Discover the most momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history ……….
–5 December –
1925: The paved track at Marouba Speedway, New South Wales, Australia, opened. It was reported to have had a capacity of 70,000. The 1 mile banked concrete bowl was the scene of some large and successful race meetings before a decline in attendances saw the track close in 1927, but reopened many times in the 1930s. Despite the banking being too steep to walk up it was still not enough for the speeds achieved, and four competitors lost their lives going over the top of banking. Three others also died at the circuit, two of whom were motorcyclists. The sensationalist media of the day dubbed it a “killer track” which did little to improve the fortunes of the venue. By the 1940s the track was crumbling due to flooding and poor quality concrete and in 1947 it was demolished and a housing commission suburb was built on the site.
1949: The Central States Racing Association, a rival Midwestern-based stock car racing sanctioning body, announced it would sanction the inaugural Southern 500 at the new Darlington Raceway, South Carolina, US in 1950. Track president Harold Brasington attempted to get NASCAR to sanction the first 500-mile stock car race, but Bill France turned down the offer, fearful the Strictly Stock cars couldn’t go a full 500 miles.
1975: The funeral of former world champion Graham Hill was held at St Albans Abbey, Hertfordshire. Over 2,000 people attended – another 2,000 listened outside – and Jackie Stewart was among the pall bearers. “In an age which is short of joy, he brought happiness for millions, and in drawing out that happiness, he drew admiration for excellence and for character,” said the Bishop of St Albans. Hill died a week earlier at the controls of a plane when it crash landed, in heavy fog, on a Hertfordshire golf course. He and five other members of the Embassy Hill team were returning from a test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. There were no survivors. Sadly, at the time of his death Hill was uninsured – the families of the other victims sued his estate, the subsequent settlement all but wiping out Hill’s legacy.
2007: McLaren was forced into an embarrassing climb-down for falsifying information on the eve of an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Monte Carlo, which was about to decide if Renault was guilty of using McLaren secrets. McLaren had claimed that former engineer Steve Mackereth took 780 technical drawings with him when he joined Renault the previous year, but admitted there were only 18 drawings and that nine employees, rather than the implied 18, had seen the sensitive data. Asked if what had become known as Spygate II had harmed damaged the sport, FIA president Max Mosley said: ” “I don’t think it’s done any damage. In fact, it has raised the public awareness. That is the paradox. What is important is that people believe the spying has stopped and will continue to be stopped.”
-6 December –
1976: Mrs Kitty Hambleton (cover image) in a 48,000 hp rocket-powered 3-wheeled SM1 Motivator over the Alvard Desert, Oregon, US achieved a speed of 524.016 mph (843.32 km/h) – the highest ever recorded by a woman. Her official two way record was 512.710 mph (825.13 km/h) and probably touched 600mph (966 km/h) momentarily.
2005: Toro Rosso announced that Scott Speed would drive for the team the following season. He became the first American to drive in F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993. Unfortunately he didn’t live up to his name and was axed midway through the 2007 season. It cannot have been a surprise as a week earlier Speed claimed he had been hit by team boss Franz Tost. “As I walked towards the garage he hit me in the middle of the back with a closed fist,” said Speed. “Then he grabbed me below the neck and pushed me into the wall.”
2006: A1GP World Cup of Motorsport significantly expanded its global television reach, signing an exclusive broadcast deal with America’s SPEED channel and a terrestrial highlights package with Channel Five in the UK.