16-17 November: This Weekend in Motor Sports History

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

~16 November~

1916: Dario Resta, driving a Peugeot, won the last Vanderbilt Cup race, held in Santa Monica, California. In the same year, Resta also won the sixth Indianapolis 500 race. The Vanderbilt Cup, an early example of world-class motor racing in America, was organized in 1904 to introduce Europe’s best automotive drivers and manufacturers to the U.S. Named after the event’s founder, William K. Vanderbilt Jr., the grand prize of the race was the elegant Vanderbilt cup, crafted by Tiffany & Company, the famous American jewelers. Dozens of automotive pioneers traveled across the Atlantic to participate in the first major international racing competition held in the United States. The race, a 10-mile lap course over a 30-mile circuit, was held in Hicksville, New York, and had 18 entries. George Heath, a Frenchman, won the first Vanderbilt Cup in a Panhard automobile, edging out his competition with a brisk average speed of 52.2mph. French-built cars continued to dominate the Vanderbilt Cup until 1908, when daredevil George Robertson drove a 90hp Locomobile, known as “Old 16,” to victory in the fourth Vanderbilt Cup. It was the first major international racing victory for an American car, and served notice that the U.S. could compete in motor racing and automobile production. The original Vanderbilt Cup event was held a total of 11 times between 1904 and 1916, at which point the demands of World War I brought an end to the tradition.

1929: Scuderia Ferrari was founded by Enzo Ferrari to enter amateur drivers in various races. The idea came about at a dinner in Bologna, where Ferrari solicited financial help from textile heirs Augusto and Alfredo Caniato and wealthy amateur racer Mario Tadini. He then gathered a team which at its peak included over forty drivers, most of whom raced in various Alfa Romeo 8C cars; Ferrari himself continued racing, with moderate success, until the birth of his first son Dino in 1932.

1952: Donald Thomas, brother to NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Herb Thomas, drove a Fabulous Hudson Hornet to his only victory in NASCAR’s premier series at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, Georgia, US. Donald Thomas led just nine of the 100 laps, taking command after his brother retired with a broken axle while leading with 14 laps left. The victory made Thomas the youngest winner in NASCAR’s top series at 20 years, 4 months and 5 days. The record stood until 2005 when Kyle Busch bettered the mark by three days with his first Sprint Cup victory at Auto Club Speedway. The youth mark is currently held by Joey Logano, who was 19 years, 1 month and 4 days old when he broke through at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

1997: The iconic Ligier name disappeared from Formula One when Alain Prost bought the team from Flavio Briatore and re-branded it under his own name. But after four seasons of more downs than ups, the money ran out at the start of the 2002 season and Prost was out of business, leaving debts of around $30 million.

1997: Bobby Labonte throttled his way into the lead in the final 11 laps and speeds to victory in the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Georgia (US). Dale Jarrett finished second, but fell 14 points short of Jeff Gordon’s point total in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Gordon finished 17th, and becomes the youngest driver to capture two championships.

1999: H. Clay Earles (86), founder and chairman of the board of Martinsville Speedway, died.

2001: Anthony Davidson had a big accident in qualifying for the Macau Grand Prix and spent the night in the hospital under observation after complaining of neck pains. The Carlin Motorsport driver spun and hit the barriers and his car was then hit by Portugal’s Tiago Monteiro, although this impact was not at very high speed.

2003: Bill Elliott popped a tire on the final lap allowing Bobby Labonte to win the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (US). Elliott, in his final full season as a competitor, had dominated the race until fate dealt him a harsh card with less than a mile remaining.

2008: Jimmie Johnson made history by winning his third consecutive Sprint Cup championship, tying Cale Yarborough’s record set between 1976-78. The following year, he would broke that record by winning his fourth consecutive championship. He was also named Male Athlete of the year by the Associated Press.

~17 November~

1929: Gastone Brilli-Peri in an Alfa Romeo P2 won the Tunis Grand Prix run over the street circuit at Le Bardo, west of Tunis.

1957: Carroll Shelby, best known by many for his Shelby Cobras and his modified Mustangs, drove John Edgar’s Maserati 450S to victory in an SCCA National race at Riverside, California, US.

1968: Richard Petty took the lead from David Pearson with 21 laps remaining to win the Georgia 500 at Middle Georgia Raceway’s (US) half-mile asphalt track in Macon. Petty dominated by leading 362 of 500 laps, but finished just five seconds ahead of Pearson’s pole-starting Holman-Moody Ford. James Hylton finished third, 10 laps behind the lead pair. Thirty drivers qualified for this 500-lap racing event that took three hours and eight minutes to complete. Most of the field was driving vehicles made by Ford. J.D. McDuffie ended up becoming the last-place finisher due to a problem with his engine on lap 20. Ed Negre was the lowest finishing driver to complete the race regardless of being 206 laps behind the drivers on the lead lap. Friday Hassler’s engine problems were unfortunate enough to kick him out of the race on lap 476 with a “fortunate” sixth-place finish. Six thousand excited NASCAR fans were eager to see Richard Petty defeat David Pearson by a margin of five seconds. From the halfway point (lap 251) to the end of the event, Petty and Pearson didn’t allow the lead to escape their collective grasps. David Pearson, Bobby Isaac, and Bobby Allison all dominated the opening 100 laps of this racing event. The average racing speed was 85.121 miles per hour (136.989 km/h); which was overshadowed by David Pearson’s solo qualifying speed of 95.472 miles per hour (153.647 km/h). Individual driver earnings from this racing event ranged from the winner’s share of $3,500 ($24,104.78 when considering inflation) to the lowest possible earnings of $150 ($1,033.06 when considering inflation). Organizers were authorized to hand over a grand total of $16,935 for all the qualifying drivers ($116,632.72 when considering inflation).

1971: The inaugural 2,900 mile Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (cover image), from the Red Ball Garage in New York City to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California was won by Dan Gurney and Brock Yates in a Ferrari Daytona coupe. Gurney, the “retired” veteran of international racing, and Yates, a senior editor of Car & Driver magazine, covered the distance in 35 hours and 54 minutes. They were only 53 minutes faster than the second-place finisher, a Chevrolet Sportsvan entered by Briggs Chevrolet-Ferrari, South Ambory, New Jersey for the three co-founders of the Polish Racing Drivers of American, Tony Adamowicz, Oscar Koveleski and Brad Niemcek. The PRDA team covered the distance in 36 hours and 47 minutes.In fact, less than two hours separated the five fastest finishers, even through the event was run through rain, snow, sleet and got at various points long the routes the teams travelled.The Cannonball Baker event conceived by Yates as a whimsical gesture of defiance of the regimen of contemporary traffic laws was run without accident or injury, but the law did takes its toll.Four of the eight teams received a total of 12 speeding tickets along the route. The most remarkable among them was a citation given to Gurney in Arizona for allegedly doing 135mph in a 70mph zone. But the leading ticket-takers were the third-place finishers. Larry Opert, Ron Herisko and Nate Pritzker of Cambridge, Massachusetts, received six tickets, talked themselves out of a seventh and narrowly escaped jail for allegedly stealing gasoline at one point in their journey to California in a 1971 Cadillac – in a time of 36 hours and 56 minutes. Koveleski, a director of the Motor Racing Safety Society, pointed out that the RPDA went ticket-free “because we endeavored to remain within the speed limit at all times.” The PRDA van was equipped to run the distance without a fuel stop, having started from Manhattan at 12:11am on November 15th with 298 gallons of Gulf No-Nox on board. But the team was forced to stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on 78 additional gallons of fuel. The fourth place finishers were runners-up in ticket-taking. Tom Marebut, Randy Waters and Becky Poston of Little Rock, Arkansas received four speeding tickets during the course of their 37-hour 45-minute trip.

1991: Mark Martin scored his first win of the season in the finale at Atlanta, Georgia (US). Dale Earnhardt clinched his fifth NASCAR Winston Cup championship by simply starting the race.

2001: Flavio Briatore announced that would remain in charge of the Renault Sport F1 team for the next three years. Briatore said he had the agreement of Renault Sport chairman Patrick Faure. “I have no intention of letting go,” said Briatore. “I am an integral part of Renault. Having an Italian boss doesn’t please everybody, I know, but even Ferrari has a French boss. I am their choice and today things are going very well.” He eventually left Renault under a cloud in 2009 in the fallout from the Crashgate affair.

2003: McLaren announced that Juan Pablo Montoya would be leaving Williams to drive for them in 2005. “The team is consistently a world championship contender and has a great heritage,” said Montoya. “It is a great opportunity for me and I am really looking forward to the first time I will be able to drive one of their cars. To join them is an amazing experience and challenge ad experience which I plan to fully enjoy.” A shoulder injury interrupted 2005, but Montoya bounced back and won three times, matching team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for speed. In 2006, though, Montoya lived the first half of the year in Raikkonen’s shadow before knocking the pair of them out at the start of the US Grand Prix.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *