2nd-3rd January: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

 2 January

1961: The Pat Fairfield Trophy was held at the Roy Hesketh circuit at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. Held over 45 laps of the three kilometres (1.803 miles) permanent road circuit, the Pat Fairfield Trophy was the opening round of the 1961 South African F1 Championship and was won by Bruce Johnstone driving a Cooper-Alfa Romeo T45.

1962: The Cape Grand Prix at Killarney, South Africa, was won by British driver Trevor Taylor in a Lotus-Climax 21.

1967: The first South Africa Grand Prix held on the Kayalami track near Johannesburg was won by Pedro Rodriguez at the wheel of a Cooper-Maserati. It was the first Formula One win for Rodriguez and the last for Cooper.

2003: The end of the road for Arrows as they were forced to make all 300 staff redundant, calling in the receivers after not getting a place in the 2003 championship. Arrows missed the final five races of the 2002 season because of disputes with suppliers, including engine maker Cosworth, and left the sport without a win in 382 attempts.

3 January

1980: Sprintcar builder and Indy 500 crew chief Wally Meskowski died at the age of 64. A colorful and formidable competitor, Meskowski is best remembered as a constructor, mechanic and car owner with the ability to extract the highest levels of performance from car and driver alike. Despite a reputation for volatility that was not entirely deserved, Meskowski consistently attracted the most competitive drivers, and was instrumental in their development, among them A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, and Bill Vukovich, Jr. In late 1959, Meskowski was engaged to build a new dirt Champ car for the Bowes Seal Fast team of legendary chief mechanic George Bignotti and co-owner Bob Bowes II, for the 1960 USAC season. Completed in early 1960, the new car was a masterful blend of art and engineering, with a beautiful, streamlined body that was strongly reminiscent of the dual-purpose cars of the early 1950s, which competed on both dirt ovals and the venerable “Brickyard”, prior to the rise of the specialized Indy roadster. Wally died as the ultimate result of injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident while traveling with the Armstrong Moulds team. Returning home from Texas World Speedway, the motor home in which he was a passenger was struck broadside by a tractor-trailer. Wally survived for about 10 months then died in Indianapolis.

1995: Nigel Mansell’s plans to return to F1 were all but ended with Williams’ announcement they had opted David Coulthard for the coming season. Mansell had switched to CART racing after winning the drivers’ championship in 1992 and was looking for a way back after racing for Williams at the end of 1994, with his career fizzling out after a handful of races for McLaren in 1995.

2003: Minardi boss Paul Stoddart announced his team was up for sale, admitting that the days of private teams were numbered. “The world as a whole is not perhaps as easy a place to gather sponsorship from as it was in years gone by, but we are fighting as hard as we know how,” he said. Despite claiming to have had 41 approaches, it was not until September 2005 that he finally sold out to Red Bull.

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