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20-21 November: This Weekend in Motorsport History

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

~20 November~

1955: Pole-starter Fonty Flock held off his brother Tim by half a car-length at Charlotte Speedway’s .75-mile dirt track to score the last of his 19 wins in NASCAR’s premier series. Flock led all 134 laps and paced a sweep of the top two spots by Carl Kiekhaefer-owned Chryslers. Lee Petty finished third as the final car on the lead lap.

1960: Stirling Moss won the season-ending United States Grand Prix at the Riverside International Raceway in California from Lotus team-mate Innes Ireland. But the event failed to capture the imagination of the US public despite local Dan Gurney’s involvement and only attracted a crowd of 25,000 people. A PR blunder by organiser Alec Ullmann did not help as he alienated all the local media who consequently ignored the event.

1988: Racer Cale Yarborough announced his retirement. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships. He was the second NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (the first was Curtis Turner on the February 26, 1968 issue).

2005: Jerry Nadeau held off Dale Earnhardt to post his first career victory in the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway (US). Bobby Labonte finished fifth to take the NASCAR Winston Cup championship by 261 points over Jeff Burton.

2004: Michael Schumacher had to make more room in his bulging trophy cabinet when he was voted Germany’s greatest sportsman of the 20th century in a national television poll. Schumacher beat footballer Franz Beckenbauer and tennis legend Boris Becker to the award and said: “I would never have expected an honour like this. It’s a total surprise.” The poll, run by television broadcaster ZDF, attracted over one-hundred thousand voting viewers.

~21 November~

1953: Felice Bonetto (50) died in Silao Mexico. Bonetto was a fearless competitor who took no prisoners and was possessed of so much courage that some of his racing exploits placed him in the category of the foolhardy. He won the Portuguese GP in Lisbon and placed third in the Mille Miglia before competing in the gruelling Carrera Panamericana.

1955: The radical Bugatti Type 251 Grand Prix racer, with a straight-8 engine mounted transversely behind the driver, made its press debut.

1973: Timo Makiinen and Henry Liddon won the RAC Rally with a Ford Escort RS 1600.

1979: Hannu Mikkola and Ame Hertz won the RAC Rally with a Ford Escort RS 1800.

1980: Henri Toivonen and Paul White won the RAC Rally with a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.

1982: Tim Richmond capped a dominating day at Riverside (California, US) International Raceway with his second victory in NASCAR’s top series as Darrell Waltrip finished third to clinch his second straight championship. Richmond, who tallied four of his 13 career victories at the 2.62-mile road course, led 92 of 119 laps in a Jim Stacy-owned Buick, beating Ricky Rudd to the finish line by seven seconds. Waltrip, who started from the pole, led eight laps and topped 16th-finishing Bobby Allison by 72 points in the final standings.

2000: Giancarlo Fisichella had his road licence confiscated for speeding after he was caught driving at 148kph (92mph) in a 60kph (37mph) zone in Rome. It happened just six days after he appealed to Italian teenagers in a front-page article in Gazetta dello Sport not to engage in street racing after a 16-year-old was killed in a high- speed crash.

2004: A new era in NASCAR commenced as the first Chase for the NEXTEL Cup came to its exciting conclusion. The new 10-race “playoff” system saw five drivers mathematically eligible for the championship in the final race, the Ford 400 at Homestead. Jimmie Johnson had won four of the past five races, and four-time champion Jeff Gordon was also in the hunt. Through consistency, Kurt Busch held an 18-point lead over Johnson in the championship standings, and Gordon was 3 points behind in third. A caution-filled event went down the final lap before the championship was decided. On lap 93, points leader Kurt Busch had a tire problem with the right rear, and was forced to the pits. Just as he was about to enter the pit area, the entire wheel flung off of the car, and rolled on the track. Busch sweved and just barely missed crashing into the pit divider wall. A caution flag came out, and it allowed Busch to stay on the lead lap. In the waning laps, Busch worked his way back up to 5th place, while his closest championship contenders, Johnson and Gordon were running 2nd–3rd. A green-white-checker finish saw Greg Biffle win the race. Kurt Busch held on to finish 5th, and clinched the championship by 8 points, the second closest margin in NASCAR history.

2004: France’s Alexandre Premat won the Macau Grand Prix, bringing his ASM Dallara-Mercedes home ahead of Robert Kubica and Lucas di Grassi at the end of a battle-scarred race which ended after 13 laps due to a multiple pile-up. Premat started third on the grid behind Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. It was the Finn who took the lead but at the start of lap two both Rosberg and Hamilton went off, fighting for the Lisboa Corner and Premat took the lead but soon afterwards made a mistake and hit a barrier, which allowed Kubica to close up.

2004: Roush Racing hit the jackpot as Greg Biffle won the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (US) and Kurt Busch finished fifth to claim the 2004 “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup” championship. Bush’s eight-point margin over Jimmie Johnson was the closest finish in the 56 years of NASCAR Cup Series racing.

2005: Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella had his road licence confiscated for speeding after he was caught driving at 148kph (92mph) in a 60kph (37mph) zone in Rome. It happened just six days after he appealed to Italian teenagers in a front-page article in Gazetta dello Sport not to engage in street racing after a 16-year-old was killed in a high- speed crash.

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