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23-24 October: This Weekend in Motorsport History

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

~23 October~

1949: Promoter Sam Nunis scheduled a 150-mile Strictly Stock race at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway with the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA) as the sanctioning body. NASCAR’s Bill France co-promoted the event, which attracted a crowd of 33,452. Tim Flock won the race driving an Oldsmobile.

1955: Tony Brooks made his Formula 1 debut driving a Connaught B-Type at the Syracuse Grand Prix in Sicily, and became the first British driver in a British car to win a Grand Prix since Sir Henry Segrave’s victory in a Sunbeam at San Sebastian in 1924.

1955: Buck Baker steamed from the pole position to prevail in the Wilkes 160, leading every lap at North Wilkesboro (North Carolina) Speedway. Baker, a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, wound up five seconds ahead of runner-up Lee Petty at the checkered flag, collecting $1,100 for his 12th win in NASCAR’s premier series. Gwyn Staley, Joe Weatherly and Tim Flock rounded out the top five.

1956: Buck Baker’s Kiekhaefer Chrysler tiptoed around a nasty crash involving former Kiekhaefer teammate Herb Thomas, to win the 100-mile race at Shelby, North Carolina, US. Speedy Thompson, also member of the Kiekhaefer team, triggered the crash, which left Thomas gravely injured. Baker pulled to within 118 points of Thomas with three races remaining.

1966: The Mexican Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was won by British driver John Surtees driving a Cooper T81, his first such victory since leaving Scuderia Ferrari to join Cooper Car Company. Surtees led home the newly crowned world champion Australian owner-driver Jack Brabham, driving a Brabham BT20 by eight seconds. A lap down in third place, also driving a Brabham BT20 was Brabham’s team mate New Zealander Denny Hulme.

1977: James Hunt’s 10th (and final) Grand Prix win at Japan’s Fuji circuit was overshadowed by a heavy accident after Ronnie Peterson is collected by a young and over-eager Jacques Villeneuve. It was on lap six though that tragedy struck. Further down the field, Gilles Villeneuve was catching Ronnie Peterson in the Tyrrell as he tried to further impress Ferrari.

1994: With a narrow victory over Rick Mast in the 500-miler at Rockingham, Dale Earnhardt won a record-tying seventh NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

~24 October~

1924: More than 50,000 people pack the grandstands and infield for the inaugural race at the first Charlotte Speedway (North Carolina, US). The 250-mile contest featured the same drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500, was won by Tommy Milton in a Miller. The track, a daringly-banked mile oval, is built of two-by-four wooden boards.

1937: Juan Manuel Fangio made his racing debut.

1948: Nino Farina gave Ferrari their first F1 victory when he won a minor event at Lake Garda, Italy in a Type 125.

1954: Lee Petty finished last in the season finale at North Wilkesboro (North Carolina, US) Speedway, but secured his first NASCAR Grand National champion­ship. Petty finished 283 points ahead of runner-up Herb Thomas. California driver Lou Figaro lost his life in a tumble three laps from the finish.

1965: Richie Ginther won the Mexican Grand Prix at 94.26 mph to give Honda its first ever Formula One victory. It was also tyre supplier Goodyear’s first ever win.

1971: Jo Siffert (35) who won the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix, was killed in the non-championship World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch GB, the scene of his first and greatest victory in 1968.

1976: Richard Petty turned in a dominant second half to roll to victory in the American 500, leading 193 of the 492 laps at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. Petty, who led all but 10 of the final 164 laps, finished more than a lap ahead of runner-up Lennie Pond. Darrell Waltrip — the Hall of Famer who famously finished second to Pond in the 1973 NASCAR Rookie of the Year vote — came in third, three laps down.

1976: James Hunt’s third place in the first Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji was good enough to secure him the world title by one point from Niki Lauda, who quit on lap two because of torrential rain had made the conditions too dangerous for his liking. Lauda’s caution was understandable given the horrific head injuries he had suffered 11 weeks earlier. The 1976 Formula One season was the 27th season of FIA Formula One motor racing.

2004: Tragedy stroke when the Hendrick Motorsports company plane crashed into a foggy mountainside minutes before the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway. None of the 10 people onboard survived. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson won, and was informed of the tragic incident after the race.


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