15-16 August: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~15 August~

1934: Guy Moll (24), winner of the 1934 Monaco Grand Prix, was killed when his Alfa Romeo P3 crashes during the Coppa Acerbo voiturette race in Pescara, Italy

1939: Rene Dreyfus in a Delahaye won the ‘Million Franc’ challenge run at the Montlhery (France) circuit, beating a Bugatti and a Sefac.

1947: Ferrari made its racing debut in Pescara, Italy, finishing second. This speedy debut should have come as no surprise, for Enzo Ferrari had been a race-car driver before forming Ferrari. Although his racing stable, Scuderia Ferrari, remained Alfa Romeo’s official racing team, Ferrari began building his own cars after World War II. Ferrari soon acquired a reputation for speed and quality and went on to win many Grand Prix races.

1948: Al Keller spanked the 48-car field in a 200-mile NASCAR Modified race at Langhorne’s circular one-mile dirt track. Runner-up Buck Barr finished 18 laps behind Keller. Only 14 of the 48 starters manage to finish.

1948: At Pescara, Italy, an OSCA sports car was raced for the first time. Sadly the car driven by Franco Cornacchia, suffered engine failure. Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili – Fratelli Maserati SpA was founded in 1947 by Ernesto Maserati (engineering manager) and his two brothers Ettore, and Bindo (operations managers) who had all left Maserati.

1952: Racing into the dark took place for the first time at Goodwood with the News of the World International Nine Hour Sports Car Race – which started at 3.00pm and finished at midnight. Modifications were made to the circuits infrastructure by fitting floodlights to illuminate the grandstands and pits, the kerbs were given a coat of luminous paint and a beer tent was laid on, although due to post-war licensing laws it had to stop serving grog before the race ended! Sponsorship and plenty of pre-event publicity was provided by ‘The News of The World’ newspaper inclusive of £2,500 in prize money which represented a powerful incentive for the ‘local’ works teams and privateers to enter in force. Jaguar and Aston Martin entered three car teams of C-types and DB3’s in the field of 32 cars. Aston Martin caused a stir as the one of their cars burst into flames whilst being refuelled. Despite this the Aston of Peter Collins and Pat Griffith went onto win at 71.09 mph.

1957: The Pescara Grand Prix, Italy, the only event which was not a national Grand Prix ever to count as a World Championship qualifying round, was won by Stirling Moss in a Vanwall at 95.52 mph.

1971: Jo Siffert took pole and the win for BRM at the Austrian Grand Prix. On lap 36, Stewart’s race ended with a violent accident – his left rear driveshaft broke and the wheel was torn off. He emerged unhurt to be greeted as World Champion following Ickx’s retirement. Francois Cevert was chasing down Siffert, but with 12 laps to go his gearbox exploded.

1976: John Watson took his first Formula One win, taking the chequered flag in Austria for Penske. Local drivers Otto Stuppacher and Karl Oppitzhauser had applied to enter the event, but were refused due to their lack of experience. They petitioned the other teams for support but none was forthcoming, and they did not participate, although they had brought their cars to the circuit. They had entered under the ÖASC Racing Team banner, with Stuppacher bringing a Tyrrell 007, and Oppitzhauser a March 761.

1982: Elio de Angelis, driving a Lotus 91, won the Austrian Grand Prix at Osterreichring by less than 1/10th of a second over Keke Rosberg in a Williams FW08. It was the first Formula 1 victory for de Angelis and 72nd and final win for Lotus under the direction of Colin Chapman.

1993: Damon Hill claimed his first Grand Prix win at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He became the first son of a World Champion to win a race himself. Riccardo Patrese scored his final podium finish, and Derek Warwick his final points, while Gerhard Berger scored his only podium of the season. Hill’s Williams’ team mate Alain Prost stalled on the warm-up lap and had to start from the back of the grid. He subsequently lost several laps while the team replaced the car’s rear wing – giving an interview for French television while the team worked on the car.

1999: Mika Häkkinen driving for the McLaren team won the Hungarian Grand Prix after starting from pole position. David Coulthard finished second in the other McLaren with Eddie Irvine finishing third for Ferrari. The remaining points-scoring positions were filled by Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan), Rubens Barrichello (Stewart) and Damon Hill (Jordan). Häkkinen’s victory was his fourth of the season, and McLaren team’s fifth.

2003: NASCAR announced that Sunoco would replace longtime sponsor Unocal as the Official Fuel of NASCAR beginning in 2004. Unocal and its predecessor Pure Oil and Union 76 had supported NASCAR since 1952.

~16 August ~

1908: George Schuster, winner of the New York to Paris Race, was honoured in a parade in New York City. The “Great Race” was an international competition among teams representing Germany (Protos), Italy (Brixia-Zust), France (three teams: DeDion-Bouton, Moto Bloc, Sizaire-Naudin) and the United States (Thomas Flyer). Schuster’s victory for the American entry still stands nearly a century later. Schuster was also the first person to drive across the United States during the winter in an automobile. The 22,000 mile course (13,341 miles driven) started February 12, 1908 in Times Square with a crowd of 250,000 watching the start of what would become a 169-day ordeal. The Race began in mid-winter at a time when there were no snowplows, few roads on the around the world route, unreliable maps, and often little food for the competitors. The original plan was to drive the cars the full distance from New York City to Paris using the frozen Bering Straits to “bridge” the Pacific. This proved impossible, requiring the competitors to cross the Pacific by ship. The Flyer arrived in Paris July 30, 1908 to win although the German Protos had been arriving there four days before.[citation needed] Of the six Teams that started the race, only three finished in Paris; the German Protos, the Italian Briax-Zust, and the American Thomas Flyer. Schuster was chosen to be part of the Thomas Race Team due to his proven mechanical abilities, which were put to daily use during the Race. Schuster was the only American Team member aboard the Flyer from its start in New York City to the finish in Paris.

1923: The Alfa Romeo P1 race car was given its first speed test with Antonio Ascari reaching 112 mph. The car had a 2.0 L straight-6 engine and it produced 95 bhp (71 kW) at 5000 rpms. Two cars were entered in the Italian GP at Monza in 1923, one for Antonio Ascari and one for Ugo Sivocci. When Sivocci was practicing for the GP in September 1923 he crashed and was killed. Alfa Romeo withdrew from the competition and development of the car was stopped. In 1924 a new version with Roots-compressor was made and became the P1 Compressore 1924. In 1923 Vittorio Jano was hired to Alfa Romeo to design new car and P2 was born.

1964: The work’s Lotus Cortina of Mike Beckwith and Jackie Stewart won the 12-hour sedan race at Marlboro, Virginia, US.

1964: Richard Petty scored a dominant victory in the Mountaineer 500 at West Virginia International Speedway in Huntington (US), leading 396 of 500 laps. Petty pulled away to a three-lap margin of victory over Junior Johnson on the .4375-mile asphalt track. Ned Jarrett took third place despite his engine failing six laps shy of the full distance.

1970: Driving a Chaparral-entered Chevrolet Camaro, Vic Elford won the SCCA Trans-Am race at Watkins Glen, New York. This was the only Camaro Trans-Am win during the season.

1970: Jackie Ickx won the Austrian Grand Prix driving a Ferrari 312B finishing six tenths of a second ahead of team mate Clay Regazzoni, and Brabham’s Rolf Stomelen taking his first and only podium. But none of that was in the script. The first Grand Prix at the Österreichring was supposed to be Jochen Rindt’s race. It was his first home Grand Prix on Austria’s new home for motorsport: a purpose-built circuit to replace the circuit at Zeltweg airfield. Everybody wanted to see the world championship leader take his Lotus to victory in his own back yard, but a technical problem sent him out of the race. The next fault was to cost him his life, and the 1970 Austrian Grand Prix was to be the last race won by F1’s only posthumous World Champion.

1981: French driver Jacques Laffite won the Austrian Grand Prix for Ligier, with countryman Rene Arnoux finishing second for Ferrari.

1987: Nigel Mansell, driving a William-Honda at Zeltweg in the Austrian Grand Prix achieved the then fastest average speed for a Formula One Grand Prix, of 146.27 mph (235.4 km/h).

1987: Ford Sierras finished 1-2-3-4 in the World Touring Car Championship race at Brno, Czechoslovakia.

1992: Harry Gant bagged Michigan’s Champion Spark Plug 400 with a perfectly planned fuel-economy run to score his 18th career victory. Clifford Allison, younger brother of Davey, lost his life in a practice crash for the NASCAR Busch Series event three days before the race.

1992: British driver Nigel Mansell in a Williams-Renault clinched the World Drivers Championship by finishing the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring in second position behind McLaren’s Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna.

1998: Title-bound Jeff Gordon racked up his fourth consecutive victory in the Pepsi 400 at Michigan Speed­way (US), rallying from a two-mile deficit in the final 22 laps. A timely caution flag bunched up the field and Gordon took the lead with nine laps remaining.

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