Daly (48), one of Ireland’s most distinguished racing drivers, passed away after a long illness. In a career in motorsport spanning four decades, he twice won the coveted Sexton Trophy (in 1984 and 1986) and represented Ireland in many Formula Ford races.
2006: Super Aguri announced that Anthony Davidson would be joining Takuma Sato at the team for the 2007 F1 season. Davidson had been a Honda test driver for the last few seasons after making his F1 debut in 2002 when he drove two grands prix for Minardi with a one-off race for Honda in 2004. “This is a great opportunity for me and I’m really excited about my first full season as a race driver,” said Davidson. “I’ve been impressed with the improvements the team has made through the 2006 season, and I can already see from my first visits to the factory that the team is very hard-working and highly motivated. I can’t wait to get started.” He drove in 21 grands prix in 2007 and 2008.