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29-30 September: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~29 September~

1935: The Czech Grand Prix was the last major event of the season and with Mercedes staying away, it was a straight battle between Auto Union and Scuderia Ferrari. Bernd Rosemeyer won for Auto Union with three Ferraris right behind him, but team-mate Hans Stuck was forced out when hit in the face by a bird. For Rosemeyer there was double cause for celebration; at the victory ceremony he met the girl who was later to become his wife.

1963: Ron Fry won the Oxford M.C. Sprint at Chippin Norton, England, driving a Ferrari 250 GTO.

1968: Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianci won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Gulf Ford GT40. The race was originally planned for June 15 and 16, but had to be delayed until September due to massive protests in France during May.

Earl Ross – 1974

1974: Earl Ross of Canada became just the second driver born outside the United States to win at ’s highest level, winning the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US. Ross, driving for NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson, led the final 79 laps after teammate Cale Yarborough retired with engine failure. He beat runner-up Buddy Baker to the checkered flag by one lap, with third-place Donnie Allison finishing three laps down. Italian-born Mario Andretti, Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya and Australian Marcos Ambrose are the only other foreign-born drivers with wins in NASCAR’s premier series.

1991: Nigel (cover image) won the Spanish Grand Prix despite twisting his ankle days before the event playing football. It was the first race to be held at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona and is still widely regarded to be the best. At the start he fell back to fourth in damp conditions but quickly moved back up the field as the circuit dried and pitted for slick tyres. Mansell kept his car on the track as others made mistakes and he eventually came out on top in battles with Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. “When Ayrton spun I was not sure which way he was going to come back, so momentarily I didn’t know which way to go – fortunately I picked the right side,” he said. “With Gerhard it was probably a little bit tougher because we both dived into the corner very deep, we both lost our traction and we were very close.”

1992: Pierre Lartigue and Michel Périn completed a 16,000 km (9,940 mile) adventure to win the first Paris-Moscow-Beijing rally with a Citroën ZX Rallye Raid.

~30 September~

Civic Stadium – 1950

1950: NASCAR promoted a 25-mile, nonpoints race for NASCAR Grand National cars at the 1/4-mile Civic Stadium in Buffalo, New York, US. Won by Bobby Courtwright, the race was the “pilot” event for the upcoming NASCAR Short Track Grand National Circuit.

1952: Herb Thomas sped to victory in the 1952 NASCAR Grand National season finale at West Palm Beach as Tim Flock captured the championship. Flock flipped his Hudson in a 164th lap mishap, but his 12th-place finish was enough to edge Thomas for the title by 106 points

1957: The first race staged at the Bridgehampton Road Course on Long Island, New York, a 75 mile SCCA event, was won by Walkt Hansgen in a Jaguar.

1970: Richard Petty took the lead from Benny Parsons in the 89th lap at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh and led the rest of the Home State 200, the final race for NASCAR’s premier series on a dirt track. Neil “Soapy” Castles finished second, two laps down, with Bobby Isaac five laps back in third. Parsons, who led 78 of 200 laps, finished 14th in the 23-car field after retiring with engine failure at the half-mile track.

1979: Alan Jones in a Williams recorded his fourth win in five races at the Canadian Grand Prix, successfully fighting off a determined challenge from Gilles Villenenuve in a Ferrari. Jones said afterwards his strategy was to let Villenenuve set the pace and then challenge “if everything felt OK with my car”. On the 44th lap Jones outbraked Villeneuve at a hairpin and was never headed. Only ten of the 24 starters completed a race in which Ricardo Zunino made an unexpected debut after Niki Lauda had suddenly retired on the Friday.

1984: Mariette Hélène Delangle (83) died. A postmaster’s daughter who moved to Paris and became a famous dancer. HellÈ Nice, as she was nicknamed, became involved in motor sport, becoming a very competent Bugatti driver. Denounced as a Gestapo agent by Louis Chiron after the Second World War she died in abject poverty in Nice.

Al Holbert

1988: Six-time IMSA champion, Al Holbert (41) died when his privately owned propeller driven Piper PA-60 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff near Columbus, Ohio when a clamshell door was not closed. Holbert successfully diverted his aircraft away from a group of houses it was heading toward. At the end of the season, the team was disbanded and IMSA would retire his race number 14.

1990: The first of three retirements in the last three races of the season by Ayrton Senna allowed rival Alain Prost to win the Spanish Grand Prix, team-mate Nigel Mansell making it a one-two weekend for Ferrari. Senna’s day ended when the radiator on his McLaren was punctured by debris from backmarker Yannick Dalmas, allowing Prost to coast home and cut his lead to nine points. The weekend was overshadowed by a serious crash involving Martin Donnolly on the Friday which ended his career.

2001: Mika Hakkinen’s last win before he retired came in front of 170,000 spectators at the US Grand Prix. “This was one grand prix I wanted in my record book,” he said. “A wonderful win. It’s incredible and I’m very happy.” Hakkinen’s day started badly when his McLaren was demoted from second to fourth on the grid after exiting the pit lane under a red light, but after early domination by the Ferraris, a slick pit-stop strategy enabled him to go on to take the chequered flag. Coming three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, it was an emotional day. Michael Schumacher, who drove with a Stars and Stripes emblem on his helmet, had seriously been considering retirement from because of the emotional trauma he found himself in after the attacks. It was also the final race as a full-time TV commentator for Murray Walker. At the end he was presented with a rare gift: an original brick from the Indianapolis track (‘The Brickyard’).

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