30-31 January: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

-30 January –

1910: Construction work began on the Playa Del Rey board track, the first of the great wood plank automobile US speedways. For years bicycle and motorcycle races were conducted on wooden velodromes, but Playa Del Rey brought the concept to events for race cars. This speedway was designed by Jack Prince, the most renowned designer of board track facilities

1937: The first Rand Grand Prix was held at Lord Howe. It was won by Pat Fairfield driving an ERA.

1949: The Juan Perón & Buenos Aires Grand Prix at Palermo Park was won by Alberto Ascari in a Maserati 4CLT/48.

1951: Ferdinand Porsche, the legendary Austrian-German automotive engineer, died in Stuttgart, Germany aged 75.

1952: Jerry Unser won the NASCAR Sportsman Division feature stockcar race at Honolulu Stadium. This was Jerry’s first feature win in Hawaii, where he was stationed while in the Navy.

1965: The Teretonga International at the Teretonga Park Circuit, New Zealand, was won by Jim Clark in a Lotus 32B.

1971: The non-championship F1 race, the Highveld 100 held at Kyalami, was won by Dave Charlton driving a Lotus-Cosworth 49.

1987: Bobby Davis Jr. won the open competition Sprint Car race at the Florida State Fairgrounds Speedway, Tampa, Florida, US.

2001: Australian businessman Paul Stoddart purchased the Minardi Formula One team. He ran the team for five years before selling it on to Red Bull in 2005 who renamed it Scuderia Toro Rosso. During its time in F1, the team scored a total of 38 championship points; 16 of these were earned by the team’s first driver, Pierluigi Martini.

-31 January –

1897: The first-ever speed hillclimb was held over a 10.3 mile course from Nice to La Turbie, just outside Monte Carlo, forming the last stage of the Marseille-Nice race. It was won by Pary driving Andre Michelin’s 15 hp De Dion Bouton steam, which averaged just under 20 mph. A 18 hp De Dion steamer driven by Compte de Chasseloup-Laubat finished second followed by the 6 hp petrol-driven Peugeot of Lemaitere, which took more than 20 minutes longer to cover the course than the winning car.

1907: The Parisian newspaper Le Matin challenged men and machines to come forward and race from Peking to Paris, a distance of 9,900 miles (c. 16,000 km): “What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?” There were forty entrants in the race, but only five teams ended up going ahead with shipping the cars to Peking. The race was held despite the race committee cancelling the race due to a lack of participants.The participating teams that went on with their effort anyway were: Itala, Italian, 7 litre engine, driven by Prince Scipione Borghese and Ettore Guizzardi Spyker, Dutch, driven by Charles Goddard with Jean du Taillis Contal, French, three-wheeler Cyclecar, driven by Auguste Pons DeDion 1, French, driven by Georges Cormier DeDion 2, French, driven by Victor Collignon There were no rules in the race, except that the first car to Paris would win the prize of a magnum of Mumm champagne. The race went without any assistance through country where there were no roads or road-maps. For the race, camels carrying fuel left Peking and set up at stations along the route to give fuel to the racers. The race followed a telegraph route so that the race was well covered in newspapers at the time. Each car had one journalist as a passenger, with the journalists sending stories from the telegraph stations regularly through the race. It was held during a time when cars were fairly new, and went through remote areas of Asia where people were not familiar with motor travel. The route between Peking and Lake Baikal had only previously been attempted on horseback. The race was won by Italian Prince Scipione Borghese of theBorghese family, accompanied by the journalist Luigi Barzini, Sr. He was confident and had even taken a detour from Moscow to St Petersburg for a dinner which was held for the team, and afterwards headed back to Moscow and rejoined the race. The event was not intended to be a race or competition, but quickly became one due to its pioneering nature and the technical superiority of the Italians’ car, a 7,433 cc (453.6 cu in) 35/45 hp model Itala. Second in the race was Charles Goddard in the Spyker, who had no money and had to ask others for petrol, and borrowed his car for the race. Re-enactments Several races have been held to re-enact the event. The first one being in 1997. “The Second Peking to Paris Motor Challenge” consisted of 94 participating vintage cars which went a more southern route. The 1997 event was so successful that the organizers ran it again in 2007 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary. Most closely resembling the original race was a re-enactment in 2005. On May 15, 2005 five cars led by Lang Kidby departed Beijing for Paris retracing the original route with very similar cars to the originals; a 1907 Spyker, a 1907 and a 1912 De Dion-Bouton, a 1907 Itala and a Contal Cycle-car replica. This journey was televised by Australian ABC tv as a four-part documentary series entitled Peking to Paris.

1960: The CBS television network sent a skeleton production crew to Daytona International Speedway to televise the pole position and compact car races during the opening of Speedweeks. Bud Palmer was the anchorman for the first live telecast of NASCAR stock cars.

1960: Phil Hill and Cliff Allison teamed to give Ferrari another easy 1-2 victory in the Argentine 1000 Kilometers World Sports Car Championship race. Richie Ginther and Wolfgang von Trips placed second in another Ferrari. Driving a 2.8 litre Maserati entered by “Lucky” Casner, Dan Gurney and Masten Gregory led the first 32 laps and turned the fastest race lap. Though no match for the Ferraris, the Porsche RSK entries performed well with the Jo Bonnier/Graham Hill entry finishing third.

1960: Harry Blanchard (30) was killed when his Porsche crashed during a 1000 km race in Buenos Aires

1967: Racer Carlos J Martin died from injuries suffered two days earlier in a crash during the Gran Premio International in Mar del Plata, Argentina – three spectators also died as a result of the accident.

1970: The 701, March’s first Formula One car, designed by Robin Herd with Peter Wright, and built by March Engineering, was unveiled. The 701 was March’s first Formula One design – following their one-off March 693P Formula Three prototype of 1969 – and was designed and built in only three months. The March 701 made its race debut a month after its public unveiling, at the 1970 South African Grand Prix.

1971: The Daytona 24 Hours finished with the team of Pedro Rodriguez/Jackie Oliver winning in a Porsche 917K.

1988: A Jaguar XJR-9 driven by Raul Boesel, Martin Brundle and John Nielsen won the legendary Daytona 24 Hour race.

1996: The FIA announced it was trialing aviation-style black boxes in cars, one of a number of measures resulting from the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994. “Before that we thought there was nothing wrong with our safety, but then it went the other way and Formula One was portrayed as a blood sport,” FIA boss Max Mosley explained.

1999: The 37th Rolex 24 at Daytona saw Team Dyson take the overall win with Andy Wallace, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger in a Ford powered Riley & Scott car. In GT3, the team of Alex Job Racing with Cort Wagner, Kelly Collins, Anthony Lazzaro and Darryl Havens won in a Porsche 911 RSR. And GT2 saw another 911 win; Roock Racings’ Andre Ahrle, Hubert Haupt, David Warnock and Raffaele Sangiuolo took those honours.

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