25-26 January Weekend in….

Discover the momentous motor sporting events that took place this weekend in history ………. 

~25 January~

1951: The Interlagos Grand Prix at Interlagos was won by Chico Landi driving a Ferrari 125C.

1964: Bruce McLaren drove his Cooper-Climax to his third straight Tasman Cup Formula One series victory, winning on the 1.6 mile Teretonga Park circuit, NewZealand. The race was round 4 of the inaugural Tasman Cup championship.

1965: Promising NASCAR Grand National driver Larry Thomas (28) died in a highway accident on Interstate 75. Thomas’ Plymouth struck another vehicle from behind, hurtled through a guard rail and down a steep embankment, after he had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel. Thomas, of Trinity, North Carolina, was a 3 year veteran of the GN circuit. Primarily driving for independent owners Wade Younts and Herman Beam, Thomas came into his own in the 1964 season. After scoring 4 consecutive top 5 finishes during a September short track swing, including a 2nd from 27th (last) starting at Hickory, Thomas was named driver for the Burton-Robinson Plymouth team. He replaced the late Jimmy Pardue, who died in a tyre test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 22nd. Ironically, Thomas made his debut with the team at Charlotte, qualifying 7th and finishing 20th after overheating. He only made 3 starts with the team after receiving his big break, with the other two both top 5 finishes. Thomas finished the season 8th in points. Faced with the loss of two drivers in slightly over 4 months time, the Burton-Robinson team closed it’s shop and quit racing.

1976: Niki Lauda won the Brazilian Grand Prix. Lauda’s Ferrari took the checkered flag 21 seconds ahead of Patrick Depailler’s Tyrell, with Tom Pryce finishing third in a Shadow. James Hunt won the pole with a 2 minute, 32 second lap on the twisting, 4.9 mile Interlagos circuit. Jean-Pierre Jarier turned the fastest race lap, but later crashed his Shadow.

2007: After only 11 days behind the wheel of an F1 car, rookie Lewis Hamilton had a lucky escape after he crashed his McLaren at 165mph during practice in Spain. “I’m completely fine and was conscious throughout,” he said. It was an equally frustrating day for Jenson Button as his new Honda broke down during the first lap of a warm-up session in Barcelona.

~26 January~

1899: The Paris – Rouen – Paris (Perigold Cup) race was won by Leonce Girardot driving a Panhard 6hp in a time of 4 hours 26 minutes 0 seconds.

1919: Roscoe Sarles drove a Miller-powered Roamer to victory at Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles, California, US.

1947: Red Byron (cover image) captured the inaugural National Championship Stock Car Circuit event, billed as the “Battle of the Champions,” on the Beach-Road course at Daytona. In 1948, Byron became a part of the newly formed NASCAR Modified Series racing with Raymond Parks’ team. In 1949, Byron began racing in NASCAR’s newly formed Strictly Stock series, which became the Grand National series, Winston Cup, and the modern-day Sprint Cup series. With Parks in tow, Red was equally successful in the inaugural 8-race season. Just as in 1948, he won at Daytona Beach, and also won at a dirt track in Martinsville. Byron, as with his previous year in a modified, ended the year as the series’ first champion. Byron raced sparingly after his two championships. He owned a sports car racing team for much of the 1950s.

1958: Ferrari and Porsche were the only European teams on hand for the “Argentine 1000 Kilometers”, the first World Sports Car Championship race run under 3.0 litre regulations and opening round of the 1958 campaign. The Ferrari of Peter Collins and Phil Hill led from start to finish. Five time F1 World Champion Juan Fangio tried to take the lead at one point, but overdid it and crashed the privateer Maserati he was sharing with Francesco Godia-Sales. Luigi Musso’s Ferrari had steering failure on lap 1, but the other Ferrari of Wolfgang von Trips and Olivier Gendebien went on to finish 2nd. Stirling Moss and Jean Behra drove their 1.6 liter Porsche to third. Collins and Hill covered the 1000km in 6 hours, 19 minutes, 55 seconds, averaging 98.57 mph.

1962: Gene Hartley, driving the George Hopkins Offy, won the 50 lap USAC Midget race at the indoor Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati , Ohio, US. Billy Woods was second followed by Johnny White, Nick Wilhelm and Chuck Rodee.

1964: Don Branson won the first 50 mile USAC Sprint Car race on 1 mile dirt oval Arizona State Fairgrounds, Phoenix, Arizona, US. A.J. Foyt was second followed by Chuck Hulse, Jim McElreath and Gordon Woolley.

1974: Cale Yarborough won the the rain postponed NASCAR Grand National “Western 500” at Riverside International Raceway, the opening round of the 1974 season. The race began on the 20 January, with 63 of 191 laps run before a downpour hit the track (Yarborough reported snow flurries on the backstretch). Rain persisted, and officials elected to complete the race the next Saturday. The race resumed under clear skies, but windy and cold. Yarborough was the only contender to pit before the rains, taking the lead when the rest pitted shortly after the restart. Yarborough went on to lead all but 6 of the last 127 laps, but running low on fuel, the motor in the Richard Howard Chevy began sputtering with 2 laps left. Yarborough held on, running completely out of gas as he crossed the line 3 seconds in front of Richard Petty’s Dodge. David Pearson finished third in the Wood Brothers Mercury. Howard team manager Junior Johnson went home after the rains and did not return. For the first time, the new NASCAR point system was used. Based on a multiple of basic prize money and number of events entered, the standing showed Yarborough with 11.025 points, Petty 6.525 and Pearson 5.025.

1975: The Brazilian Grand Prix was run at Interlagos and Carlos Pace took the top honors, the circuit was to be later named after Pace. He and his Brabham won in 1:44:41. after qualifying in the 6th spot. Emerson Fittipaldi in his McLaren was only 5 seconds behind to finish 2nd and Jochen Mass in the other McLaren took 3rd. Jean-Pierre Jarier took pole and had the fastest lap of the race but retired with a fuel metering problem.

Bob Gerard

1990: Frederick Roberts “Bob” Gerard (76) passed away. Bespectacled Leicester (England) garage owner Bob Gerard was one of the dogged British Formula 1 privateers who began racing in a Riley in 1933 but did not make his name until the immediate postwar era with a private ERA. He won the Ulster Trophy in 1947 and the British Empire Trophy on the Isle of Man on three occasions. He finished second place behind de Graffenried’s Maserati in the 1949 British Grand Prix at Silverstone and later switched to Cooper-Bristols and competed in most British rounds of the World Championship until 1957. He retired as a driver in 1961 but continued to enter cars until the early 1980s. His wife Joan, who died in 1999, was also an accomplished competitor in her own right.

1996: The three-turn tri-oval 1mile (1.6 km) Walt Disney Track, Florida, US hosted its first car race, a Formula Ford 2000 support race, followed the next day with the Indy Racing League’s Indy 200 car race.

2003: Eddie Leavitt, sprint car driver from the 1970’s & 80′, died. He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2001 and was in the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame. He was a two-time (1975 & 1976) National Sprint Car Champion.

2010: Jeff Mathews won the opening round of the 11th annual Open Wheel Modified Winternationals Championship Stock Car race at the East Bay Raceway Park, Tampa, Florida, US. Dave Hess Jr. was second followed by Stormy Scott, Perry Brown and Kevin Weaver.

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