JAN 18th 2016

That Was The Week That Was – Anniversaries and Milestones from Motorsport's Past


1940: Mexican superstar Pedro Rodriguez, the elder of two brothers whose stars would both shine brightly but all too briefly, is born. He would go on to race in 54 Formula 1 Grands Prix for Lotus, Ferrari, Cooper and BRM, winning twice – in South Africa in 1967 for Cooper and Belgium in ’70 for BRM. He also won the Le Mans 24 Hours for Ford in 1968, and 10 other World Sportscar championship races, including the Daytona 24 Hours twice, for Ferrari and Porsche. He died at the wheel of a Ferrari 512M during an Interserie Race at the Norisring in 1971.

1950: One of F1’s most exuberant stars, French-Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, is born. The diminutive daredevil would get his break in the big time with McLaren in mid-1977 and join Ferrari the following year. He won for the first time in his home race in Montreal that season and took five more GP wins – all for Maranello – over the next three years. His death, in qualifying for the 1982 Belgian GP at Zolder, robbed F1 of one of its greatest-ever heroes.


1958: British team Cooper cements its place in motorsport history by becoming the first constructor to win a World Championship Grand Prix with a rear-engined car, courtesy of Stirling Moss, who takes a Climax-engined T43 to victory in Argentina. The Surrey-based squad would win the drivers’ and constructors’ titles in 1959 and ’60 with Australian Jack Brabham.

1980: F1 World Champion – and regular Goodwood Festival of Speed visitor – Jenson Button is born.


1957: Eugenio Castellotti and Masten Gregory win the opening round of the World Sportscar Championship, the Italo-American duo taking a Ferrari 290MM Spider Scaglietti to victory over the works Maserati 300S of Jean Behra, Carlos Menditeguy and Stirling Moss in the 1000km enduro.


1979: Frenchman Jacques Laffite gives Ligier first blood in the opening Grand Prix of the year in Argentina. Laffite and countryman Patrick Depailler lock out the front row in their Gitanes-blue, Cosworth-powered JS11s, with Depailler leading the early running before fading to fourth. Laffite goes on to take his first win for 18 months, ahead of the Lotus of local hero Carlos Reutemann.


1959: Reigning World Champion Mike Hawthorn is killed, aged just 29, after crashing his Jaguar on the Guildford bypass. Hawthorn won three GPs for Ferrari – one each in 1953, 1954 and 1958 – and became the first British driver to lift the title.

1966: Jackie Stewart breaks his duck in the ‘Winter World Championship’ Tasman Series, taking his BRM P261 to victory at the Lady Wigram circuit in New Zealand. The Scot, about to start his second season in F1 with the British team, would win again – at Teretonga, Sandown and Longford – to lift the title ahead of BRM team-mate Graham Hill.


1975: Italian hero Sandro Munari takes the first of what would be three straight Monte Carlo Rally wins for Lancia. Co-driven by Mario Mannucci, Munari’s sonorous V6 Ferrari-engined Stratos defeats the three Fiat 124 Abarth Spiders of Hannu Mikkola, Markku Alén and Fulvio Bacchelli for his third WRC victory.

1982: The South African Grand Prix at Kyalami is hit by a drivers’ strike over the conditions of their superlicence – the passport for racing in Formula 1. The discord is eventually disrupted and the event goes ahead. Renault dominates qualifying, with René Arnoux edging team-mate Alain Prost, but in the race, Prost fights back after a puncture to deny Arnoux victory.


1954: Austrian ace Jo Gartner is born in Vienna. He’d contest eight Grands Prix for Osella in 1984, with a best result of fifth in the team’s home race at Monza. He lost his life during his second attempt at the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Porsche Group C car, in 1986.  

1986: Flying Finn Henri Toivonen, a hero of the Group B rallying era, takes what would be his third and final victory – for Lancia in the Monte Carlo Rally. The monstrous Martini Delta S4 of Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto beats the Peugeot 205 T16 of reigning World Champion Timo Salonen by over four minutes.

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