Discover the most momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history ………..
1920: American Harry Miller was granted a US patent for a race-car design that introduced many features incorporated into race cars in the following decades. Among Miller’s countless patented breakthroughs were aluminium pistons and engine blocks, off-beat carburettors, inter-cooled superchargers, and practical front-wheel drive.
1930: The 21st Targa Florio received entries from the entire French Bugatti équipe, to fight against factory teams from Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Officine Mecchaniche, plus many independents, totaling 17 cars at the start. The race developed not only into a duel between Alfa Romeo and Bugatti but more into a gigantic battle between two men: Varzi and Chiron. After almost seven tortuous hours through the mountainous Madonie, it ended with a narrow, well earned victory for Varzi, less than two minutes ahead of Chiron. When only 23 seconds behind on the last lap, Chiron broke two of his Bugatti’s wheels and had to cope with a very sick mechanic. In his awesome drive, Varzi had lost the single spare wheel of his Alfa Romeo, sprung a fuel leak, and near the end the back of his car caught fire. The Italian survived all these difficulties in probably his most outstanding drive ever. By breaking the existing records, he ended Bugatti’s 5-year string of victories. Conelli, Campari, Nuvolari, Divo, Williams and Morandi drove near the front but were clearly in a lesser rank than the two leading contenders. Maserati, D’Ippolito, Minoia, Borzacchini and Bittmann all survived the over seven-hour ordeal, while Maggi, Balestero, Arcangeli, Divo and Ruggeri retired.
1932: The 1,000-mile race at Brooklands (England) was won by Briton Elsie Wisdom and Australian Joan Richmond in a Riley, at an average speed of 84.41 mph, the first time women had won a serious motor race.
1962: Jimmy Pardue scored his first victory in NASCAR’s top division, leading the final 66 laps of a 200-lap main event at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, US. Pardue, who won twice in the series, took over when Rex White’s engine soured after leading the first 134 laps. Jack Smith placed second and Richard Petty drove home third, one lap down.
1969: Porsches finish 1-2-3-4-6 in the Targa Florio road race in Sicily. Gerhard Mitter and Udo Schutz piloted the winning 908 Spyder.
1969: The Spanish Grand Prix held at Montjuich Park was won by Jackie Stewart driving a Matra-Cosworth MS80S. This is one of only two Grands Prix where the winner finished two laps ahead of the runner-up, the other occasion being the 1995 Australian Grand Prix.
1980: French driver Didier Pironi driving a Ligier JS11/15 won the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. It was Pironi’s debut World Championship victory and he was the fourth driver to win in the first five races of the season. Pironi won by 47 seconds over Australian driver and eventual 1980 champion, Alan Jones driving a Williams FW07B.
2003: Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2003-GA won the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona from pole position. Fernando Alonso finished second driving for the Renault team with Rubens Barrichello third in the other Ferrari.
1929: The 20th Targa Florio received 29 entries comprising eight Bugattis, four Alfa Romeos, three Maseratis, two each of Fiats and Salmsons. Bugatti with Divo, Minoia, Conelli and Wagner as official drivers, the Alfa Romeo team with Campari, Brilli Peri and Varzi, as well as the Maserati factory with Borzacchini and Ernesto Maserati emerged as the most potent entries. The 19 car field was completed by ten independent drivers without a real chance to win of which Lepori and Bittmann with Bugattis were the most prominent. Minoia and Divo in official Bugattis dominated the race although Borzacchini’s Maserati held second and third place until falling behind. The race was then between the faster Bugattis and the factory Alfa Romeos of Brilli Peri and Campari. The exhausting race ended after more than seven hours with Divo victorious ahead of Minoia followed by the Alfas of Brilli Peri and Campari, who were the only other finishers.
1935: Achille Varzi in an Auto Union Typ B won the Tunis Grand Prix held at the Carthage Circuit in France.
1950: The first La Carrera Panamericana road race began. 132 cars entered the 5-day, 2,178-mile race running the length of Mexico from Juárez on the Texas border to El Ocotal on the border with Guatemala. At least one stage was run each day for five consecutive days. The elevation changes were significant: from 328 feet (100 m) to 10,482 feet (3,195 m) above sea level, requiring amongst other modifications re-jetting of carburettors to cope with thinner air. Most the race was run between 5,000 feet (1,500 m) and 8,000 feet (2,400 m). American Hershel McGriff won in an Oldsmobile that cost $1,800, running on whitewall tyres he picked up for $12. His victory earned him $17,533 dollars, a huge sum in 1950. Sadly four people were killed in the race. A four-year-old Juan Altamirano was hit by the car of Jesús Valezzi and Adolfo Dueñas Costa in the first stage in Cd. Juárez before the start of the race. In the same stage near to finish line the Guatemalan Enrique Hachmeister lost the control of his Lincoln. The Peruvian co-driver Jesús Reyes Molina died in the fourth stage in León, Guanajuato when the Nash of Henry Charles Bradley crashed with a bridge in the Florida river. Reyes Molina was taken to León Hospital, where he died. The Nash Ambassador driven by the Americans Eddie Sollohub-Nicholeo Scott hit the crowd and killed a spectator in the fourth stage.
1951: Reg Parnell driving Ferrari 375 won the International Trophy at Silverstone. A violent thunderstorm caused the race to be cut short by 6 laps.
1953: Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari 500 won the F2 Bordeaux Grand Prix.
1955: Wild youngster Junior Johnson drove an Oldsmobile to his first career NASCAR Grand National victory at Hickory Speedway in North Carolina, US.
1956: Driving a Vanwall, Stirling Moss won the VII BRDC International Trophy run over 60 laps of the Silverstone circuit, at an average speed of 100.47 mph.
1985: Bill Elliott set a 500-mile race record, winning the Winston 500 held at Talladega Superspeedway, Alabama (US), at an average speed of 186.288 mph. Elliott won the race despite losing nearly two laps during a lengthy early pit stop to fix a broken oil line, and despite the race only having two caution flags. Elliott made up the entire distance he lost under one lengthy, green-flag period. The record stood as the fastest 500-mile race of any kind until 1990, when Al Unser, Jr. broke it by winning the CART Michigan 500 at Michigan International Speedway at an average speed of 189.727 mph. Mark Martin later broke the record for fastest 500-mile NASCAR race.
1990: Phil Brachtvogel ran the first six second pass on a bike in the UK, 6.97 sec/193 mph at Santa Pod Raceways’ Springnationals. Jim Wheelan ran the lowest E.T. of the meet in his Top Fuel Ford Probe Funny Car at 6.021 sec /206 mph.
1996: Williams driver, Damon Hill set the fastest lap at the San Marino Grand Prix on his way to the win in a time of 1:35:26. Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari was second, 16.4 seconds back, after starting from the Pole. Gerhard Berger in his Benetton was third from his seventh starting position.
2001: Bill Homeier (82), AAA and USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1953–1955 and 1958–1960 seasons with 14 starts, including the 1954 and 1960 Indianapolis 500 races, died. He holds a unique record from the 1954 Indianapolis 500; he finished in last place, but completed 74 laps, the most for a last place finisher. Homeier eventually retired in the early 1960’s to take up his teaching role. Sadly he suffered tragedy when his wife was killed in an accident in 1969 which Bill was lucky to survive. He was a keen fan of boats and owned a small pier at his home on Tres Palacios Bay.