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3-4 February: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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~4 February~

1913: Richard John Beattie “Dick” Seaman, one of the greatest British pre-war Grand Prix drivers was born. He famously drove for the Mercedes-Benz team from 1937-1939 in the Mercedes-Benz W154 car, winning the 1938 German Grand Prix. He died of his injuries after his c

Dick Seaman
Dick Seaman

ar crashed into a tree and caught fire during the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix.

1967: The sport of Rallycross was born at Lydden, Kent, UK. Rallycross is a form of sprint style automobile racing, held on a closed mixed-surface racing circuit, with modified production or specially built road cars, similar to the World Rally Cars, although usually with about 200 bhp (150 kW) stronger engines, due to e.g. their 45 mm turbo restrictor plates. The sport started as a TV show (with especially invited rally drivers), produced by Robert Reed of ABC television for ITVs World of Sport programme, at Lydden Circuit (between Dover and Canterbury) in Great Britain on this day. The first ever true rallycross was organised by Bud Smith († 1994) and the Tunbridge Wells Centre of the 750 MC, with the aid of Lydden Circuit owner Bill Chesson († 1999), and was won by later Formula One driver as well as 1968 Rally Monte Carlo winner Vic Elford in a showroom Porsche

Rallycross - 1967
Rallycross – 1967

911 of the British importer AFN, ahead of Brian Melia in his Ford Lotus Cortina and Tony Fall in a BMC Mini Cooper S. After that inaugural event there were another two test rallycrosses at Lydden, on 11 March and 29 July, before the new World of Sport Rallycross Championship for the ABC TV viewers started with round one on 23 September, to be followed by round two on 7 October. The series was run over a total of six rounds (three at Lydden and three at Croft) and was eventually won by Englishman Tony Chappell (Ford Escort TwinCam), who became the first ever British Rallycross champion after winning the final round of the new series on 6 April 1968 at Lydden. Since 1973, Lydden Circuit has seen rounds of Embassy/ERA European Rallycross Championships and FIA European Championships for Rallycross Drivers, the first 23 (till 1996) all organised by the Thames Estuary Automobile Club (TEAC). To this day, Lydden, as the so-called “Home of Rallycross”, still holds British Rallycross Championship racing, especially with its popular Easter Monday meeting. Rallycross is mainly popular in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Great Britain. An inexpensive, entry level type of rallycross is the Swedish folkrace or its Norwegian counterpart, the so-called bilcross. The folkrace is most popular in Finland where it was founded back in late 60’s. In Europe rallycross can also refer to racing 1:8 scale off-road radio-controlled buggies.

1979: The Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos was won by Jacques Laffite in a Ligier-Cosworth JS11. Patrick Depailler made it a Ligier 1-2 finish as he followed his teammate home, five seconds behind. Carlos Reutemann in his Lotus, took the 3rd spot a lengthy 44 seconds back.

2007: A1 Team China made its first ever step on the podium finishing third in the A1GP Sydney, Australia. Germany continued to show its dominance of the season taking its sixth consecutive victory.

2008: British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was verbally heckled and otherwise abused during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Catalonia by several Spanish spectators who wore black face paint and black wigs, as well as shirts bearing the words “Hamilton’s familly [sic]”. Hamilton became widely unpopular in Spain because of his rivalry with Spanish former team-mate Fernando Alonso. The FIA warned Spanish authorities about the repetition of such behaviour. In reaction to this behaviour, the FIA announced on 13 February 2008 that it would launch a “Race Against Racism” campaign.

2008: Michael Schumacher set up a kart team in the German national championship with friends Peter Kaiser and Thomas Muchov. The team was called KSM and one of its first drivers was the son of rally driver Carlos Sainz. Schumacher said: “I still drive karts with a passion, I grew up with them. I owe everything to karting and I never gave it up. Even when I was still a boy, and F1 was still very far away, I thought that one day I would have worked in karting. A team together with my friends, that’s exactly what I had imagined.”

~5 February~

1967: The Daytona 24 Hour Race was won by Danny Chris Amon and Lorenzo Bandini in a Ferrari P4. After having lost in 1966 both at Daytona and at Le Mans to the Fords, the Ferrari Prototypes staged a triumphant 1-2-3 side-by-side parade finish at the banked finish line in 1967. To celebrate the victory over the rival at his home race, Ferrari named its V12-powered road car Ferrari Daytona after the race.

1978: Rolf Stommelen, Toine Hezemans and Peter Gregg teamed to win the Daytona 24 Hours Sports Car race, round 1 of the 1978 World Championship for Makes. The winners averaged 108.743 mph in their Porsche 935, finishing 30 laps ahead of the Porsche 935 of Dick Barbour, Champ Car driver Johnny Rutherford and Liechtenstein’s Manfred Schurti.

Lee Shepherd
Lee Shepherd

1982: Lee Shepherd became the first man to drive an NHRA Pro Stock car faster than 170 mph over the 1/4-mile when he achieved 174.08 mph at Pomona, California, USA.

1989: Derek Bell, Bob Wolleck, and John Andretti drove a Jim Busby entered Porsche 962 to victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona, beating the second place Jaguar of Price Cobb, John Nielson, Jan Lammers, and Andy Wallace by only 90 seconds. It was the 50th Porsche 962 win in the United States.

1995: Frank Costin, car and aircraft designer and the “cos” in Marcos, died of cancer aged 75. Costin was an engineer with the de Havilland Aircraft Company when, in 1954, his brother Mike, a former de Havilland engineer then working for Lotus Engineering Ltd., asked him to design an aerodynamic body for a new racing car.

Frank Costin
Frank Costin

Intrigued by the idea of applying aerodynamics to racing cars, Costin designed the body for the Lotus Mark VIII Unlike his brother, Costin was never a Lotus employee; his work there was either as a paid consultant or as a volunteer. In 1956, when Chapman was commissioned by Tony Vandervell to design a Grand Prix racing car to challenge Maserati and Ferrari dominance of the formula, Chapman recommended Costin to Vandervell as the body designer. Costin designed the body for the Vanwall that won the first Grand Prix Constructors’ Championship. Later, Costin used his aeronautical knowledge to design and build a chassis from plywood. This led to a lightweight, stiff structure, which he could then clothe with an efficient, aerodynamic body, a huge advantage in the low-capacity sports car racing of the immediate postwar period. He was also involved in a number of road car projects for various manufacturers including Lister and Lotus, where he contributed to the early aerodynamic designs; Marcos, which he co-founded with Jem Marsh (MARsh and COStin); and racecar chassis for Maserati, Lotus, and DTV. He also designed the Costin Amigo, the TMC Costin, and the Costin Sports Roadster. He also created an ultra-light glider with Keith Duckworth, an old friend and his brother’s business partner.

2001: Flavio Braitore revealed that Fernando Alonso would make his F1 debut with Minardi. Briatore gave him a few tests in a Benetton to make sure he could get an F1 super-license and then persuaded Paul Stoddart to give him a drive at the small Italian team. Alonso had completed just two seasons out of karts at the time and finished a respectable fourth in the competitive F3000 series the year before. He drove a full season with Minardi, failing to score any points but putting in some solid performances in an uncompetitive car. A year’s testing followed before he secured a race drive for Briatore’s Renault team in 2003. By 2006 he was a double world champion.

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