Discover the momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history ……
1901: The 50 mile (80 km) Piombino-Grosseto road race in Italy was won by Felice Nazzaro in a FIAT 12 hp. The vehicles registered for the competition were divided into various categories: The first category included large vehicles weighing over 1000 kg, the second category included light vehicles weighing less than 1000 kg, the third category consisted of small vehicles weighing no more than 450 kg, the fourth category included tricycles, and the fifth category was reserved for motorcycles. The contestants raced in turn according to the following order: large vehicles, tricycles, light vehicles, small vehicles, and motorcycles. The starting times had all been anticipated several hours beforehand at 7:30 due to poor road conditions. Not a single motorcycle arrived at the finish line: Renzo Mazzoleni, who drove Ceirano 2 ¼ HP, had given up in Vada; whereas, Emanuele Rosselli, who used a Rosselli 2¼ HP, had given up as well shortly after the start because the road was impassable. The Piombino – Livorno tournament had been the first event won by Fiat, as a result of the victory by novice racer Felice Nazzaro. His first victory was obtained while driving the Fiat 12 HP property race of Conte Camillo Della Gherardesca, making a record at 1:49:54 with an average of 44,77 km/h. Despite the poor weather, the competition was a great achievement. Even though the tram remained in service along the route, no accidents occurred during the race.
1958: Stirling Moss led home Mike Hawthorn and Stuart Lewis-Evans for a British 1-2-3 at the Portuguese Grand Prix. Mike Hawthorn was at first disqualified during this race, losing seven points. However, Championship rival Stirling Moss had seen the incident which caused the disqualification and went to the judges to revert the decision since he felt Hawthorn had done nothing wrong. Eventually, Hawthorn was classified and retained his seven points. Maria Teresa de Filippis became the first woman ever to compete in Formula One racing, when she drove a Maserati at Oporto, but was forced to quit the race due to engine troubles.
1993: Construction of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, began in Homestead, Florida (US). The speedway was constructed, with the efforts of promoter Ralph Sanchez, as part of a plan to help Homestead rebound after the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew.
1996: Rusty Wallace led 353 of 500 laps in a dominating performance to win the Goody’s 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Tennessee, US. The 0.533-mile track was the site of nine of Wallace’s 55 victories in NASCAR’s top series. Jeff Gordon, who led 99 laps, finished second, 0.63 seconds behind. Pole-starter Mark Martin was third.
1997: After the race started behind the safety car for the first time, due to wet weather, Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher won the Belgian Grand Prix. Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in a Jordan-Peugeot, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen third in a Williams-Renault after Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren-Mercedes was disqualified due to a fuel irregularity. Schumacher’s Drivers’ Championship rival, Jacques Villeneuve, finished fifth in the other Williams-Renault, having started from pole position.
2002: Jeff Gordon nudged his way past Rusty Wallace with three laps to go to end a 31-race losing streak with a triumph in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol, Tennessee, US Fifteen caution flags dotted the crash-marred contest.
1927: Lucy O’Reilly Schell finished 12th, driving a Bugatti in the Baule Grand Prix in France. She was the first, and only, American woman to drive in a Grand Prix.
1935: Rudolf Caracciola in a Mercedes-Benz W25/35 won the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten. During practice Hanns Geier in his Mercedes lost control at 150 mph and crashed into the timekeepers’ box, ending his racing career.
1967: Richard Petty rolled from the pole position and leads wire-to-wire in a 200-lap main event at Savannah (Georgia , US) Speedway, one of 27 victories that season for the NASCAR Hall of Famer. Elmo Langley finished second, five laps off the pace of Petty’s Plymouth. Tom Pistone took third, six laps down.
1985: Niki Lauda won the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort in a McLaren MP4/2B-TAG. The race was the 34th and last Dutch Grand Prix and the 25th and last Grand Prix victory for triple (and defending) World Champion Niki Lauda. Lauda’s team mate Alain Prost was second in his McLaren MP4/2B with Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna third in his Lotus 97T.
1986: The first Formula 3000 Birmingham Superprix race was held. The circuit was drenched by torrential downpours from the tail end of Hurricane Charley. Being laid out on public roads the circuit was bumpy, and the cars were thrown around badly. Pierluigi Martini and Luis Pérez-Sala qualified on the front row, followed by Andrew Gilbert Scott. The championship leader Ivan Capelli span early on, in his March 86B Cosworth powered car. Because of long delays, the first race was run at a shorter distance. At every corner there seemed to be someone crashing. The race was red flagged when Andrew Gilbert Scott was experiencing handling problems after an earlier spin. When he exited the Bristol Street Motors Bend on the 21st lap, he lost it and crashed into Alain Ferté’s stationary car, blocking part of the track, with Sala still fighting for the win from a fast catching up Martini. Luis Pérez-Sala was given the win, and Pierluigi Martini given second, with Michel Ferté taking third. The top six drivers were awarded half points as the race was red-flagged on the 24th lap, just before the halfway point of the 51 lap race.
1990: Ernie Irvan passed Dale Earnhardt in the final 50 miles and speeds to his first NASCAR Winston Cup victory in Bristol’s Busch 500.
1991: Michael Schumacher (cover image) made his Formula One debut at Spa. He drove for Jordan after replacing Betrand Gachot, who had been jailed for assaulting a London taxi driver the year before. Schumacher immediately caught the world’s attention by qualifying seventh, albeit 3.4 seconds off the pole time set by Ayrton Senna. In the race the clutch failed on the grid and he retired immediately while Senna led a McLaren one-two at the front of the field. However, Schumacher had made his mark on the sport and was immediately snapped up by Flavio Briatore to race for Benetton at the next event, much to the anger of Eddie Jordan.
1996: Pit lane errors by the Williams team handed the Belgian Grand Prix to Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill had locked out the front row and although Schumacher split the pair at the start Villeneuve had the faster car. However, a third of the way into the race the throttle on Jos Verstappen’s Arrows pinned wide open and he crashed at 135mph. A safety car was called out and Williams radioed Villeneuve to come in, but somewhere over the vast expanse of the Spa circuit the message got lost and Villeneuve stayed out on track. As a result Schumacher took the lead and with Villeneuve concerned about some knocking noises from his Renault V10, he settled for second. After the race an elated Schumacher said: “I would not have bet anything for this to happen. There was no way I thought I could win this race. Spa is lucky for me.”
2001: Founder and team principal of Tyrrell Racing, Ken Tyrrell (77), passed away at his home in Surrey. Tyrrell cars were a mainstay of the F1 grid from 1970 to 1998, taking 23 wins before the team entry was sold to British American Tobacco for the start of the 1999 season. It went on to become BAR, then Honda and eventually relived its glory days under the Brawn name.
2006: Sebastian Vettel became the youngest ever F1 driver as he made his debut for BMW Sauber during Friday practice for the Turkish Grand Prix. He immediately made an impact on the sport, setting the fastest time of the day with a 1:28.091 at just 19 years and 53 days old. However, he was also fined for exceeding the pit lane speed limit by 4.3km/h. He had to wait until 2007 to get his race debut with Toro Rosso and then won his first grand prix the next year for the same team.