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26-27 January: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

Holden Vintage and Classic Car Parts and Accessories

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

~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.

Red Bryon

1947: Red Byron 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). Rains 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 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.

~27 January~

Troy Ruttman

1952: Troy Ruttman won the AAA big-car sprint race at Bay Meadows’ one-mile dirt track. at the Bay Meadows Speedway, San Mateo, California, US. A Bay Meadows crowd of 5,615 watched Troy Ruttman, driving promoter J.C. Agajanian’s JR car in which Johnny Mantz set the previous AAA 25-mile sprint car record over a one mile track at Atlanta in 1949, win the 25-mile feature in record time of 15 minutes, 15.45 seconds, finishing a half lap ahead of Johnny Parsons. Ruttman led qualifiers with another AAA one-mile sprint car record of 36.72 seconds, or 98.03 miles an hour, besting Tommy Hinnershitz’ March 29, 1949 mark of 37.80, or 95.23 mph, at Atlanta, Georgia … Legendary Clay Smith tuned Ruttman’s winning car.

1968: In Invercargill, New Zealand, native son Bruce McLaren drove his BRM V12 to an unexpected win in the “Teretonga International”, round 4 of the Tasman series. It was McLaren’s 4th win in the event on the 1.6 mile Teretonga Park circuit, but his first since 1964. Grid positions were determined by two heat races (one for 2.5 litre cars, one for 1.5 litre cars), but when the 1.5 litre heat wound up being run in improved conditions which would have placed several slower cars at the front of the grid, officials decided to revert to practice times “in the interest of safety”.

1973: The Highveld 100 held at Kyalami, was won by Dave Charlton drivig a Lotus-Cosworth 72D

1974: The F1 circus once again returned to Brazil, but the start of the race was delayed because the circuit had to be swept clean of broken glass, caused by over exuberant parties by the fans. There were concerns as the surface began to show signs of breaking up and rain shortly before the start washed away the edges of the track, and caused mud to cascade over other parts of it. A torrential downpour continued led the race to be suspended and then abandoned after 31 of the 40 laps with Emerson Fittipaldi 15 seconds ahead of Clay Regazzoni. It was Fittipaldi and the McLaren teams tenth grand prix victory, but his first since joining them.

1980: Rene Arnoux (cover image) claimed his first race win at the Brazilian Grand Prix but it was his Renault team-mate Jean-Pierre Jabouille who set the early pace, taking the lead on the second lap and staying at the front until mechanical troubles forced him to retire. Arnoux, who eased off in the final laps to preserve his tyres, was 22 seconds ahead of Elio de Angelis in an Essex Lotus with Alan Jones in a Saudia-Leyland.

1995: Buzz Calkins won the Indy 200, the first Indy Racing League race ever run, at Disney World near Orlando, Florida.1997: ITV announced they had signed veteran commentator Murray Walker to front their coverage after securing the rights for F1 from the BBC. Walker admitted he had negotiated a pay rise to make the move. “It’s only a modest increase,” he claimed. “After all, I do it basically for the love of it.”

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