Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in motor sport history ……
1900: The 837 mile Paris-Toulouse-Paris race, run over three stages, was won by Pierre Levegh, French racing driver, world-class ice hockey & tennis player, driving a 24 hp Mors with pneumatic Michelin tyres. He took a commanding lead and was never seriously challenged (by a field of the previously dominant Panhard & Levassor cars). His winning time was 40.2 mph. Levegh died in a crash at LeMans when his car launched over barriers, killing 83 spectators and injuring A series of fatal accidents on the 1903 Paris-Madrid race brought an end to the staging of point-to-point events on the open roads.
1905: Driving his 90-bhp Napier, British driver Clifford Earp covered the flying-kilometre in 21.4 seconds (103.53 mph) at the second sprint meeting to be held along Blackpool Promenade (England), equalling the world land-speed record established by Frenchman Paul Baras in his 100-bhp Darracq at the Ostend Speed Trials the previous November.
1935: Tazio Nuvolari scored his most impressive victory, thought by many to be the greatest victory in car racing of all times. He won the German #Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, driving an old Alfa Romeo P3 (3167 cc, compressor, 265 hp) versus the dominant, all conquering home team’s cars of five Mercedes-Benz W25 (3990 cm³, 8C, compressor, 375 hp (280 kW), driven by Caracciola, Fagioli, Hermann Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Geyer) and four Auto Union Tipo B (4950 cc, 16C, compressor, 375 hp (280 kW), driven by Bernd Rosemeyer, Varzi, Hans Stuck and Paul Pietsch). This victory is known as “The Impossible Victory”. The crowd of 300,000 applauded Nuvolari, but the representatives of the Third Reich were enraged.
1946: Robert Mazaud (39) was killed when his Maserati 4CL crashed during the Nantes Grand Prix – the first racing fatality in major post-World War II competition. The race was won by ‘Raph’ driving a Maserati 6CM.
1956: Curtis Turner (cover image) started on the outside of the front row and roared to victory in the #NASCAR Convertible Series at Ft. Wayne (Indiana, US) Speedway. Teammate Joe Weatherly finished second on the .625-mile dirt track in a 1-2 sweep by Ford ragtops owned by Pete DePaolo. NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood came home third, three laps down.
1957: Jean Behra driving a BRM P25 won the Grand Prix de Caen (France), the marque’s first major racing victory.
1985: Davey Allison made his NASCAR Winston Cup debut with a 10th place finish at Talledega, Alabama, US.
1985: Emerson Fittipaldi won his first CART Indycar race in the Michigan 500 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, USA.
1991: The AAR Eagle-Toyota MkIII scored its first win when Juan M. Fangio II drives one to victory in the IMSA GTP race at the Del Mar Fair Grounds in San Diego, California, US.
1991: Nigel Mansell cruised to his third straight win in a Williams-Renault at the German Grand Prix, leading home Riccardo Patrese, Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, Andrea de Cesaris, and Bertrand Gachot. Ayrton Senna ran out of fuel on the last lap for the second straight race, allowing Mansell to close to within eight points of Senna in the drivers championship.
1996: NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt broke his collarbone and sternum when his car flipped and crashed at the Talladega race track in Alabama.
1996: The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim was won by Damon Hill from pole position, in a Williams-Renault FW18.
2002: Michael Schumacher won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim for Ferrari, with Juan Pablo Montoya in second, and Ralf Schumacher, Montoya’s Williams team-mate, in third. Both Arrows cars retired from the race with mechanical problems, and it would prove to be the last race the team would compete in. It was the first Grand Prix to be held at Hockenheimring since the track was redesigned, which had seen the forest sections of the track removed and hence the length of the track shortened.
1934: Mercedes and Auto Union teams withdrew from the Belgian Grand Prix after customs asked the teams to pay BF180,000 duty on their alcohol based fuel. The race was won by René Dreyfus in a Bugatti T59.
1950: British racing driver Joe Fry (34), a distant member of the Fry’s Chocolate family died. He became the primary driver for the highly successful Shelsley Special “Freikaiserwagen”, created by his cousin David Fry and Hugh Dunsterville, with help from Dick Caesar. Tragically, Fry was killed at the wheel of the Freikaiserwagen at the 1950 Blandford hillclimb, less than two months after driving a Maserati 4CL in the 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Raymond Mays said: “The death of Joe Fry, from injuries received while practicing for a Blandford hill-climb, was a great blow to me and to British #motor sport in general.”
1951: Alberto Ascari drove a Ferrari 375 to victory in the German Grand Prix on the Nurburgring. Alfa Romeo once again fielded four cars, with local driver Paul Pietsch replacing Consalvo Sanesi, joining Fangio, Farina and Bonetto. Following on from their maiden victory at Silverstone, Ferrari also entered four drivers. Piero Taruffi rejoined their lineup, alongside Ascari, Villoresi and British Grand Prix winner José Froilán González. Ferrari continued their good form from the previous event, with Ascari and González the fastest two qualifiers. Fangio and Farina completed the front row, with Villoresi, Taruffi and Pietsch making up the second row. Nino Farina initially took the lead, but, by the end of the first lap, had been passed by Fangio, Ascari and González. Paul Pietsch was running in fifth, but ended up at the back of the field after going off on the second lap. When Farina was forced to retire due to overheating problems, Fangio was left as the sole Alfa Romeo able to take the fight to the Ferrari drivers. Alberto Ascari took the lead on the fifth lap as a result of Fangio’s first pitstop, but Fangio returned to the lead when Ascari took to the pits. As the Alfas required two pitstops, as opposed to just one for the Ferraris, Fangio needed to build a large lead in his second stint if he wanted to retain the lead after his second stop. He was unable to do so, therefore Ascari reclaimed the lead on the fifteenth lap of the race. Due to a misbehaving engine and a gearbox with only 3rd and 4th (4th being the highest gear), Fangio was unable to take advantage of an unexpected tyre change for Ascari, meaning that the Italian took his maiden World Championship race victory by over half a minute from Fangio. González completed the podium, with the remaining points positions going to the other works Ferraris of Villoresi and Taruffi. Ascari’s victory took him to second in the Championship standings, ten points adrift of Fangio, who extended his lead from the previous race. After his second consecutive podium, José Froilán González moved up to third in the standings, level on points with Farina and Villoresi.
1951: The #AAA Sprint car Championship got underway at Winchester Speedway in Indiana. The first driver out for qualifying was Judge Cecil Holt, who raced under the name Cecil Green. The Texas born Green was a high school drop out that worked as a car mechanic. He served in the Army during World War II as a technician in the ordinance department where he reached the rank of Corporal. Green had enjoyed a successful race career with 34 wins between 1948 through 1950 in Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas region. He won the Oklahoma City and Southwest AAA sprint car titles in 1949 driving seven different Offenhauser cars. Green placed fourth in his first Indianapolis 500 in 1950 and finished second in the 1951 Indianapolis 500. Green was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. On this day in 1951, Green went out to establish a qualifying time and during the run he lost control of the J. C. Agajanian “98jr” car resulting in a crash where the sprinter went over the embankment between turns one and two. Green was declared dead on his way to the hospital. The track officials immediately started cleaning the track and in a matter of minutes the track was ready for the next qualifying run. Bill Mackey was scheduled as the next driver for qualifying. Mackey, whose real name was William C. Gretsinger Jr., took to the track in a sprint car that was entered as the “John Langley Special.” Mackey had also ran in the 1951 Indianapolis 500 finishing in 19th place. Mackey began his run only to go over the wall in the exact same spot that Green had crashed. Tragically, Mackey also lost his life in the second crash of the day during qualifying. At roughly the same time, across the country at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania, driver Walt Brown was killed in an AAA Champ Car race when his car entered a slow tumbling accident in the second turn. Brown suffered critical injuries and died just after arriving at Carlisle Hospital. The car that Brown was driving was previously known as the “Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special,” had won the 1941 Indianapolis 500 with Mauri Rose at the wheel. These three racing fatalities all happening on the same day at roughly the same time shocked the racing press of the day. The American #motorsports media instantly began calling Sunday, July 29, 1951 as Racing’s Black Sunday.
1951: Fonty Flock started from the pole position and held off Gober Sosebee to prevail on Asheville-Weaverville (North Carolina, US) Speedway’s half-mile dirt track. The win was one of eight that season for Flock, who went on to finish a career-best second in the standings in NASCAR’s premier series. Herb Thomas, a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, came home third.
1956: The British Jaguar team of Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart won the Le Mans 24 hour race, driving a 3.4 litre Jaguar D, for the new Ecurie Ecosse team. This race also marked the golden jubilee of the #Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) founded in 1906, however because of the previous year’s terrible accident, celebrations were deferred to 1957 to go along with the imminent 25th anniversary of the race. Following the events of 1955, the front stretch and pit lane were redesigned in order to enhance driver and spectator safety. This involved a change to the layout of the Dunlop curve, shortening the overall length of the track by 31 meters.This race saw the death of French driver Louis Héry when his Monopole was involved in an accident early in the race.
1959: Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Charlotte Motor Speedway took place on a sultry summer morning. The new speedway was built by Curtis Turner and Bruton Smith, and the first race was scheduled for May 1960.
1962: Although Roger Penske and Hap Sharp each won one heat of the USAC Road Race Championship Hoosier Grand Prix at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indianapolis. The event was won on aggregate by Jim Hall, who drove his Climax-powered Lotus 21 to second and third place finishes in the two heats.
1973: Roger Williamson (25) was burnt to death at the Dutch Grand Prix in his March 731 racing car. Fellow British driver David Purley attempted to save Williamson’s life, for which he was awarded the George Medal. In 2003, on the thirtieth anniversary of his fatal crash, a bronze statue of Williamson was unveiled at the Donington Park circuit in his native Leicestershire.
1979: Alan Jones, in a Williams-Cosworth FW07 won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Clay Regazzoni secured finished second also in a Williams. Pole starter Jean-Pierre Jabouille spun off on the seventh lap in an ill-advised attempt at passing Jones on the outside. Jones had a leaky rear tire for the last twenty laps of the race, but Regazzoni received orders to stay behind. Many championship contenders did not finish, and Williams moved into third place in the constructors’ championship.
1990: The last Formula One Grand Prix to be held in West Germany prior to its re-unification with East Germany, was won by 1988 World Champion, Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren MP4/5B. He took a six second victory over Italian driver Alessandro Nannini driving a Benetton B190 who was just two seconds in front of Senna’s Austrian teammate Gerhard Berger.
2001: Juan Pablo Montoya dominated qualifying and the first part of the German Grand Prix in his Williams car, until he retired after the first pit stop with a broken engine. The race was won by the other Williams driver Ralf Schumacher. Rubens Barrichello finished second in his Ferrari and Jacques Villeneuve finished third in his BAR-Honda. The race was marked by an airborne accident going into the first corner involving Michael Schumacher and Luciano Burti for Prost, which caused the track to be scattered with shreds of carbon fibre and the race restarted as a result. Both Williams drivers retained their positions at the end of the first lap, with Michael Schumacher passing Häkkinen for third. Over the course of the race, Montoya extended a considerable lead over Ralf Schumacher. Montoya lost the lead on lap 24 when an issue with a refueling rig caused him to be stationary for more than 20 seconds. Ralf Schumacher thus inherited the lead and held it to win his third victory of the season. As a consequence of the race, Michael Schumacher retained his points advantage in the Drivers’ Championship over nearest rival David Coulthard as both drivers retired from the event. Ralf Schumacher moved ahead of Barrichello to take over third position. In the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari retained their lead, while Williams reduced the deficit to McLaren by ten points, with five races of the season remaining. This was the last Grand Prix to be held on the former Hockenheimring circuit; the race was held on a shorter reconfigured track from 2002.
2007: Hoosier Tony Stewart won his second Allstate 400 at the Brickyard over runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion. Montoya became the first driver to participate in three major racing events at IMS – the Indianapolis 500, the United States Grand Prix and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.