1960: Ayrton Senna was born. The mercurial Brazilian made his Formula 1 debut with the Toleman team in 1984 (see March 25). He then spent three seasons at Lotus, winning six times. For 1988, he switched to McLaren, for which he won 35 GPs and three drivers’ titles. A move to Williams for 1994 ended in tragedy when he was killed while leading his third race for the team at Imola.
1966: Former Indy 500 winner, IndyCar champion and Goodwood star Kenny Bräck was born. The Swede struck gold for AJ Foyt’s team in the 1999 Indy 500, having won the title the season before. Since retiring from US single-seater racing in 2005, he’s become a dab hand at historic racing, with wins in the 2011 RAC TT Celebration race and 2013 Whistun Trophy at the Goodwood Revival among the highlights. Happy 5oth Kenny!
1982: Alain Prost made it two Grand Prix wins out of two for the season by winning round two in Brazil for Renault. The Frenchman beat John Watson’s McLaren and Nigel Mansell’s Lotus in Rio, but wouldn’t win again in a season that had 11 different winners from seven different teams sharing the 16 wins.
1974: American ace Peter Revson was killed during pre-season testing for Shadow ay Kyalami in South Africa. The 35-year-old won the British and Canadian GPs for McLaren the previous season and had also secured the Can-Am title for the British squad in 1971.
1987: The inaugural World Touring Car Championship race took place at Monza, with widespread disqualifications causing confusion. The winning BMW M3 of Johnny Cecotto and Riccardo Patrese and the six similar M3s behind it were all thrown out for bodywork homologation issues, meaning the seventh-placed Holden Commodore of Allan Moffat and John Harvey was declared the winner.
1992: Nigel Mansell beat Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese to win what would prove to be the final Mexican Grand Prix for 23 years. Benetton driver Michael Schumacher took his maiden F1 podium that day, the first of a record 155 appearances in the top three.
1921: Speed-record king Donald Campbell was born. Campbell, son of record breaker and Brooklands racer Sir Malcolm, set eight records on land and water during the1950s and ’60s and remains the only man to break the record in both disciplines in the same year (1964). He was killed on Coniston Water in the Lake District on January 4, 1967, while attempting to better the record aboard Bluebird.
1981: Mike Hailwood, arguably the greatest-ever motorcycle racer, succumbed to injuries sustained in a road accident a few days earlier. ‘Mike The Bike’ won four world championships on 500cc bikes and three more in the 250cc class, as well as taking 14 Isle of Man TT wins. He switched to cars and racked up two podiums in F1, his first for Surtees in 1972, the same year he landed the European F2 title for the team, and the second for McLaren in 1974. He also won the 1973 Spa 1000km with Derek Bell in a Gulf Mirage M6.
2003: It was a day of firsts for future F1 world champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia. The Spaniard secured his first pole position for the Renault team, while Finn Raikkonen took his maiden victory for McLaren.
1985: The inaugural race for the FIA Formula 3000 International Championship, the replacement for European F2, took place at Silverstone. Pole position went to the ORECA March of Frenchman Michel Ferté, although it was F2 champion Mike Thackwell who won the race for the factory Ralt team.
1991: Ayrton Senna took his first home victory when he nursed his hobbled McLaren to an emotional Brazilian GP win at Interlagos. The MP-6 was stuck in gear during the final stages, although the double world champion held off Riccardo Patrese to win by just under three seconds. Exhausted from the effort to hold off the superior Williams, Senna had to be helped out of the car at the end of the 71-lap race.
1984: Alain Prost made the perfect start to his second McLaren career by winning the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Frenchman raced for the British team in his debut season in 1980, before spending three seasons at Renault. His return to McLaren yielded immediate success in Rio, ahead of Williams’ Keke Rosberg and the Lotus of Elio de Angelis. The race also marked the first appearance in F1 of 1983 British F3 sparring partners Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle.
1952: Didier Pironi was born. The Frenchman competed in 70 GPs for Tyrrell, Ligier and Ferrari, winning three times. He also gave Renault its only Le Mans 24 Hours win, alongside Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in the A442B in 1978. He died, aged just 35, in a powerboat accident off the Isle of Wight in 1987.
1957: Multiple touring car champion Roberto Ravaglia was born. The Venetian will always be linked with BMW, having won the European and World Touring Car Championships and the DTM title with the German marque. He also won the Spa 24 Hours three times and was a race winner in the BTCC and, with a BMW-engined McLaren, the FIA GT series.
1958: Elio de Angelis was born. The charismatic Italian first appeared in F1 with Shadow in 1979 and went on to contest 108 races for the American team, Lotus and Brabham. He won twice, in Austria in 1982 and at Imola in ’85 – both for Lotus. He was killed while testing the lowline Brabham BT55 at Paul Ricard in May 1986, aged just 28.
1966: Ford took the first of three Sebring 12 Hours wins in four years, courtesy of American pair Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby. Their Shelby American-run X1 beat the Holman & Moody-entered GT40 Mk2 of Walt Hansgen and Mark Donohue by 12 laps.
1940: Lancia rally hero Sandro Munari was born. The Italian, nicknamed ‘Il Drago’ (The Dragon), made his World Rally Championship debut in the very first qualifying event, Monte Carlo in 1973, in a Lancia Fulvia. He won seven events, all in Lancia’s sonorous Stratos, including a hat-trick in the Monte between 1974 and ’76. He also won the Sicilian Targa Florio road race for Ferrari in 1972, partnering Arturo Merzario.
1971: David Coulthard was born. The Scot enjoyed a long career in F1, starting with Williams in 1994 as a replacement for Ayrton Senna, and ending with Red Bull in 2008. His 246 starts yielded 12 pole positions, 13 wins and 18 fastest laps. He’s now a pundit for Channel 4’s F1 coverage, having spent the past few years with the BBC.
1983: The eighth and last Grand Prix on the streets of Long Beach took place. The Ferraris of Patrick Tambay and René Arnoux locked out the front row, but it was McLaren duo John Watson and Niki Lauda who took a dominant one-two, from 22nd and 23rd on the grid after scything through the field! Third-placed Arnoux was almost a minute behind Lauda after 75 laps of the California street circuit. For 1984, the IndyCar circus would take over as the headline act.