Discover the most momentous motor sporting events that took place this weekend in history….
1954: Enrico Plate (45), Argentine motor racing driver and team manager, died. A decent, but not overwhelming driver in both pre- and post-war Grands Prix, Enrico Plate then became a significant and influential figure in post-war grand prix and early Formula One racing as a team owner running Maseratis for notable drivers such as Prince ‘Bira’ Harry Schell, Toulo de Graffenried and notably Tazio Nuvolari, providing the car the Italian legend scored his final victory in the 1946 Albi Grand Prix. He was killed a few days after his 55th birthday in a tragic accident during the 1954 Argentine GP, when Jorge Daponte lost control of his A6GCM and ran into the signalling area where Plate was preparing the pit board for his driver Prince ‘Bira’.
1958: Juan Manuel Fangio won the Buenos Aires Grand Prix held at Buenos Aires in the Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez. Not one of the four British drivers – Ghorace Gold, Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn managed to complete the race.
1962: Rod “Black Bandit” Perry won the Modified Stock Car race over Dur Howe and Pee Wee Griffin at the Palmetto Speedway in Miami, Florida, US.
1962: Jerry Blundy won the opening event of the Winternational Sprint Car series at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa, Florida (US). Bob Kinser finished second followed by Billy Cassella, Ray Lee Goodwin, Steve Schultz, Roger Rager, Doc Dawson, Jon Backlund, Hank Albers and Chuck Amati.
1969: In a race that saw the Porsche and Ford teams collapse, the Daytona 24 Hours World Sports Car Championship race was taken by the Roger Penske entered Lola of Mark Donohue/Charlie Parsons…despite spending over 2 hours and 10 minutes in the pits with fuel, oil and exhaust problems. The Donohue/Parsons Lola fell as far back as 7th and as many as 54 laps behind. The Porsches were slowed by split manifolds filling the cockpits with smoke, then fell out when their camshafts broke. Jacky Ickx crashed a John Wyer Ford GT40 while leading on Sunday morning and the David Hobbs/Mike Hailwood Wyer Ford GT40 led before retiring with a cracked cylinder head. Donohue/Parsons averaged 99.27 mph and ran 626 laps (2,383.75 miles) for the 24 hours. It was Lola’s first long distance win. The James Garner owned Lola of Lothar Motschenbacher/Ed Leslie finished 30 laps behind in second with a Pontiac Firebird of Joe Ward/Jerry Titus third. 1966 USRRC champ Parsons was a late replacement for Ronnie Bucknum, who had broken a finger in a recreational motorcycle accident 2 weeks earlier.
1969: Chris Amon drove his 2.4 liter Ferrari 246T V6 to victory in round 5 of the 1969 Tasman Cup series, the 34th running of the Australian Grand Prix, held on the undulating 1.5 mile Lakeside circuit. On the pole with a record lap, Amon got a good start and jumped into the lead as fellow front row starter Piers Courage, winner of the previous round at Teretonga, apparently had trouble selecting a gear on his Frank Williams “bi-plane” Brabham. By the time Courage got his gear problem sorted, he was 3rd behind Graham Hill’s Lotus entering turn 1. In 4 laps, Amon was already 4 seconds ahead of Hill and pulling away. When Courage tried to pass Hill on the outside just past a bend, the two cars touched, sending Courage running off road and down a bank into retirement. Courage stomped angrily (mostly at himself) back to the pits. Interestingly, Hill was using Courage’s spare Cosworth motor, his own having expired after day 1 practice. In recovering from the contact, Hill lost 2nd to Amon’s teammate Derek Bell, putting the Ferraris 1-2. By the 39th of the 65 laps, Amon was 20.5 seconds ahead of Bell with Hill still within striking distance for 2nd. On lap 51, Hill’s rear suspension mounted wing broke. Hill continued to hurtle the car along with the wing hanging on the left rear tire, giving the Lotus mechanics time to find a hacksaw. Pitting to have the wing removed, Hill lost 3rd to Leo Geoghegan. Amon went on to take his 3rd checkered flag of the ’69 series, crossing the line 23.9 seconds ahead of Bell with Geoghegan’s 2.5 liter Lotus 39-Repco V8 a lap down in 3rd. Amon’s 3 wins and 2 thirds gave him a 13 point lead over Courage with two rounds remaining.
1975: Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood won the Daytona 24 Hours Sports Car race, round 1 of the 1975 Sports Car World Championship for Makes. Gregg and Haywood’s Porsche 911 Carrera RS took the checkered flag 15 laps ahead of the 2nd place finisher as Porsche 911s swept the top 6 spots. The winning duo averaged 109.440 mph for the 24 hours, covering 684 laps around the 3.84 mile Daytona International Speedway road circuit.
1975: Warwick Brown drove his Chevrolet powered Lola T332 to victory in the Tasman Cup Formula 5000 series round at Oran Park Raceway, Narellan, New South Wales, Australia. The win was Brown’s 2nd of the series.
1979: Jim Childers won the Sprint Car feature as part of the third annual Rocky Fisher’s Florida Sprint Car Nationals, at the DeSoto Memorial Speedway, Bradenton, Florida, US. Dave Scarborough finished second followed by Donnie Tanner, Lennie Waldo, Don Mack, Bill Roynan, Allen Barr, Mack McClelland, Robert Smith and Curt Kelley.
1985: Bob Glidden became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to run the 1/4-mile in under 7.6 seconds (7.557), at Pomona, California (US).
1986: A Lauwenbrau sponsored Porsche 962 was driven to victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona by Al Holbert, Derek Bell, and Al Unser Jr.
1992: A Nissan R91 became the first Japanese car to win the 24 Hours of Daytona event in Daytona Beach, Florida. Japanese engineering quality became the standard for consumer compact vehicles in the 1970s and early 1980s. Nissan’s victory in the 24-hour race proved that Japanese cars had achieved the highest level of performance and engineering.
1997: Seven drivers (Rob Dyson, James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace, John Paul Jr., Elliott Forbes-Robinson, John Schneider) shared the Daytona 24 Hours winning Dyson Racing R&S Mk III-Ford.
1997: Tony Stewart, driving the Steve Lewis #9x, won the USAC Western States Midget race at the Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix, Arizona, US.
2000: Eddie Jordan called on F1 bosses to “strive earnestly” to put Africa back on the schedule, seven years after the last race on the continent. Three months earlier Bernie Ecclestone had visited Egypt to discuss the possibility of holding a grand prix there, but nothing came of it.
2004: A standard 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10, driven by NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan (US), reached a speed of 248.783 km/h (154.587 mph) at the DaimlerChrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, US, to establish a new speed record for production pickup trucks.
2004: Jenson Button broke the unofficial lap record at the Circuit de Catalunya by over a second while testing BAR’s 2004 car, with a time of 1m13.867s. He said: “It was a good lap, but there’s a lot more to come.” The team finished second in the championship that year behind the dominant Ferrari.
2005: Chanoch Nissany became the first Israeli F1 driver when he signed a testing contract with Minardi. He only started racing competitively in 2002 and completed tests with both Jordan and Minardi. His race weekend debut came at the Hungarian Grand Prix where he completed eight laps and was over 12 seconds off the pace of the front runners. He never competed in top level motorsport again.
1915: Eddie O’Donnell won the 100.7 mile AAA Championship race on a 1.9 mile Glendale, California (US) city street course. O’Donnell averaged 47.6 mph at the wheel of a Duesenberg to score his first AAA race win.
1953: Art Chrisman made the first sub-10 second (9.40) run from a rolling start, and the sport’s first 140-mph run, a 140.08 on a ¼ -mile dragstrip at Santa Ana, California (US).
1956: Johnny Claes, an English-born racing driver who competed for Belgium, died aged 39 from tuberculosis. Before his fame as a racing driver, Claes was also a jazz trumpeter and successful bandleader in Britain. Claes was one of several gentlemen drivers who took part in Grand Prix racing of post-World War II. His first contact with racing was at the 1947 French Grand Prix, where he served as interpreter for British drivers. He made his debut in 1948, in his own Talbot-Lago, raced under the Ecurie Belge banner. Although Claes never scored any points in the World Drivers Championship, he was, like many of his contemporaries, very active in non-Championship Grand Prix races and sports car races. His first win was at the 1950 Grand Prix des Frontières, held at the Chimay race track. In April 1951 Claes crashed into a crowd while practicing at Sanremo, Italy. He was uninjured but an observer was killed and three onlookers were seriously injured. In 1952 he exchanged his outdated Talbot for a Gordini, and later for a Connaught, always with the Ecurie Belge colours, but he also raced occasionally for works team, including Gordini and Maserati. He also won the 1953 Liège-Rome-Liège Rally and took a class win at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans. Claes teamed with Pierre Stasse in a Porsche to finish 12th in the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans. Together with compatriot Jacques Swaters, Claes finished third in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans.
1958: Paul Goldsmith drove Smokey Yunick’s Pontiac to victory in the last stock car race held on the beach at Daytona, Florida, USA.
1962: Bruno Brackey won the 100-lap ATQMRA TQ Midget race at the indoor Teaneck Armory, Teaneck, New Jersey (US). Jim Lacy was second followed by George Cousin, Fred Clifton, Billy Spade, George Sweeten, Billy Deakin, Joe Gray, Wimpy
Ervin, Ed Brunnhoelzl and Sonny Sanders.
1963: Jim Hall won the first United States Road Racing Championship race, at Daytona, Florida, USA, driving a Cooper Monaco.
1971: Jerry Blundy won the first event of the Winternational Sprint Car series at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa, Florida, US.
1974: Emerson Fittipaldi inaugurated the new Autodromo de Brasilia by winning the non-championship F1 “Grand Prix de President Medici” on the twisting 3.4 mile circuit built in the nation’s capitol at an estimated cost of 3.5 million dollars. 13 cars were on hand, 12 of them by invitation. Since only 12 cars fit on the plane, Lord Hesketh paid the way for his new Harvey Postlthwaite designed car in hopes of testing and possibly racing it, only to discover an irreparable leak in an irreplaceable and un-bypassable fuel tank bag. The first Hesketh chassis was scratched and Hunt moved to the March 731 the team used in the Argentine and Brazilian GPs. As in the two South American championship rounds, the start was a bit earlier than expected and pole winner Carlos Reutemann got away first, followed by Emerson Fittipaldi and Arturo Merzario, who’d moved from row 3. Hunt had been pushed off with bottom gear engaged and did 3 laps learning how to drive without a clutch only to have the gear linkage break. Merzario gamely held off Jody Scheckter for a few laps, but Jody finally clawed his way past. Reutemann had felt something go wrong with the engine on the warm-up lap and after about 8 laps, he had to let Emerson by on one of the shorter straights. Reutemann went slower and slower until he pulled off circuit in a cloud of steam after completing 11 laps. This left Emerson all alone, apparently on his way to an easy victory. But, halfway around the 40th and final lap, Emerson suddenly slowed and raised a hand. It looked like he was waving to the crowd, but in fact he was trying to signal his McLaren crew that he was running out of fuel. By switching on the electric pump, he was able to drive on to the checkered. Scheckter soldiered on to 2nd despite a terrible vibration in his Tyrell and Merzario took Frank Williams’ Iso to a well earned 3rd. Named in honor of Brazil’s outgoing president (whose administration pushed for and backed the autodrome), the race is the only international auto race held on the then lavish, state of the art circuit.
1978: Doug Wolfgang won the opening 40-lap feature of the 1978 Southern Sprint Car Nationals at the East Bay Speedway, Gibsonton, Florida, US. Charlie Swartz , driving the Loretta Lynn Special, finished second followed by Dub May, Paul Pitzer, Shane Carson, Dick Tobias, Rick Nichols, Kramer Williamson, Fred Linder and Steve Smith.
1979: Donnie Tanner won the Sprint Car feature as part of the third annual Rocky Fisher’s Florida Sprint Car Nationals, at the Sunshine Speedway, St Petersburg, Florida, US. Don Mack finished second followed by Lennie Waldo, Robert Smith, Larry Brazil, Jim Childers, Wayne Reutimann, Greg Leffler, Roger Rager and Mack McClelland.
1993: Jeff Andretti set the (then) unofficial closed-course speed record for IndyCars of 234.5 mph, the fastest speed ever recorded at Texas World Speedway (Texas, US), while testing for the 1993 Indianapolis 500.
2006: Midland launched the first Russian Formula One car, the M16. Billionaire Alex Schnaider bought the team in 2005 but ran it under the Jordan name and a British license in his debut season. However, for 2006 the team ran under the Midland banner and, for the first time in F1 history, the Russian flag.
2012: Tracy Hines won the 30-lap Sprint Car race at the Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Arizona, US. Charles Davis, Jr., finished second followed by Shane Cottle, R.J. Johnson and Jeremy Sherman.