Momentous motor sports events that took place during this weekend in history …….
1916: The American Grand Prize, the last major race before the USA’s entry into World War One caused a cessation of competition, was won by co-drivers Howard Wilcox and Gil Anderson. The pair won $7500. The race was included on the 1916 AAA National Championship Trail. The race carried championship implications for Dario Resta and Johnny Aitken. Aitken led Resta by 240 points before the Vanderbilt Cup, held two days before the Grand Prize, with a 150-mile event at Ascot Park two weeks after. Resta won the Cup and earned 900 points, while Aitken was forced out on lap 19 with a
broken valve. Resta held a 660-point lead entering the Grand Prize, with 1000 available to the winner. As World War I was waged in Europe, the cars were all American-entered, including two Peugeots entered by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Aitken and Howdy Wilcox. Aitken’s race ended on lap 1, with a broken piston, while Resta raced into the lead. The IMS team attempted to flag Wilcox into the pits for Aitken to take over the car, but the AAA officials denied them the change. By lap 9, Resta led from Ed Ruckstell’s Mercer, the Stutz of Earl Cooper, and Eddie Rickenbacker’s Duesenberg. On lap 13, Lewis Jackson’s Marmon went through a barrier, killing Jackson and three spectators. On lap 16, Resta experienced a misfire, and retired soon after. On lap 20, Aitken replaced Wilcox in an attempt to gain as many championship points as he could. (The AAA, however, had set a precedent at Indianapolis by not awarding points to Eddie Rickenbacker in his relief drive.) Aitken led the final 22 laps and took the victory, but Resta had all but secured the championship. With the United States’ entrance to World War I in April 1917, and board track racing taking the national spotlight, road racing in the U.S. became largely dormant. Grand Prix racing did not return until 1936, and did not become a fixture until 1959.
1956: NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Buck Baker prevailed with a last-lap pass, securing a thrilling victory by one foot over Joe Weatherly at Wilson (North Carolina, US) Speedway. Speedy Thompson, who led 184 of the 200 laps on the half-mile dirt track, finished third with Fireball Roberts fourth as the last driver on the lead lap. The race marked the last win and final race for eccentric team owner Carl Kiekhafer, who savoured an astounding 52 wins in just two brief seasons in NASCAR’s premier series.
1956: Ken Miles won the Cal Club Under-1.5 Liter Modified race and championship at Paramount Sportsman’s Ranch near Agora, California, USA, driving the Pooper, a Porsche-powered Cooper Bobtail.
2002: The 1980 Formula One World Champion Alan Jones was married on Daydream Island beach. The 56-year-old married Amanda Butler-Davis, the mother of his two 20-month-old twins Jack and Zara in a very private ceremony in the tropical setting.
2005: Gerard “Jabby” Crombac died in Paris. The most experienced Formula One journalist of them all, Jabby reported on Formula One before the World Championship began in 1950. As an indication of his standing, although everyone knew him as Jabby, in his latter years his friends had taken to calling him Legend.
1922: Coppa Florio VI run over 432 km of the Medio Madonie circuit on Sicily was won by André Boillot driving a Peugeot in a time of 7 hours 9 minutes. The surface of the 69 mile circuit was rough and included over 1,600 corners.
Upon inspecting the circuit, Louis Coatalen exclaimed “Quel spectacle de desolation!”. There were nine starters: two Sunbeams, two Peugeot, three Diatto and a couple of O.Ms. The cars were dispatched under the gaze of the ex-King Constantine and ex-queen of Greece at five-minute intervals; only four cars finished – the two Peugeot and the two Sunbeam.The steep gradient of the course caused oil to collect at the back of the Sunbeam engine sump, which resulted in oiled up plugs, the change of which caused delays. Segrave was further delayed during the race helping extricate Meregalli and his riding mechanic who were pinned underneath their overturned Diatto; the driving mechanic died of his injuries – the first fatal accident to occur on the Sicilian circuit. Notwithstanding this and other delays, Segrave finished in second after 8hr 15min and 07 sec (32.351mph) to Boillot winning Peugeot. On the last but one lap, high up in the Madonie Circuit Mountains in the vicinity of Polizzi a stone fractured the oil pipe of J Chassagne’s mount. Unruffled Chassagne replenished the car with sufficient Olive oil purchased from a nearby village shop. He finished in fourth place.
1954: Ford Robinson was killed during the Carrera Panamerica when his Ferrari crashed at 208 mph on the Tehuantepec straight in Oaxaca, Mexico.
1961: Parnelli Jones drove a Kuzma-Offy to victory in the USAC Championship race on the dirt oval in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
1961: Al Keller (41) died as a result of injuries sustained in a fiery Champ Car crash at the Arizona State Fairgrounds track. Keller drove in the Indianapolis 500 when it was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960 but he was more famous for racing in the NASCAR series from 1949 to 1956 with 29 career starts. He won two races during the 1954 season and was the first driver in the history of NASCAR’s top division to have won a race in a foreign-built car, winning the 1954 Grand National road-race at the Linden Airport in New Jersey. He was also involved in the crash that killed Bill Vukovich in 1955.
1981: Nimrod Racing Automobiles (NRA) was officially launched at Goodwood, England, with James Hunt and Sterling Moss performing demonstration runs in their Aston Martin powered cars. Three cars. NRA/C2s were built for competition in 1982, with two being run by the works team while the third was sold to Dawnay Racing, a team owned by the then AMOC president Viscount Downe. The cars were capable of running both in the World Endurance Championship’s Group C specification and IMSA GT’s GTP specification. Combining a production-based V8 engine from the V8 and V8 Vantage models, the engine was refined by Aston Martin Tickford to handle the increased output. Eric Broadley designed the chassis while his employer Lola Cars International built the tubs. Ray Mallock would later evolve the NRA/C2’s design into a B-spec model for the 1983 season. Debuting at the 1000 km of Silverstone, Nimrod entered one of their own cars alongside the Dawnay Racing privateer entry. Nimrod faced mechanical troubles and did not finish, although Viscount Downe had a sixth-place finish. Problems continued for Nimrod Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans where their race was ended early with an accident. Nimrod’s only success for the season came at the 1000km Spa, where one of their two cars finished, taking eleventh place. The combined results of Nimrod and Viscount Downe earned Aston Martin third in the constructors championship that year. For 1982, with the evolved NRA/C2, Nimrod Racing would turn to the IMSA GT Championship in North America due to EMKA Racing taking over Aston Martin’s factory-backed efforts in Europe with their own car. Nimrod suffered throughout the season, earning their only success as the 12 Hours of Sebring with a fifth-place finish, third in the GTP class. The team would struggle to finish races for the rest of the season before financial trouble eventually forced them to return to Europe. Following their disappointing return to Europe, Nimrod Racing Automobiles closed due to continued financial troubles, ending the short life of the project. A new chassis had been under development at the time, known as NRA/C3, yet was never completed before the team was dissolved. Privateers continued to use Nimrod’s NRA/C2 until the middle of 1984, when both privateers running the chassis folded.
2004: Kasey Kahne went to go 2-for-2 in his first two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts while Bobby Hamilton finished 16th to wrap up his only championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Florida, US. Kahne led 54 of 134 laps of the Ford 200 and took the checkered flag 1.016 seconds ahead of teammate Ted Musgrave in a 1-2 sweep by Jim Smith-owned Dodges. David Starr, pole-starter David Reutimann and Matt Crafton completed the top five. Hamilton, who edged Dennis Setzer by 46 points in the final standings, remains the most recent driver-owner champion in the truck series.
2006: Kamui Kobayashi started from pole position for the Macau Grand Prix but tangled with Marko Asmer and Paul di Resta to leave Mike Conway ahead of Kohei Hirate. Kobayashi charged back through the field before retiring after a crash with Romain Grosjean. Another man on the move was Richard Antinucci who made several passes to finish second, just behind Conway. Japanese F3 champion Adrian Sutil finished third and Sebastien Buemi was fourth ahead of Romain Grosjean and Britain’s John Jakes.
2009: Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen confirmed he was taking a one-year sabbatical from Formula One adding it was uncertain whether he would return in 2011 – he did not. He was replaced by Fernando Alonso at Ferrari and says he prefered to take a year off and wait for a place with a competitive team after failing to reach a deal with McLaren, who opted to sign Jenson Button to partner Lewis Hamilton.