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

22nd May 2016
Henry Hope-Frost
From Senna's final Monaco win to one of the most controversial Indy 500s ever...

May 23

1940: Happy 75th birthday to former racer-turned Formula 1 team boss Gérard Larrousse. He won 12 World Sportscar Championship races for Porsche, Matra and Alpine, including the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1973/’74, and ran his eponymous team in F1 during 1993/’94.

1972: F1’s most capped racer, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, was born. He contested 322 GPs for Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn and Williams, starting from pole on 14 occasions and winning 11 races for Ferrari and Brawn.

1982: Riccardo Patrese won a crazy Monaco GP for Brabham. The Italian headed the Ferrari of Didier Pironi and the Alfa Romeo of Andrea de Cesaris, both of whom ran out of fuel on the penultimate lap but were classified second and third.

1993: Ayrton Senna took a record-breaking sixth win on the streets of Monaco, to eclipse Graham Hill’s 1960s record. Senna’s McLaren defeated Damon Hill’s Williams by almost a minute, with Jean Alesi taking third for Ferrari.

2004: In what would prove to be his only F1 win, Italian Jarno Trulli took victory in Monaco for Renault. He held off Jenson Button’s BAR-Honda by 0.4s after the pair circulated as one for more than 30 laps. Third, some 75s adrift, was the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello.

May 24

1942: World Rally legend Hannu Mikkola was born. One of the original ‘Flying Finns’, Mikkola won 18 WRC events for Ford, Peugeot, Toyota and Audi and lifted the 1983 Drivers’ World Championship in the all-conquering Quattro.

1958: US team owner Chip Ganassi was born. The former racer has led his squad to victory in the Champ Car, IndyCar, Grand-Am and NASCAR series, with multiple wins in their respective blue-riband events, the Indy 500, Daytona 24 Hours and Daytona 500, also on the CV.

1963: Ivan Capelli was born. The Italian was a title winner in European F3 and International F3000 and went on to contest 93 GPs for Tyrrell, AGS, Leyton House March, Ferrari and Jordan. He came close to victory in the French GP in 1990 for the underdog Leyton House squad.

1964: The Brabham team secured its maiden F1 pole, thanks to Dan Gurney at the Dutch GP. The American retired with steering trouble, but would give Jack Brabham’s squad its maiden win just two races later…

1981: BMW’s fourth and final World sportscar Championship win came in the Nürburgring 1,000km, courtesy of the GS Tuning M1 of Nelson Piquet and Hans Stück. The F1 duo beat the Joest Porsche 908/80 of Reinhold Joest and Jochen Mass to add to the three wins scored by the Munich marque’s ‘Batmobile’ CSL in 1976.

May 25

1975: Niki Lauda won the Belgian GP at Zolder for Ferrari. The Austrian’s victory, ahead of the Tyrrell of Jody Scheckter and Carlos Reutemann’s Brabham, vaulted him from third in the title race to the top spot, by just two points from reigning champion Emerson Fittipaldi, who could only manage seventh.

1986: Thirty years ago today, Nigel Mansell took his first win of the season in the Williams-Honda FW11. The Briton beat Ayrton Senna’s Lotus by 20s in the Belgian GP at Spa to move up to third in the championship fight.

May 26

1955: Italy’s only double World Champion, Ferrari hero Alberto Ascari, was killed during an unscheduled test session in a Ferrari sportscar at Monza. The 13-time GP winner and double title winner was 36.

1957: Aston Martin’s DBR1 took its first World Sportscar Championship win, with Tony Brooks and Noel Cunningham-Reid in the Nürburgring 1,000km. They defeated a pair of works Ferraris, the 335 Sport of Peter Collins/Olivier Gendebien and the 315 Sport of Mike Hawthorn/Maurice Trintignant.

1968: For the fourth time in six years, Graham Hill won the Monaco GP. His Lotus 49B Monaco beat the BRM P261 of fellow Brit Richard Attwood by just 2.2s.

1969: Australian Paul Hawkins was killed during the Oulton Park Gold Cup while at the wheel of a Lola T70 MkIIIB. Eerily, Hawkins was one of only two drivers to end up in the sea during a World Championship Monaco GP. The other was Alberto Ascari, who also died on May 26, some 14 years earlier.

2001: Italian Vittorio Brambilla, nicknamed ‘The Monza Gorilla’, died of a heart attack, aged 63. He won a single F1 race – in a March 751 at the 1975 Austrian GP – and crashed while crossing the line in celebration.

May 27

1923: The first Le Mans 24 Hours was won by the Chénard et Walcker of André Lagache and René Leonard. The French pair averaged 57mph en route to winning the Rudge-Whitworth Cup, ahead of the sister car of Fernand Bachmann and Christian d’Auvergne.

1942: British racer Piers Courage was born. He contested 27 GPs for Lotus, BRM, Brabham and De Tomaso, with a best result of two second places – at Monaco and Watkins Glen in 1969. He was killed during the 1970 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, aged just 28.

1951: Stirling Moss made his F1 World Championship debut in the Swiss GP with the small Hersham Walton Motors (HWM) outfit. He drove a second Alta-engined car alongside team owner George Abecassis and finished eighth. The race was won by Juan Manuel Fangio’s Alfa Romeo 159.

1973: Ferrari’s last World Sportscar Championship win came at the Nürburgring, courtesy of Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman. Their 312PB took top spot at the 1,000km, ahead of the sister car of Carlos Pace and Arturo Merzario.

1979: The Monaco GP was won by Ferrari’s Jody Scheckter, the South African defeating the Williams of Clay Regazzoni by 0.4s after almost two hours around the streets of the principality. The race also marked the last time James Hunt would compete in F1. He walked away from the Wolf team after transmission failure on lap four and never raced at the top level again.

May 28

1976: Swedish rally man Harry Kallstrom took his only WRC win thanks to victory in the Acropolis Rally in a Datsun Violet, 5m24s ahead of the Alpine-Renault A110 of local driver Tassos Livieratos.

1995: Jacques Villeneuve came from several laps down – controversially some still argue – to win the Indianapolis 500 for Team Green. The future F1 star’s Reynard-Ford pipped the similar, Walker Racing-run car of ex-F1 racer Christian Fittipaldi.

May 29

1939: Al Unser Sr, part of the legendary American racing dynasty, was born. He remains one of only three men, along with AJ Foyt and Rick Mears, to have won the Indy 500 on four occasions. He won America’s biggest race in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987.

1960: The Lotus marque’s first World Championship GP win came at Monaco, courtesy of the Rob Walker-run 18 of Stirling Moss. Moss beat the Cooper-Climax of Bruce McLaren and the Ferrari of Phil Hill. Former bike racing champion John Surtees made his F1 debut, retiring a works Lotus 18 with transmission failure.

1980: A maiden WRC victory for Ari Vatanen came in the Acropolis Rally. He took his David Sutton-run Ford Escort RS1800, co-driven by David Richards, to a 2m42s win over the Datsun Violet of fellow Finn and fellow World Champion Timo Salonen.

1983: The last World Sportscar Championship race around the Nürburgring Nordschleife was won by the works Porsche 956 of Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass. Fellow Porsche ace Stefan Bellof secured pole, with a record lap of 6m11.130s, although he would crash the car during the race. Second in the 5h30m event went to the Joest Porsche 956 of Bob Wollek and Stefan Johansson, with reigning F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg taking third in a one-off drive alongside Jan Lammers and Jonathan Palmer in a Richard Lloyd Racing-run 956.

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