25-26 May: This Weekend in Moor Sport History

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

~25 May~

1907: In a 24 hour “Endurance Derby” on the 1 mile dirt Point Breeze oval, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Brown and Robert Maynes drove an Autocar to victory. The winners completed 791 miles.

1930: Théodore Namont driving a Rally crashed fatally at the Fontainebleau hill climb, near Paris, France.

1947: Franco Cortese gave Ferrari their first race win when he drove 125 Sport chassis 01C to victory on the Caracella Baths circuit in Rome, Italy.

1947: Round 3 of Grand Prix de France F2 Championship, the 3 hour Paris Grand Prix, held at Montlhéry, was won by Piero Taruffi driving a Ferrari 500.

1955: Italian racing driver and twice Formula One World Champion Alberto Ascari (36), died. He was a multitalented racer who completed in motorcycle racing before switching to cars. Back to back World titles in 1952 and 1953 sandwiched an appearance at in the Indianapolis 500 in 1952. Ascari also won the legendary Mille Miglia in 1954. He once admitted that he warned his children not to become extremely close to him because of the risk involved in his profession. So this proved when he was killed during a test session for Scuderia Ferrari at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. He was preparing for the Supercortemaggiore 1000 kilometre race that he was to have run with his protégé Eugenio Castellotti on the weekend that followed the accident.The son of one of Italy’s great pre-war drivers, Alberto Ascari went on to become one of Formula One racing’s most dominant and best-loved champions. Noted for the careful precision and finely-judged accuracy that made him one of the safest drivers in a most dangerous era, he was also notoriously superstitious and took great pains to avoid tempting fate. But his unexplained fatal accident – at exactly the same age as his father’s, on the same day of the month and in eerily similar circumstances – remains one of Formula One racing’s great unsolved mysteries.

1975: In the Grand Prix at Zolder, Belgium, Niki Lauda in his Ferrari showed the way, sitting on pole and winning in a time of 1:43:53, 19.2 seconds over Jody Scheckter and his Tyrrell. Scheckter started ninth and drove very well but could not catch the Ferrari by the end. Carlos Reutemann was third in the Brabham after starting sixth, Depailler was fourth in the other Tyrrell, he started 12th. Clay Regazzoni was fifth in the other Ferrari and also set fastest lap of the race. Tom Pryce started fifth and finished sixth.

1975: Wally Dallenbach Sr. was 20 seconds in the lead in the Indianapolis 500 when he retired on lap 162 with a burned piston. Johnny Rutherford lost the inherited lead to Bobby Unser when he pitted. On lap 171 the yellow came out for rain and the two leaders ducked into the pits for fuel. On lap 174 a downpour stopped the race and Unser was declared the winner. The rain stopped a few minutes later.

1979: Amédée Gordini (79), Italian-born race car driver and sports car manufacturer in France, died. Gordini set up his business preparing Simca engines in Suresnes near Paris. His first successes came that year with victory in Bol díOr at Saint-Germain and this was followed by many other class victories including the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1938 and 1939. In September 1945 Gordini became the first man to win a post-war event at the Robert Benoist Cup and began building his own racing cars . He won the 1946 Grand Prix de Marseille and the Simca-Gordini team was successful with Jean-Pierre Wimille as its driver. Then Wimille was killed at the 1949 Argentine Grand Prix and Gordini struggled to keep up with his former countrymen in the new Formula 1 scene. For 1952 he built new engines for the World Championship and Jean Behra scored Simca-Gordini’s most famous victory at Reims. After Simca withdrew its support in 1956, Renault stepped in requiring copetition version of the Dauphine, the R8 and Alpine’s Le Mans racers, buying up the Gordini company at the end of 1968. Many of Gordini’s young engineers went on to play important roles in the Renault F1 program.

1981: USAC striped Al Unser Sr. of the previous day’s Indianapolis 500 win because of a yellow flag violation and awarded the win to Mario Andretti. Over three months later, the USAC Appeals Board reinstated Unser’s win.

1985: The 112,000 seater Charlotte Motor Speedway (North Carolina, US), aka the Mecca of Motorsports, held its first race. Linked to Charlotte and I-85 by a high-volume connector road. A state-of-the-art lighting system allowed racing during the cool hours of the evening. The track itself is a 1.5-mile oval that is banked at 24 degrees.

1986: The 44th Belgian Grand Prix and the 32nd to be held at Spa-Francorchamps, run over 43 laps of the 7.0-kilometre circuit for a total race distance of 301 kilometres, was won by British driver Nigel Mansell driving a Williams FW11. It was Mansell’s third Grand Prix victory after his two breakthrough wins at the end of the previous season and his first in 1986. Mansell won by 19 seconds over Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna driving a Lotus 98T.

1997: At the Spanish Grand Prix held in Catalunya, Jacques Villeneuve sat on pole and won in his Williams with a race time of 1:300:35. Olivier Panis gave the Prost entry a wonderfully valued second place finish after starting twelfth on the grid. Jean Alesi was third after starting fourth. Schumacher was fourth in his Ferrari coming up from seventh. And Sauber driver, Johnny Herbert was fifth after starting tenth. The last point went to Coulthard in the McLaren. Fisichella set fastest lap in the Jordan but finished ninth.

2003: Gil de Ferran won the 87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race by 0.2990 of a second over his Marlboro Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves. With Tony Kanaan finishing third only 1.2475 seconds behind de Ferran, the race featured the closest 1-2-3 finish in “500” history. de Ferran ended up retiring at season’s end, becoming the fourth Indy 500 winner to retire as a reigning “500” champion. Former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton were in attendance, the first time in Indy history that two former presidents were at the race. It was the elder Bush’s second visit to the Speedway; he previously presided over the opening ceremonies of the 1987 Pan American Games, which was held at the track. Rookie A. J. Foyt IV, racing on his 19th birthday, became the youngest driver ever to compete in the race. For the first time since the 1970s, the race was not announced as a sell out.[6] Since 1985, the race was usually sold out by July of the previous year.

2005: A1 Grand Prix unveiled the provisional race calendar for its inaugural season, taking in a mix of established world-famous venues, exciting new state-of-the-art facilities and tight twisty street circuits.

~26 May~

1903: Marcel Renault, age 31, died without regaining consciousness, 48 hours after crashing on the opening day of the Paris to Madrid race. After another deadly crash, the race was cancelled at the end of the first leg from Paris to Bordeaux, and the era of city-to-city races came to an end. The Paris Races were started in 1897 as a way for manufacturers to show off their cars. The first race, from Paris to Rouen, was a major sensation in the sports world as the first proper car race. The races helped to establish France as the premier car-racing nation in the world. Famous racers like Emile Levassor, le Comte De Dion, Panhard, and Marcel and Louis Renault made their names at these races. Panhard, De Dion, and Renault rapidly became three of the biggest names in manufacturing, their reputations relying heavily on their successes at these high-profile events. Marcel Renault’s death was the last straw for French authorities. Nearly every race resulted in the fatalities of drivers or spectators, and racing on public roads in Europe came to an end.

1907: The world’s first 24-hour race, the Endurance Derby staged at the Point Breeze dirt track in Philadelphia, L US concluded with winners J L Brown an Robert Maynes-who covered 791 miles in their Autocar at an average speed of just under 33 mph.

1912: Cyril Snipe of England with co-driver Pedrini in a SCAT became the first non-Italian winners of the Targa Florio. They completed the 965 kilometre course around the island of Sicily in 24 hours 37 minutes 39 seconds. Snipe defeated a field of 26 cars, including Lancia, Isotta-Fraschini, Fiat and Alfa. The race passed through Palermo; Messina; Catania; Syracuse; Ragusa; Gela; Agrigento; Marsala; Trapani; and back to Palermo.Snipe drove a SCAT again in the 1913 Targa Florio race but failed to finish.

1923: The first 24 Hours of Le Mans (cover image), organised by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest, began. The race traditionally starts at 4 p.m. on the Saturday and uses mostly normal country roads. Over the years, several purpose-built sections replaced some of the normal roads previously used, including the Porsche Curves, which bypass the former dangerous Maison Blanche section between buildings. The permanent Bugatti Track surrounds the facilities at the start/finish. That first Le Mans was won by French drivers André Lagache and René Léonard in a Chenard et Walcker. British driver Frank Clement and Canadian John Duff finished fourth in a 3-litre Bentley.

1929: Three spectators died and many more were injured at the Lückendorf hillclimb, Germany when Ernst Mahla’s Bugatti left the road.

1958: Stirling Moss led every lap in driving his Vanwall to victory in the 75 lap Dutch Grand Prix on the 2.6 mile Zandvoort circuit. Moss crossed the line 47.9 seconds ahead of Harry Schell’s BRM, who in turn was 55.2 seconds ahead of his BRM teammate Jean Behra. It was a career best finish for Schell. Moss’ young teammate Stuart Lewis-Evans won the pole in leading a Vanwall sweep of the front row (Lewis-Evans, Moss and Tony Brooks).

1963: Graham Hill driving a BRM P57 won the Monaco Grand Prix.

1968: Lotus driver Graham Hill, who started from pole position, won the Monaco Grand Prix. Richard Attwood, driving for BRM, gained second place and recorded the fastest lap, while Lucien Bianchi finished in third position in a Cooper, in what was to be these drivers’ only podium finishes. Johnny Servoz-Gavin took the lead from Hill at the start, while Bruce McLaren took out the other Lotus of Jackie Oliver at the chicane on the first lap. Servoz-Gavin was struck by bad luck on lap 3 when he suffered a drive shaft failure and crashed. This set the tone for the rest of the race, when after a series of accidents and mechanical failures, only five cars finished the race, with everyone from 3rd-place finishing at least four laps down on eventual winner Hill, who cemented his reputation as “Mr. Monaco” by taking his fourth win in the principality. It was however a close finish, with BRM replacement Richard Attwood surprising by finishing just 2 seconds behind the Englishman. Even though Hill broke the Monaco lap record three times during the race, it was Attwood who ultimately recorded fastest lap, the only one of his career.

1969: Paul Hawkins (31) was killed when his Lola T70 crashed during the Tourist Trophy race at Oulton Park, England.

1974: At the Santa Pod Raceway Whitsun Holiday Weekend Big Go, Allan Herridge in ‘Stardust’ ran the first funny car six with a 6.87second pass.

1974: In the midst of an energy crisis, and as an infield of hippies stormed the track, Johnny Rutherford came from the 25th starting position, deepest in the field since 1933, to record his first victory in the Indianapolis 500. During the month, as a gesture to the energy crisis, time trials were trimmed from four days down to two, and several days of practice were either reduced by several hours or eliminated outright. The race was also scheduled on Sunday for the first time, thereby ending the “never-on-a-Sunday” policy that had dated to 1911. The reduced practice time was well-received and noticeably adequate, and thus became a permanent change. But four-day time trial sessions was restored for 1975.

1974: In the Monaco Grand Prix, Lotus driver, Ronnie Peterson set the fastest lap of the race, coming from his third place starting position to win in a time of 1:58:03. Jody Scheckter in his Tyrrell was 28 seconds back after starting fifth. JP Jarier was third with his Shadow, he started sixth. Clay Regazzoni was fourth after starting second in his Ferrari and Emmo fifth in the McLaren coming up from the 13th spot on the grid. The last point went to John Watson in his Brabham, he started all the way back in 23rd position. Pole sitter, Niki Lauda was out with ignition problems in his Ferrari on lap 32.

1985: A J Foyt made it to his 30th Indianapolis 500 as he got his sluggish Indy-car to start. Following the race, he announced that he would retire from auto racing after the 1987 Indy race. And he did.

1995: Dave Darland won the Hulman Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana, US.

1996: Jimmy Vasser won the inaugural CART US 500 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, US.

1996: Dale Jarrett started deep in the field but ran away for an easy triumph in Charlotte’s Coca-Cola 600, North Carolina (US).

2001: Vittorio Brambilla (63), a Formula One driver from Italy who raced for the March, Surtees and Alfa Romeo teams,died. The Italian F3 Champion of 1972 moved through F2 into F1 in 1974. His moment came in Austria when he scored the March factory teamís first-ever championship Grand Prix win in pouring rain at the Osterreichring. Swapping March for Surtess in 1977 he also drove for Alfa Romeo in the World Sports Car Championship scoring four wins with the T33 and winning the Championship for the team. Vittorio was involved in the start crash in Monza 1978 which claimed the life of Ronnie Peterson, suffering severe concussion which kept him out of the cockpit for almost a year, before Alfa Romeo brought him back for the last three races of the season. He made two more appearances for them in 1980, but it was painfully obvious that his days as a Grand Prix driver were over, though he did race the Osella sports car in a few rounds of the World Championship of Makes, before phasing himself out completely in 1981. He died of a heart attack at the age of 63 while working in his garden.

2001: Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire, England the first purpose built race track in the UK since Brooklands, was opened by the Queen. It has 13 configurations of track, which can be used for anything from touring cars to motorcycles to rally cars. Rockingham Motor Speedway was constructed on a British Steel works brown field site as a banked oval with the intention of bringing the American oval racing across the Atlantic for the first time.

2002: David Coulthard sat on pole and held off Michael Schumacher to win the Monaco Grand Prix in a time of 1:45:39, only 1.05 seconds in front of Schumacher. Ralf Schumacher was third in the Williams after starting second. Trulli was fourth in the Renault coming up from seventh on the grid, though 1 lap down from the winner. Fisichella was fifth in his Jordan after starting eleventh, HHF was sixth in the Arrows. Fastest lap went to Barrichello but he was just out of the points in seventh.

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