1957: Ferrari Grand Prix driver Eugenio Castellotti was killed during testing for the Scuderia at its Modena circuit. The 26-year-old Italian had finished second on two occasions – for Lancia in Monaco in 1955 and in France for Ferrari a year later. He had also won the Sebring 12 Hours in an 860 Monza alongside Juan Manuel Fangio in March 1956, but his biggest win came in the Mille Miglia road race aboard a 290MM the following month.
1993: Alain Prost started his Williams career in perfect fashion, winning the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami from pole position in the Renault-powered FW15C. Ayrton Senna finished second for McLaren, with Briton Mark Blundell taking his maiden podium finish in his first appearance for the Ligier squad. Fellow Brit Damon Hill fared less well in his first race for Williams aboard the #0 machine (World Champion Nigel Mansell had gone off to IndyCars, remember, so there was no #1 on the grid). He collided with Alex Zanardi’s Lotus early on.
2004: The inaugural Rally Mexico World Rally Championship qualifier was won by the M-Sport Ford Focus WRC of Estonian Markko Märtin and his British co-driver Michael Park. The duo beat the sister car of Belgian crew François Duval and Stéphane Prévot.
1981: The Arrows team, which was a regular on the F1 scene from 1978 to 2002, took its only front-row start when Riccardo Patrese planted his A3 on pole position for the Long Beach Grand Prix. The Italian led the race for 24 laps, eventually retiring on lap 33 with a fuel-system problem. He would give the plucky British team two podium finishes that year, with third in Brazil next time out and second in San Marino a few races later.
1942: Dutch ace Gijs van Lennep was born. He raced in eight Grands Prix in the 1970s, with sixth at home in 1973 in an ISO Marlboro and sixth again for Ensign in Germany in ’75 his best results. He’s better known for his two Le Mans 24 Hours wins for Porsche – in 1971 with Helmut Marko in the Martini-liveried 917K and five years later with Jacky Ickx in the 936. The van Lennep/Marko car held the distance record in the French endurance classic for 39 years, their 5,335.313km marker not eclipsed until 2010 – by the winning Audi R15.
2001: Sportscar racing was rocked to the core on the eve of the Sebring 12 Hours when French legend ‘Brilliant Bob’ Wollek was killed in a collision while cycling on the road near the track. He was due to share a Petersen Motorsports Porsche 996 GT3 with Briton Johnny Mowlem and American team owner Michael Peterson in the Florida classic before tragedy struck. Wollek had won numerous World Sportscar Championship events for Porsche and Lancia, as well as races in Trans-Am, Interserie, IMSA and the DRM. He had also won at Sebring for Porsche in 1985 and triumphed in the Daytona 24 Hours with the German marque on four occasions. His bogey race was Le Mans; he took four class wins, and was runner-up overall in 1978, ’95, ’96, and ’98, but never won outright at La Sarthe.
1991: Australian Gold Coast venue Surfers Paradise held its first IndyCar race. Michael Andretti started from pole in his Newman-Haas Lola-Chevrolet, but it was his cousin John who went on to take his maiden series win in a similar car run by VDS Racing. Second went to the Galles Kraco Lola of Bobby Rahal, with Rick Mears third for Penske.
1938: One of the original ‘Flying Finns’, Timo Mäkinen, was born. He was the first driver to take a victory hat-trick in a single World Rally Championship-qualifying event, thanks to three wins in the RAC Rally in 1973, ’74 and ’75 – all for Ford and all with British co-driver Henry Liddon alongside him. He also won his home event, the 1,000 Lakes, in ’73.
1950: Australian touring car hero Larry Perkins was born. The gritty Perkins had raced in Formula 1, contesting 11 races for Boro, Brabham, BRM and Surtees in 1976/’77, before returning home to become a cult hero in his native touring car championship. He won the Bathurst 1,000 on six occasions for Holden, three times alongside the legendary Peter Brock in the 1980s and three times more in the ’90s. His last V8 Supercar win came in 1999, at the age of 49.
1977: Brazilian F1 hero José Carlos Pace died in a light-aircraft crash near his home city of Sao Paulo, aged just 32. Pace raced at the top level on 71 occasions, for March, Surtees and Brabham, taking one win – at Interlagos in his home race in the stunning Martini-sponsored Brabham BT44B – in 1975. After his death, the Interlagos circuit, which still hosts the Brazilian GP, was renamed the Autodromo José Carlos Pace in his honour.
1964: Italian Grand Prix driver and multiple touring car champion Nicola Larini was born. Larini contested 40 GPs between 1987 and 1990 for small teams Coloni, Osella, Ligier and Modena Team Lamborghini, before getting a call-up to replace Ivan Capelli at Ferrari at the end of 1992. He also stepped in to replace an injured Jean Alesi for two races in early ’94, one of which was the infamous San Marino GP in which Ayrton Senna was killed. Larini finished second on that sad day to record his only F1 podium. He made a brief return in 1997 for Sauber, with little reward. He won the 1993 DTM title for Alfa Romeo and was also a prolific winner in the European Touring Car series, the German Supertouring Championship and, most recently, the World Touring Car Championship.
2000: Briton Richard Burns gave the all-new, 2000-spec Subaru Impreza WRC a debut victory in the World Rally Championship after fending off Peugeot rival Marcus Grönholm in Portugal. Burns and co-driver Robert Reid had won the previous round, the Safari, in the older car and continued their winning form for the Prodrive-run team in a car that was 80 per cent new beneath its familiar exterior.
2003: Karl Kling, one of the stalwarts of the mid-1950s Mercedes F1 superteam, died, aged 92. Kling made his debut in the French GP in 1954, scene of the first appearance of the 2.5-litre, straight-eight W196 Silver Arrows. He finished second that day, behind team leader Juan Manuel Fangio, for what would be his best result in F1. After retiring in 1955 he succeeded Alfred Neubauer as head of Mercedes Motorsport.
1971: Porsche’s 917K kept up its perfect start to the World Sportscar Championship of 1971, taking its third straight win, courtesy of Vic Elford and Gérard Larrousse in the Sebring 12 Hours. The Anglo-French pair guided their Martini & Rossi Racing-run 917K to victory over the works Alfa Romeo T33/3s of Nanni Galli/Rolf Stommelen and Andrea de Adamich/Henri Pescarolo/Nino Vaccarella to add to 917 successes in Argentina for Derek Bell/Jo Siffert and in the Daytona 24 Hours for Jackie Oliver/Pedro Rodriguez.