365 Days of Motoring On-Line Magazine

The Online Magazine for Motoring History, Facts, News and Advice

8-9 December: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

Discover the most momentous motor sporting events that took place this weekend in history….

~8 December~

1908: Four 80-acre tracts of land were purchased for $72,000 to build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indianapolis businessman Carl G. Fisher first envisioned building the speedway in 1905 after assisting friends racing in France and seeing that Europe held the upper hand in automobile design and craftsmanship. Fisher began thinking of a better means of testing cars before delivering them to consumers. At the time, racing was just getting started on horse tracks and public roads. Fisher noticed how dangerous and ill-suited the makeshift courses were for racing and testing. He also argued that spectators did not get their money’s worth, as they were only able to get a brief glimpse of cars speeding down a linear road. Fisher proposed building a circular track 3 to 5 miles (5 to 8 km) long with smooth 100–150-foot-wide (30–45 m) surfaces. Such a track would give manufacturers a chance to test cars at sustained speeds and give drivers a chance to learn their limits. Fisher predicted speeds could reach up to 120 mph (190 km/h) on a 5-mile (8 km) course.

1957: Driving Frank Arciero’s 4.9L Ferrari, Dan Gurney won the sports car race at Paramount Ranch, California.

2002: “If you’re Ralf Schumacher I’m Arnie Schwarzenegger.” That was what a traffic policeman said when he asked Schumacher for his name after stopping him for doing 80mph in a 50mph zone near Kitzbuehl, Austria. He had to call his wife to the police station to prove he was who he claimed to be. Schumacher was banned for a second time – he lost his licence in April 2001 after clocking 100mph in a 60mph limit. His wife Cora’s assessment? “Ralf causes accidents you’d expect from women.”

~9 December~

1983: The Ford/Cosworth Engineering Ltd. partnership was formed to produce new Grand Prix racing engine.

1994: The lid finally came off the simmering debate over who was to blame for the Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash the previous May, with comments in a Sunday newspaper by lead investigator Professor Enrico Lorenzini. Steering failure of some form was until then the favoured explanation, but Lorenzini was quoted as saying: “The rod joining the steering wheel to the wheels was virtually sliced in half … it had been badly welded together about a third of the way down and could not stand the strain of the race. It seemed like the job had been done in a hurry but I can’t say how long before the race. Someone had tried to smooth over the join following the welding. I have never seen anything like it.” The debate went on for years but a criminal case in Italy ended with no blame attributed to any one individual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *