Discover the momentous motorsporting events that took place this weekend in history………
1907: The first official motor-race meeting (for prize money of £5,000) was held at the newly opened Brooklands racing track in Surrey. Nicknamed the ‘Motoring Ascot’ by the press, Brooklands was the world’s first purpose-built motor-racing circuit. There were no established rules to follow and many of the procedures were initially based on horse-racing traditions. Cars assembled in the ‘paddock’ were ‘shod’ with tyres and weighed by the ‘Clerk of the Scales’ for handicapping, and drivers were even instructed to identify themselves by wearing coloured silks in the manner of jockeys. H. C. Tryon won the first race in a Napier, a race in which 22 different makes of cars were entered.
1952: Alberto Ascari’s win, and fastest lap at the French Grand Prix at Rouen ensured that he took a five-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of fellow Ferrari driver Piero Taruffi. Farina’s second consecutive second place finish took him to third in the standings, one point adrift of Taruffi. Indianapolis 500 winner Troy Ruttman was a further four points behind in fourth, one point ahead of Gordini driver Robert Manzon.
1952: Pietro Palmieri drove a Ferrari 212 to victory in the Coppa Della Consuma in Italy.
1958: Luigi Musso (33) was fatally injured in an accident during the 1958 French Grand Prix at Reims, France when his Ferrari hurtled off the course on the 10th lap of the 50 lap race. Running wide at the tricky Muizone Curve while chasing the leader, fellow Ferrari driver Mike Hawthorn, Musso’s Ferrari struck a ditch and somersaulted. Hawthorn won the race. Musso was airlifted to hospital with critical head injuries where he died.
1969: The Charade Circuit near Clermont-Ferrand, the home of Michelin and Patrick Depailler, staged the French Grand Prix, which was won by Jackie Stewart in a Matra-Cosworth MS80.
1969: Dover International Speedway (formerly Dover Downs International Speedway) staged its first race, the Mason-Dixon 300, which was won by Richard Petty. Since opening it has held at least two NASCAR races annually. In addition to NASCAR, the track has also hosted USAC and the Verizon IndyCar Series. The track features one layout, a 1 mile (1.6 km) concrete oval, with 24° banking in the turns and 9° banking on the straights.
1969: Richard Petty scorched the field to win the Mason-Dixon 300, the first race held at Dover International Speedway, Delaware, US. Petty led 150 of 300 laps at the Monster Mile to post win No. 96 of his all-time series best 200. Sonny Hutchins and James Hylton ran a distant second and third respectively, six laps down each.
1975: Austrian driver Niki Lauda won the French Grand Prix in dramatic fashion after a late race dogfight with British driver James Hunt in his Hesketh 308, while West German driver Jochen Mass closed rapidly on the fighting pair in his McLaren M23. It was Lauda’s fourth win for the season, giving him a 22 point lead in the points over Brabham driver Carlos Reutemann.
1986: Nigel Mansell in a Williams-Honda FW11 won the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Ayrton Senna crashed at the corner after Signes after slipping on some oil spilled onto the track from Andrea de Cesaris’s Minardi. Senna had crashed at Signes the previous year, in similar circumstances.
1991: Bill Elliott posted a resounding triumph in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, Florida (US). Elliott led a 1-2-3 sweep for Ford. Darrell Waltrip survived a wicked side-over-side tumble down the backstretch on the 120th lap.
1996: John Force became the first NHRA Funny Car driver to cover the 1/4-mile in less than 4.9 seconds, when he ran 4.889 in Topeka, Kansas, USA.
2003: Ralf Schumacher driving for the Williams team after starting from pole position won the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second in the other Williams car, with Michael Schumacher third driving for Ferrari. Ralf Schumacher’s victory was his second consecutive win of the season having won the preceding European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
2008: Contested over 60 laps of the Slverstone circuit, the British Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton for the McLaren team after starting from fourth position on the grid. Nick Heidfeld finished second in a BMW Sauber car, with Rubens Barrichello third in a Honda. Hamilton’s win tied him for the lead of the Drivers’ Championship, alongside Massa and Räikkönen.
1898: The Paris-Amsterdam race organised by the Automobile Club de France began and was the first occasion when a major motor race crossed an international border. Held over 7 days and covering 890 miles, the race was won by Frenchman Fernand Charron driving a Panhard et Levassor for 33 hours at an average speed of 26.82 mph over unsurfaced roads.
1908: The first fatal accident at a Grand Prix occurred during the French Grand Prix at Dippe, when Ciassac and his riding mechanic Schaube were killed after their Panhard cras
hed after a front tyre blew. “Pits” entered motoring terminology at this Grand Prix when a divided trench with a counter just above ground level was provided for team crews, although inappropriate in that structures above ground-level were subsequently used, the term has stuck. The race was won by Christian Lautenschlager in a Mercedes.
1957: Juan Manuel Fangio won the French Grand Prix in a Maserati 250F. The shared drive of Mike MacDowel (30 laps) and Jack Brabham (38 laps) in a Cooper-Climax came in seventh.
1966: Elmo Langley landed his second and final win in NASCAR’s premier series, at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia, US. Langley, who led 231 of the 400 laps, was seven laps ahead of runner-up John Sears at the finish. James Hylton took third. Langley, a veteran with 536 Cup series starts, was NASCAR’s pace car driver for many years after his final race in 1981. Langley also won a 1991 exhibition race among NASCAR legends at Charlotte Motor Speedway, edging Cale Yarborough with a last-lap pass.
1968: Jo Schlesser (40) died during the French Grand Prix after only two laps, after his car slid wide at the Six Frères corner and crashed sideways into a bank. The magnesium-bodied Honda and 58 laps worth of fuel ignited instantly, leaving Schlesser with no chance of survival. As a result, Honda withdrew from Formula One at the end of the 1968 season after Surtees again refused to drive the car at the Italian Grand Prix.
1974: Nikki Lauda’s pole at the French Grand Prix was the fastest lap in the Formula One’s history. He completed the 2.044 mile Dujon circuit in just 58.59 seconds. Ronnie Peterson won the race for Lotus-Cosworth 72E, with Lauda’s Ferrari in finishing second. To honor the 80th birthday of the ACF, a parade of vintage cars was organized with a selection of great drivers from the 20s and 30s up to the present day. The race itself was largely uneventful. Tom Pryce put in a superb performance to be 3rd on the grid behind Ronnie Peterson and Niki Lauda. However, he was slow off the start and was hit by Carlos Reutemann, ending his race. James Hunt and Henri Pescarolo were also taken out in the ensuing accident. Lauda led convincingly from Peterson and Clay Regazzoni with Emerson Fittipaldi up to 4th by lap 15. Lauda dropped back with handling problems on lap 16, and was passed by Peterson, who led to the flag. He was followed by Lauda and Regazzoni, who came home 3rd despite vibration problems. Regazzoni had been challenged strongly by Fittipaldi, but just as the McLaren driver was preparing to pass, Fittipaldi’s engine exploded, ending his race. Jody Scheckter was fourth, less than a second behind Regazzoni.
1979: Sammy Miller won the £5000 prize for Europe’s first 300mph terminal speed at the Summer International Meeting at the Santa Pod Raceway, Northamptonshire, England. After a 4.68/245 shakedown run and a 4.43/265 when he inadvertently hit the chutes after a bumpy top end ride, he ran 4.20seconds with a terminal speed of 307.6mph.
1985: Nelson Piquet won the French Grand Prix driving a Brabham BT54-BMW. It turned out to be the Brabham team’s last victory in Formula One. It was also the first Grand Prix victory since their return to Formula One for Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli. Piquet won the race by six seconds over pole winner Keke Rosberg driving a Williams FW10-Honda. Third was French driver Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/2B-TAG Porsche. Prost’s podium finish allowed him to close to within five points of championship leader Michele Alboreto (Ferrari).
1990: Part-time driver Hendrick driver Greg Sacks won the Pepsi 400 pole position. But in post-qualifying inspection, NASCAR officials determined that the Hendricks team’s engines had an unapproved “floating block” in the intake manifold sitting under the restrictor plate. NASCAR officials required the team to weld the block in place for race day, which effectively robbed the engine of horsepower. At the start, Sacks was essentially a sitting duck, and at the conclusion of the first lap, his car was sent spinning in front of nearly the entire field. At least 22 cars were collected in the huge pileup in the tri-oval. The crash became known as the original “Big One.” Six cars in the lead pack narrowly escaped the incident, among those was Dale Earnhardt who dominated the depleted field on the way to victory.
1991: The first French Grand Prix to be held at the new Magny Cours venue, was won by Nigel Mansell in a Williams-Renault FW14.
2000: Eight weeks to the day after Adam Petty’s crash, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kenny Irwin (30) was killed in the same turn on the same race track in Loudon, New Hampshire, during practice for the thatlook.com 300. Irwin’s car hit the concrete wall and flipped on its roof. Both Irwin’s and Petty’s crashes at the speedway are blamed on a stuck accelerator that prevented the drivers from slowing down.
2001: Less than five months after Dale Earnhardt’s death in the Daytona 500, NASCAR returned to Daytona International Speedway. Much to the delight of the crowd, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated most of the Pepsi 400. After a late-race caution for a crash on lap 143, Earnhardt, Jr. charged from 7th place to first in less than a lap and a half, and took the lead with 5 laps to go. With teammate Michael Waltrip protecting the position in second place, Earnhardt, Jr. took the dramatic victory. An emotional post-race celebration saw Earnhardt, Jr. mimic his father’s actions by spinning donuts in the tri-oval grass. Ironically, Earnhardt, Jr. and Waltrip finished in reverse order of the Daytona 500.
2007: Officials with Sprint-Nextel and NASCAR announced that the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series would be renamed the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008. Nextel was acquired by Sprint in late 2004.