Discover the most momentous motor sports events that took place this weekend in history……
1935: Bill Cummings, driving the Cummins Diesel Special that had finished 12th in the 1934 Indianapolis 500, raised the land speed record for diesel powered cars to 137.195 mph at Daytona Beach, Florida, US.
1945: Racer Raymond Mays contacted key British motor industry figures with plans that led in 1947 to the formation of British Racing Motors, Ltd., manufacturers of BRM racing cars.
1947: Stirling Moss at the age of 18 entered his first official race, the Harrow Car Club Trial, at the wheel of a BMW 328.
1947: Enzo Ferrari drove the first 125S vehicle out of the factory gates. Like the 815, it was a racing sports car, but unlike its Fiat-powered 8-cylinder predecessor, the 125S featured a V12 engine (the “125”), a trait it shared with most Ferrari cars of the following decades. The 125S was the first vehicle to bear the Ferrari name when it debuted on May 11, 1947 at the Piacenza racing circuit.
1958: Four days after the race, Lee Petty was declared the winner of the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National at Concord Speedway despite protests from Curtis Turner and Speedy Thompson, the apparent top two finishers. Scorecard data indicated that Petty finished the 200 laps first although Turner started on the pole and led the entire distance.
1975: Anthony Joseph ‘A J’ Foyt, driving a Coyote-Foyt, and Wally Dallenbach, driving a Drake-Offenhauser powered Eagle, won the two heats of the California 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California, USA.
1979: Gilles Villeneuve won the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami in a Ferrari 312T4.
2000: Never one to back down from controversy, Bernie Ecclestone (cover image) said he thought a woman could never be an F1 champion. “In all likelihood they [women] will never get the opportunity because no one will ever take them seriously,” he said. “Therefore they’re never ever going to get into a competitive race car. Who is going to take a chance? Ferrari can’t take a chance.”
2001: Michael Schumacher walked away from a horrifying crash during the first practice session of the season in Australia. His Ferrari snapped out of control in the 175mph turn 6 and flipped twice when entered the gravel sideways and dug in. He left the scene in a medical car but was unharmed and went on to take pole position in qualifying and win the race.
2003: Matt Kenseth scampered away from the field in the final laps and finished nine seconds in front of runner-up Dale Earnhardt, Jr., to win the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (US). It was be Kenseth’s lone triumph in 2003.
1932: Alfieri Maserati (44) Italian automotive engineer, known for establishing and leading the Maserati racing car manufacturer with the other Maserati Brothers, died from liver complications related to an accident in 1928.
1956: Ernst Loof (48) died in Bonn Germany. A multiple motorcycle champion prior to the war, Loof also worked as a BMW engineer and built the special 328 coupe which Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Baumer used to win the truncated 1940 Mille Miglia. After the war Loof established himself quite a reputation as designer of the Veritas cars and drove one of these BMW-engined machines in the 1953 German Grand Prix. He later developed a brain tumor and died after a long illness.
1957: Jack Smith took the lead from Buck Baker with 14 laps to go and won the 100 mile NASCAR Grand National race on the 1/2 mile dirt Concord Speedway. Baker finished second and Speedy Thompson third, giving owner Hugh Babb’s factory backed Chevy team a 1-2-3 sweep. Mel Larson of Las Vegas won the pole in his independent Ford, but was retired early.
1973: Mike ‘the Bike’ Hailwood, already one of the world’s top motorbike riders switched to four wheels to try his hand at grand prix racing. He was on the grid for the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami when his car was struck by Clay Regazzoni’s BRM which then burst into flames with Regazzoni unconscious at the wheel. Hailwood immediately dived into the flames, undid Regazzoni’s seatbelts and dragged him clear of the burning wreckage. Clay was taken to hospital with minor burns while Hailwood was awarded the George Medal for his bravery.
1974: Richard Petty drove his Dodge to victory in the ‘Carolina 500’ NASCAR Grand National race at the North Carolina Motor Speedway. Cale Yarborough, in the Richard Howard Chevy, finished more than a lap behind in second. After the race, Petty criticized the new NASCAR point system.
1991: Kyle Petty led 380 of the 492 laps in Rockingham’s Goodwrench 500, North Carolina,(US) but had to rally from a lap deficit to seal his first win of the season.
1991: The Intrepid, with Wayne Taylor driving, makes its IMSA GTP racing debut with a second place finish at West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
1992: Nigel Mansell set the fastest lap on his way to winning the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami in his Williams. He also took pole for the race. Riccardo Patrese was second in the other Williams and Ayrton Senna finished third in his McLaren.
1992: Maria Grazia Lombardi (50), best known as Lella Lombardi, a female racing driver from Italy who participated in 17 F1 World Championship Grands Prix, died. She scored a total of 0.5 championship points, and is the only female Formula One driver in history to have a top 6 finish in a World Championship race, at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. Half points were awarded for this race due to a shortened race distance; hence Lombardi received half a point instead of the usual one point.
1996: Maria Grazia Lombardi (50), best known as Lella Lombardi, a female racing driver from Italy who participated in 17 F1 World Championship Grands Prix, died. She scored a total of 0.5 championship points, and is the only female Formula One driver in history to have a top 6 finish in a World Championship race, at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. Half points were awarded for this race due to a shortened race distance; hence Lombardi received half a point instead of the usual one point.
2002: The Australian Grand Prix, the first race of the season, was won by defending World Champion Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2001, becoming just the eighth driver to win the event three times since it was first held in 1928. Another hero was Mark Webber, the Australian driver making his F1 debut for the Minardi team which was then owned by Australian Paul Stoddart. Weber finished fifth for the minnows earning 2 points and a fantastic reaction from his boss and the home crowd.