Sunday, October 22, 2017

Johnny Unser Born In Long Beach, California, USA - October 22, 1958

October 22, 1958
Johnny Unser
Born in Long Beach, California, USA.
Johnny is the son of open wheel driver Jerry Unser. Jerry died in a racing accident when Johnny was seven months old. Johnny made 5 starts in CART in 1993 and 1994 with a best result of 15th. He joined the Indy Racing League in its inaugural 1996 season but had a transmission failure during the pace lap of what would've been his first Indianapolis 500 and was not credited with a race start.

In 1997 he made his first start in the Indy 500 starting in the 35th position after league and speedway owner Tony George added his and Lyn St. James' car to the field because slower cars than theirs were guaranteed starting positions because of prior races. He went on to finish 18th, his best "500" result in 5 starts. Unser drove the majority of his IRL races for Hemelgarn Racing and in his 14 career IRL starts he had a best finish of 9th in his very first series start in 1996 at Phoenix International Raceway. His last major open wheel race was the 2000 Indy 500.

On January 14, 2008 Johnny Unser was named as the race director for the 2008 Champ Car Atlantic Championship. He is currently a driver coach and adviser to the Mazda Road to Indy and racing adviser and spokesman for Cooper Tire. He also is an official for Indycar in Race Control and is owner of Unser Racing, Karting and Entertainment track in Denver, Colorado.

John Graham Born In Belfast, Northern Ireland - October 22nd, 1966

October 22nd, 1966
John Graham
(Photo; multimaticmotorsports.com)
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Graham resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 1981, he began his career in Can-Am Under 2 litre class. In 1982 he joined Gordon Lightfoot diving the Lightfoot Racing March 811 Cosworth. In 1983, he joined Aston Martin driving the "Nimrod" at the 24 hours of Daytona.

Over his career John has has driven in IMSA, WSC, Indy Lights, F2, ALMS, Grand-Am, ARCA, NASCAR & Can-Am, as well as in the Paris-Dakar Rally Raid. He has 9 starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with an LMP2 win in 2000. His podium finishes include the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Petit Le Mans.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Piquet Edges Moreno For Benetton Sweep In Japan - October 21, 1990

October 21, 1990

(Photo: CJM-Photography via photopin cc)
Nelson Piquet edged teammate Roberto Moreno by 7.223 seconds for a Benetton sweep of the"Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix"at Suzuka Circuitland, Suzuka City, Japan. 

Canadian Motorsport Legend Harvey Lennox Born In Lanigan, Sask - October 21, 1929

October 21, 1929 - September 29, 2014
Harvey Lennox
Born in Lanigan, Saskatchewan.
The London motorsport legend, famous for driving his signature super modified vehicle 'Tammy 10', won 182 times in feature races at tracks in Ontario and Michigan from the 1950s through the '70s.

Lennox won five international stock car championships and three national titles and was the top driver at numerous tracks. Early in his career Harvey was the scourge of the dirt tracks that dotted Southwestern Ontario. He was big news at ovals such as Delaware, Nilestown, Ridge Raceway, Checker Flag in Windsor, Tilbury, Warwick, Tillsonburg, Sarnia Glendale to name some of them. It seemed every town had a track. Much of the time races were held on tracks at the fairgrounds.

Along came paved asphalt tracks, corners were widened and safety features installed as conditions improved. The dirt tracks eventually closed up with operations at Delaware, Flamboro, Bridgeport, CNE Toronto, Cayuga and Oswego, N.Y. taking over. Cars improved and were made to go faster and there was Harvey among the leaders again. Harvey took on all comers and cultivated some great rivalries. Who can forget the duels between him and Jack Sharpe in Lobo 1 or with some other leadfoots like Bill Rouse, Jimmy Howard, Trip Trepanier, Ron Pearn, Ted Hogan or Don Biederman?

In 1961, he won a five-mile feature at Harewood Acres, the first time super modifieds were contested on a Canadian road course.

Lennox was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport hall of fame in 1995 and the London Sports hall of fame in 2011. He is also a member of the Flamboro Speedway's hall of fame.

On September 29, 1914, Harvey Lennox passed away at Chelsey Park Nursing Home, London, Ontario, Canada, in his 85th year.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Clifford Allison Born In Hueytown, Alabama, USA - October 20, 1964

October 20, 1964 - August 13, 1992
Clifford Allison
(Photo; foundagrave.com)
Born in Hueytown, Alabama, USA.
Son of the legendary Bobby Allison, nephew of Donnie and brother to Davey, Clifford Allison was raised in Hueytown, Alabama and was a member of stock car racing's "Alabama Gang".

Allison was seen as "crazy wild" by his relatives, and his brother stated he believed Clifford had the greater talent of the two younger Allisons. After marrying young, he worked in a coal mine in Kentucky for a period in the 1980s, but soon returned to Alabama and shortly after was divorced.

He was then briefly crew chief for his father's Busch Series race team before the team was disbanded in 1988. By that time remarried, Allison started his racing career in earnest in the early 1990s, competing in ARCA and NASCAR Busch Series. He began the 1990 season competing for rookie of the year in the Busch Series, driving for Frank Cicci, but was released after the season's seventh race for poor performances. Allison drove for Clint Folsom on a limited basis in 1991, while in 1992 he joined team owner Barry Owen, intending to run the majority of the series schedule. Allison's best finish in professional stock car racing came in an ARCA race at Texas World Speedway in April 1992, where he finished second.

During practice for the Detroit Gasket 200, a Busch Series race at Michigan International Speedway in August 1992, Allison spun in turn four, hitting the concrete wall with the driver's side. Allison died while in transit to hospital. He was the first of two Allisons to die within the space of eleven months, with brother Davey perishing in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway the following year.

"Canadian & Maritime Hall Of Fame Racer" Scott Fraser Born - October 20, 1970

October 20, 1970 - March 20, 2004
Scott Fraser
 Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada.
Scott was an accomplished Stock car driver and car builder from Shubenacadie, NS. He is the son of Maritime racing legend Frank Fraser. His brother Frankie is also an accomplished stock car racer. Scott began racing at age 16 in the Street Stock division. He moved up to Open-Wheel Modified and the MASCAR Circuit. He went on to the Pro-Stock and ASA Circuit.

Scott's racing record of 16 years speaks volumes of his talent. Scott was a great ambassador for Canada and Maritime Motorsports. 

Scott Fraser was just 16 when he drove his first race, competing in the Street Stock division at a local track, Onslow Speedway (Truro, Nova Scotia - closed 1990). From there he moved to an Open-Wheel Modified division where he won the championship at another local track, Scotia Speedworld (Halifax, Nova Scotia). That same year he was also runner-up for Rookie of the Year on the MASCAR circuit, a Maritimes-based late model touring series.

At the age of 21, he competed in his first international field when the American Canadian Tour (ACT) visited Nova Scotia for a double-header weekend. He entered both races and scored a third and a fourth place finish among short track standouts Junior Hanley, Kevin Lepage, Brad Leighton and Robbie Crouch. 

His road course racing - and late model racing - debut came at the 1992 edition of the Moosehead Grand Prix (Halifax, Nova Scotia). He had the third fastest car in the MASCAR division but was forced to the garage area when the transmission broke. The 1993 edition of the same race saw Scott start his second road course race - and finish second. 

In 1994, at 23, Scott Fraser won an ACT race at Scotia Speedworld after rebounding from a blown engine in practice for the event and subsequently using a borrowed engine to run the race. 

Between 1993 and 1998 he won six consecutive Riverside 250 races, the longest and most prestigious annual stock car race on the MASCAR circuit.

In 1996, Scott experienced perhaps the most successful season ever for any driver in the history of Maritime motorsports. While competing on the MASCAR circuit he scored an impressive 12 of 15 feature wins en route to his first touring series championship. Nine of those wins were consecutive. 

1997 saw Scott run a limited MASCAR schedule, winning four of the six races he entered. He also chalked up win number 13 of the 18 pro stock races ever run at New Brunswick International Speedway (NBIS - Geary, New Brunswick). Two NEPSA races at Sanair, Quebec, finishing third in the first race and setting fast time for the second race. 

In 1998 Scott Fraser was crowned MASCAR champion for the second time in three seasons. Among more than 40 competitors he captured six of 13 checkered flags and clinched the title. 

 At the end of '98 season he made the decision to partner with Rollie MacDonald, a veteran Nova Scotia racer, who admired Scott's racing talent and had the personal desire to see Scott fulfill his dream. The King Racing team was formed with Scott as the driver and Rollie as the owner and car chief. The team was a combination of Scott's former team and Rollie's former team. 

In February of 1999, the two hopefuls and their crew made the long trek to The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Fraser's performance "vaulted him into the national limelight" said Late Model Digest. In 10 consecutive nightly races he competed against 69 of North America's best short track stock car racers, setting fast time five of the 10 nights, winning two feature races, with four top fives and six top 10s. The Fraser/MacDonald combination finished third overall in the final point standings in their maiden adventure. 

Fraser and MacDonald returned home to Nova Scotia to formulate a plan for the future, clinching the International Pro Stock Challenge (IPSC) championship featuring competition among the best teams from New England and Eastern Canada. They also ran a limited MASCAR schedule. In all, Fraser ran 12 races that year, finishing the season with a championship, four wins, nine top fives and 10 top 10s. 

In July 2000, the King Freight Lines sponsored No. 00 Chevrolet arrived in Chicago for their ASA debut. They stunned onlookers by qualifying second and finishing eighth. In total, Scott competed in six ASA races that summer, recording four top-10s and qualifying on the front row twice. 

Encouraged by their rookie season in ASA, Fraser and MacDonald decided to go full-time in 2001. While still searching for a sponsorship, they competed in 11 events before wrecking their only racecar at the very same track they had made their spectacular debut just one year prior, Chicago Motor Speedway. Discouraged, they headed home to Nova Scotia to regroup. 

Just four weeks later over $39,000 had been raised through the Fans Of Fraser campaign and Scott Fraser began building a new ASA racecar. The funds were raised by selling lap sponsorships at $100 each. Every fan got their name on the new blue Fans of Fraser racecar that debuted at Memphis (Tennessee) in September 2001. The Fans of Fraser car raced a second time at Indianapolis Raceway Park (Indiana) later that month. 

In 13 2001 ASA starts, Fraser scored four top 10 finishes. Four late model (pro stock) starts saw two top 10 finishes. 

2002 was a rebuilding year for Scott's Atlantic CAT pro stock team and a late start but in just eight pro stock races he won six of the biggest shows on the Northeastern seaboard, including Oktoberfest at Thompson, Ct. 

In 2003, Scott Fraser drove the Rollie MacDonald owned entry on the Maritime Canadian based Maritime Pro Stock Tour. They won two of 11 events and finished third overall in final point standings. Other than those wins, Fraser visited Victory Lane on three other occasions in 2003. He finished first in a Pro All Stars Series event and a 250-lap open event at New Brunswick International Speedway (Geary, NB). The NBIS 250 win was Scott Fraser's biggest payday, winning a whopping $24,500. His last win came September 27 in a 150-lap open event at his home track Scotia Speedworld, in a race some described as his exhibition of pure racing talent.

In October, in what would be his last stock car race, he wrecked his racecar during a fiery crash at Concord Motor Speedway in North Carolina.

Besides his great driving talent, Scott built top-quality race cars at the Scott Fraser Racing Shop  schooled initially by Canadian racing legend and fellow Nova Scotian Junior Hanley, and by his father Frank, himself a successful racer.  

In 1999 he was named Nova Scotia Male Athlete of the Year. He was inducted to the Maritime Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2006, the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2007, the Colchester Sport Heritage Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. 

Scott lost his life at just 33 years of age in a tragic snowmobile accident March 20, 2004.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Didier Theys Born In Nivelles, Belgium -October 19, 1956

October 19, 1956
Didier Theys
(Photo; twitter.com)
Born in Nivelles, Belgium.
Theys won the Belgium Karting championship in 1977. He won several Formula Ford championships in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. Bosch Super Vee championship in 1986, and the American Racing Series championship in 1987. He was also successful in the European Formula Three Championship and Formula 2 in the 1980s. He finished third in the Monaco Formula 3 Grand Prix in 1985.

Theys competed in the CART Indy Car Series from 1987 to 1993 with 47 career starts, including the Indianapolis 500 three times. He finished in the top ten 10 times in CART events, with a career best finish of third at Miami in 1988.

Theys is a two-time overall winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona, 1998 and 2002. He won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1998. He was the Sports Racing Prototype driver champion of the Grand-American Road Racing Association in 2002 and the winner of the 24 Hours of Spa in 1987, driving a factory BMW. He was also the polesitter 1996 and a podium finisher at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The podium finish in 1999 was a third overall in the factory Audi R8R with co-drivers Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela. Theys’ first appearance at Le Mans was in 1982, while his last start in the world’s most famous endurance sports car race came 20 years later in 2002.

NASCAR Pioneer Billy Myers Born - October 19, 1924

October 19, 1924 - April 12, 1958
Billy Myers
Home: Germanton, North Carolina, USA.
Myers began competing in the NASCAR Grand National Division in 1951. Billy raced on the old Daytona road course on the beach, and in the 1956 event finished second to Tom Flock. He also had a third-place finish in a NASCAR Convertible Division beach race in 1957. In his 6 year NASCAR Grand National Division career, Myers recorded 84 starts, 1 pole, 2 wins, 18 top-5s, and 34 top-10s.

On April 12, 1958 while racing in a Modified event at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Billy Myers suffered a heart attack and died. In his memory and the memory if his brother, Bobby, The Myers Brothers award was established. It is awarded annually to a person, or persons, who have made outstanding contributions to stock car racing. The recepeint is elected each year by members of the National Motorsports Press Association.

John Jones Born In Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada - October 19, 1965

October 19, 1965
John Jones 
Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
The 1988 CART Champ Car "Rookie of the Year", John started ice racing at home in Thunder Bay, along side his Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame dad Tom in the early 1980's. 

In 1982 John won the fiercely competitive Mid-Canada Series, then switched to a F2000 car. In 1983 he started racing in the Canadian Formula Ford 2000 series for 2 litre cars and left his mark that year, convincingly capturing the Walter Wolf and Canadian Tire championships in both '83 and '84. 

In 1985 Jones would move to the International Motor Sports Association, driving a Mustang for legendary car owner Jack Roush, partially sponsored by Ford. Jones captured the GTO class in 1985, and became the youngest champion in North America road racing history. A highlight of that season, driving with Wally Dallenbach Jr and Doc Bundy, Jones won the GTO class at the 24 Hours of Daytona, in Florida. In recognition of his season in 1985 John Jones was named to the, American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association’s “All American Team” that included, team mate Wally Dallenbach, and racing legends Al Unser, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, and Steve Kinser. 

In 1986 Jones would compete in the F-3000 series in Europe in 1986, improving through the season to become one of the main contenders in the series. Jones had top finishes of 6th & 7th place and finished 21st in points in the eleven race series, as a rookie driving a Ford/Cosworth powered March for Onyx Racing. 

John returned to F-3000 again in 1987 driving a Ford/Cosworth powered Lola for Lola Motorsports. He posted a season high second place finish in June at Pau in France and with his consistently high qualifying positions drew the attention from several Formula One teams. Jones finished the 1987 season 11th in points finishing in the top ten in all but three of the eleven races. 

In 1988 John would move on to the CART Indy Car series in the Frank Arciero owned March 88-C. John would have eleven top 10 finishes, 4 times finishing in seventh place to take him to a season ending 11th position in the points and CART Indy Car Series "Rookie of the Year". 

Jones would switch to the Protofab team in 1989 with major sponsorship coming from Labatts and he would qualify for the Indy 500, finishing 11th after a 25th place start.

In 1990 Jones returned to F-3000 driving the Mugen/Honda powered Lola for Paul Stewart Racing. John started the season with 3rd & 4th place finishes, but with mechanical failures in five of the eleven races Jones finished twelfth for the season, beating future Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill. 

John raced in the Indy cars for parts of the 1991 & 92 seasons, and raced six races in the PPG / Firestone Indy Lights in 1997. Through the early 1990’s Jones also raced in Sports cars and Prototypes through out North America and the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1995.

John now lives in Denver, Colorado. Spends a lot of time as a racing driver instructor. John's brother Hunter Jones was also an active driver in the CART Indy Lights championship.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Roger Penske Drives Chaparral To Victory At Laguna Seca - October 18, 1964

October 18, 1964
(photo credit: The Henry Ford via photopin cc) 
Roger Penske drives a Chevrolet-powered Chaparral 2 to victory in the 200 mile, USAC sanctioned sports car race at Laguna Seca, in California, USA.

For 1964 Penske joined Jim Hall’s Chaparral operation to drive one of the futuristic auto-transmission 2As. He usually played obedient second-string to Hall, finishing 1-2 at Watkins Glen and Meadowdale, but with Hall breaking an arm in a big accident at Mosport, Roger took the 2A to victory at Laguna Seca.

Alex Tagliani Born In Lachenaie, Quebec, Canada - October 18, 1972

October 18, 1972
Alex "Tags" Tagliani

(photo credit: Paul Henman via photopin cc)
Born in Lachenaie, Quebec, Canada.
Inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame on October 17th, 2015, "Tags" is a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and Indycar veteran, and the 2009 Indianapolis 500 "Rookie of the Year".

After 4 seasons of Formula Atlantic, Tagliani raced in the Champ Car series from 2000, when it was still known as CART, until its demise in 2007. He was signed by Forsythe Racing for the 2000 season replacing the late Greg Moore and would win the Greg Moore Pole award in Vancouver in 2001, which Tag's has said was his favorite award ever. He came close to obtaining his first victory in his third start, after taking pole position at Brazil and leading most of the race, but spun out from the lead with nine laps to go.

In 2001 he was involved in the collision with Alex Zanardi at the Lausitzring that resulted in the loss of Zanardi's legs.

He remained at Forsythe until the end of 2002, when he was substituted by Paul Tracy. He found a job with the Rocketsports team in 2003, and remained there for the 2004 season, in which he earned his first and only Champ Car victory at Road America.

In 2005 he joined Team Australia, which was a rebranding of Derrick Walker's long-running team with the support of Australian businessman Craig Gore, and finished 7th in the championship despite lacking a race engineer. 7th would equal the best of his 3 top-10 championship finishes.

He returned to Rocketsports for the 2007 season, and finished 10th in points with a best finish of 4th in the first race of the season. He earned four pole positions during his Champ Car career.

In 2008, after the Rocketsports team decided not to take part in the IndyCar Series, Tagliani made the transition to stock cars and began racing in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. He also drove for Conquest Racing in the IndyCar Series Detroit Grand Prix, replacing the injured Enrique Bernoldi. Tagliani continued in the seat for the last two races of the season.

Conquest Racing announced that Tagliani would return as a full–time driver for the 2009. However, the team ultimately concentrated on road and street course races after the Indianapolis 500 in which Taglani was named the 2009 Indianapolis 500 "Rookie of the Year". Tagliani left Conquest Racing after the 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy race in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

It was announced on August 28, 2009, that Tagliani had signed a four–year deal with an option for a fifth year to drive for start–up FAZZT Race Team in the IZOD IndyCar Series beginning in 2010.

After a successful 2010 campaign with Tagliani, FAZZT Race Team was looking forward to an even more successful 2011 season, along with the possible expansion on the grid with a second entry. However, the team was purchased by Sam Schmidt on March 1, 2011, and during the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500, Tagliani qualified for the pole position at a four–lap average of 227.472 mph, besting Scott Dixon in the last run of the day.

Tagliani also ran selected races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, running four races between 2009 and 2012. 

In 2014, he announced that he would drive in two races in the series for Team Penske. At Road America for the Gardner Denver 200, Tagliani won the pole position driving Penske's #22. Tagliani nearly won his first NNS victory leading the second half. However, it was questionable with 10 laps to go if Tagliani had enough fuel. A caution came out before the final lap and just as the yellow period began Tagliani ran out of gas in the extended race and stalled at the start/finish line. Tagliani switched to dry (slick) tires with most of the field on wet tires (on a drying track); he restarted in 23rd place and recovered for second place.

Tagliani made his debut in sportscars driving a Ferrari Grand-Am GT in the Rolex Sports Car Series in 2013. Later, Rocketsports Racing announced that it had signed Tagliani for the full 2014 United SportsCar Championship season to drive an Oreca FLM09. 

Later in 2014 Tagliani was announced as the driver for Brad Keselowski Racing's No. 19 in the Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and got off to a memorable start when he put his truck on pole, but throttle problems ruined his race and he finished 16th in the Chevy Silverado 250.

On June 20, 2015, Tagliani won the "Leland Industries 300" at Sunset Speedway with dominance as he became the 1st NASCAR Canadian Tire Series driver to lap the entire field with a Margin of Victory of 1 Lap.


(photo credit: Manik. via photopin cc)
Tagliani's winning burnout at the Edmonton in 2008.

John Cannon Dies From Plane Crash Injuries - October 18, 1999

June 21, 1933 - October 18, 1999
 John Cannon 
Born in London, England.
A sports car racer who competed under the banner of Canada, he raced in the USRRC series, the Can Am Series and the L&M Continental Series (Formula 5000).

In the USRRC he drove for Nickey Chevrolet in a Dan Blocker, of Bonanza fame, sponsored Genie/Vinegaroon

(photo credit: jimculp@live.com / ProRallyPix via photopin cc)
1965 Huffaker Genie Mk. 10
Tom Stephani drove this historic racer at the 2009 Pacific Northwest Historics. This is Dan Blocker's Nikcy-Vinegaroon. John Cannon drove this car to a win in the 1966 Las Vegas USRRC race.

In the first year of the Can Am he was the top finishing Canadian propelled by a fourth place finish in the opening event at his home course, St Jovite. John duplicated that accomplishment in 1968 propelled by a famous win over the dominant McLaren team in a very wet race at Laguna Seca. In a three-year-old car, John lapped the entire field including the mighty Team McLaren of Denny Hume and Bruce McLaren. He also attained top Canadian status in 1973.

Cannon also ran in the Continental Series (Formula 5000). In 1969 he drove a F5000 Eagle for Malcolm Starr and won races at Riverside, Sears Point and Mosport. In 1970 Starr Racing was merged into Hogan-Starr Racing Ltd, with team owners St Louis trucking magnate Carl Hogan and Malcolm Starr. Driving a McLaren M-10B (with an Al Bartz Chevrolet 302 engine), prepared by Tom Jobe and Bob Skinner (of drag racing "The Surfers" fame) Cannon won races at Riverside, Kent, Washington and Elkhart Lake, easily winning the L&M Continental Championship.

Cannon participated in one World Championship Formula One Grand Prix, on October 3, 1971 in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. He finished 14th, thus he scored no championship points. He also participated in one non-Championship Formula One race, the Questor Grand Prix, finishing up in 12th.

Cannon also made 15 starts in the USAC Championship Car series while driving on a part-time basis from 1968 to 1974. His best finish was 2nd place in the second race at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in 1968. He also finished a career best 27th in series points that year. He also attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1970 and 1974 but failed to make the race both years.

He was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1993. His son Michael has built a career as a race engineer. During the 2006 season at Forsythe Racing in the Champ Car World Series he was race engineer for A. J. Allmendinger.

Ever active, John died in New Mexico, USA, from injuries received in the crash of an experimental aircraft.

Louis Unser Dies In Colorado Springs, Colorado - Oct. 18, 1979

Mar. 16, 1896 Oct. 18, 1979
Louis Unser
Born in Madison County, Illinois, USA.
Louis won the Pikes Peak Hillclimb 9 times between 1934 and 1953. He died on Oct. 18, 1979, He is buried in Manitou Springs, Colorado, at the foot of Pike's Peak. His epitaph reads "Old Man of the Mountain.

Louis was the uncle of Jerry Unser, Louis J. Unser, Al Unser and Bobby Unser. He was a great uncle to drivers Al Unser Jr., Johnny Unser, Robby Unser and Bobby Unser, Jr.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gilles Villeneuve Marries Joanne Barthe - October 17, 1970

October 17, 1970
(photo credit: alessio mazzocco via photopin cc)
Since 1967 he started going steady with Joann Barthe, whom he married on this day in 1970. Gilles and Joann had two children, Jacques (the future world champion in Formula 1 in 1997) and Mélanie. During his early career Villeneuve took his young family on the road with him in a transformed old yellow bus, the front half living quarters, and rear half a workshop during the racing season, a habit which he continued to some extent during his Formula One career.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Danny Sullivan Wins At Laguna, Clinches CART Title - October 16, 1988

October 16, 1988
At the second-to-last race of the season, the CART "Champion Spark Plug 300K" at Laguna Seca Raceway, Sullivan won the pole, led the most laps, and won the race, finishing 2.784 seconds ahead of  Michael Andretti. With still one race left, Sullivan clinched the 1988 CART title, holding an insurmountable 35-point lead. It was Sullivan's first championship title and Penske's first since 1985.

Jim McElreath Jr Dies In Sprint Car Crash - Oct. 16, 1977

Jan. 23, 1954 - Oct. 16, 1977
Jim McElreath Jr.
Born in Arlington, Texas, USA.
He was the son of Jim McElreath Sr., a veteran of 15 Indianapolis 500 classics with a personal best 3rd place finish in 1966 and winner of the inaugural California 500 race.

At the time of his death, he had been racing for 7 years and had been named Rookie-of-the-Year for the United States Auto Club's midget division in 1976. He was also active in the USAC sprint car and championship divisions. James and his father had made history in June of 1977 by becoming the first father-son combo to earn a starting position in a USAC championship race at the Pocono 500. They also competed against each other in championship division events at Michigan, Milwaukee, Ontario and the Texas World Speedway.

He was tragically killed on a first lap accident in the feature sprint car race at the Winchester Speedway when several cars piled up in front of him. McElreath's car ran over another car's tire and was propeled over the retaining wall of the high-banked oval and into a tree. He died of severe head and neck injuries about an hour after his accident at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana, USA.

Art Arfons "Super Cyclops" Dragster Crashes Killing Three - October 16, 1971

October 16, 1971
While making an exhibition run at the Dallas International Motor Speedway in Lewisville, Texas, Arfons lost control of his radical jet-powered vehicle, resulting in the death of three people. IHRA staff members Robert John Kelsey (age 20) and Sean Pence (age 17) were struck and killed, along with WFAA (Dallas, Texas) news reporter, Gene Thomas (age 31), who was a passenger in the vehicle. Arfons’ "Super Cyclops" was making its first run of the day in an attempt to pass the 300 mph (480 km/h) mark. Near the end of the run, a tire burst as the parachutes deployed; it veered into a guard rail and crashed beyond the finish line. Thomas, a popular Dallas television reporter, was apparently thrown out of the vehicle when it rolled over. The vehicle was configured with the driver and passenger sitting on each side of a huge engine. Arfons sustained minor injuries. He was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and released shortly afterward. The Dallas event was to be his last race.
Art Arfons "Super Cyclops" jet-powered 17,500 horsepower F185.