Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history …………
1901: Lorraine Barrow set a standing-start one-mile record of 72.6 seconds in a 35 hp Mercedes during the Nice, France, “Week of Speed”. Also at the Nice event, a Daimler driven by S. Knapp won the 82 mile “Tourist Race”.
1904: The last Nice (France) Speed Trials on a straight course was win by Louis Rigolly in a Gobron-Brillie.
1909: The Coliseum Motordrome in Los Angeles, California, US, opened with Jake De Rosier setting four motorcycle world records. The wood plank raceway was the first of its kind anywhere in the world; built right in the middle of the Ballona Wetlands. It was 1/3 mile long, and was the first board track built specifically for racing motorcycles. All motorcycle board races prior to this track were held on bicycle velodromes. Later, cars raced there also; driven by greats like Jimmy Murphy and Ralph De Palma.
1925: The last speed hillclimb was held on a public road in Great Britain, the Essex MC meeting at Kop Hill, Buckinghamshire. It was stopped when the ex-Mays Bescia Bugatti, Cordon Blue, driven by an Oxford University undergraduate, Francis Givens injured a spectator.
1926: Aymo Maggi driving a Bugatti T35 won the Rome Royal Grand Prix at Valle Giulia.
1928: Tazio Nuvolari driving a Bugatti T35C won the Pozzo Circuit Grand Prix at Pozzo.
1948: The Necochea 1000 miles at Playas de Necochea in Argentina was won by Oscar Galvez in a Alfa Romeo 308.
1954: Dick Rathmann came from last to first to win the 125-mile race at Oakland Speedway in California (US). The track consisted of dirt corners and paved straightaways.
1959: The Rufforth Circuit opened for racing as a 2.1 mile track on an ex-RAF bomber station. Located on the B1224, 4 miles west of York. it was used four times that year, but for 1960 a 1.70 mile circuit was used. The circuit hosted Formula 2 and Formula Junior races between as well as numerous sports car events. The circuit was one of many of Britain’s airfields to be transformed into motor racing venues. closed in 1978, but the track layout is still there, although inaccessible to the public.
1976: The first American Grand Prix was held at Long Beach, California, the first of two races held in the USA that year. The race was dominated by Clay Regazzoni who won from pole position and set the fastest lap in his Ferrari. The street circuit was hard on the cars and only five completed the 80 laps. On the third lap, James Hunt and Patrick Depailler, who were neck and neck in the drivers’ championship, collided; Hunt retired while Depailler recovered to take third. The two yelled at each other in the press conference after the race, Hunt accusing Depailler of “flagrant stupidity” before warning him to “watch it”. Depailler’s interpreter added to the row by telling Hunt he ought to “learn to drive alongside people who could”. Depailler tried to apologise but Hunt was having none of it and stormed off.
1982: Sam Ard rolled to his first win of the season in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series in the Dogwood 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. Butch Lindley finished second with fellow series legend Jack Ingram third. Pole-starter Geoffrey Bodine wound up fourth on the .526-mile track.
1993: Dale Earnhardt scrambled back from a one-lap deficit to win the TranSouth 500 at Darlington Raceway, South Carolina (US). Earnhardt’s victory ended a personal 10-month losing skid. Alan Kulwicki finished sixth in what was destined to be his final race.
1993: Brazil hosted the second round of the F1 championship; after numerous accidents in the rain on the same lap left the track littered with debris, the safety car was used for the first time in the modern era for eight laps. The event also saw Ayrton Senna secure McLaren’s 100th race win, despite a stop-go penalty, and Damon Hill’s first podium after he finished second to the great Brazilian. “I could see there was a chance to win.” Hill said, “but I couldn’t keep up with him and was anxious to keep my second place and at last break my F1 duck.” Michael Andretti and Gerhard Berger survived a spectacular cartwheeling crash on the first lap, both walking away with barely a scratch.
2008: Jean-Marie Balestre (86), who once was the most powerful man in motor sport for 13 years as president of the Federation Internationale de Sport Automobile (FISA) between 1979 to 1991, died. He was heavily involved in what is colloquially called the FISA-FOCA war, a political battle over finances and control of the Formula One World Championships between 1980 and 1982. Balestre and his opponent, Bernie Ecclestone, settled the dispute after Enzo Ferrari brokered a compromise.
1901: Wilhelm Werner won the 9.5-mile hillclimb from Nice to La Turbie, in France, driving a Mercedes. His average speed of 31.9 mph shattered the previous year’s record of 19.5 mph. This was the first racing victory for the new Daimler marque.
1931: The Tunis Grand Prix, held on famous Carthage motor circuit, a triangular and combined urban layout, an express of about 13 km (located between the city of Tunis and Carthage), was won by Achille Varzi in Bugatti T51L.
1948: The modern era of Formula 1 began with the Grand Prix de Pau (France), which was won by Nello Pagani in a Maserati 4CL. Yves Giraud-Cabantous finished second and Charles Pozzi third.
1951: Stirling Moss won the Lavant Cup for Voiturette cars at Goodwood, England.
1959: Junior Johnson started 22nd in a 24-car field and roared to victory in a 200-lap main event at Wilson (North Carolina, US) Speedway’s half-mile dirt track. Curtis Turner, who led 166 laps, settled for second. Richard Petty finished two laps down in third place, marking his first top-five effort in NASCAR’s premier series.
1970: The Spring Nationals were held at the Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire, UK. In front of a record crowd of 12,000 spectators Freddie Whittle ran “Shutdown” at 11.06 120mph. Dennis Priddle in the Woolfes Whistler recorded an 11.1 at 116.55 mph. Mike Hutcherson driving Nobby Hills blown Caddy “Houndog II” ran 11.3/135.14 mph. Bruce Browns Chevy powered “Prospector II” digger recorded a 10.58 and a 10.63 at over 128 mph and Tony Anderson’s blown V6 engined Trouble ran 10.62 and 10.69 at over 121 mph. Top Speed of the meet went to John Siggery’s fuel injected Oldsmobile “Geronimo” with 135.67 mph.
1981: The Argentine driver Carlos Reutemann won the Brazilian Grand Prix in contentious circumstances; he ignored his pit signals to give up the lead to his teammate and team leader Alan Jones. Jones, who finished second, did not show up on the podium afterwards.
1981: David Prophet (43), British racing driver, who participated in two Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, died.
1992: Bill Elliott breezed to his fourth consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup triumph with a big win in Darlington’s TranSouth 500, South Carolina (US). Elliott had won four of the first five NASCAR Winston Cup races, yet still didn’t lead the points standings!
1998: Mika Hakkinen completed his third straight victory and McLaren secured its third straight 1-2 finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Hakkinen started from pole and led from start to finish, with the fastest lap thrown in for good measure. The race was notable for Damon Hill being disqualified for having an underweight car. ‘I don’t think it gets much worse than this,’ he said.
2009: The season-opening Australia Grand Prix marked Brawn GP’s debut and it proved a remarkable one. Jenson Button gave them their first pole position as Rubens Barrichello locked out the front row for the new team. Things went from good to better on race day as Button led home a dominant Brawn 1-2. In doing so, Brawn GP became the first constructor since Mercedes at the 1954 French Grand Prix to qualify on pole position and go on to win the race on grand prix debut. The race also marked Italian Jarno Trulli’s 200th grand prix. The race also became the second race in Formula One history to finish under stabilised safety car conditions—after the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix—following a collision between Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel, who were running second and third, on lap 56.