Monday, November 20, 2017

Stefan Bellof Born In Giessen, West Germany - November 20, 1957

November 20, 1957 - September 1, 1985
Stefan Bellof  
Born in Giessen, West Germany.
Best known for setting the fastest lap ever on the Nordschleife configuration at the Nürburgring in 1983, driving a Porsche 956. He was the winner of the Drivers' Championship in the 1984 World Sportscar Championship, driving for the factory Rothmans Porsche team. He also competed with the Tyrrell Formula One team during 1984 and 1985. He was killed in an accident during the 1985 1000 km of Spa World Sportscar Championship race.

Today, he is often mentioned as Michael Schumacher's childhood racing idol, and in 2009, a poll of 217 Formula One drivers chose Bellof as their 35th greatest Formula One driver, in a survey conducted by British magazine Autosport.
(Photo: mangopulp2008 via photopin cc)
D Bell, S Bellof - Porsche 956-009 Rothmans Group C

Sunday, November 19, 2017

In Memory Of Dick Trickle

October 27, 1941 - May 16, 2013
Dick Trickle

Born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, USA.
Trickle raced for decades around the short tracks of Wisconsin, winning many championships along the way. Trickle competed in the ASA, ARTGO, ARCA, All Pro, IMCA, NASCAR, and USAC.

Eight-year-old Dick Trickle was playing tag with his cousin Verlon on the rafters in a house under construction when he fell two floors to the basement and broke his hip. He was transferred from a local hospital to the University of Wisconsin Hospital with slow recovery. His recovery was so slow that the doctors gave up and sent him home, presuming that he would be an invalid for the rest of his life. Trickle later began to walk, although he walked with a slight limp for the rest of his life.  He spent three years in a cast from his waist to his foot. While he was recovering as a nine-year-old, a friend took him to his first races at Crown Speedway in his hometown of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. "When I got there I was flabbergasted," Trickle said. "I thought it was the neatest thing. Free shows were nothing compared to it. That race never left my mind until I was 16. I knew I was going to drive a race car when I was 16."

Trickle was one of five children. His mother, Lauretta, struggled to provide food and clothing. His father, Leo, was a blacksmith who worked on farm equipment near their rural Wisconsin home before having a nervous breakdown and spending the last 50 years of his life in a mental hospital. Trickle's family lived on welfare, so there was no money available for racing. Trickle spent his summers working for area farmers, starting as a 13-year-old. He also spent a lot of time at the Rudolph Blacksmith shop that his father was a partner in. While his father was ill, his uncle Leonard ran the shop. "I worked part time at the shop to earn a nickel or dime," Trickle said. "At that age, it was mostly sweeping the shop, but I started to play with the welder and soon I could make an arc and then weld. I started junking machinery. I save some things getting a head start for when I would go racing at 16. I didn't have any money, but I had this pile of stuff to build a race car with. It was a hope chest. When I turned 16, I let the farmer I was working for keep most the money I earned until fall. That fall I collected my money and went down Main Street wheeling and dealing. I finally bought a 1950 Ford in good condition for $100. It was going to be my street car, but the urge to race got too strong and I cut up and made a stock car out of it. I did run the car a little bit before I cut it up and I ended up drag racing a classmate, Melvin Hunsinger, who had a 1949 Ford. He beat me. It seems kind of dumb when I already knew there was a car that could beat me. Eventually, I bought Hunsinger's 1949 Ford for $32.50 and put the motor in my car".

Trickle started out as the slowest car in a 100-car field at a Stratford, Wisconsin short track race.  He raced that car at the end of the 1958 season and throughout the 1959 season, after which time he built a 1956 Ford into race car using all of his knowledge that he had acquired. In his first time out with the new car, he finished second in the feature event at Griffith Park at Wisconsin Rapids. His competitors checked the rules and found out that Trickle was too young to race, even though he had already raced there for two years. He had to race at other tracks for a year until he was old enough to race at his hometown track. He raced for several years before deciding to race full-time. After working at several jobs after high school, he had worked for two years for a local telephone company. He had been uncomfortable climbing telephone poles as he was uncomfortable with heights. He transferred to a different part of the company. Two or three years later he discussed racing full-time with his wife Darlene who he married in 1961. Trickle felt that racing could be profitable, and they decided to make the change.

Trickle raced at over 100 events each year for over 15 years. He was racing at Tomah-Sparta Speedway when Francis Kelly noticed that Trickle was always in contention for winning the races, but he lost a lot of them because he had junky motors. One day Kelly approached Trickle and asked him what it would cost for Trickle to win. Trickle told him a new motor; Kelly asked Trickle to compile a list of parts that he needed. When Kelly asked who would assemble the motor, Trickle responded that he could but he was a junkyard mechanic. Trickle suggested that Alan Kulwicki's father Jerry Kulwicki, who was building motors for Norm Nelson's USAC stock cars, should build the engine.

A big turning point in Trickle's career happened at the National Short Track Championship race at Rockford Speedway in 1966. Trickle said, "The cars in that area were fancier and looked like they were ahead of us. The didn't treat us bad, but they sort of giggled at us kids with the rat cars. After two days, they look differently at those rat cars. I won and pocketed $1,645. Before, I questioned spending the money to travel that far. But if you could win, that was a different story." Trickle started the 1967 season by winning at State Park Speedway and ended the season with 25 feature victories including wins at Wisconsin Dells Speedway (now Dells Raceway Park) and Golden Sands Speedway (near Wisconsin Rapids).

Road America - #42 Dick Trickle 1968 Ford
(Photo: Mike Traverse via photopin cc)
Trickle raced in United States Automobile Club (USAC) stock cars in 1968, and he won the series' rookie of the year award.

He toured on the Central Wisconsin Racing Association tracks in 1971. The circuit consisted of larger asphalt track racing on most nights of the week. CWRA regular drivers were able to run over 100 events in a year, and most did the tour with one car and one engine. On Thursday nights at the quarter mile State Park Speedway, he won seven features and lowered his July 1 14.27 second track record to 14.09 seconds on the following week. On Friday nights he raced primarily at Capitol Speedway, winning most nights that rain or his car did not break. Trickle went to Adams-Friendship on July 23 and won the feature after setting the track record. He held the track record at six tracks: Adams-Friendship, Capitol, Wausau, Wisconsin Dells, and La Crosse. He raced at the newly opened third mile Wisconsin Dells Speedway on Saturday nights. By the end of the year, Trickle had won 58 feature events. 

Trickle started his 1972 season by winning at Golden Sands Speedway near Wisconsin Rapids. Wisconsin's short track racing season starts in April. By May 13, he had twelve wins in thirteen events. He got this fifteenth win in twenty starts on May 27. Trickle became the winningest short track driver that year when he won his 67th race. 

Trickle won numerous special events outside of Wisconsin in 1973, including a 200-lap feature at Rolla, Missouri in April, following by winning a 50-lap feature the following day at I-70 Speedway near Odessa, Missouri. In May he won a 50-lapper at Springfield, Missouri and two more features at I-70 Speedway. Trickle used his purple 1970 Ford Mustang to win at the Minnesota Fair and at Rockford Speedway in September. He had a total of 57 wins in 1973. 

Sanctioning bodies put in a weight-per-cubic-inch rule, and Trickle's career had problems in 1974 and 1975. "Fords almost broke me. I couldn't get any pieces for racing at my level. It took two years of hard labor and depleting my funds to realize I couldn't do this anymore. I told myself either I had to change my program or get out of racing." Therefore, Trickle decided to use a General Motors car and engine. He bought a car for $13,000 on his word that he would pay for it by September. He won 35 or 40 races that year and paid for the car by July.

In 1982, Trickle won track championship at State Park Speedway in Wausau where he started out the season by winning the first two features and seven total. He also won the track championship at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway after winning three events in August. That season he won his first Miller 200 special event at the Milwaukee Mile. Trickle started racing out of state a lot more in 1983. Of all of Trickle's victories, his best memory was winning the 1983 World Crown 300 in Georgia. "It took three weeks of preparation and a lot of determination," he said. "It was the biggest payday of my career up to that point ($50,000)." He beat Jim Sauter by two car-lengths at the season opener, and won three straight races in May. After winning on June 1, LaCrosse business raised a $700 bounty for anyone who could beat him. Trickle skipped the following week, and returned the week after to lose to Steve Burgess. He did not win as much at State Park, but he did win the track championship. Trickle won ASA races at Coeburn, Virginia and Cayuga, Ontario in 1984, as well as the Red, White, and Blue state championship series at WIR and the Slinger Nationals at Slinger.

In 1989 Trickle made his full schedule debut driving the #84 Miller High Life Buick for Stavola Brothers Racing. 

(Photo: Mike Traverse via photopin cc)
He was Rookie of the Year in NASCAR's Winston Cup (now the Sprint Cup) at age 48 (and a grandfather), becoming the oldest driver in Winston Cup history to do so. After being given the Rookie of the Year trophy at the NASCAR Awards banquet, he quipped "I guess I’d just like to thank everyone who gave a young guy like me a chance". 

His best career Winston Cup finish was third (5 times). He started 303 races, with 15 Top 5 and 36 Top 10 finishes. Dick also raced in the Busch Series, where he won two races. He had 158 career starts, with 24 Top 5 and 42 Top 10 finishes. 

In more than an estimated 2,200 races, Trickle logged one million laps and is believed to have won over 1,200 feature races. He was billed as the winningest short track driver in history. Trickle's career highlights include racing to 67 wins in 1972, winning seven ARTGO Championships in nine years between 1979 to 1987, winning back to back ASA AC-Delco Challenge championships in 1984 and 1985, the 1968 USAC Stock Car rookie of the year, and winning the 1989 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award in what was then called the Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup). Trickle was nicknamed the "White Knight" as referenced by his sponsored Super America paint scheme, when he raced in Wisconsin. An interesting read I found was in the book entitled The Golden Age of Wisconsin Auto Racing.

Trickle died May 16, 2013, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The incident occurred at 12:02 p.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, North Carolina. The Lincoln County Communications Center received a call, apparently from the victim, saying that "there's going to be a dead body. Suicide." When the 911 operator asked who was about to commit suicide, Trickle responded: "I'm the one." Police attempted to call his phone back but there was no response. Trickle was found dead beside his pickup truck. His granddaughter, who died in a car accident, was buried in the same cemetery. Trickle's family later released a statement which in part said: "He had been suffering for some time with severe chronic pain, had seen many doctors, none of which could find the source of his pain. His family as well as all those who knew him find his death very hard to accept, and though we will hurt from losing him for some time, he’s no longer suffering and we take comfort knowing he’s with his very special angel."

The message also said: “Dick’s passion in life was his racing. He touched many lives throughout his career, provided memories for many that will last a lifetime. Many thought when he retired he would continue as a car owner, but he was a driver at heart; he wanted to be behind the wheel and be in control of his destiny. We believe he felt himself no longer able to be behind that wheel of life or be the man he only knew how to be because of the pain and suffering.”

He left a wife, Darlene, and three children, Vicky, Chad and Tod. His nephew, Chris Trickle, was a race car driver before dying in a drive-by shooting. “We were building a team for Chris,” Dick's brother Chuck Trickle said. “When he got shot, I ended up selling the team to my sponsor. And they put Kurt Busch in the car. That’s how he got his start.”

NASCAR chairman Brian France released a statement saying "Dick was a legend in the short-track racing community, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin, and he was a true fan favorite. Personalities like Dick Trickle helped shape our sport. He will be missed."

A moment of silence was observed for Trickle during the start of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17. 

A tribute was held for Trickle at the July 2013 Slinger Nationals,  

(Photot: royal_broil via photopin cc)
with his family telling stories about his career.

Trickle's Wisconsin friends and competitors, including Tom Reffner and Marv Marzofka, began organizing a Dick Trickle Memorial fund to build a memorial statue at Rudolph Community Park. The group is collecting money including securing the title sponsorship of a TUNDRA Super Late Model race at Golden Sands Speedway.

Wisconsin International Raceway - Dick Trickle Memorial poster
(Photo: royal_broil via photopin cc)

Always smiling, always playing and always at full speed, he was a lot more than a race car driver with one of the most recognizable names in sports. Known for his chain-smoking, coffee-swigging and an infectious smile, Trickle never won a Sprint Cup Series race. But he left a legacy of funny tales, impressionable memories and sadly, some puzzling questions.Trickle drilled a hole in his full-face helmet so he could smoke during a caution period of a race. While others had bottles of water and Gatorade to help them during a quick break, Trickle rarely drove without a cigarette lighter on board. When asked how many times he’d smoke during a race, he once said, “How many cautions were there?”

When he wasn’t racing, he seemed to find the best party. If not, he created his own. “Him and I liked to drink beer and have fun,” Chuck Trickle said. “He was out there getting rowdy and drinking and having fun. If you were there, you were having fun.”

Jim Sauter, who carved his own short-track career in the Midwest, worked with Trickle and Dave Marcis to set up the cars from the International Race of Champions. All three were from Wisconsin and they flew into Daytona Beach the night before a test. They met at their traditional place, the local Waffle House. “That was our thing,” Sauter said. “I remember when we ordered he called the waitress back and asked if he could get a couple extra scoops of grease on his. We all laughed so hard. “Those are the kind of memories I have of Dick Trickle.”

Even in death, thinking about Dick Trickle brings smiles to the faces of friends and fans. There were too many funny stories, too many laughs and so much life to remember.

This Day In Motorsport History - Home Page

"Can-Am Veteran" Lothar Motschenbacher Born - November 19, 1938

November 19, 1938
Lothar Motschenbacher
Born in Cologne, Germany.
After coming to the United States in 1956, Lothar worked as a Mercedes-Benz mechanic, eventually establishing his own shop in Southern California. He began racing in 1962 and between ‘63 and ‘64 he had 32 wins, 13 of them consecutive, in a Lotus 22 Formula junior. From there, he raced a 427 Cobra and a King Cobra before joining the CanAm series in its inaugural year, 1966.

Motchenbacher was best known for his racing in the SCCA Can-Am series in the lates sixties and early seventies against such famed drivers as F1 world champions Dennis Hulme, Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti as well as Mark Donohue, Dan Gurney, Peter Revson, Jo Siffert, Chris Amon, Bob Bondurant and more. Motschenbacher was one of the fastest private entrants, usually driving the previous year's McLaren chassis but often ran with the factory teams, such as when he qualified second at Mid Ohio in 1971. His career ended early due to injury.

Motchenbacher is in the SCCA record book, second only to Horst Kroll in the most Can-Am series starts.
Lothar Motschenbacher - McLaren Chevy (1967)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Denny Hamlin Born In Tampa, Florida, USA - November 18, 1980

November 18, 1980
Denny Hamlin
(Photo: Hans J E via photopin cc)
 Born in Tampa, Florida, USA.
He currently competes full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, and part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 20 and No. 18 Camrys for JGR. He has won over 30 NASCAR Cup Series races, including the Daytona 500 in 2016, where he also posted the smallest winning margin in the history of the Great American Race (0.010 seconds).

Hamlin was born in Tampa, Florida, but lived in Chesterfield, Virginia for most of his childhood. He was born the youngest of five children. He began racing go-karts at the age of seven. Afterward, he worked his way up to Late Models by 2004 and signed a development contract with Joe Gibbs Racing. After running briefly in the Craftsman Truck Series, Hamlin drove a full season in the Busch Series in 2005, while running a few Nextel Cup races. After having strong race finishes, Hamlin was given a full-time ride with JGR.

His strongest season was in 2010, where he was leading the Championship by 15 points heading into the final race at Homestead. Despite having an incredible season, winning the most races of any driver in that year (8), he would lose the Championship by 39 points to Jimmie Johnson. With the exception of the 2013 season, in which a collision with Joey Logano damaged his lower back and kept him out for a large part of the early season, Hamlin has competed in the Chase for the NASCAR Cup in every season he has competed full-time (11 seasons as of 2017), including his rookie season in 2006 when he finished third in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup standing, capping off one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in modern NASCAR history. Since his appearance in the Cup Series, Hamlin has been one of the most consistent drivers in the sport, winning at least one race every year since 2006.

Gary Bettenhausen Born In Blue Island, Illinois - November 18, 1941

November 18, 1941 - March 16, 2014
Gary Bettenhausen
Born in Blue Island, Illinois, USA.
Bettenhausen's father was Indianapolis 500 and sprint car legend Tony Bettenhausen. His brother was former CART driver and team owner Tony. Another brother, Merle, was injured in a fiery crash.

Bettenhausen began as a midget car driver. He finished third in the midget car national points in 1967. He won the first leg of the Astro Grand Prix in 1969, which was held in the Astrodome. He won the 1967 and 1970 Turkey Night Grand Prix, the 1972 Astro Grand Prix, and the 1976 Hut Hundred, on his way to a total of 27 career wins in USAC midget car competition.

Bettenhausen won the 1969 and 1971 sprint car championships. He won the 1980 and 1983 USAC Dirt Track champions in a Silver Crown car. A crash at a Championship Dirt Car race in Syracuse, New York on July 2, 1974 crushed his left arm and left it paralyzed. He regained enough mobility to drive but never fully recovered from the injury.

Bettenhausen competed in Champ/Indy style cars from the mid-1960s until 1996. During this time he won six USAC Indy Car races. He made 21 starts in the Indianapolis 500, with his best finish in 1980 when he finished third after starting 32nd in the 33-car field.

In the 1972 Indianapolis 500, Bettenhausen led 138 laps, but suffered a blown engine with only 24 laps remaining, and dropped out to finish 14th.

Bettenhsusen competed in eight career NASCAR Winston Cup events. He had four Top 10 finishes. His highest career finish was a fourth-place finish at the 1974 Motor State 360 at the Michigan International Speedway.

Bettenhsusen was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998.

Bettenhausen died on March 16, 2014 in Monrovia, Indiana.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Kenny Brack Wins CART "México Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante" - November 17, 2002

November 17, 2002

(photo credit: PSParrot via photopin)
 Kenny Brack, driving for team Target/Chip Ganassi won the CART "México Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante"at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico.

It was the first Champ Car race at the track since the 1981 season. The race preceded a mass exodus of significant drivers and teams who all competed in their final Champ Car event, most of whom knew beforehand that they would not return. Most rued the fact that they were leaving for the rival Indy Racing League, wishing to continue in CART rather than endure a more stable future in the IRL. CART's winningest driver Michael Andretti, along with Kenny Brack, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, and Japan's most successful driver in U.S. open wheel racing Tora Takagi would all bid CART adieu in favor of the IRL. Other entities leaving CART included 1996-1999 champions Chip Ganassi Racing, 1995 champions Team KOOL Green, and Mo Nunn Racing permanently switched to the IRL, and Japanese automotive industry giants Honda and Toyota likewise left CART for the IRL. Season champion Cristiano da Matta was set to leave CART for Formula One with his engine supplier's F1 team, and Christian Fittipaldi attempted a stock car career.

"1929 Indy 500 Rookie Of the Year" Carl Marchese Born - November 17, 1905

November 17, 1905 - June 26, 1984
Carl Marchese
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Carl Marchese dominated auto racing in Wisconsin as a driver, but had a lasting impact on the sport as a car owner and race official. Marchese won numerous state races and finished fourth in the 1929 Indianapolis 500. Carl was the 1929 Indianapolis 500 "Rookie Of the Year"That would be Marchese's only Indy 500. Marchese was later an Indy 500 car entrant and entered his own Marchese chassis in the 1950 and 1951 races.

As a midget car owner and designer, Marchese was credited with many innovations, including the tube frame and supercharged engine. Marchese also was the first president of the Wisconsin Racing Association. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978.

Carl Marchese died on June 26, 1984 in Valrico, Florida.


Rodger Ward Wins USAC Champ Car "Bobby Ball Memorial" - November 17, 1963

November 17, 1963
(photo credit: clamshack via photopin cc)
Rodger Ward driving the Kaiser Aluminum sponsored, Watson/Offy wins the USAC Champ Car Series "Bobby Ball Memorial" at Arizona State Fairgrounds, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

The USAC National Champion was A. J. Foyt with Roger Ward second in the final point standings.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Donald Thomas Becomes Youngest Winner In NASCAR - Nov. 16, 1952

Nov. 16, 1952
Donald Thomas, the younger brother of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Herb, won the pole at Lakewood Speedway, Georgia, USA and went on to win the race. Donald at 20-years-old was the youngest driver to ever win a race in Cup Series history, until Kyle Busch broke the record in 2005 at the age of 19.

Roberto Guerrero Born In Medellín, Colombia - November 16, 1958

November 16, 1958
Roberto Guerrero
(Photo: Vukie1953 via photopin cc)
Born in Medellín, Colombia.
A former Formula One driver and both 1984 CART and Indianapolis 500 "rookie of the year", Guerrero began his racing career in 1972 by competing in kart racing. From 1972 to 1977 he won two national championships in his native Colombia. He also finished third in the 1975 Pan American Karting Championship.

Guerrero then joined the Jim Russell Racing School in 1977. In the school's six events Guerrero managed to win 5 of the races and finished second in the other race.

 He participated in 29 Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 23 January 1982. With no championship points in Formula One and no prospects to drive for a competitive team, Guerrero left at the end of the 1983 season to race in the United States. He had an auspicious beginning to his Champ Car racing career, winning both CART and Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year honors in 1984. His initial promise was never completely fulfilled, winning only two CART races, both in 1987. Later the same year he had a massive accident which left him in a coma for 17 days.

Of special note were Guerrero's participations in the Indianapolis 500. He came very close to winning outright on two occasions, but bad luck always kept the victory out of his grasp. In 1992 he spun off on the pace lap after having qualified on the pole position. Guerrero finished runner up twice, in the top-five five times, and held the qualifying speed record from 1992 through 1996. Guerrero was also selected to participate in the 1988 International Race of Champions.

Guerrero became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1989. He and his wife have three children and reside in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California.

In recent years Guerrero has returned to racing, but of a different venue. He began off-road racing at the legendary Baja 2000. He has since continued to race in Baja 1000 events and guide tours of the Baja Peninsula with Wide Open Baja.

Scuderia Ferrari Founded By Enzo Ferrari - November 16, 1929

November 16, 1929
(Enzo Ferrari (1st from left), Tazio Nuvolari (4th) and Achille Varzi (6th) with Alfa Romeo Managing Director Prospero Gianferrari (3rd) at Colle Maddalena)
Scuderia Ferrari was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 to enter amateur drivers in various races, though Ferrari himself had raced in CMN (Costruzioni Maccaniche Nazionali) and Alfa Romeo cars before that date. The idea came about on the night of November 16 at a dinner in Bologna, where Ferrari solicited financial help from textile heirs Augusto and Alfredo Caniato and wealthy amateur racer Mario Tadini. He then gathered a team which at its peak included over forty drivers, most of whom raced in various Alfa Romeo 8C cars; Ferrari himself continued racing, with moderate success, until the birth of his first son Dino in 1932. The well-known prancing horse blazon first appeared at the 1932 Spa 24 Hours in Belgium on a two-car team of Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spiders, which finished first and second.

"2-Time NASCAR Winston Cup Champ" Terry Labonte Born - November 16, 1956

November 16, 1956
Terry Labonte
(photo credit: Darryl W. Moran Photography via photopin cc)
Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, USA.
A two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion and 1989 IROC champion, he last drove the No. 32 Ford Fusion for Go FAS Racing in the Sprint Cup Series on a part-time basis. He is the older brother of 2000 Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte, and the father of former Nationwide Series driver Justin Labonte. He also co-owns a Chevrolet dealership in North Carolina with Rick Hendrick.

In 1998, the senior Labonte was named as one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers. A park was renamed for the Labonte brothers in their hometown of Corpus Christi in 2001, and they were chosen for entry into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Labonte supports a variety of charities and due to his efforts, the Ronald McDonald House in Corpus Christi, the Victory Junction Gang Camp near Randleman, North Carolina, and the Hendrick Marrow Program all have benefited.

After being passed over as a first-ballot inductee for the class of 2015, Labonte was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 on May 20, 2015. Joining Labonte in the 2016 class will be Speedway Motorsports Executive Chairman Bruton Smith, and drivers Curtis Turner, Bobby Isaac, and Jerry Cook.

Skip Barber Born In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - November 16, 1936

November 16, 1936
Skip Barber
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Barber is a retired racecar driver, who is most famous for his Skip Barber Racing Schools. He started racing in 1958 while studying at Harvard University, where he earned a degree in English. In the mid-1960s, he won three SCCA national championships in a row and finished third in the 1967 United States Road Racing Championship. Later, Barber went on to win consecutive Formula Ford National Championships (1969 and 1970), a record tied only recently.

At the start of the 1971 season he purchased a March 711, which he planned to take back to the United States and race in the U.S. Formula 5000 series. Before he did so, he took part in the Monaco Grand Prix, Dutch Grand Prix, United States Grand Prix, and Canadian Grand Prix in a privately funded March. He returned to the U.S. and Canadian races again in 1972. After that he raced GT cars.

When his racing career ended, Barber's belief that auto racing was "coachable" in the same manner as any other sport at the time, a distinctly minority position led him to create the eponymously named racing school, and a year later the equal car race series. In 1975, with two borrowed Lola Formula Fords and four students, Barber started the Skip Barber School of High Performance Driving. In 1976 it was renamed the Skip Barber Racing School, and that same year he created the Skip Barber Race Series.

Barber remains active in motor sports today as the owner and operator of Lime Rock Park, a road-racing venue in the north-western hills of Connecticut. He lives in the nearby town of Sharon, with wife Judy.

Tommy Archer Born in Duluth, Minnesota - November 16, 1954

November 16, 1954
Tommy Archer
(Photo; Archer Brothers Racing)
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, USA.
Tommy Archer’s racing experience spans 33 years. He has played a part in 38 racing championships over the last 26 years. Archer has been a part of the Chrysler Group’s racing and development programs for the past 18 years. His experience and winning record in nearly every type of racing vehicle has made him one of the best-known American road racers. Has raced in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Trans-Am and Sports cars including races like the Le Mans 24 Hours & the Rolex 24-hour race at Daytona. For many years, he raced with his brother Bobby Archer, and were collectively known as the Archer Brothers. For the 2015 season, Tommy Archer raced in the SCCA's Trans-Am 2 series.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gerhard Berger Leads Ferrari Sweep In Australian - November 15, 1987

November 15, 1987
Gerhard Berger leads teammate Michele Alboreto to a Ferrari 1-2 finish in the Australian Grand Prix on the streets of Adelaide, Australia. 
(Photo: StuSeeger via photopin cc)
 Berger started from his third pole position of the year despite being ill during qualifying. At the green light, it was Nelson Piquet, in his last race for Williams before moving to Lotus in 1988, who got away best of all, darting past Berger to take the lead into the first chicane. A confident Berger, fresh from his victory in the previous race in Japan, re-passed Piquet going into turn three. The Austrian then went on to lead until the chequered flag to claim his third Grand Prix victory. Behind Berger developed a sparkling battle between Piquet, Alain Prost (McLaren), Michele Alboreto (Ferrari) and Ayrton Senna (Lotus). Piquet pitted for new tyres and later retired leaving the other trio to fight over second position. Senna eventually made a break from Alboreto and Prost who were being held up by back markers, with the Larrousse of Philippe Alliot in particular proving difficult to pass.

Prost suffered brake failure on lap 53, spinning off into the wall at Stag Turn and subsequently retiring. Senna made a late charge in an attempt to catch Berger, but the Austrian had enough in hand to respond despite having what appeared to be a dragging under-tray. Senna finished second but was later disqualified when post race scrutineering revealed oversized brake ducts on his Lotus. Alboreto was promoted up to second to make it a Ferrari 1-2, the first since Alboreto and Stefan Johansson finished 1-2 in the 1985 Canadian Grand Prix. Third across the line was the Benetton of Thierry Boutsen. Alboreto was the only driver to not be lapped by Berger.

Craig Breedlove Sets Land-Speed Record Of 600 MPH - November 15, 1965

November 15, 1965
Californian Craig Breedlove, sets a new land-speed record of 600.601 miles per hour, at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, driving his car, the Spirit of America, which cost $250,000 and is powered by a surplus engine from a Navy jet. 
(photo credit: twm1340 via photopin cc)
He actually drove across the desert twice that day, since international world-record rules require a car to make two timed one-mile runs in one hour; officials log the average speed of the two trips. During his first trip, Breedlove zoomed across the flats at 593.178 mph; during his second, the first time any person had officially gone faster than 600 mph, he managed to push the car up to 608.201 mph. "That 600 is about a thousand times better than 599," he said afterward. "Boy, it's a great feeling."

Jerry & Louie Unser Born In Colorado Springs - November 15, 1932

November 15, 1932 - May 17, 1959
Jerry Unser Jr
Born In Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.
Jerry was the driver and twin brother Louie was his chief mechanic. The family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico when the boys were four. However, in 1955, Jerry Unser Sr took his sons back to Colorado for the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and it was there that the boys' interest really took off.

Louie was driving a tour bus up the mountain, but his father refused to allow him to race in the wheel tracks of his famous uncle of the same name, so Louie slipped into brother Bobby's Jaguar on race day and placed third overall.

But Louie had greater skills as a mechanic and, in 1956, went to work for Bill Stroppe's factory team that was based next door to brother's Jerry's DePaolo Engineering USAC racing team. Both teams folded in 1957 when factories withdrew their support, but the brothers purchased the equipment and went racing together.

Jerry was the 1957 USAC Stock Car champion and presented his diamond ring to Louie, who wore it the rest of his life. Louie also was named mechanic of the year that season.

Jerry and Louie showed up at Indy in 1958, starting a family tradition at the famed Brickyard that would see youngest brother Al the win the Indianapolis 500 four times, brother Bobby three times, while nephew Al Unser Jr was a two-time winner. Jerry's son Johnny and Bobby's son Robby have also competed in the race.

When the twins arrived at Indy, Jerry jumped from car to car until he qualified the McKay Special in 24th place. In his only start, he was caught up in a 13-car pileup on the first lap and flew over the turn three wall, miraculously emerging unhurt.

(Photo credit;
The following year on May 17th, Jerry died of serious burns following a practice crash before the 1959 Indianapolis 500, leaving behind a widow, Jeanne Unser, and two sons, Jerry and Johnny Unser.

November 15, 1932 - March 2, 2004
Louis (Louie) Jefferson Unser
Left to right: La Verne Unser, Louie Unser, Bob Sykes.
From 1960-62, Louie worked with Stroppe, Carroll Shelby's AC Cobra team and others building engines in the shop, and changing tires and refuelling cars in the races. He also worked on a car in the four-month East Africa Safari in 1964, despite suffering from multiple sclerosis.

He still managed the strength to act as crew chief with Al at Indy in 1965, before retiring from trackside involvement. "If it wasn't for Louie, I wouldn't have made it at the Speedway," Al said, "He pushed me."

Louis started an engine-building business in southern California, and his powerplants helped brother Bobby and Mario Andretti to race to victories at Pikes Peak. He also built strong, winning engines for sprint cars, sports cars and racing boats.

By the 1970s, Louie was confined to a wheelchair, but he continued working until the 1990s. He and his wife, Laverne, participated in many MS-related fund-raising and research events over the years, and he was inducted into the Orange County Hall of Fame in 1997. His final visit to the Indianapolis was for the 1999 Brickyard 400.

Louie Unser passed away in California March 2, 2004. He had been afflicted with multiple sclerosis for over 50 years and died of complications from the degenerative disease at the age of 71.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Larry Kopp Becomes First "NHRA Pro Stock Truck Champ" - November 14, 1998

November 14, 1998
Larry Kopp becomes the inaugural NHRA Pro Stock Truck champion when he qualifies for the final race of the season in Pomona, California, USA.
When Kopp decided to move to the Pro ranks with the introduction of Pro Stock Truck in 1998, he made a pivotal decision to become Bill Jenkins' first small-block Chevy customer for the new category. The move that gave him a decided edge in horsepower for the duration of the season as Kopp not only won five of 12 national events that year, but he qualified No. 1 at six different events and set a national record with his season-best clocking of 7.594. At the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals, Kopp produced a wire-to-wire victory by running the quickest elapsed time in all four rounds of qualifying, and all four rounds of eliminations as well.
Slixx Decals Larry Kopp's '98 Chevy S-10 Prostock Truck

"First Two-Time Indy 500 Winner" Tommy" Milton Born - November 14, 1893

November 14, 1893 - July 10, 1962
Thomas "Tommy" Milton
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
 Tommy was best known as the first two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. He was notable for having only one functional eye, a disability that would have disqualified him from competing in modern motorsports. He began his career in racing in 1914, competing on dirt tracks in the Midwestern United States. By 1917, he was competing nationwide, and earned his first major win at a track in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1919, he was one of the dominant figures in American racing, winning five of the nine championship races including the International Sweepstakes at Sheepshead Bay, New York, and making his debut at the Indianapolis 500. Later that year he suffered severe burns when his car burst into flames during a race at Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He returned to the track the following year to win the Universal Trophy on June 19 before winning the 1920 United States National Driving Championship.

Milton was a starter in the Indianapolis 500 eight times, earning the pole position once, and finishing in the top five on four occasions. He drove for Duesenberg his first time in 1919 and again the following year when he finished third. In 1921, the twenty-seven-year-old Milton won the celebrated race driving a straight-eight Frontenac built by Louis Chevrolet. In 1922 fuel tank problems forced Milton out of the race after only forty-four laps, but he came back in 1923 driving for the H.C.S. Motor Co. with a Miller 122 and won the race for the second time. His last was the 1927 Indianapolis 500 where he finished eighth.

At the 1936 race, Milton returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to drive the Packard 120 Pace Car. At his suggestion, the tradition of giving the race winner the Pace Car began that year. In 1949 Milton was appointed chief steward for the Indianapolis 500. Health problems forced him to retire in 1957.

Milton died in 1962 in Mount Clemens, Michigan, at the age of 68 of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.