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Momentous motor sports events that took place during this weekend in history …..
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 leads 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 in 1984.
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 F1 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’).
~ 1 October ~
1899: ‘Levegh’ driving a Mors 16 hp won the 163 mile (262.5 km) Bordeaux-Biarritz road race in a time of 4 hours 24 minutes.
1910: The Vanderbilt Cup was won by Harry Grant in an ALCO-6. The race was held at the Long Island Motor Parkway, the first US roadway designed for motor vehicle use. Privately built by William Kissam Vanderbilt with overpasses and bridges to remove intersections, it opened in 1908 as a toll road and closed in 1938 when it was taken over by the state of New York in lieu of back taxes. Parts of the parkway survive today in sections of other roadways and as a bicycle trail in Queens, New York.
1912: David Bruce-Brown (25), an American racecar driver, was killed during practice for the 1912 American Grand Prize and Vanderbilt Cup races held in Milwaukee.
1927: The II Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix, commonly referred to as the 1927 British Grand Prix was held at the Brooklands circuit. It was the fifth and final race of the 1927 AIACR World Manufacturers’ Championship season. The race was won by French driver Robert Benoist, his fourth victory from the season’s five races, a performance that ensured his Delage team won the Championship.
1961: Rex White (cover image) passed pole-sitter Junior Johnson just past halfway to win the Wilkes 200 at North Wilkesboro (North Carolina, US) Speedway. White, a 28-time winner and the 1960 champion in NASCAR’s premier series, led the final 81 laps on the .625-mile asphalt track, outrunning second-place Fireball Roberts by a full lap at the finish. Richard Petty finished third with Johnson fourth.
1967: Richard Petty beat Dick Hutcherson by two laps at North Wilkesboro, to win his milestone 75th NASCAR Grand National Series race, and record his 10th consecutive victory. The race was also his record 27th race win of the 1967 season. Petty’s consecutive race winning streak (10), single-season win total (27), and career victories (200) are all NASCAR records that still stand as of 2015. Petty’s ten-race win streak which lasted from 12 August to 1 October, included the following races: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Savannah, Darlington, Hickory, Richmond, Beltsville, Hillsboro, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro.
Jim Clark finished six seconds ahead of Lotus teammate Graham Hill after nursing his limping car through the final two laps, to win his third and final American Grand Prix. It was the Scot’s third win of the season, and the twenty-third of his career. The following April, Clark was killed in a Formula Two race in Germany, but two more wins (in Mexico and South Africa) had already made him the driver in Grand Prix history to win 25 Grands Prix, one more than Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio.
1978: Carlos Reutemann won the US Grand Prix, the fourth and final win in his last season before leaving Ferrari, while championship leader Mario Andretti, driving the JPS team’s second car after an accident in practice, retired when his engine blew.
1982: Warren Johnson set an NHRA Pro Stock 1/4-mile top speed record when he ran 181.08 mph at Fremont, California, USA, the first Pro Stock racer to exceed 180 mph.
1985: Ninian Sanderson (60), winner of the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans, died from cancer in Glasgow, Scotland.
1989: A flag-to-flag victory for Ayrton Senna in a McLaren at the Spanish Grand Prix only came after he held of a determined challenge from the Ferrari of Gerhard Berger. Alain Prost, who took third, still held a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship, but team-mate Senna’s victory kept him in the hunt. “It was Mission Impossible,” Prost said. “I just sat back and drove my taxi home for third place.”