10-11 October: This Weekend in Motorsports History

Discover the momentous motorsports events that took place this weekend in history ……..

-10 October-

1907: The Pierce Great Arrow won the Chicago Motor Club’s 200-Mile Economy Run, to win the Knight Trophy.

1908: The first Founders’ Cup Race was held in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia (US), was won by George Robertson in a Locomobile. Philadelphia’s 200-mile Fairmount Park Motor Race, organized by the Quaker City Motor Club for the city’s annual Founder’s Week from 1908 to 1911. Unlike most of the more well-known automobile races of the day, the Fairmount Park Motor Race allowed only American-built cars on stock chassis to compete. The first of the races was the most heavily attended race ever, with 500,000 spectators. In that first year, 16 cars competed, with George Robertson taking the win in Irving Morse’s 40hp Locomobile. Robertson won the event again in 1909 (though in a Simplex), and both years he took home a 31-pound, 3-foot sterling silver trophy, engraved by artists at Bailey, Banks and Biddle, topped with a figure of William Penn and then valued at $1,000. He also happened to take home $2,500, quite the purse for the time.

1933: Giuseppi Campari, Baconin Borzacchini, and Count Stanislas Czaykowski died in two separate accidents during the Monza Grand Prix at Monza, Italy.

1965:The Chaparral 2C racer was publicly introduced. It featured the famous “flipper” wing on the tail of the car which was operated by the driver’s left foot. It was entered in just two races. Jim Hall had his last win as a driver in the first race, and crashed the car in the second. The car was then rebuilt as the 2E which featured the raised suspension mounted high wing.

1976: James Hunt won the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York, in a McLaren M23. Austrian Niki Lauda arrived in the United States for the penultimate race of 1976 with an eight-point lead over Britain’s James Hunt in the driver’s championship. Lauda had led comfortably with five wins in the season’s first nine races, before his life-threatening crash at the Nürburgring in August. Hunt then won three of the next five races, including Germany where Lauda was injured. Lauda recovered to race in Italy and Canada (won by Hunt), but his lead over Hunt in the driver’s championship had narrowed considerably. Friday’s first qualifying session saw only a handful of drivers venture out onto a wet race track. When Austrian Otto Stuppacher went out first, there were still streams of water running across in places. McLaren manager Teddy Mayer remarked, “The drivers finished in reverse ratio to the proportion of their IQs.” The rain stopped before the afternoon session began, and after 15 minutes on the still wet track, drivers began changing to slicks. Times dropped quickly on the drying track as driver after driver jumped to the top of the charts, only to fall back down again as the others went faster, too. Hunt and Patrick Depailler, who was driving one of the six-wheeled Tyrrells, were dueling for top spot, with Depailler following Hunt’s McLaren on the track, when the air bottle for the McLaren’s compressor starter fell off and hit the Tyrrell’s two left front wheels and the monocoque. Both wheels were broken, and even after stopping to replace them, Depailler’s steering was out of line, and he could manage only seventh quickest. Later, as Hunt stood in the pits next to a four-foot, 150-pound air bottle, Rob Walker asked, “Was that the one you threw at Depailler?” Hunt answered, “No, we are keeping that one for Niki on Sunday!” Hunt finished Friday on pole, ahead of Jody Scheckter’s Tyrrell, the Marches of Ronnie Peterson and Vittorio Brambilla, and Lauda’s Ferrari. Saturday’s rain was worse than Friday morning’s had been, so the times from Friday afternoon made up the grid. Stuppacher was the only one who failed to qualify. Overnight, snow fell on the circuit, but the sun came out on Sunday as 100,000 fans, the largest paying crowd ever at The Glen, came out to see the championship battle. At the start, Scheckter jumped ahead of Hunt and led into the first turn. They were followed by Brambilla, Peterson, Lauda, Depailler, John Watson’s Penske, the Lotus of Mario Andretti and Jacques Laffite’s Ligier. Scheckter and Hunt began to draw away immediately, with the Tyrrell 2.5 seconds ahead after five laps. After being held up by Brambilla for four laps, Lauda moved into third, 5.8 seconds behind Hunt. Meanwhile, a battle was being waged for fourth among Brambilla, Peterson, Laffite, Carlos Pace, Watson, Clay Regazzoni, Andretti and Jochen Mass. Hans-Joachim Stuck, who had qualified sixth but suffered a slipping clutch on the grid, was working his way forward and had now reached the end of this group. Further down, on lap 15, the Ensign of Jacky Ickx went wide in Turn 6, a left-hander entering the ‘Anvil’ section of the course (known among spectators as ‘The Boot’). The car suddenly snapped right and hit the Armco barrier head on. The nose went under the bottom rail, and the car split in two with the rear section spinning back onto the track in flames. Ickx stepped out of the wreckage of the cockpit and hobbled to the grass, where he collapsed with injuries to both his legs and ankles. Emerson Fittipaldi, who had been following him, said it was one of the worst accidents he had ever seen, and that he could hear the explosion of the car hitting the barrier above his engine and through his helmet and earplugs. Watson slowed briefly for the wreck, and was passed by Regazzoni and Mass before he got back up to full speed, putting him back to ninth place. At the front, Scheckter’s Tyrrell was losing grip as his fuel load lightened, and Hunt was getting quicker in the chasing McLaren. The gap closed to 1.3 seconds on lap 29, then half a second on lap 30. Finally, on lap 37, Hunt moved inside at the end of the back straight and took the lead. He pulled away by over two seconds in the next two laps, but on lap 41, he missed a gear in the chicane while trying to get around some backmarkers, and Scheckter retook the lead. Hunt passed him again at the end of the straight on lap 46 and held on to claim his sixth win of the season. Six laps from the finish, on lap 53, Hunt set the fastest lap of the race. Lauda, struggling with oversteer on hard tires in the cold, barely beat Hunt’s McLaren teammate Mass to the line to keep his third place. After the race, the Austrian removed his helmet to reveal a balaclava soaked in blood. He claimed four Championship points and still led by three points with one race to go.

1992: Jeff Gordon took command after Mark Martin retiring with battery failure to win the All Pro 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina, US marking his third NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. Gordon, who started from the pole, led 90 of the 200 laps in a Baby Ruth-sponsored Ford owned by Bill Davis. Michael Waltrip finished second while brothers Bobby and Terry Labonte came home third and fourth, respectively.

1998: The Petit Le Mans (French for little Le Mans), a sports car endurance race held annually at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, US was first run as part of the IMSA season. From 1998 until 2013, Petit Le Mans covered a maximum of 1,000 miles (1,600 km) (which is approximately 394 laps) or a maximum of 10 hours, whichever came first; only once, in the rain-stopped 2009 race, had the leading team failed to complete 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Since 2014, the duration is 10 hours, without distance limitations.In addition to the overall race, teams of two or three drivers per car compete for class victories in different categories, divided into Le Mans prototypes and grand tourers. Class winners of this event receive an automatic invitation to the following year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, however in 2012 this was removed from the regulations. Rinaldo Capello holds the record of most race wins, having won in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

-11 October –

1901: A White steamer driven by Robin H White won the 5 and 10 mile races in Detroit, Michigan, often cited as the first ‘serious’ tarck races in the US.

1964: Marvin Panch pulled ahead of Fred Lorenzen with 25 laps left to win an attrition-filled Wilkes 400 at North Wilkesboro (North Carolina) Speedway. Panch led 74 of the 400 laps in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford and finished 5.8 seconds ahead of Lorenzen’s Holman-Moody Ford. Darel Dieringer took third place in a Bud Moore Mercury, three laps down. Pole-starter Junior Johnson led 201 laps before retiring with engine failure, making him one of 21 drivers in the 32-car field who did not finish.

1964: Racers Franco Patria and Peter Lindner plus three track officials were killed during a race in Montlhery, France.

1981: George Follmer drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory in the SCCA Trans-Am race at Laguna Seca, California, US.

1991: Jim White sets an NHRA Funny Car top speed record of 290.13 mph at Dallas, Texas, US.

1992: Mark Martin edged Alan Kulwicki to win Charlotte’s Mello Yello 500 (North Carolina, US) for his second win of the season. Points leader Bill Elliott departed with mechanical problems, leaving six ­drivers within 114 points in what suddenly became a wide-open championship race.

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