22-28 February: Motoring Milestones

Discover the most momentous motoring events that took place this week in history ………..

100 years ago this week, Ralph DePalma won the featured 50 mile AAA Championship race on the 1.25 mile Los Angeles Motor Speedway board track [27 February 1921]. DePalma averaged 107.39 mph at the wheel of a Ballot. DePalma, Roscoe Sarles, Jimmy Murphy and Tommy Milton won earlier 25 mile races…… The first United States-built Rolls Royce was completed and delivered in chassis form to Wallace Potter of Pawtucket, Rhode Island [28 February 1921]……80 years ago this week, Edsel B Ford drove the first Ford Model GP Command Reconnaissance Truck off the assembly line..it was developed as a competitor to the Bantam 40 BRC and the Willys MA, the Ford GP, also popularly called the ‘Blitz Buggy’, showed a significant similarity to the latter [28 February 1941]……60 years ago this week, Marvin Panch took the lead when Fireball Roberts dropped out with 13 laps left and went on to win the third Daytona 500 [26 February 1961]- cover image. Panch was running nearly a lap behind teammate Fireball Roberts when Roberts’ Pontiac limped to the pits trailing smoke. Panch crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of Joe Weatherly with Paul Goldsmith third, as Pontiacs finished 1-2-3. Panch averaged 149.601 mph in the caution free race……. The Toyo Kogyo Company Ltd of Hiroshima, Japan acquired the license to manufacture Wankel rotary engines [27 February 1961]…….50 years ago this week, 23 days after Rolls Royce Ltd had entered receivership, a new company, Rolls Royce (1971) Ltd, was registered [23 February 1971]……. on the same day [23 February 1971] Beatle George Harrison was fined and banned from driving for a year for speeding…….. Nick Rescino won the Bay Cities Racing Association indoor midget race at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, California, US. Hank Butcher was second followed by Jack Walker, Chuck Gurney and Bob Johnson [27 February 1971]……. A.J. Foyt won the 500 mile NASCAR GN race at Ontario Motor Speedway, Ontario, California [28 February 1971]. Foyt drove the Wood Brothers Mercury past Buddy Baker with 14 laps left and crossed the finish line 8.5 seconds in front of Baker’s Petty Dodge. 51 cars took the green flag starting three-abreast in the first NASCAR race on the 2.5 mile OMS oval……..40 years ago this week, driver Ulf Grönholm (38) – the father of future World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm – and co-driver Bob Rehnström were killed after their car hit a snowploughand caught fire during a preparatory run on public roads for the Hankiralli, the Finnish round of the European Rally Championship scheduled two days later [26 February 1980]……20 years ago this week, Dennis Nalon (87), an American midget car, sprint car, and Indy 500 driver from Chicago, Illinois, United States, died [26 February 2001]. Duke Nalon’s first appearance in the Indy 500 came in 1937 but he would have to wait until 1948 to become a frontrunner finishing 3rd and score pole-position the following year, but crashing out of the race lead. From 1950 on, when the Indy 500 race counted as a round of the Formula 1 World Championship, Duke would enter F1 stats as pole-man in 1951, but didnít manage to repeat the performances he had shown in recent years. He retired after the 1954 Indy 500 and, after living a while in Phoenix, moved to Indianapolis…….. Under the ownership of Paul Stoddart, Minardi won its race against time to launch its new car just days ahead of the opening race of the season. The car was revealed with few sponsors on it and the team admitted it team was still in the hunt for a major backer. Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques were the team’s drivers but Stoddart didn’t have particularly high expectations heading into the first race [28 February 2001]…….on the same day at 06:13 GMT, Gary Hart, a sleep-deprived driver, swerved off the M62 onto the East Coast Main Line near Selby. While Hart was calling the emergency services, a GNER southbound train collided with Hart’s Land Rover, and subsequently derailed into the path of an oncoming freight train. 10 people were killed, including the drivers of both trains, and a further 82 were injured.Hart served 30 months of a five-year jail term after being convicted of 10 charges of causing death by dangerous driving……..10 years ago this week, Ferrari signed a new contract with cigarette company Philip Morris to carry Marlboro sponsorship until 2006 [22 February 2011]. Rumours that the EU-imposed ban on tobacco sponsorship would put Philip Morris off extending its deal were proved unfounded and the branding remained on the car. The two companies then raised even more eyebrows by agreeing on another deal that would extend the sponsorship to 2011

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