Momentous motor sports events that took place during this weekend in history …….
1920: Gaston Chevrolet, the younger brother of famous automobile designer and racer Louis Chevrolet, was killed during a race in Beverly Hills, California. He joined his brothers Louis and Andre in the establishment of a racing car design company: the Frontenac Motor Corporation. Frontenac replaced Louis’ earlier racing car design company, the Chevrolet Motor Company, which he sold to William C. Durant in 1915. After some initial success, the Chevrolet brothers were faced with obsolete vehicles after World War I, and not enough financial resources to make them competitive again. However, in 1920, the new management at the Monroe Motors Company asked Louis to run his racing team. The Chevrolets moved their operations to Indianapolis, and rapidly made the Monroe racers ready for the 1920 Indy 500, the first to be held since 1914. During the 1920s, the Indy 500 was the most important racing event in America, and Gaston Chevrolet, driving a Chevrolet-adapted Monroe, won the first post-war competition with an average race speed of 86.63mph. The Chevrolet brothers did not have long to enjoy their success, however, because just a few months later Gaston was killed along with his riding mechanic Lyall Jolls during the Beverly Hills race.
1951: Frank Mundy throttled his Studebaker to a win in the 150-lap NASCAR Grand National finale at Lakeview Speedway in Mobile, Atlanta,US. Bob Flock crashed his Oldsmobile in the early laps and suffered a broken neck. Herb Thomas wrapped up the tightly contested NASCAR Grand National championship chase by nosing out Fonty Flock by 146.2 points.
1951: The 1,933-mile Pan-American Road Race from Tuxtla Gutierrez to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico was won by Piero Taruffi in a Ferrari.
1955: Stirling Moss and Peter Collins concluded a week of testing BRMs at Silverstone aimed at helping Moss make a decision as to which team he would drive for in 1956. “After their success in a Mercedes in the Targa Florio, the pair decided they would race in the same team,” reported the Times, but it the end Moss accepted an offer from Maserati while Collins joined Ferrari.
1981: Hannu Mikkola and Arne Hertz won the Lombard RAC Rally with an Audi Quattro. Mikkola’s rally career spanned 31 years, starting with a Volvo PV544 in 1963, but his most successful period was during the 1970s and 1980s. The 1970s saw Mikkola a frontrunner in many international events, usually in a Ford Escort
1984: Jimmy Jackson (74), US racer who participated in 2 World Championship races, but scored no World Championship points, died.
1987: Juha kankkunen and Juha PiironenII won RAC Rally with a Lancia Delta Hf 4 Wd.
1997: Colin McRae and Nicky Grist won Great Britain Rally with a Subaru Impreza WRC.
2005: Richard Burns, who won the World Rally Championship in 2001, died at the age of 34 after a long illness, on the fourth anniversary of his title win. Burns was championship runner-up in 1999 and 2000 before becoming the first Englishman to land the coveted world title 12 months later. He made his rallying breakthrough in 1990 when he won the national 205GTI challenge series, then lifted the Mintex National series title and became the British Championship’s youngest winner in 1993 with Subaru.
1908: Louis Wagner drove his Fiat to victory in the first American Grand Prize race, in Savanah, Georgia (US), finishing less than a minute ahead of Victor Hémery’s Benz. Wagner’s average speed for the race was 65.111 mph (104.786 km/h). Ralph de Palma set fastest lap in his Fiat, with an average speed of 69.80 mph (112.33 km/h).
1920: Racer Eddie O’Donnell (33) died in Beverly Hills, California from injuries suffered the previous day when his Duesenberg collided with the Frontenac driven by Gaston Chevrolet. Chevrolet was killed as well as O’Donnell’s
mechanic Lyall Jolls, who died the next day. O’Donnell started his career as a riding mechanic for Duesenberg race car driver Eddie Rickenbacker. When Rickenbacker left the Duesenberg Team to join the Peugeot Team, O’Donnell took over as driver. O’Donnell served as Captain of the Duesenberg team. He was highly successful on the dirt tracks and Board Tracks around the United States, also having raced on the road circuits.
1958: The FIA approved flame-proof clothing, a move considered long overdue given the high number of injuries and fatalities in the sport. The Avon tire company were at the forefront of the developments, although the initial garments only worked if they were kept dry, so in rain or if washed they had to be treated again to be effective.
1967: Dan Gurney drove an Eagle to victory in the Rex Mays 200 Indycar race at Riverside, California, USA. He was the first driver to win in the four major racing disciplines of Indycars, stockcars, F1, and sportscars.
1975: Timo Makinen and Henry Liddon won the RAC Rally with a Ford Escort RS1800 .
1980: Peter DePaolo, who won a dazzling victory at the 1925 Indy 500, died at the age of 82. The nephew of racing legend Ralph DePalma, DePaolo first started racing for Duesenberg in the 1920s. For the 1925 Indy, racing car designer Harry Miller showed up with a dramatic new supercharged front-drive Miller Junior Eight, and Peter DePaolo, who was set to drive for Duesenberg, had his work cut out from him. However, DePaolo had set a promising 135 mph record on the Culver City boards that same year, and as the race got underway, he took an early lead over racer Dave Lewis in the Miller Junior Eight. By the halfway point of the race, the blisters on DePaolo’s hands had become intolerable, and Fred Duesenberg replaced him with Norman Batten. When DePaolo returned from the track hospital, he learned with horror that Batten had fallen to fifth place, and Dave Lewis was leading in the Miller. DePaolo reentered the race, and slowly but surely, DePaolo fought his way to the front of the pack again. When the dust cleared on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Peter DePaolo had prevailed. It was a great victory for the Duesenberg team, made greater by DePaolo’s passing of the 100 mph Indy speed barrier with an average speed of 101.13 mph.
2002: Niki Lauda was asked to stand aside as team principal of Jaguar by Richard Parry-Jones, the head of the Formula One programme for Ford, which owned the team. “Honestly, the decision did surprise me,” Lauda, who was the fourth boss in a little over two years, said. “But what you’ve got to know is that Britons do have their unique way of solving problems. They saw away at the legs of the chair.”
2008: Bernie Ecclestone unveiled proposals to revamp the Formula One points system by awarding gold, silver and bronze medals for the podium places. “It’s going to happen,” he told a press conference in London. “All the teams are happy. The whole reason for this is I am fed up with people talking about there being no overtaking. The reason there is no overtaking is nothing to do with the circuits or the cars – it’s because the drivers don’t need to overtake.” But for once he had not done his homework. Eddie Jordan said Ecclestone was “tinkering with something on which he has lost the understanding” and that was the view of the teams who kicked the idea firmly into touch. Had the scheme been in place then Lewis Hamilton and not Kimi Raikkonen would have been the 2007 champion.