8-9 May: This Weekend in Motor Sport History

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

-8 May –

1899: Ettore Bugatti, driving a Prinetti & Stucchi, won the Reggio-Brescello-Parma-Reggio road race in Italy.

1932: Louis Chiron was the only foreigner in the 23rd Targa Florio where just 16 cars arrived for the race, two from the Maserati works, five Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos and two Bugatti’s, entered privately by Chiron and Varzi. Seven other independents with Bugatti, O.M. and Fiat completed the field. Nuvolari who led from start to finish and Borzacchini with their Alfa Romeos dominated the race, which went over eight laps of a new shortened 72 km circuit. On the third lap Varzi’s Bugatti dropped out after which he shared Chiron’s car, bringing it home in third place behind Nuvolari and Borzacchini in Alfa Monzas. The 2.8-liter Maseratis had stayed in mid-field and while Fagioli retired his car after the first lap, Ruggeri was able to complete the entire distance and finished fifth. Only six cars were able to complete the hardest circuit race in the world on a very hot day.

1932: The first Finnish Grand Prix was a race between five Finns and five Swedes run at Eläintarharata. Per-Viktor Widengren in his Mercedes SSK took the lead early in the race and then dominated it totally. Ebb in another SSK was unable to keep up with Widengren’s speed and also lost his second position to Sundstedt’s Bugatti but when the latter struck problems late in the race Ebb was able to retake his position. Keinänen did a bad start but then worked his way up through all the field and was finally able to catch and pass both Sundstedt and Ebb to finish second. Even a lack of score boards and a mostly non functional public information system did not hinder the race from becoming a success for the spectators.

1947: A day short of two years after the island was liberated from German Occupation, the first Jersey Road Race was held. This was the first significant British post-war motor race, and the first with continental participation. The course embraced 1 1/2 miles of St. Helier promenade and measured 3.2 miles to a lap. The race was a scratch contest over 160 miles, under Formula rules, i.e., for supercharged cars up to 1 1/2 litres and unsupercharged cars up to 4 1/2 litres. There were no fuel restrictions. Lady drivers were barred. Drivers who took part included Britain’s Reg Parnell, who won in a Maserati, and the legendary French driver Louis Chiron. Cars included a range of Maseratis from Italy and ERAs from England, as well as Delages and a Bugatti.

1955: Alberto Ascari in a Lancia D50 won the Naples Grand Prix.

1958: Colin Chapman, effected by the previous day’s death of Mike Spence and the recent death of Jim Clark, left Indianapolis and flew back to England, leaving the STP Indy team to be run solely by Andy Granatelli.

1977: The Spanish Grand Prix held at the Circuito del Jarama was won by Lotus-Ford driver Mario Andretti. Carlos Reutemann took his Ferrari home in second place, whilst Jody Scheckter completed the podium in third position for the Wolf-Ford team.

1982: Gilles Villeneuve (32) died in a 140 mph (225 km/h) crash caused by a collision with the March of Jochen Mass during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. The accident came less than two weeks after an intense argument with his teammate, Didier Pironi, over Pironi’s move to pass Villeneuve at the preceding San Marino Grand Prix. At the time of his death, Villeneuve was extremely popular with fans and has since become an iconic figure in the history of the sport.

1993: Ward Burton capped a dominant day at Martinsville Speedway, Virginia, US leading 227 of 300 laps in the Miller 500 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Burton led the first 142 and the final 85 laps to scored his third win in the series. Bobby Labonte finished second, 3.4 seconds back, with Ricky Craven third.

2005: The Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona was won by Kimi Räikkönen, driving a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-20. Häkkinen’s win was his first of the season, his third consecutive win in Spain and the race was the second consecutive win for the McLaren team as Coulthard had won the preceding British Grand Prix.

-9 May –

1906: The first Targa Florio – cover image, an open road endurance automobile race, was held in the mountains of Sicily near Palermo. Founded by wealthy Sicilian wine producer, Vincenzo Florio, it was run over 3 laps of the 92.473 mile circuit, totalling 277.42 miles. The entry list was badly affected by a dock strike in Genoa but the race was won by the Italian driver Alessandro Cagno in an Itala.

1908: The first women’s motor race was held at Brooklands.

1931: The second day of the ‘Double 12 Hours’ at Brooklands, which was won on handicap by an MG Midget, driven in turn by the Earl of March and British aviation pioneer C. S. Staniland, at an average speed of 65.62 mph and covering a distance of 1,574.9 miles. Cars of this make took the first five places in the race. The event ran for 12 hours on the Friday, when the cars were backed up, and restarted at 8 a.m. the next morning for another 12 hours. There were 48 starters, but only 24 finished. The greatest actual distance was covered by a Talbot (1,902.9 miles), which ran into tenth place on handicap. British cars took the first 12 places.

1937: The Germans were in a class of their own at the Tripoli Grand Prix held at Mellaha. Tyre wear proved to be a decisive factor. The Auto Union drivers decided to race flat out and had to make many pit stops to change wheels while the Mercedes- Benz drivers tried to save their tyres. Caracciola, Stuck, Fagioli, von Brauchitsch, Rosemeyer and Lang all had their turn in the lead but Stuck and Fagioli fell back with tyre wear while Caracciola and Seaman slowed down due to sand in the engine. Von Brauchitsch retired and Rosemeyer had a slow pit stop, leaving Hermann Lang, who drove faultlessly, with the deserved victory followed by four Auto Unions. Nuvolari in an Alfa had retired early.

1948: Stirling Moss made his racing debut driving his 500cc Cooper in a hillclimb at Prescott, England, sponsored by the Bugatti Owners Club.

1949: The Monaco Grand Prix was cancelled due to the death of Prince Louis II of Monaco.

1953: The International Trophy, F2 race at Silverstone was won by Mike Hawthorn in a Ferrari 500.

1954: The III Grand Prix de Bordeaux run over 123 laps of the 2458 metre circuit was won by Jose Froilan Gonzalez in a Ferrari 625.

1959: Fireball Roberts drove to the last of his four victories in NASCAR’s Convertible Division, outrunning Joe Weatherly by nearly a full lap to win at Darlington (South Carolina, US) Raceway. Roberts started 10th and led 120 of 219 laps. Weatherly held on for second place with Larry Frank third.

1971: Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver drove their Wyer-Gulf Porsche 917K to victory in the 1000 Kilometer race at Spa, Belgium. Their average speed of 154.8 mph still stands today as the fastest road race ever.

1982: At the Belgium Grand Prix at Zolder, John Watson in his McLaren set the fastest lap of the race after starting way back in 12th spot where he went on to win the race in a time of 1:35:41. Keke Rosberg in the Williams was second, seven seconds back and Eddie Cheever was third from starting 16th. Polesitter Alain Prost in his Renault spun off on lap 59 and was done for the day.

1984: Mario Andretti ran the first unofficial 210 mph lap (210.575) at Indianapolis.

1992: Roberto Guerrero set an Indianapolis 500 qualifying record, driving his Lola-Buick to an average speed of 232.483 mph and setting the single lap record at 232.618 mph.

1993: Alain Prost driving a Williams-Renault FW15C won the Spanish Grand Prix held at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona from p[ole position in a time of 1:32:27. Ayrton Senna was second in his McLaren 16 seconds back and Michael Schumacher in his Benetton set the fastest lap of the race to come in third from his fourth starting position. As usual, the Williamses took 1-2 in qualifying in Spain, with Prost ahead of Hill, Senna, Schumacher, Patrese and Wendlinger.

1999: Pat Austin set a NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car 1/4-mile speed and elapse time records of 253.23 mph and 5.59 seconds, respectively.

2001: Henry “Smokey” Yunick (77), American mechanic and car designer associated with motorsports, died. Yunick was deeply involved in the early years of NASCAR, and he is probably most associated with that racing genre. He participated as a racer, designer, and held other jobs related to the sport, but was best known as a mechanic, builder, and crew chief. Yunick was twice NASCAR mechanic of the year; and his teams would include 50 of the most famous drivers in the sport, winning 57 NASCAR Cup Series races, including two championships in 1951 and 1953.

2004: During the warm-up lap of the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona, a man calling himself Jimmy Jump ran through the starting grid, only to be apprehended soon by the security. While he claimed to have many fans (due to his other performances at football matches), he was criticized for risking the lives of the drivers, even though the cars were still travelling at low speed at this point. The race was won by Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2004.

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