8-9 August: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

~8 August~

1933: The Swedish Summer Grand Prix (in Swedish: “Sveriges sommar-Grand Prix för automobiler”) arranged by Kungliga Automobilklubben (the Royal Automobile Club) was held on a 29.7 kilometre circuit at Norra Vram was held. The circuit was made up at regular countryside roads at a place very close to present day closed circuit Ring Knutstorp in Kågeröd. The opening lap saw a multi-car pile-up which saw several drivers injured, two seriously, and a riding mechanic was killed. One of the crashed cars started a fire which saw a nearby house burned to the ground. The race continued while emergency services attended the scene and the race was eventually won by Antonio Brivio, driving an Alfa Romeo for Scuderia Ferrari.

1935: Doc MacKenzie clinched the Eastern AAA racing title by winning the 50-mile feature race in Longhorne, Pennsylvania, US.

1948: Bobby Hill and Billy Huber finished in a dead heat in the 10-mile National Championship motorcycle race at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, Georgia – cover image. This was the only dead heat in American Motorcycle Association history. Coming into the final lap of the race Indian’s Bobby Hill held a 30-yard lead over Harley’s Billy Huber. Huber cut the lead in half during the first turn, holding his position on the back straight. Hitting the final turn wide open, Huber drove out of the corner on the inside and pulled up to just 10 feet behind Hill. Taking advantage of Bobby’s draft, Billy Huber swung out with the finish line only 150 yards away. Determined, Billy cranked it pulling neck and neck with Hill. Both riders crossed the finish line simultaneously in a photo finish, setting a Lakewood Park track record of 7:46.47. With the crowd going batshit, President Mike Benton of the Lakewood Park Speedway declared both riders winners, and both riders received first-place prize money. The first and only tie in AMA National history. Bobby Hill was known as one of Indian’s famed “Wrecking Crew”, along with Bill Tuman and Ernie Beckman. The three made an indelible mark on the motorcycle history books and solidified Indian’s racing reputation. Bobby Hill was AMA National Champion in 1951 and 1952 by virtue of his victories on the Springfield Mile. Hill won a total of 12 AMA Nationals during his professional racing career spanning the years 1947 to 1959. Bill Tuman was the last single-day winner of the AMA Grand National Championship at the Springfield Mile in 1953 before the AMA Grand National Championship Series was created in 1954. That win also marked the last time an Indian rider won the prestigious AMA Grand National No. 1 plate. Tuman won a total of five AMA Grand Nationals during his racing career that spanned 1947 to 1955. Ernie Beckman earned ten podium finishes from 1949-1957 and only finished outside of the top 10 six times in that span. Beckman was the last rider to win an AMA Grand National race on an Indian— August 2, 1953 at Williams Grove, Pennsylvania. Billy Huber won the AMA 100-Mile National in 1950 and 1951, at the Langhorne Speedway near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He held multiple track records and is considered one of the strongest racers of his era. On July 5, 1953, with the temperature over 100 degrees at the 200-Mile National Championship race in Dodge City, Kansas, at the 140-mile mark Huber was overcome by heat stroke causing him to crash hard coming out of the corner. Tragically, he would die the next day from his injuries. All four men were inducted in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.

1953: Mid-Cheshire MC (UK) promoted a trial motor race meeting on behalf of the Cheshire Car Circuit Ltd. and for the first time Oulton Park echoed to the strain of open exhausts. The RAC banned the public from attending but some 3000 Club members and their guests managed to watch the racing which was run over the original rectangular shaped track of 1.504 miles.

1976: Pole-starter Dave Marcis took the lead from Buddy Baker with 15 laps left and outruns him to win the Talladega 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Alabama, US. Marcis, whose pass for the lead was the last of 58 lead changes, finished 29.5 seconds ahead of Baker at the checkered flag. Dick Brooks finished third, one lap down. Until Brad Keselowski’s win earlier this season at the 2.66-mile Alabama track, Marcis’ win stood as the most recent Talladega victory by a Dodge.

1978: Pete Brock won the Australian Touring Car Championship. Brock was most often associated with Holden for almost 40 years, although he raced vehicles of other manufacturers including BMW, Ford, Volvo, Porsche and Peugeot.

1982: Patrick Tambay won the German Grand Prix for Ferrari after his teammate Didier Pironi was injured in practice. Hockenheim had been modified from the year before, with the first chicane being made slower and another chicane added to slow cars through the very fast Ostkurve. Didier Pironi set the fastest practice time, but was seriously injured in qualifying for this Grand Prix and never raced in Formula One again. With the track wet thanks to persistent showers, Pironi was on a quick lap when his Ferrari hit the back of Alain Prost’s slow moving Renault at high speed, vaulting over the top of it before landing tail-first and cartwheeling to a stop in eerie similarity to Gilles Villeneuve’s fatal accident earlier in the season. Pironi survived but suffered severe leg injuries that sidelined him for the rest of the year. He never managed to return to Formula One before his death in 1987. Pironi’s accident also had a profound effect on Prost who never forgot the sight of the Ferrari flying over his car, the crash firming his views on driving F1 cars in the wet where visibility was virtually zero if behind another car. Thanks to Hockenheim’s long straights, the turbo-charged cars were overwhelmingly dominant in qualifying. Not only did turbo-charged cars take up the first 6 grid positions, but the utmost proof of this was the slowest turbo qualifier Riccardo Patrese, placing 6th, driving a Brabham-BMW was 2.9 seconds faster than the fastest non-turbo qualifier, 7th placed Michele Alboreto, driving a Ford-Cosworth powered Tyrrell. Since Ferrari never withdrew the injured Pironi, pole position was left empty at the start. Nelson Piquet led the race, but collided with Eliseo Salazar while lapping him at the new Ostkurve chicane. After the two cars came to a stop, an irate Piquet quickly climbed out of his Brabham, approached Salazar, and then punched and kicked Salazar in a rage, which continued for some time after the collision. It was later revealed that Piquet’s BMW engine was suffering mechanical failure and would blow up anyway, had he and Salazar not crashed. Patrick Tambay, driving the lone Ferrari, won his first Formula One race.

1993: Nigel Mansell won the New England 200 Indy car race. He passed Paul Tracy with three laps to go to win the New England 200 IndyCar event for his fourth victory of the season and second straight win. Mansell defeated Tracy by 0.453-seconds in an extremely close and competitive race. Two-time Formula One and Indianapolis 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi was third, followed by Roberto Guerrero and Robby Gordon.

2004: Jeff Gordon became the first four-time winner of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. He also set the race record for most laps led, with 124.

~9 August~

1901: The first rally race in Ireland, sponsored by the Irish Automobile Club, was held as 12 cars attempted an organised journey from Dublin to Waterford. A rally took place over a specified public route with a driver and navigator straining to maintain a breakneck pace from checkpoint to checkpoint. The course was generally kept secret until the race began. Rally racing became extremely popular after World War II, and weekend rallies became common worldwide. The longest rally took place in 1977, over 19,239 miles from London to Sydney.

1913: Earl Cooper driving a Stutz won the Santa Monica Road Race run over 53 laps of the 8.417 mile road race course.

1931: Enzo Ferrari completed his last automobile race driving an Alfa Romeo 8C2300 to a second-place finish behind Tazio Nuvolari in the Circuito delle Tre Province, Italy.

1952: Motor racing commenced at the Davidstow Circuit, Cornwall (UK), built on the site of a World War II RAF Coastal Command base, RAF Davidstow Moor. Three races were run over the 2.6 mile circuit; from 1953, a shorter 1.85 mile circuit was used. Sadly, the racing history of Davidstow can be counted in the number of races run – a grand total of just 44. The first race meetings were organised by the Cornish Vintage Car Club – itself only founded in 1949 – and by the Plymouth Motor Club which was formed in 1908.

1970: The National Drag Race Club staged a meeting held at Elvington, North Yorkshire, England in front of 1186 adult & 200 child spectators. Clive Skilton became the first European racer to run into the sevens with a 7.84. This meeting was originally intended to be held at Martlesham Heath but it was moved to Elvington following complaints about noise from Martlesham residents after the May meeting. At this meeting Bill Haynes, in his ‘Quarter Horse’ Dragster became the first car driver to race head to head with a motorcycle. In a best of three match the result stood at one each before fading light prevented the final round being run.

1975: Mark Donohue set an American closed-course speed record of 221.120 mph at Talledega, Alabama, in a Porsche 917/30.

1987: Nelson Piquet, the eventual 1987 F1 champion, driving a Williams-Honda FW11B, won the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring. It was Piquet’s second victory in a row after winning the German Grand Prix. Again like the German Grand Prix it was a race Piquet had won the year before, and again like the German Grand Prix, it was a victory inherited, this time after a wheel nut came off the right front wheel of Nigel Mansell’s Williams on lap 70. Ayrton Senna finished in second position in his Lotus 99T ahead of reigning world champion Alain Prost in his McLaren MP4/3. Belgian driver Thierry Boutsen (Benetton B187) chased the leaders hard all race to be rewarded with fourth place ahead of the Brabham BT56 of Italian Riccardo Patrese. The final championship point was claimed by Briton Derek Warwick in his Arrows A10. Warwick was sick with influenza and conjunctivitis, claiming the point on such a physically demanding circuit was a noteworthy achievement given the circumstances. Jonathan Palmer, who had said before the race that he hoped the tight Hungaroring would suit the non-turbos, claimed the Jim Clark Trophy points finishing seventh in his Tyrrell DG016 with team mate Philippe Streiff finishing ninth behind the second Arrows of Eddie Cheever. Italian driver Ivan Capelli was tenth in the March 871. The win allowed Piquet to expand his championship points lead to seven over Senna and 18 over Mansell.

1987: Canadian Larry Pollard prevailed in the Busch 200 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, US, becoming the first foreign-born winner in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. Pollard took over from pole-starter Larry Pearson in the 155th lap and led the rest of the 200-lap feature. Robert Ingram finished second, 3.6 seconds back on the .395-mile track, with Elton Sawyer third. Pollard, who made 98 starts over six Nationwide seasons, remains the only foreign-born winner in the series on an oval track.

1990: Al Unser Jr set the world record for a 500-mile race when he won the Michigan 500 at an average speed of 189.727 mph.

2008: The tenth annual Gumball 3000 Rally, an 8-day, 3,000-mile trip across the West Coast of America, North Korea and China, began in San Francisco with a parade that included some 100 participants who had paid the $120,000 entrance. The rally passed through Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas before flying to Nanjing in China and spending a night in North Korea for the Mass Games. From here the route then headed to Shanghai before crossing the finishing line in Beijing. 2008 was also David Hasselhoff’s first rally where he drove the original car from ‘Knight Rider’.

2015: The 1-mile (1.6 km) three-turn tri-oval, Walt Disney Track, Florida, closed. It was built in 1995 by IMS Events, Inc., a subsidiary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation, and was designed primarily as a venue for the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World, an Indy Racing League event. The circuit’s primary use was as a venue for the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and the Indy Racing Experience, programs that allowed fans to drive or ride in real race cars. After the 2000 racing season, it was no longer used as a track for major motorsports racing series, but was used by many racing teams from IndyCar to NASCAR as a test venue due to the warmer climate than other tracks around the United States during the off season for racing.

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