7-8 March: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~7 March~

1954: Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd won the sportscar race at Sebring, Florida, in Briggs Cunningham’s 1.5-liter OSCA. Porfirio Rubirosa drove his 3.3-liter Lancia D24 to second place.

1966: Jackie Stewart drove his BRM to victory as the 1966 Tasman Cup series came to an end with a race on the public road circuit at Longford. Stewart also won the series championship and scored 4 wins on the season.

1970: The great Australian racing driver Jack Brabham enjoyed his 14th and last Grand Prix win at South Africa’s Kyalami circuit. Brabham’s career was long by motor racing standards, lasting more than 15 years. He won the world title three times, in 1959, 1960 and 1966 and is the only world motor racing champion to win the championship (in 1966) in a car of his own design, the Brabham.

1971: Richard Petty won a controversial ‘Richmond 500’ NASCAR GN race on the 0.542 mile paved Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. Because Petty, Benny Parsons and James Hylton’s cars failed tech inspection and Bobby Allison missed time trials, the 25 car grid was formed without the four drivers. After a closed door meeting between the promoters and NASCAR officials, it was announced that the starting field had been expanded to 30. The cars that failed tech would be allowed to start at the rear if made legal. Petty said his car (with too much engine setback, altered wheel base and a fuel tank that was too low), could not be made legal. So the rules were changed again, allowing Petty to start 30th with a smaller restrictor plate. Bobby Isaac’s Krauskopf Dodge was also found with the fuel tank too low and was also required to use the smaller plate as was Allison’s Dodge. Petty charged through the field to 5th by lap 30 and took the lead on lap 135, leading all but 18 laps from that point. Petty’s Dodge finished 2 laps ahead of Isaac. After the race, Isaac’s car owner Nord Krauskopf threatened to quit the circuit over the ruling.

1976: Dave Marcis drove his Krauskopf Dodge past Richard Petty with 11 laps to go and then held off Petty on a last lap restart to win the Richmond 400 NASCAR GN race at the Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. Lennie Pond, looking for his first GN win, was in the lead and pulling away with 52 laps left when he tangled with the lapped car of Ed Negre and hit the wall. It was the second GN win of Marcis’ career.

Lee Roy Yarbrough

1980: Legendary American stockcar driver Lee Roy Yarbrough was admitted to a mental institution after trying to kill his mother by putting his hands around her neck. All attempts to rehabilitate him (either in Florida or in North Carolina) failed and Lee Roy eventually died in 1984 after a fall while suffering from a traumatic brain injury. During his career, Yarbrough won the Daytona 500 and the Firecracker 400 at Daytona, the World 600 at Charlotte, the Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., and the Dixie 500 at Atlanta. His total winnings were more than $450,000. He was involved in severe crashes at the Texas International Speedway in 1970 and at the Indianapolis Speedway in 1971, and he also nearly died from a case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Returned to Racing. He made a comeback in 1972, finishing in the top 10 in nearly every race he entered, but he left the circuit in 1973 to work for a construction company in Jacksonville owned by relatives.

1986: Marku Alena and Iikka Kivimaki won the Olympus Rally with a Lancia Delta S4.

1993: James Adamo died at the Daytona 200 in crash caused by front brake failure, causing bike and rider to strike trackside barrier.

1993: Davey Allison led all but four of the final 157 laps and throttled his Ford to an easy win in the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond Inter­national Raceway, Virginia (US).

1999: The Burton brothers, Jeff and Ward, finished 1-2 in the Las Vegas 400, US, the first of three times they finished 1-2 in the 1999 Cup season. In 372 common Cup races, these were the only times they finish 1-2 and Jeff won all three.

1999: From sixth on the grid, Eddie Irvine and Ferrari chalked up another win at the Australian Grand Prix. His time of 1:35.01 was just 1.026 seconds over Frentzen in the Jordan as he chased him over the line. Ralf Schumacher in the Williams was third on the podium another seven seconds back. Michael Schumacher who set fastest lap of the race, finished 1 lap down from the leaders. Hakkinen was on pole but had his throttle break 21 laps into the event.

2004: The Australian Grand Prix held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit was won by Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2004. Michael Schumacher won the race for Ferrari from pole position in a very dominant fashion, with his team-mate Rubens Barrichello finishing behind him in second. This one-two finish gave Ferrari a strong 9 point lead in the constructors’ standings after just one race.

 

~8 March~

1925: Henry Segrave driving a Talbot 70 won the Provence Grand Prix at Miramas in France.

1936: The Norwegian Grand Prix, an ice race held on Gjerstadjon lake near Olso was won by Eugen Björnstad in an Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza.

1936: The first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course (cover image), promoted by local racer Sig Haugdahl. The race was 78 laps long (250 mile or 400 km) for street-legal family sedans sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for cars built in 1935 and 1936.The city posted a $5000 purse with $1700 for the winner. The race was marred by controversial scoring and huge financial losses to the city. Ticket-takers arrived to find thousands of fans already at the beach track. The sandy turns at the ends of the track became virtually impassable with stuck and stalled cars. Second and third place finishers protested the results. The city lost $22,000. Although this race is remembered as the impetus for today’s NASCAR, nothing would have come into being without the efforts of Bill France. Having moved to Daytona in 1934, Bill France opened a garage there. He fixed and raced cars, finishing fifth in Daytona’s original race. The city claimed it lost money on the event and enthusiasm for city-sponsored racing waned. The next year the Daytona Elks persuaded the city to stage a Labor Day road race for stock cars. The city lost money again. At that point, Bill France and local club owner Charlie Reese took over the promotion for the Daytona race. With Reese’s money and France’s work, the race established itself as a successful enterprise. Racing halted during the war, but afterward France returned to Daytona Beach and persisted at race promotion. Reese died in 1945. France went on to promote races all over the South. In 1946, he staged a National Championship race at the Old Charlotte Speedway. A news editor objected to France’s calling a race a National Championship without any organized sanctioning body. France responded by forming the National Championship Stock Car Circuit (NCSCC) in 1946. On December 14, 1947, France called a meeting to reorganise the growing NCSCC. Racing officials gathered at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to hear France call for major changes in the operation of the circuit. He demanded more professionalism and suggested that the organization provide insurance for drivers and strict rules for the race cars and tracks. A new organization to be incorporated later that year as the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) emerged from the meeting, with Bill France, former mechanic, as president.

1953: Herb Thomas sat on the pole and led every lap in winning the 100 mile NASCAR Grand National race on the 1/2 mile dirt Harnett Speedway by 3 laps in his Hudson Hornet.

1959: Curtis Turner drove a T-Bird to the win in the 100-mile NASCAR GN race on the 1/2 mile dirt Concord Speedway. Turner led from lap 16, crossing the line more than a lap ahead of second finisher Cotton Owens in a Pontiac.

1959: Ken Miles drove a Porsche to victory in the 150-mile USAC Sports Car race on a 2 mile circuit at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds.

1970: Don Garlits set an American Hot Rod Association world record 1/4 mile elapse time of 6.57 seconds at Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, California, USA, in his Swamprat 13 dragster. Later, in the final round won by Richard Tharp, Garlits’ clutch exploded, cutting the car in half and in the process, cut off part of his right foot. This accident caused Garlits to design the first successful rear-engined Top Fuel dragster. Garlits went on to win 17 world championships. In 2002 at age 70 – he took Swamp Rat 34 out of a museum – entered it in the US Nationals and ran a career best 4.72 @ 317 mph

1970: Richard Petty survived a spin and a crash to win the NASCAR Grand National ‘Carolina 500’ on the 1.017 mile North Carolina Motor Speedway. The key event of the race came on the 402nd of 492 laps. Petty, leading by almost a lap, spun after getting clipped by Bobby Isaac while diving for the pits. Petty’s spinning car was hit by 2nd running Cale Yarborough before coming to a rest on pit road. Petty received a push from another team, losing little time, but Yarborough lost 2 laps having sheet metal removed. Petty’s Plymouth SuperBird finished 3 laps ahead of Yarborough’s Wood Brothers Mercury. The win was the first for Petty since returning to Mopar after a year with Ford.

1987: Dale Earnhardt crashed in practice, but drives a repaired Chevrolet to his 22nd career victory in the Miller High Life 400 at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway, Virginia, US.

1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Australian Grand Prix in controversial circumstances after team-mate David Coulthard slowed to allow him through two laps from the end. Hakkinen led the race from pole position before he misheard a call to come into the pits, allegedly caused by a fan hacking into the teams pit to car radio. He lost the lead to Coulthard who then moved aside. In the uproar that followed it emerged the two drivers had an agreement, whoever made it to the first corner ahead should go on to win the race. The matter was investigated by the World Motorsport Council with the verdict that “any future act prejudicial to the interests of competition should be severely punished”. Team orders continued to cause controversy, and were eventually banned ahead of the 2003 season.

2004: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone introduced a new single-lap qualifying format brought in to give smaller teams greater TV coverage. The system involved two qualifying sessions, one on Saturday and one on Sunday morning, with the times aggregated to make up the grid. The change was immediately slated by fans who didn’t want to wait until Sunday to find out who was on pole. Ecclestone said: “It wasn’t done to make it more exciting, it was done because the teams with the smaller budgets that weren’t up front said they never got seen during qualifying because people concentrated on the fast cars. I said that’s complete nonsense because if people don’t want to watch, they won’t watch.”

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