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Momentous motor sports events that took place during this weekend in history …….
1905: Following the success of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race, the second race was held. Competing against the five American cars, France, Germany, and Italy started 14 of their greatest cars and drivers including; Vincenzo Lancia, Louis Chevrolet and George Heath. French cars finished first and second place for the second consecutive year. Victor Hemery won in the Darracq, averaging 61.5 mph. The 1904 winner, George Heath, finished in second place by only 3 minutes and 42 seconds. The Locomobile driven by Joe Tracy finished third, averaging 56.9 mph, the first time an American car had ever been placed in an international competition.
1911: The first road race staged in Santa Monica, California, the 220 mile Free For All, was won by Harvey Herrick in a National.
1933: Johnny Gerber competed in and won his last race in Bel Air, Maryland, US. Johnny was a top “outlaw” sprint car driver in the 1920s and early 1930s. After giving up driving, he continued to own race cars and build specialised connecting rods for racing engines. His wife Rose kept meticulous records of his racing career. The notes became the basis of his autobiography, “Outlaw Sprint Car Racer” which was published in 1992. That same year Johnny was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.
1951: A total of 106 cars competed in the NASCAR Modified and Sportsman race at Langhorne Speedway, Pennsylvania, US. Dick Eagan, driving in relief of Hully Bunn, was declared the winner after a crash halts the race after 83 laps. Don Black was critically injured in the massive pileup, which unfolds for more than one minute. Fritz Holzhauer was badly burned in an earlier incident. Photos of the big crash appeared in the Dec. 9 issue of This Week magazine, which appeared in Sunday editions of newspapers across the US.
1962: Washington State racer Pat Pigott died from race-incurred injuries at Riverside International Raceway when suspension failure of his Lotus 23 sent the car wedging under the guard rail at turn 9. He was 37 years old.
1962: Glenn “Fireball” Roberts won the National 400 NASCAR stock car race at Charlotte, North Carolina, US.
1974: Jackie Stewart announced his retirement from motor racing. Continue Reading →
2000: NASCAR Craftsman Truck series driver Tony Roper (35) died in a crash during the O’Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. Roper’s car brushed another during the 32nd lap and slammed head-on to the wall, bursting into flames and spinning out of control.
1938: The Mountain Championship held at Brooklands was won by Raymond Mays driving a ERA B-Type.
1950: Duke Dinsmore drove a Kurtis-Offenhauser to victory in the AAA Championship race on the dirt track at Sacramento, California, US.
1961: Joe Weatherly led only the final five laps, pouncing on a victory in the National 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (North Carolina, US) for his seventh win of the season. After Junior Johnson retired with a broken wheel while leading just 11 laps from the finish, Weatherly slipped by Bob Welborn in the 263rd of 267 laps and held off runner-up Richard Petty by 1 1/2 car-lengths at the checkered flag. Welborn, Weatherly’s teammate in Bud Moore-owned Pontiacs, held on for third place as the last car on the lead lap.
1983: In a tight Formula 1 World Championship finale, Nelson Piquet (Brabham) secured his second World title in Kyalami at the South African Grand Prix. Before the race, three drivers were still in a position to win the World Drivers’ Championship: Alain Prost (Renault) led the championship with 57 points, followed by Nelson Piquet (Brabham-BMW) with 55 and René Arnoux (Ferrari) with 49. Piquet qualified second, behind Patrick Tambay (Ferrari) in pole position and ahead of Riccardo Patrese (Brabham), Arnoux and Prost in third, fourth and fifth. At the start Piquet passed Tambay to take the lead, with Patrese moving into second place. Arnoux retired with engine failure on lap 9. Prost fought his way up to third place, but he also retired on lap 35 with turbo failure. Needing only to finish fourth or higher, Piquet slowed and was overtaken by Patrese, Niki Lauda (McLaren) and Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo). Lauda’s engine failed on lap 71. The race finished with Patrese in first place, de Cesaris in second and Piquet in third, and Piquet won the championship by two points. John Watson, completing in his last full Formula One season, was disqualified for overtaking other cars on the parade lap.
1989: A restart at the Holly Farm 400, with three laps to go saw Dale Earnhardt leading Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine. Going into the race, Earnhardt was trailing Rusty Wallace by only 35 points in the championship standings, with only three races left in the season. On the final lap, Rudd pulled alongside Earnhardt, and they touched as they took the white flag. Earnhardt went high in turn 1, but the cars came together, and both Rudd and Earnhardt spun out. Geoff Bodine slipped by to steal the victory, and Earnhardt lost more ground in the points standings. In the pits, the pit crews scuffled, but it was quickly broken up. After the race, an angry Earnhardt said that Rudd “knocked the shit out” of him, and that NASCAR “ought to fine that son of a bitch.” The incident proved to be the deciding margin for the season, as Earnhardt lost the championship by only 12 points. (NASCAR did not fine obscene language with monetary fines or point penalties at the time).