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Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history…..
1924: Harlan Fengler won the 250 mile season opening AAA Championship race on the 1.25 mile high banked board Los Angeles Motor Speedway. Fengler averaged 116.6 mph in his Miller. It was the 2nd and final Championship race win for Fengler, who later served many years as chief steward for the Indianapolis 500.
1958: The second Cuban Grand Prix (which was run under sportscar regulations) was held on the famous Malecon Avenue, which runs along the waterfront in Havana. Juan Manuel Fangio had been kidnapped by Fidel Castro’s guerrillas and missed the race. The event attracted a crowd estimated at 200,000 people. After only five laps around the Havana street course, local driver Armando Garcia Cifuentes lost control of his Ferrari on oil that had been leaking from Mieres’ Porsche. Cifuentes hit a curb and was launched into the spectator zone along side the Malecon boulevard. He literally ploughed through several rows of people before his Testa Rossa was stopped by a construction vehicle that was left there by some builders. The crash took the lives of six spectators and left thirty injured. Cifuentes himself miraculously survived but was one of the severely injured. In the chaos just after the disaster, he was taken care of by his teammate Abelardo Carreras, who put him on the bonnet of his Testa Rossa and drove him to the hospital. Stirling Moss was declared the winner.
1960: Robert G. “Junior” Johnson won the second Daytona 500 driving a Chevrolet.
1995: The official report into the accident which killed Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994 was made public. The Italian magistrate Maurizio Passarini released a report 500 pages long and concluded that the crash was most likely the result of a steering failure on the car. The definitive reason for the crash is still debated today and the court case rumbled on through the mid-1990s until all Williams staff involved were acquitted.
1934: The Norwegian Grand Pix at Mjosa was won by Per-Viktor Widengren driving a Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza.
1959: Lee Petty was officially declared the winner of the Daytona 500-mile race 61 hours after the checkered flag fell on the historic event. NASCAR president Bill France said that photographs and film evidence “substantiated” that Petty had clearly won the hard-fought race.
1968: Racer Jim Clark won his final motor race, the seventh leg of the Tasman Series at Melbourne Australia’s Sandown Park. The heat on race day was intense with the temperature over the 100 degree mark by 10am. The drivers begged off the parade in sports cars and also the presentation of drivers to the stands. These were cancelled, along with the traditional warm-up lap. Jim Clark was first away followed by Amon, and Brabham made a complete botch of the start, getting away in fifth place as the field set itself up for Shell corner. Clark won the race after 55 laps of intense battle with Amon, whom he praised for his tough and challenging drive. Graham Hill finished third, taking the checkered flag almost a minute after the two leaders, emphasizing the frantic speed the two were going. And with a 42 points in the series versus Amon’s score of 36 with just the final round the championship remaining, the Scotsman now had a sizable advantage over his rival in this two-way battle. Clark won the championship by finishing fifth in the final race of the series.
1968: The 1968 Daytona 500 race saw a duel involving Cale Yarborough and Lee Roy Yarbrough. For much of the day, both drivers traded the lead. With 5 laps to go, Yarborough made a successful slingshot pass on the third turn to take the lead from Yarbrough and never look back as he won his first Daytona 500 by 1.3 seconds.
1979: Barry Sheene won the first ITV World of Sport Superbike Challenge Series “made for TV” motorcycle race, held at Donnington Park in Leicestershire, England.
1990: Mark Martin won the Pontiac Excitement 400, but the car was found to have an illegal carburetor spacer. NASCAR found the spacer was 2½ inches tall, a half-inch more than allowed. Martin kept the victory, but was fined $40,000 (at record at the time), and was docked 46 points. At season’s end, Martin lost the championship by a mere 26 points to Dale Earnhardt, with the penalty representing the deciding margin. Later, it was admitted that the spacer plate was technically not illegal, and did not enhance the car’s performance, but actually fell within a “gray area” of the rulebook. NASCAR competition director Dick Beaty even stated that “We don’t know if [a taller spacer] is an advantage or not.
2002: A potentially volatile row between tyre manufacturers Bridgestone and Michelin was avoided, after Michelin scrapped plans to run a tyre with asymmetrical grooves. Under Formula 1 regulations at the time tyres had to have four grooves, but it did not say they had to be evenly spread out. Michelin saw an opportunity to gain a potential advantage but heeded a warning from the FIA not to.
2004: Cosworth resumed production of its legendary DFV engine, which powered drivers to 12 F1 world championships between 1968 and 1982. The powerplant was being used so extensively in historic racing that it once again became financially viable to produce spares and replacements for the V8 engines.
2005: Jean Todt raised eyebrows in the paddock by suggesting that Ferrari should take a larger share of the sport’s revenues than any other team. Todt said: “Maybe wrongly, I think Ferrari is unique. Without underestimating what the other teams have done, I feel that Ferrari has achieved more than the others. It’s like when you produce a movie. You need stars so that you know you are going to sell the movie all over the world. And then you have stars with different contracts. And Ferrari in its business is a star and wants to be paid like a star. I say that without arrogance.” When Ferrari threatened to leave the sport in 2009, it emerged that it had been paid an extra £50 million in 2005 for signing up to the Concorde Agreement, as well as an extra bonus each year over the other teams.