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30-31 March: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~30 March~

1952: The Montevideo Grand Prix held in Piriápolis, Uruguay was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Ferrari 166.

1959: Stirling Moss in a Cooper-Climax T51 won the Glover Trophy at Goodwood.

1963: Graham Hill in a BRM P57 won the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton, England.

1969: The 21st BRDC International Trophy, a non-championship Formula One race held at Silverstone (England) was won by Jack Brabham driving a Brabham-Cosworth BT26.

1969: Lucien Bianchi (34) died when his Alfa Romeo T33 spun into a telegraph pole during Le Mans testing. He won the 1957, 1958 and 1959 Tour de France as well as the Paris 1000 sports car race in the latter two years. Bianchi entered Formula One in 1959, although only with sporadic appearances at first. He drove various cars under the banner of the ENB team, including a Cooper T51, a Lotus 18 and an Emeryson. After a couple of races for the UDT Laystall team in 1961, driving another Lotus, he returned to ENB for whom he drove their ENB-Maserati. He finally secured a more regular drive in Formula One in 1968, with the Cooper-BRM team, although success was elusive despite a bright start. Bianchi managed his best Formula One performance, finishing third at the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix, in his first race for Cooper. Bianchi also raced touring cars, sports cars and rally cars, being successful in all disciplines, his biggest victories coming in the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, behind the wheel of a Ford GT40 with Pedro Rodríguez and at Sebring in 1962 with Jo Bonnier. He was also leading the London-Sydney Marathon when his Citroën DS collided with a non-competing car.

Kicking up dust at the start of the 1972 Brazilian Grand Prix

1972: The first Brazilian Grand Prix was held at the bumpy and demanding Interlagos circuit, located in São Paulo, although it was not part of the Formula One World Championship. It was won by Carlos Reutemann in a Brabham-Cosworth BT34. The following year, however, the race was first included in the official calendar.

1973: Yves Giraud-Cabantous (68) died. He began his motor racing career in 1924. In 1950 he joined the official Talbot team and by finishing 4th in the British Grand Prix became the first French driver to score World Championship points. He raced until 1957 when he retired to concentrate on a business he had established earlier.

1974: Carlos Reutemann became the first Argentinian since Fangio 16 years earlier to win a grand prix with his victory at Kyalami in South Africa. It was also Brabham’s first grand prix victory since the 1970 South African Grand Prix. Jean-Pierre Beltoise fought his way up through the field to 2nd, holding off a determined challenge from Mike Hailwood who took the final podium place.The race was held later than scheduled because of a power crisis in the country. While driving the Ford UOP Shadow-Ford DN3 in a test session before the race, Revson suffered a front suspension failure, and crashed heavily into the Armco barrier on the outside of Barbecue Bend (Turn 2), and was killed. Denny Hulme tried to save his life, but to no avail. Revson’s team Shadow withdrew as a result Niki Lauda took pole by a fraction of a second from Carlos Pace. The two Lotus cars tangled shortly after the start, the incident also involving Jochen Mass and Henri Pescarolo whilst Tom Belsø’s race lasted no more than a few hundred yards due to clutch failure. Lauda led a train of cars consisting of Carlos Reutemann, Clay Regazzoni, Jody Scheckter and James Hunt, whose Hesketh was suffering vibration problems. Mike Hailwood caught and passed Scheckter when he missed a gear, and then passed Reutemann on lap 9. On lap 75, nearly at the finish, Lauda was forced to retire with ignition problems and low oil pressure, handing the lead to Reutemann.

1980: Dale Earnhardt outran Darrell Waltrip for his third win in NASCAR’s top series, leading 208 of 500 laps in the Valleydale Southeastern 500 at Bristol International Speedway, Tennessee, US. Waltrip took second, a distant 8.7 seconds behind, with Bobby Allison third, the last driver on the lead lap in a 1-2-3 sweep by NASCAR Hall of Famers.

1980: The USA Grand Prix (West) at Long Beach California was again marred by accidents and retirements but Nelson Piquet from pole cruised to his first win; he also recorded the fastest lap. He admitted that his main worry was to make a clean start and not to get caught behind anyone on the opening laps “because that’s when the accidents happen”. Shortly before the end Clay Regazzoni survived a bad crash when the throttle on his Unipart Ensign jammed and he cannoned off an abandoned car into a wall at around 170mph. He underwent a five-hour operation for spinal and leg injuries.

1997: Jacques Villeneuve dominated the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, taking his Williams from the pole to set fastest lap an win the event in 1:36:09. Gerhard Berger in his Bennetton started third and finished second behind Villeneuve 4 seconds back. Oliver Panis in the Prost was third 15 seconds back from the winner.

2004: A1 Grand Prix, a brand new concept in international motorsport was launched to the world’s press at the prestigious Jumeira Beach hotel in Dubai. Series’ founder Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum unveiled his vision for an exciting yet accessible sport where all countries could compete equally on a level playing field. From this spark, grew A1GP, a series with deliberately equalised technology and national teams, racing their flag in the World Cup of Motorsport. After a successful first season of A1GP, it was announced on 29 September 2006 that Maktoum was to sell his position as Chairman & Director of A1GP. The transfer of his share in the organisation of A1 Grand Prix to RAB Capital was finalized in December 2006. Tony Teixeira took control of the series in 2006, leading it to liquidation by 2009. In 2014, ISRA (International Sport Racing Association), took 2005–08 A1 Grand Prix racing cars (Lola-Zytek) and created a new single-seater competition named Formula Acceleration 1, which is part of Acceleration 2014.

~31 March~

1928 Australian Grand Prix – Arthur Waite driving an Austin 7

1928: The first Australian Grand Prix was run at the Phillip Island circuit in Victoria, Australia. The race was originally to be held on Monday 26 March however rain forced postponement until Saturday 31 March. It was open to “light” cars of up to 2 litre capacity and it attracted 30 entries, of which 17 started. The event was conducted as two separate races, with the first held in the morning for Class B (750cc to 1100cc) and D (1500cc to 2000cc) entries, and the second held in the afternoon, for Class A (up to 750cc) and C (1100cc to 1500cc) cars. The competitor setting the fastest time was to receive a £100 trophy donated by Mr CB Kellow and would be regarded as “Champion of the Day”. The overall winner was Arthur Waite in an Austin 7.

1956: Ralph DePalma (72) died in South Pasadena. One of the premier racers of the century’s second decade and winner of the 1915 Indy 500, is most famous for his rivalry with fellow racing legend Barney Oldfield. During World War I, car racing on a grand scale was not allowed because of the war effort. However, match races pitting two rivals against each other were deemed appropriate as they provided maximum entertainment with a relatively minimal allocation of resources. Race promoters naturally realized the appeal of starting DePalma and Oldfield on the same line with the same end in mind. Beyond their ordinary competitive relationship, Oldfield and DePalma embodied two contrasting archetypes of the champion. Brash and crude, Oldfield talked as much as he raced, cheated as much as he played fair. He ran his car with an unlit cigar clamped in the back of his teeth. DePalma, on the other hand, was a true gentleman, gracious both in victory and defeat, but no less competitive than his abrasive rival. The match race was originally set for June 23, 1917, but heavy rains postponed the event by a day. This gave the race promoters an extra day to magnify the publicity accompanying the personal rivalry between DePalma and Oldfield that had flared up after DePalma won an appeal for calcium chloride to be laid on the track to keep the dust down. An outraged Oldfield claimed dust was “part and parcel of dirt-track racing.” Later he said, “I’ve been waiting a long time to get DePalma on a dirt track. I’ll show him what racing is all about.” Not to be outdone, DePalma in his characteristic style explained, “Modesty is a word Greek to Oldfield and he’s probably been telling everybody how he is going to make me eat his dust.” Following the heavy rains on the 23rd, the racetrack was pronounced to be in excellent condition. An estimated 15,000 fans turned out to watch the two men race. Unfortunately, the race didn’t live up to its hype. Oldfield won all three heats. His car, the Golden Submarine, was so much lighter than DePalma’s Packard that its speed through the turns more than made up for DePalma’s bigger engine. Perhaps a credit to Oldfield’s unconventional quest for victory, he had chosen to drive a car designed by Harry Miller. Miller’s all-aluminum car had been mocked in the public, but he and Oldfield got the last laugh at the match races. Miller would go on to revolutionize race-car design, as his cars dominated the Indy 500 for over a decade.

1985: NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans opened the Modified season with a rain-shortened triumph in the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway, Connecticut, US . Evans led 23 of 47 laps before rain halted the event 28 laps short of the scheduled distance. Pole-starter Jeff Fuller took second with Brian Ross third.

1996: The Brazilian Grand Prix race was held on Marcat Interlagos, amidst heavy rain. Six different teams scored points, with Damon Hill following up his win at the first round of the season, surpassing his father’s tally of 14 grand prix victories. Hill’s pole position proved crucial as a downpour hit Interlagos shortly before the start, and that meant he was free from spray which dogged his rivals early on. “When I first went out a bolt of lightning hit the track in front of me,” Hill said.

2002: Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari F2002 won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Soccer legend Pele was supposed to wave the chequered flag. However, when the Schumacher brothers arrived to the finish line, Pelé was talking to someone, and forgot to show them the flag. He eventually waved the flag when the next driver, Takuma Sato arrived to the finish line, two laps down, meaning technically he had won the race. “Pele is very little,” noted Schumacher. “I didn’t see the flag though, that’s the only thing I noticed.”

2006: The loyalty of the Dutch fans throughout the 2005-06 season was rewarded as A1 Grand Prix announced that Circuit Park Zandvoort would host the first race of its second season. Grandstand tickets sold out in a matter of days and additional seating had to be arranged.

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