1959: The Daytona Speedway opens for business, almost six years after its creator, Bill France Sr, had mooted the idea. Construction starts in April 1958, with cars running on the 2.5-mile track for the first time on this day in 1959. The inaugural Daytona 500 NASCAR race would take place three weeks later.
1970: The JW Automotive Gulf Porsche 917 of Pedro Rodriguez, Leo Kinnunen and Brian Redman heads a team one-two in the Daytona 24 Hours on its debut appearance in the race. Redman had started in the sister car he shared with Jo Siffert, but was moved across, thus finishing first and second.
1985: Ari Vatanen stages a dramatic comeback to deny Walter Röhrl a fifth Monte Carlo Rally victory. Vatanen’s Peugeot 205 T16 had been handed a time penalty for checking into a control early, which spurred on the Finn to catch and pass Röhrl’s Audi Quattro Sport. He eventually retakes the lead after 27 of the 34 stages, his eventual winning margin more than five minutes.
1969: British manufacturer Lola scores its only win in the Daytona 24 Hours. The Roger Penske-run, Sunoco-liveried T70 MkIIIB of Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons takes a 30-lap victory over the American International Racing T70 MkIII of Ed Leslie and Lothar Motschenbacher.
1920: Australian Tony Gaze is born. The WWII pilot would be instrumental in the creation of the Goodwood Motor Circuit after recommending to Freddie March, 9th Duke of Richmond and grandfather of Lord March, that the perimeter road of RAF Westhampnett be used for motorsport. Gaze, who died in 2013 aged 93, contested three Grands Prix in 1952 in an HWM-Alta and the Monte Carlo Rally a year later.
1927: British racer and speed junkie Malcolm Campbell retakes the land-speed record from Parry Thomas, with a 174.8mph run at Pendine Sands in Wales. It’s Campbell’s first record with his self-built Bluebird machine, having twice held it with a Sunbeam 350HP. His marker is eclipsed less than a year later by Henry Segrave, whose Sunbeam pushes the record beyond 200mph at Daytona Beach in Florida. Within seven years, Campbell had extended the record to over 300mph.
1979: Jacques Laffite takes his second consecutive Grand Prix win for Ligier with victory in the Brazilian GP at Interlagos in the Cosworth-powered JS11. Laffite, who won the season opener in Argentina, leads team-mate Patrick Depailler to the French team’s first and only one-two in Formula 1.
1968: World Rally ace Marcus Gronholm is born. The Finn would contest 152 WRC events between 1989 and 2010, winning 30 of them for Peugeot and Ford and landing drivers’ world titles in 2000 and 2002 at the wheel of Peugeot’s dominant 206 WRC.
1972: The opening race of the 1972 World Sportscar Championship at Daytona is reduced from its traditional 24-hour duration to six hours in the wake of fears that the all-new, three-litre prototypes, mandated for ’72, would not last. The race turns into a Ferrari benefit, with the works 312 PBs taking a 1-2-4 – Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx leading home Tim Schenken and Ronnie Peterson. The fourth-place car is pedalled by Clay Regazzoni and Brian Redman.
1988: Markku Alen wins the Swedish Rally, his first all-snow victory in the WRC. The Lancia Delta HF 4WD of Mr ‘Maximum Attack’ beats the Ford Sierra XR4x4 of event master Stig Blomqvist, and it’s the Italian machine’s final win before the Integrale makes a winning debut next time out in Portugal.
1999: Italian veteran Umberto Maglioli dies, aged 69. Maglioli raced in 10 Grands Prix for Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche between 1953 and 1957, won the Targa Florio three times, for Lancia in 1953 and Porsche in 1956 and ’68 and the Sebring 12 Hours for Ferrari in 1964. He also triumphed in the final Panamericana road race in 1954 and finished third at Le Mans in 1963, both for Ferrari.