FEB 15th 2016

That Was The Week That Was: Anniversaries And Milestones From Motorsport’s Past

February 15

1929: Norman Graham Hill was born in London. He contested 176 Grands Prix between 1958 and 1975, for Lotus, BRM, Brabham, Shadow and his own Embassy-sponsored Lolas. He won 14 races and in 1962 became Britain’s second World Champion in a BRM P57. He won it a second time, in 1968, in the Lotus 49. Hill died, aged 46, in a plane crash in November 1975 along with five members of his team.

1951: World Rally legend Markku Alén was born in Helsinki. Mr ‘Maximum Attack’ won 19 rallies for Fiat and Lancia between 1975 and 1988 – a tally that puts the lanky and laconic Finn ninth on the all-time list.

1981: Audi’s hi-tech new Quattro gave four-wheel-drive transmission its maiden WRC win, courtesy of Hannu Mikkola, who won Rally Sweden by almost two minutes from the Ford Escorts of Ari Vatanen and Pentti Airikkala.

1998: Dale Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500, the seven-time NASCAR champion taking his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo to victory in US stock car racing’s biggest race. His son Dale Jr upheld family honour in Florida by winning the great race, also on this day, in 2004.

February 16

1921: French ace Jean Behra was born. Considered by many to be one of the finest drivers never to win a World Championship Grand Prix, Behra competed in 52 races for Gordini, Maserati, BRM and Ferrari, taking nine podium finishes. He was killed in a Porsche during a sportscar race supporting the German GP at Avus in 1959.

1979: MotoGP ace Valentino Rossi was born. Arguably the greatest bike racer ever, ‘The Doctor’s’ CV includes nine world titles – one each in 125cc, 250cc and 500cc and six in MotoGP – and, to date, 111 GP wins. Fellow Italian and 15-time world title winner Giacomo Agostini’s target of 122 is just 11 wins away! And for Goodwood fans, who will ever forget Rossi riding his Yamaha YZR-M1 through a see of yellow ‘46’ flags and up a ramp into Goodwood House at last year’s Festival of Speed?

February 17

Happy birthday to former factory WRC driver and British Rally champion Malcolm Wilson, now boss of WRC team M-Sport, who turns 60 today, and Robert Reid, who co-drove Richard Burns to WRC title glory with Subaru in 2001, who reaches his half century.

February 18

1898: Enzo Alsemo Ferrari was born. The former Alfa Romeo racing driver founded his own team, Scuderia Ferrari, in 1929, which would become the most successful in Formula 1 history. The iconic sportscar manufacturer that still bears his name has been among the most recognisable brands in the world for decades. Ferrari died, aged 90, in 1988.

2001: Dale Earnhardt Sr died after crashing on the last lap of the Daytona 500, sending shock waves through NASCAR and the wider American sporting community. He was 49.

February 19

1961: Jaguar Le Mans winner Andy Wallace was born. The former gas fitter won the British Formula 3 title in 1986 and raced in Formula 3000 before switching allegiance to the World Sportscar Championship and the Silk Cut Jaguar team. He won Le Mans on his debut in 1988 and would also rack up three victories in the Daytona 24 Hours and two in the Sebring 12 Hours. He continues to race historic Jaguars, notably at Goodwood.

February 20

1934: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser was born. Unser won the great race in 1968, ’75 and ’81, as well as twice lifting the USAC IndyCar title. Unser also made one F1 start, in a works BRM P138, at Watkins Glen’s US GP in 1968.

1937: American racing icon Roger Penske was born. The former racer turns to team ownership and fields winning cars in Trans-Am, Can-Am, IndyCar and F1. Penske famously won the 1976 Austrian GP, with John Watson, and has racked up a record 16 wins in the Indianapolis 500.

1993: Ferruccio Lamborghini died aged 76. The former tractor, oil heater and air conditioning manufacturer branched out into cars and brought us such exotica as the Miura, Espada, Jarama, Urraco, Countach, Jalpa and Diablo. Now owned by the Volkswagen Group, Lamborghini still produces supercars from its original hometown in Sant’Agata Bolgnese.

February 21

1941: Surrey-born all-rounder Peter Gethin was born. He raced in 30 GPs for McLaren, BRM and Lola, famously winning the 1971 Italian GP slipstreamer by 0.01s. He also won races in the Tasman Series, Can-Am Challenge and European F2 series, as well as lifting the title in the inaugural European F5000 championship. Gethin, who for many years ran a racing school at Goodwood, died in 2011, aged 71.

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