26-27 December: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

-26 December –

1958: Colin Chapman met Jim Clark for the first time during a race meeting at Brands Hatch, England. Chapman won with Clark second, both driving Lotus Elises .

1978: The first Paris-Dakar Rally began. 182 vehicles (80 cars, 90 motorcycles and 12 trucks) turned up in the Place du Trocadéro in Paris for a 10,000-kilometre (6,214-mile) journey into the unknown, destination Dakar. The encounter between two worlds sought by the event’s founder, French motorcyclist Thierry Sabine, unfolded on the African continent. Among the 74 trail-blazers who made it to the Senegalese capital, Cyril Neveu, at the helm of a Yamaha 500XT, would be the first winner of what would go on to be called ‘the greatest rally in the world’. Did you know that in 1979 all the vehicles that took part were classified together, although they would compete separately in subsequent editions of the race and that Cyril Neveu won the rally despite not winning any individual stages, taking the lead on the sixth stage after Patrick Schaal (Yamaha) fell and fractured his little finger.

1986: President Ronald Reagan granted NASCAR legend Junior Johnson a presidential pardon for his 1956 moonshining conviction. In response to the pardon, which restored his right to vote, Johnson said, “I could not have imagined anything better.”

1992: Jan Flinterman died in the Netherlands, he was 73. He entered just one grand prix – the 1952 Netherlands Grand Prix – but drove two cars. He started the race, at Zandvoort, in a Maserati A6GCM but retired when his differential failed after six laps. He took over the similar car driven by Chico Landi bringing it home ninth – all be it seven laps down.

-27 December –

1934: “The Border 100″ – the first road race in South Africa, run over six laps of the 16-mile Marine Drive Circuit, on the west bank of the Buffalo River at East London, was won by Whitney Straight in a Maserati 8CM.

1985: Jean Rondeau (39), the only man to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a car bearing his own name, died when the street car he was a passenger in was hit by a train. Rondeau drove briefly in Formula Renault before moving to saloon cars. He raced a handful of Le Mans events as a guest driver before forming the Inaltera team in 1976. After the wallpaper company withdrew its sponsorship, Rondeau went alone with his Ford-powered GTP cars in 1978, scoring a coup by hiring Henri Pescarolo for his team in 1979. Rondeau and Jean-Pierre Jassaud took victory in the 1980 24 Hours of Le Mans after fighting hard against the Porshe 908/80 of Jacky Ickx and Reinhold Joest.

1993: Andre Pilette died in Belgium – he was 75. He entered 14 grands prix between 1951 and 1964 but failed to qualify for four and shared a drive in a fifth.

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