17-18 October: This Weekend in Motor Sports History

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

-17 October-

1931: Henry Birkin driving a Maserati 26M won the Mountain Championship at Brooklands.

1971: Richard Petty took advantage of Bobby Allison’s misfortune to prevail in the Delaware 500 at Dover International Speedway, Delaware, US. It was the 18th of 21 victories for Petty that season, which ended in his seventh and final championship in NASCAR’s top series. Allison led 394 of the 500 laps from the pole position before a late pit stop with a two-lap lead revealed broken lug nuts on his Holman-Moody Mercury. Petty cruised from there, finishing one lap ahead of runner-up Charlie Glotzbach and third-place Bobby Isaac. Allison trudged home to a fourth-place finish, two laps behind.

1981: The Las Vegas Grand Prix also referred to as the Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix was won by Alain Jones in a Ferrari. It was the final race of the 1981 Formula One season, and saw Nelson Piquet win the first of his three World Championships.

1982: Jackie Ickx and Derek Bell drove a Rothmans Porsche 956 to victory in the endurance race at Brands Hatch, England. Ickx won the World Endurance Championship driving title.

1998: Jeff Gordon passed Kenny Irwin, Jr., with 38 laps remaining and hustled to victory in the rescheduled Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Florida (US). For the first time, a race was staged under the lights at Daytona. Gordon won for the 11th time in the 1998 season and was virtually assured of winning his third championship.

-18 October-

1931: The first automobile race was held at the Oakland Speedway, California, US. It was a one-mile, banked dirt oval track built, which operated throughout the Great Depression and the postwar years. The track featured AAA-sanctioned National Championship races with Indy cars and drivers from 1931 until 1936. When the AAA pulled out of the West Coast the track featured racing by members of the Bay Cities Racing Association running roadsters and motorcycles, as well as Big Cars, stock cars, and midgets. It was known as the “fastest dirt track in the Nation”. After the grandstands burned down in 1942, the track had been abandoned, but after World War II, new stands were built and the track reopened as Oakland Stadium, until it closed in 1955 to make way for the Bay Fair Shopping Center, a $25 million development. Among legendary top race drivers who got their start at the Oakland Speedway was Bob Sweikert, the 1955 Indy 500 winner.

1964: Roger Penske drove a Chevrolet-powered Chaparral 2 to victory in the USAC-sanctioned sports car race at Laguna Seca in California.

1970: Denny Hulme drove a McLaren M8D to victory in the Laguna Seca, California, USA, Can-Am race.

1986: Morgan Shepherd posted a dominant NASCAR Nationwide Series win, leading 144 of 197 laps in the Sandhills 200 at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. Shepherd, who scored three other Nationwide wins in the season, wound up 1.02 seconds ahead of pole-starter Davey Allison, who paced 31 laps in a runner-up finish. Dale Jarrett took third with Larry Pearson fourth as the final cars on the lead lap.

2009: British driver Jenson Button and Brawn GP secured the Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship titles respectively at the Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the season.

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