18-19 August: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~18 August~

– 1957 Pescara

1957: Stirling Moss driving a Vanwall 57 won the Pescara Grand Prix, near Pescara, Italy. The race, which was the only Formula One World Championship race at the track, is best remembered for being held at the longest ever circuit to stage a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix. The 25 km/16 miles long track is now part of the SR16bis on the coast of Pescara. It was also the first of the two consecutive Italian races, and after the subsequent race at Monza was complete, it became the first time that two Formula One races had been held in the same country in the same year. The temporary public road circuit used for this race was located near the picturesque town of Pescara. It was extremely dangerous; so much so that Enzo Ferrari, a man not known for compassion for his drivers, did not send his team to the race out of fear for his drivers’ safety. The main straight at Pescara ran along a 500 foot high cliff. The total lack of safety on the circuit meant that if a driver were to go off the course there, they would most likely drive off the cliff into the Adriatic Sea. The race drew a crowd in excess of 200,000 spectators.

1963: Jim Clark driving a -Ford won the 200-mile USAC Championship race at Milwaukee Speedway in West Allis, Wisconsin. This was the first major US race won by a rear-engined car.

David Pearson

1966: David Pearson steered a Cotton Owens-prepared Dodge to win the Sandlapper 200 at Columbia (South Carolina, US) Speedway. Pearson, a five-time winner over his career at the half-mile dirt track, led 33 laps and nipped Richard Petty by a car-length at the finish. Curtis Turner, who led 134 of the 200 laps, faded to a third-place finish as the last car on the lead lap.

1974: Carlos Reutemann won the Austrian Grand Prix for Brabham.

1985: French driver Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/2B won the Austrian Grand Prix held at Österreichring. It was Prost’s fourth victory of his championship-winning season. Prost won by 30 seconds over Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna driving a Lotus 97T.

2002: The Hungarian Grand Prix at Hungaroring was won by Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello with his team mate Michael Schumacher finishing second. This victory gave the Constructors Title to Ferrari. Williams-BMW driver Ralf Schumacher finished third.

~19 August~

1909: The first race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place. Celebration however, quickly turned into a disaster due to the surface of crushed stone and tar. There were terrible injuries to the race car drivers and spectators. caught fire, there were deaths, and the race was halted and cancelled when only halfway completed (five miles). Louis Schwitzer was declared the winner in front of 12,000 spectators.

1934: The first All-American Soap Box Derby was held in Dayton, Ohio. The national winner was Robert Turner of Muncie, Illinois, who made his car from the wood of a saloon bar. In 1935 the race was moved from Dayton to Akron because of its central location and hilly terrain. An accident in 1935 captured the public’s interest, and boosted the event’s profile. A car went off the track and struck NBC’s top commentator and sportscaster Graham McNamee while he was broadcasting live on the air. Despite a concussion and other injuries (which resulted in a two-week hospital stay), McNamee described the collision to his listeners and finished his broadcast. In 1936, Akron civic leaders recognized the need for a permanent track site for the youth racing classic and, through the efforts of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Derby Downs became a reality. In 1946, the town of Mission, British Columbia acquired the rights to the Western Canada Derby Championships and the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce, previously named the Mission City & District Board of Trade, organized the event annually until 1973. During the All American Soapbox Derby’s heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, when Chevrolet was a sponsor and famous TV and movie stars made guest appearances, as many as 70,000 people gathered in August to eat snow cones and cheer hundreds of youthful racer/builders (boys only in early years) ages 11–15 who were the champions of local races around the nation and from several foreign countries. In 1947, actor James Stewart was appearing in the Broadway play Harvey; in order to attend the event, he cancelled a weekend’s worth of performances and refunds were issued to ticketholders. At its peak, the Derby was one of the top five sporting events in terms of attendance. Starting in 1993, the All-American Soap Box derby began the Rally World Championship. The Rally derby is a grand prix style of race in which each district, ten in all, sends back a number of champions based on number of racers and races in each district. Today there are broader categories that extend the age range to younger racers and permit adults to assist in construction. This is especially helpful for younger children who cannot use power tools, as well as to provide an outlet for adults.

1956: Joe Weatherly scored a flag-to-flag victory to win the only race for the Convertible Series at Heidelberg Raceway just outside of Pittsburgh, US. Weatherly started from the pole and finished one lap ahead of runner-up Gwyn Staley in the 200-lap main event. Danny Letner took third despite enduring tire failure three laps from the end. Only four of the 22 starters were running at the finish.

1973: Ronnie Peterson won the Austrian Grand Prix for Lotus ahead of Jackie Stewart and Carlos Pace. Niki Lauda missed his home race due to an accident at the Nürburgring 2 weeks earlier, where he injured his wrist.

1975: Mark Neary Donohue, Jr., 53, (cover image) died from injuries from a crash during a practice session for the Australian Grand Prix. He lost control of his March after a tyre failed, sending him careening into the catch fencing at the fastest corner on the track, Voëst-Hugel. A track marshal was killed by debris from the accident, but Donohue did not appear to be significantly injured. It is thought that Donohue’s head struck on a trackside post. A headache resulted, which worsened and the day after the crash he lapsed into a coma from a cerebral hemorrhage and died.

1984: McLaren’s Niki Lauda took the lead in the World Championship with his 23rd career win at the Austrian Grand Prix. Second was defending champion Nelson Piquet in his Brabham-BMW, with Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto completing the podium in third place.

1986: Warren Johnson became the first Pro Stock drag racer to hit 190 mph at the end of the quarter-mile when he ran 190.07 mph at Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

2001: Michael Schumacher won his fourth World Championship and equalled Alain Prost’s record of 51 Grand Prix victories at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Rubens Barrichello in the other Ferrari finished second and McLaren driver David Coulthard finished third.

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