1949: Niki Lauda was born. The Austrian raced in 171 Grands Prix for March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham and McLaren between 1971 and 1985. He won 25 of them and took the drivers’ title in 1975, ’77 and ’84.
1959: The inaugural Daytona 500 took place at the Florida Speedway. The race was won by Lee Petty in his Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile in a thrilling fight to the finish in which he eclipsed Johnny Beauchamp’s Ford Thunderbird by two feet – after 3h40m of racing.
1976: Per Eklund took his only World Rally Championship win – on (frozen) home ground in Sweden. Eklund and co-driver Bjorn Cederberg defeated the sister Saab 96 of Stig Blomqvist and Hans Sylvan. Anders Kullang made it a Swedish 1-2-3 with his Opel Ascona.
1928: German all-rounder Hans Herrmann was born. He started 17 Grands Prix for Veritas, Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Cooper, BRM and Porsche between 1953 and 1961, taking a best of third in the 1954 Swiss GP for Mercedes. He later went on to give Porsche the first of its record 18 Le Mans wins, winning the 24 Hours in 1970 with Englishman Richard Attwood in a 917K.
1955: One of the greatest Grand Prix drivers of all time, Frenchman Alain Prost, was born. He racked up 199 starts between 1980 and 1993, winning 51 of them for the four teams for which he raced: Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams. He won the drivers’ title in 1985, ’86 and ’89 for McLaren and again in ’93 – his final season – for Williams, as well as finishing runner-up on four other occasions. He bought the Ligier team in 1996, rebranded it Prost and ran the team for five seasons with very little reward.
1932: British Grand Prix hero of the 1950s, Tony Brooks, was born. The dental student would compete in 38 races for BRM, Vanwall, Ferrari and Cooper, taking four wins for Vanwall in 1957/’58, including at the British GP at Aintree in ’57 alongside Stirling Moss in what was the last shared World Championship win, and two for Ferrari in 1959, the year he finished second in the drivers’ title race.
1944: Francois Cevert was born. The charismatic but tragic Frenchman raced alongside friend and mentor Jackie Stewart at March and Tyrrell, winning the US GP at Watkins Glen in 1971. He was killed during qualifying at the New York state venue two years later, his horrific death prompting Stewart to quit on the spot – ahead of what would have been his 100th and final start.
1946: FIA president Jean Todt was born. The Frenchman began in rallying, co-driving for many of the greats, before turning to management. He guided Peugeot to WRC glory in the mid-1980s and masterminded its Le Mans and World Sportscar Championship success in the early 1990s. He joined Ferrari as team principal in 1993, overseeing Michael Schumacher’s and the Scuderia’s domination of F1 over a 10-year period. He became president of motorsport’s governing body in October 2009, a post he still holds.
1945: Australian folk hero Peter Brock was born. ‘Peter Perfect’ took a record nine wins in the Bathurst 1000, Australia’s greatest race, for Holden. He was killed in a historic rally in Western Australia in September 2006, aged 61.
1974: World rallying’s greatest-ever driver, Sébastien Loeb, was born. Loeb first won in the WRC in 2002 and went on to claim a record 78 wins (current VW star Sébastien Ogier is next up with 34!) and nine consecutive drivers’ titles between 2004 and 2012 – all with Citroen. He holds the outright record in the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in the USA, won six World Touring Car Championship races for Citroen and finished second in the Le Mans 24 Hours for Pescarolo in 2006. This year he led the Dakar Rally for Peugeot, eventually finishing ninth.
1939: American racer and heir to the Revlon cosmetics empire, Peter Revson, was born. He proved highly versatile and successful in a number of disciplines, winning the Monaco F3 race in 1965, becoming the first American to win the Can-Am title, for McLaren in 1971, and taking two F1 wins for McLaren – the British and Canadian GPs in 1973. A move to Shadow for 1974 led to tragedy: Revson was killed after suspension failure pitched his car off at high speed at Kyalami in a pre-season test ahead of the South African GP in March 1974. He was 35.
1940: One of racing’s greatest all-rounders, Mario Andretti, was born. A winner in NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 5000 and in the World Sportscar Championship, including the blue-riband events at Daytona and Sebring, Andretti is best known for his 15-year F1 career, during which he raced in 131 GPs, for Lotus, March, Ferrari, Parnelli, Alfa Romeo and Williams, between 1968 and 1982. He won 12 races – one for Ferrari and 11 for Lotus – and took the 1978 Drivers’ title for Colin Chapman’s John Player Special-sponsored Lotus squad.
1965: Ford’s first World Sportscar Championship win came in the Daytona 12 Hours. The GT40 of Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby took victory for the Shelby American team, ahead of three other Shelby-entered machines: the Cobra Daytona Coupé of Jo Schlesser, Harold Keck and Bob Johnson, the GT40 of Bob Bondurant and Richie Ginther and another of the Cobra Coupés, piloted by Rick Muther and John Timanus.
1993: The inaugural Australian V8 Supercar race took place at Amaroo Park in New South Wales. The first event for the new-look series in which Holden and Ford continued their Antipodean tin-top rivalry featured two races, won by the Ford Falcons of Dick Johnson and John Bowe.
1999: Colin McRae won the Safari Rally, his first WRC victory for Ford and the Blue Oval’s first African success since Björn Waldegaard won in the Escort RS1800 in 1977. McRae and Nicky Grist won the marathon event in the Martini-liveried Focus by almost 15 minutes from the two factory Toyota Corollas pedalled by former champions Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz.