1978: Pre-war Grand Prix ace Hans Stuck dies at the age of 77. Multiple German and European Hillclimb champion, he also raced for Auto Union, winning the 1935 Italian GP and finishing second in the European championship a year later. He raced in three World Championship races across 1952-’53 for the small AFM team, with a best result of ninth at Monza in 1953.
1909: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is born, with construction of a 2.5-mile stone oval beginning under the watchful eye of Carl Fisher. Completed in August, the dangerous surface would be re-laid with bricks, hence its nickname ‘The Brickyard’. The inaugural Indianapolis 500, America’s biggest race, would be held in May 1911.
1964: Jack Brabham takes the first of three consecutive Tasman Series race wins, the Australian double world champion winning at Sandown Park in the Climax-engined Brabham BT7A.
1985: Kiwi tin-top king Jim Richards wins the inaugural Australian Touring Car Championship race to be run to the new Group A regulations – at Winton Raceway in Victoria. It also marks the first success in the series for BMW, Richards taking victory in his John Player Special-liveried 635CSi ahead of team-mate and fellow Kiwi Neville Crichton.
1934: John Surtees, the only man – probably in perpetuity – to win world championships on two and four wheels, is born. After seven ’bike world titles for MV Agusta (three in the 350cc class and four in 500cc, as well as six Isle of Man TT wins), Surtees switches to cars. He goes on to contest 111 GPs, for Lotus, Cooper, Lola, Ferrari, Honda, BRM, McLaren and his self-built Surtees machines, between 1960 and 1972, as well as lifting the inaugural Can-Am title in ’66. Happy birthday ‘Il Grande John’!
1973: Reigning World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi wins the inaugural World Championship Brazilian Grand Prix, held at Interlagos. Lotus team-mate Ronnie Peterson beats the local hero to his maiden pole position but retires early on, leaving ‘Emmo’ to a famous win ahead of his title nemesis, Tyrrell’s Jackie Stewart.
1984: Swedish rally god Stig Blomqvist wins his home event for a record seventh time. His Audi Quattro defeats the sister cars of Michele Mouton and Per Eklund, giving Blomqvist another winner’s trophy to add to those he collected in 1971, ’72, ’73, ’77 and ’79 for Saab, and 1982 for Audi.
2005: Frenchman Maurice Trintignant dies at the age 87. Trintignant competed in 82 GPs for Simca-Gordini, Vanwall, Bugatti, Cooper, Maserati, BRM, Aston Martin, Lotus and Lola, famously winning at Monaco twice – in 1955 for Ferrari and again in ’58 for Cooper. He also shared the 1954 Le Mans-winning Ferrari 375 with Froilan Gonzalez, as well as finishing second five years later, with Paul Frere, to complete the historic Aston Martin one-two.
1942: Ricardo, younger of the Mexican Rodriguez brothers is born. In his tragically short life, the ex-motorcycle racer contested five Grands Prix for Ferrari, qualifying second on his debut – at Monza in 1961. The highly rated youngster was killed, aged just 20, in a Lotus 24 during practice for the non-championship Mexican GP at the end of 1962.
1944: Superswede Ronnie Peterson is born. He’d make his F1 debut, in a privately run March, in 1970. With a factory car for ’71, he finished runner-up in the World Championship and secured the European F2 title. He would contest a total of 123 GPs, for March, Lotus and Tyrrell, winning nine in JPS Lotus machinery and one during his second stint at March. He died as a result of complications following surgery on leg injuries sustained in a startline crash at Monza in 1978.
Ricardo Rodrigez image by Joop van Bilsen used under Creative Commons 3.0 license