Discover the most momentous motor sporting events that took place this weekend in history….
1906: Fred Wagner , the starter of the race, waved what is believed to be the first checkered flag used to signify the finish of an auto race as Louis Wagner was about to win the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race (US).
1961: Marvin Panch won the Daytona 500 driving a year-old Smokey Yunick Pontiac.
1962: Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly won the twin 100 mile NASCAR Grand National qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway. In race 1, Dan Gurney finished 4th in his first GN start. Darel Dieringer, who won the pole in a special 10 lap pole position race held on February 11th, was involved in a 6 car crash in the early going of the second qualifier. Following the race, Dieringer was replaced in the primary Ray Fox Pontiac by David Pearson, leaving Dieringer on the sidelines for the ‘500’.
1964: The Porsche Carrera GTS made its racing debut, at Daytona Beach, US.
1967: Mario Andretti, in only his second Daytona 500, won the race. Fred Lorenzen was the only other driver on the lead lap at the end.
1973: Bobby Allen powered his Emrich Chevrolet to win the 30-lap Super Sprint car race at the Jacksonville Speedway, Jacksonville, Florida ,US. Dick Gaines was second followed by Bob Kinser, James McElreath, Sam Swindell, Rob Smith, Barry Camp, Bobby Johns and Eddie Hanks.
1974: Benny Parsons slipped by a spinning David Pearson with 2 laps to go and went on to win the Daytona 500. Parsons had closed on Pearson with drafting help from Richard Petty, who was 8 laps down. While attempting to pass the lapped cars of Richie Panch and Cale Yarborough on the backstretch, Pearson and Yarborough tapped fenders, sending Pearson spinning across the grass. Parsons’ DeWitt Chevy went on to finish over a lap ahead of Bobby Allison in the Roger Penske AMC Matador. Wrecks and mechanical troubles put many contenders well off the pace. Parsons started 32nd in the field.
1978: A.J. Foyt and Darrell Waltrip won the twin 125 mile NASCAR GN qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.
1979: Richie Evans won the eighth night Modified feature of the World Series Of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, US. Charlie Jarzombek was second followed by George Kent, Dave Nichols and Satch Worley.
1980: Jack Ingram won the Daytona Sportsman 300 race at the Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, Florida, US.
1986: Geoff Bodine won the Daytona 500, picking up his first career superspeedway win. Bodine and Dale Earnhardt were dueling for the win when Earnhardt ran out of fuel with three laps to go. Earnhardt blew his motor while peeling out of the pits after the splash and go stop. Terry Labonte was second, 11.25 seconds behind the winner.
1992: Davey Allison dodged several wrecks and finishes a car length ahead of Morgan Shepherd to win the Daytona 500. A 14-car crash crippled or took out nine of the 16 cars running on the lead lap.
1997: Twenty-five-year-old Jeff Gordon claimed his first Daytona 500 victory, becoming the youngest winner in the history of the 200-lap, 500-mile National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event, dubbed the “Super Bowl of stock car racing.” Driving his No. 24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the Hendrick Motorsports racing team, Gordon recorded an average speed of 148.295 mph and took home prize money of more than $377,000. According to NASCAR.com, Gordon was “a veritable babe in a field that included 27 drivers older than 35, 16 at least 40.” Gordon’s Hendrick teammates Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven finished the race second and third, respectively.
2000: Jenson Button narrowly avoided injury when his Williams hit a bird during testing in South Africa. He was travelling at over 160mph on the Kyalami track when the bird flew across his path and smashed into the car’s airbox, directly above Button’s head. He immediately returned to the pits where he parked up the car completely unhurt.
2001: Formula One teams agreed on lifting the ban on traction control that had been in place since 1994. The controversial technology, which prevents wheel-spin, was believed to be fitted to a number of cars but was not being detected by the FIA’s scrutineers. To ensure a level playing field the technology was made legal and became an important technological battle ground for the teams. In 2008 it was finally banned for good when the FIA introduced a standard Engine Control Unit.
2003: Michael Waltrip won the rain-shortened Daytona 500. Waltrip’s Chevrolet was out front when the race is called after 272.5 miles and 109 laps.
2008: Jerry Karl (66), a former driver in the USAC and CART Championship Car series, died in a car crash at Baltimore, US. Starting out in midget car racing and sprint car racing, he made his Champ Car debut in 1969 and qualified for his first Indy 500 in 1973 driving an Eagle chassis powered by a twin-turbo Chevrolet V8 engine fielded by legendary car owner Smokey Yunick. He raced for another team in 1974, but returned to drive for Yunick in 1974 and finished 13th at Indy. In 1980 he entered the CART series and began modifying his own McLaren chassis that he dubbed the McLaren-Karl. In the final race of the 1980 season at Phoenix International Raceway, Karl and his chassis ran at the front of the field in second place until engine trouble dropped him back to 9th. In total, Karl raced in the 1969-1984 seasons, with 74 combined career starts, including the 1973-1975, 1978, and 1980-1981 Indianapolis 500. He finished in the top ten 8 times, with his best finish in 7th position in 1974 at Ontario Motor Speedway. He later owned a racing products distributor in Wellsville, Pennsylvania.
1901: The first car named Mercedes, made by Daimler, debuted at the Circuit du Sud-OuestFrance. Maurice Farman recorded his first racing victory, winning in a 24-hp Panhard – his brother, Henri Farman, finished second in a 12-hp Darracq. It was run in three classes around the streets of Pau. Many anglophone sources wrongly list a race called the Pau Grand Prix in 1901. This may stem from a mistranslation of the contemporary French sources such as the magazine La France Auto of March 1901. The Grand Prix du Palais d’Hiver was the name of the prizes awarded for the lesser classes (‘Light cars’ and ‘Voiturettes’). The Grand Prix de Pau was the name of the prize awarded for the ‘Heavy’ (fastest) class. Thus Maurice Farman was awarded the ‘Grand Prix de Pau’ for his overall victory in the Circuit du Sud-Ouest.
1927: During the Ninety Mile Beach 5 lap handicap race, a non-competing car hurtled down the beach and collided with racer Bert Fitzherbert’s car, killing its unknown lady passenger. Fitzherbert was at the wheel of a Dort. The race was held in the circuit of Ninety Mile Beach, a beach located on the western coast of the far north of the North Island of New Zealand, west of the town of Kaitaia. In the 30s Ninety Mile Beach was used as the runway for some of the earliest airmail services between Australia and New Zealand.
1957: Cotton Owens drove the Ray Nichels Pontiac to victory in the Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National event, recording the first NASCAR win for the Pontiac nameplate.
1962: LeeRoy Yarbrough won the 250 mile Modified-Sportsman Stock Car race at the Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, US. Cale Yarborough finished second followed by Larry Frank, Frank Secrist, Roy Trantham, Al Smith, Gus Linder, Carl Burris, Jean Paul and Jack Evans.
1963: The three-hour Daytona Continental, run at Daytona, Florida, USA, was won by Pedro Rodriguez in a Ferrari 250 GTO.
1973: Bobbie Adamson won the 50-lap Super Sprint car Winternational Sprint Series race at the Florida State Fair, Tampa, Florida. Thad Dosher was second followed by Kenny Weld, Jan Opperman, David James and Bobby Allen, Gene Gennetten, Jerry Camfield, Dean Ward and Don Mack.
1974: The 1974 Daytona 500, the 16th running of the event, was won by Richard Petty after three hours, eleven minutes, and thirty-eight seconds of racing at Daytona International Raceway in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. This was his 5th Daytona 500 victory and his second straight win. During the start of the 1974 NASCAR season, many races had their distance cut ten percent in response to the energy crisis of the year. As a result, the race was shortened to 180 laps (450 miles), as symbolically, the race “started” on Lap 21 and the race is often known as the Daytona 450. The Twin 125 qualifying races (won by Bobby Isaac in a Banjo Matthews Chevrolet and Cale Yarborough in the Richard Howard Chevy prepared by Junior Johnson) were also shortened to 45 laps (112.5 miles).
1983: During the first of the Twin 125 qualifying races for the Daytona 500, former Indy 500 driver Bruce Jacobi lost control at the exit of Turn 2 and flipped his Chevrolet upon entering the grass infield, eventually coming to a stop near the inside dirt bank. It is speculated that his roll cage failed during the crash. Jacobi suffered extensive head injuries and was in a coma for almost four years before passing away at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
1985: Bill Elliott wrapped up a dominating SpeedWeek by driving his Thunderbird to victory in the Daytona 500. Elliott duplicated Fireball Roberts and Cale Yarborough’s feat of winning the pole, qualifying race and 500. Elliott’s only serious challenge was from Neil Bonnett who blew his motor with 6 laps to go. Lake Speed in the RahMoc Pontiac finished 2nd, just under a second behind Elliott.
1991: Dale Earnhardt was passed by Ernie Irvan in the 1991 Daytona 500 with six laps to go to score an upset win. Earnhardt spun out with two laps remaining and taking out Davey Allison and Kyle Petty. Irvan cruised on the final lap as the race ended under the caution flag.
1999: NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt underwent back surgery to remove a ruptured disk at University Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (US).
2001: Michael Schumacher was faced with potential legal action after deciding to switch helmet supplier from Bell to Schuberth. His contract with Bell was set to end at the end of 2001 but Schumacher wanted to switch to his new brand, which had made a bullet-proof construction. Schumacher claimed the new lid was safer, but when Bell proved that its helmet wasn’t unsafe a Belgian court ordered the Ferrari driver to pay US$115,300 in damages every time he didn’t wear it. Schumacher wasn’t deterred, however, and wore the Schuberth make for the whole season.
2002: Ward Burton took advantage of Serling Martin’s blunder for his first victory in the Daytona 500. Marlin, who appeared in control of the race, was penalized for getting out of his car and pulling briefly on a damaged fender during the stoppage.
2003: BAR boss David Richards played down the significance of an ongoing war of words between his drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button. Villeneuve claimed that Button had to earn his respect and prove his mental resilience to compete in the top flight of F1. Button replied by saying he was not at his new team to earn Villeneuve’s respect and a tit-for-tat battle began between the two ensued. However, Richards said the petty arguments could work to the team’s advantage. “I think if it’s managed properly it can be regarded as healthy competition,” he said. “I was with Jenson the last couple of days in Spain where he was testing and we discussed it. It’s mostly come from Jacques’ side, and Jacques is renowned for his forthright views and speaks his mind about things. Certainly one will be easier than the other, but if there is to be a little bit of friction in the team then I will manage that process.”
2006: Bernie Ecclestone put forward the idea of having a US Grand Prix in Las Vegas in 2007, after concerns over tyre safety for Michelin runners meant the 2005 race at Indianapolis featured just six cars. The relationship between Ecclestone and Indianapolis circuit boss Tony George was on thin ice after the controversy and Ecclestone said he was looking into other options. The last race to be held in Las Vegas took part in the Caesar’s Palace car park in 1982 but the drew small crowds. In the end Indianapolis returned to the calendar for one more season before the US Grand Prix fell off the calendar altogether in 2008.
2013: Danica Patrick (cover image) became the first woman to win a pole position in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Her eighth place in the race, was the highest finish for a woman in the Daytona 500.