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6-7 January: This Weekend Motor Sport History

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

~6 January~

1958: Vincenzo Florio (75), Italian industrialist in the wine industry of Sicily, famous for establishing the the Targa Florio road race,

Vincenzo Florio
Vincenzo Florio

died in Epernay, France. The Targa Florio was an open road endurance automobile race held in the mountains of Sicily near Palermo. Founded in 1906, it was the oldest sports car racing event, part of the World Sportscar Championship between 1955 and 1973. While the first races consisted of a whole tour of the island, the track length in the race’s last decades was limited to the 72 kilometres (45 mi) of the Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie, which was lapped 11 times. After 1973, it was a national sports car event until it was discontinued in 1977 due to safety concerns. It has since been run as a rallying event, and is part of the Italian Rally Championship.

1968: Chris Amon became the second New Zealander to win his country’s Grand Prix when he averaged nearly 103 mph for 58 laps of the Pukekohe short circuit and brought home his Formula 2-based V6 Ferrari well clear of Frank Gardner’s Brabham-Alfa Romeo V8. Amon set a new lap record of 106.07 mph in his 32nd lap. He ran Lotus-Ford V8 driver Jim Clark a close second through to the 46th lap when the Flying Scot was sidelined with a dropped valve. Amon and Gardner were the only ones to go the distance.

1968: Jean-Pierre Beltoise in a Matra-Ford MS7 won the Cape South Easter Trophy held at Killarney in South African.

1978: The F1CA, soon to be rename FOCA, named Bernie Ecclestone the President of Administration and Chief Executive, Enzo Ferrari the President of Sport, and Max Mosley the Legal Advisor.

Thomas Raymond Mays
Thomas Raymond Mays

1980: Thomas Raymond Mays (80), long-time racer and developer of BRM race cars, died in Bourne, England. Mays was one of ERA’s most notable drivers, winning the British Hill Climb Championship in its first two years, 1947 and 1948 and also the Brighton Speed Trials in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1950 in his black ERA R4D. He stopped driving racing cars at the end of the 1950 season.

1989: American racer Jim Hurtubise died in Port Arthur, Texas. He competed in the 1960 Indy 500 and later in the Winston Cup and ChampCar series. He retired to run a hunting lodge in Texas where he died of a heart attack aged 56.

1998: In one of the sport’s more bizarre stories, German prosecutors announced it was possible Michael Schumacher would face charges of the attempted murder of his rival Jacques Villeneuve. Schumacher was penalised by the FIA for ramming Villeneuve in the final grand prix in Spain the previous October, and the prosecutor said the possible charges against him were “attempted murder, inflicting grievous bodily harm, coercion, and driving offences”. In the end, and hardly surprisingly, no action was taken.

2000: Veteran F1 commentator Murray Walker, 76, signed a one-year deal with ITV despite earlier insisting he was ready to quit. “I was seriously thinking of jacking it in because I have always wanted to quit while I was ahead,” he said. “This will be my 52nd year in the business and I would hate to have people thinking: ‘Why doesn’t the old fool stop’?” He did just that at the end of the following season.

~7 January~

1956: The New Zealand Grand Prix run over 100 laps of the 2 mile Ardmore was won by Stirling Moss in a Maserati 250F.ansell

1964: Reginald Harold Haslam Parnell (52), Formula One driver and team manager from England died. Parnell successfully raced a

Thomas Raymond Mays
Reg Parnell

private Maserati 4CLT/48 and an E-Type ERA which led to an invitation to drive for the Alfa Romeo team in the very first World Championship Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1950, finishing third and later winning the Silverstone International Trophy in 1951, he was also a test driver for BRM and their V16 project. He later became the team manager for Aston Martin and oversaw the famous 1-2 at Le Mans in 1959 when Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby led home Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere. Parnell then led the team into F1 but at the end of 1960 the programme was abandoned. 1962 saw the formation of the Reg Parnell Racing Team taking Lola into Grand Prix racing. He died at the age of just 53 due to a thrombosis after a routine appendix operation.

1967: The 14th New Zealand Grand Prix, held at the Pukekohe Park Raceway, which doubled as the opening round of the 1967 Tasman Series. was won by Jackie Stewart in a BRM for the Parnell Racing Team. Fellow Brits Jim Clark and Richard Atwood, finished second and third, respectively. This was Jackie Stewart’s only New Zealand Grand Prix win, becoming the last British driver to win the event.

1982: Bert Oosterhuis, Dutch motor racing driver was killed during the Dakar Rally during the section from Bordj Omar Driss to Tit, in Algeria. He was 41 years of age. From the 1950s he was active in various motor classes on the circuit and at grassroots racing. Six times he achieved the national championship in the class 350cc and 500c. He also conducted international races such as the TT Assen.

1993: Reigning Formula One World Champion, Nigel Mansell drove on an American oval for the first time when he practiced at Phoenix, Arizona, in a Newman-Haas Lola-Ford.

2002: Geoffrey Crossley (80), British racing driver who participated in 2 World Championship Formula One Grand Prix, debuting in May 1950, and in numerous non-Championship Formula One races, died.

2005: Red Bull, who had bought Jaguar F1 two months earlier, appointed Christian Horner as its sporting director and at the same time dispensed with the services of Jaguar team principal Tony Purnell and managing director David Pitchforth. Horner was owner of the Arden team for whom Tonio Liuzzi had won the Formula 3000 title the previous year. “The news was met with a stunned silence when a team meeting was called at the Milton Keynes factory to announce the changes, a measure of the affection for Purnell and Pitchforth,” noted the Times. “They were also highly regarded in the pitlane for their quiet but efficient attempt to turn around a struggling team. Max Mosley, president of the FIA, the sport’s governing body, once described Purnell as one of only two intelligent team principals in Formula One.”

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