7-8 October: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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Momentous motor sports events that took place during this weekend in history …….

~7 October~

1906: Birmingham International Raceway, a 5/8-mile oval paved racetrack located at the Alabama State Fairgrounds in the Five Points West neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama (US), hosted its first motorcycle race, followed by an automobile race three days later.

Birmingham International Raceway
Birmingham International Raceway

1907: A Walter driven by Joe Parkin Jr won the 10-mile race at the Trenton Inter-State Fairgrounds, New Jersey, US – this event hastened the evolution of the marque into Mercer.

1913: Camille Jentazy (44) – nicknamed Le Diable Rouge (“The Red Devil”) after the colour of his beard, died from an accidental shooting while on a wild boar hunt..The winner of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Trophy and former land speed record holder, had gone behind a bush and made animal noises as a prank on his friends who were hunting with him. It worked too well. Alfred Madoux, director of the journal L’Etoile Belge, fired, believing it was a wild animal. When they realised it was Jenatzy, they rushed him to hospital by car; he bled to death en route, fulfilling his own prophecy he would die in a Mercedes. He is buried at the Laeken Cemetery in Brussels.

Camille Jentazy
Camille Jentazy

1935: The Brooklands lap record of 143.44 mph was set by British driver John Cobb, driving his 24-litre, 500-bhp Napier Railton around the Surrey track. He also recorded the highest official speed on the track at 151.97 mph.

1935: The Wayland Grand Prix, the first race at the Wayland track near Boston, Massachusetts (US) and the first staged by the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), was won by Langdon Quimby in a Willys 77.

1950: Spectators were allowed to watch racing at the former wartime airfield, Castle Combe in Wiltshire, where a crowd of 12,000 saw Peter Collins and Stirling Moss competing in F3.

59cb6fe5f1d5e1956: Fireball Roberts stormed from 14th starting position to lead the final 51 laps of a 200-lap main event at Newport (Tenn., US.) Speedway’s half-mile dirt track. The win was the sixth of Roberts’ 33-win career in NASCAR’s premier series. Buck Baker, a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, led the other 149 laps and finished second as the only other driver on the lead lap. Bill Amick, Roberts’ teammate in Pete DePaolo-owned Fords, placed one lap down in third. The track, 50 miles east of Knoxville, converted to a high-banked, .4-mile asphalt track in 1988 and still hosts weekly racing events.

1962: Jack Brabham, in the second Formula 1 appearance with his new Brabham, finished 4th in the US Grand Prix, becoming the first driver to earn Championship points driving a car of his own design.

1972: Dennis Priddle driving his 6424 cc supercharged Chrysler dragster developing 1700 bhp using nitromethane and methanol achieved a world record for two runs in opposite directions over 440 yards, from a standing start of 6.70 seconds, at Elvington Airfield, North Yorkshire.

1984: The European Grand Prix was the first major race was run on the new 4.54 km (2.82 mi) Nürburgring GP-Strecke and the first time F1 had returned to the ‘Ring since the 1976 German Grand Prix that was held on the old 22.835 km (14.19 mi) Nordschleife circuit. During the race morning warm-up session, Alain Prost spun his McLaren-TAG and hit a course car parked at the side of the circuit. Young Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna triggered a first corner accident which took out the cars of Rosberg, Marc Surer, Gerhard Berger, and Piercarlo Ghinzani. Senna’s Toleman (which had started 12th) had run into the back of Rosberg’s Williams under braking at the end of the main straight which caused the accident. Rosberg had started fourth (after blowing his Honda engine coming out of the final corner of his qualifying lap), but was slow off the line as his engine had suddenly developed a misfire. After qualifying second on the grid, Alain Prost won the race in his McLaren from the Ferrari of Michele Alboreto and the Brabham-BMW of defending World Champion Nelson Piquet, with both the Ferrari and Brabham running out of fuel as they crossed the finish line. When they got out of their cars which stopped at the pit exit, Alboreto and Piquet raised their arms to each other in a gesture of frustration at FISAs 220 litre fuel limit for turbos which had reduced races to economy runs. Niki Lauda, who had almost lost his life in a fiery crash while driving a Ferrari 312T2 during the 1976 German GP, started 15th and finished 4th in his McLaren, which could have been 3rd had it not been for a spin when he locked his brakes while lapping Mauro Baldi on lap 21. In stark contrast to the lack of safety of the Nordschleife, Lauda gave the new GP-Strecke the thumbs up as a very safe Grand Prix circuit, saying that it was “the perfect place to hold a Grand Prix”. He also added that returning to the ‘Ring held no fears for him as his accident was 8 years previous and if he had not gotten over it by then he never would.

1988: Frank Sanchez set a Pro Stock elapse-time record when he covered the 1/4-mile in 7.294 seconds during the NHRA National event at Baytown, Texas, USA

1995: Racer Louis Meyer (91), died in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. Meyer was first-ever driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three times, capturing the prestigious race as a rookie starter in 1928 (though having driven as a relief driver for Wilbur Shaw the year before), then again in 1933 and 1936. Meyer started the tradition of drinking milk (buttermilk at the time) in victory lane at the 1933 Indianapolis 500 race, when he drank a glass of milk.

2001: Gil de Ferran won the CART Texaco Grand Prix of Houston through the downtown streets of Houston, Texas.

~8 October~

1904: The first Vanderbilt Cup automobile racing event was held in Hicksville, New York. It was created to introduce Europe’s best automotive drivers and manufacturers to the U.S. Named after the event’s organizer, William K. Vanderbilt Jr., the grand prize of the race was the elegant Vanderbilt Cup, crafted by Tiffany & Co., the famous American jewellers. The race, a 10-mile lap course over a 30-mile circuit, had 18 entries: five Mercedes cars, three Panhards, two Pope-Toledos, two Fiats, and one each by Renault, Simplex, De

Vanderbilt Cup Race, 1904
Vanderbilt Cup Race, 1904

Dietrich, Packard, Clement-Bayard, and Royal Tourist. George Heath, a Frenchman, won the first Vanderbilt Cup in a Panhard automobile, edging out his competition with a brisk average speed of 52.2 mph. French-built cars continued to dominate the Vanderbilt Cup until 1908, when daredevil George Robertson drove a 90hp Locomobile, known as “Old 16,” to victory in the fourth Vanderbilt Cup. It was the first major international racing victory for an American car, and served notice that the U.S. could compete in motor racing and automobile production. The annual Vanderbilt Cup event continued until 1916, when the demands of World War I put an end to the tradition.

1910: Len Zengle, driving a Chadwick, won the 200-mile Founders’s Day Cup Race at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, US, the first race won by a car with a supercharged engine.

1961: Innes Ireland drove a Lotus-Climax to victory in the first United States Grand Prix held at Watkins Glen, New York. It was the first Team Lotus win in a championship qualifying Grand Prix. Tony Brooks finished third in his last Grand Prix.

1972: Bobby Allison emerged from a late-race battle with Buddy Baker to win the National 500, securing his third victory out of the previous four races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina, US. Allison, who led 192 of 334 laps, traded the lead with Baker four times in the final eight laps before taking control with four laps left. Baker wound up second, two car-lengths behind at the finish. David Pearson finished third, two laps down.

Mario Andretti
Mario Andretti

1978: American Mario Andretti became Formula One World Champion. He is one of only three drivers to win races in Formula One IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR (the others being Dan Gurney and Juan Pablo Montoya).

2005: In Nevada, in the United States, 23 robotic vehicles competed over a 150-mile course for a $2 million prize sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Darpa. 4 robotic vehicles finished the race across the Mojave desert over a rugged 132-mile course without a single human command. Stanford University’s Sebastian Thrun, a customised Volkswagen, crossed first in 6 hours and 59 minutes.

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