Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Broadcaster & Former Driver" Calvin Fish Born - July 22, 1961

July 22, 1961
Calvin Fish
Born in Norwich, England.
Fish began his career in karts at 13. He then moved to Formula Ford in 1979 at age 18 and then British Formula Three. He then came to the United States and competed in various classes of SCCA competition as well as IMSA GT. He was the 1987 Formula Atlantic champion and then made 14 starts in the Indy Lights series. He returned to sports cars. He was the GTO class winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona in 1990.

Calvin is featured in all editions of the Ayrton Senna story. Fish and Senna were fierce rivals in the junior formulae in the UK. Both had the utmost respect for each other, hence, the acknowledgment of Fish in any of the books written about Senna. Fish is one of the few drivers to beat Senna in F3 and F2000.

He is currently an analyst announcer for the Fox Sports 1 in the US and covers such series as the United SportsCar Championship.

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"4-Time Indy-Car Champ" Scott Dixon Born - July 22, 1980

July 22, 1980
Scott Dixon
Born in Brisbane, Australia.
 Competing for Chip Ganassi Racing since joining IndyCar, Dixon has won the championship in 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2015, and he won the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in 2008 from pole position. With 41 wins, Dixon is the leading non-U.S. driver in American Championship Cars, and is the leading active driver in the current IndyCar Series with 40 wins.

He was selected in a worldwide poll among fans as one of the 33 greatest drivers in Indianapolis 500 history. Among other notable awards won by Dixon are the Jim Clark Trophy (1999, 2001, 2004) and the Bruce McLaren Trophy (2003, 2008). In 2012 he was appointed Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and was New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year in 2008 and 2013. In July 2013, Autosport magazine named Dixon one of the 50 greatest drivers to have never raced in Formula One.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

"Hall Of Famer" Rich Vogler Dies In Crash - July 21, 1990

July 26, 1950 - July 21, 1990
Richard Vogler
(Photo; richvoglerscholarship.org)
Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
He was nicknamed "Rapid Rich". He competed in the Indianapolis 500 five times, and his best finish was eighth in 1989. Vogler finished seventeenth in his only NASCAR Busch Series start at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham in 1988. He was scheduled to make his NASCAR Winston Cup series debut at Pocono Raceway the day after his fatal crash. He was awarded a 40th-place finish as a "Did Not Start".

Vogler was the National Alliance of Midget Auto Racing midget champion in 1973. He won the midget car track championships at the Indianapolis Speedrome in 1984 and 1985. He won the Fireman Nationals midget car race at Angell Park Speedway in 1985. In 1980, Vogler became the first driver to win the USAC Sprint Car and Midget championships in the same year. He won USAC National Sprint Car Series championships in 1980 and 1989, USAC National Midget Series championships in 1978, 1980, 1983, 1986, and 1988.

Vogler won numerous major national events: the Hut Hundred eight times, the 4-Crown Nationals midget car event four times, the Copper Classic twice, the Hoosierdome Invitational twice, the WWRA Florida Winter Nationals in 1983, and the Night Before the 500 once. In 1987 he won the inaugural Chili Bowl Midget Nationals race.

His 134 wins (95 Midget, 35 Sprint, and four Silver Crown wins) in national events is second only to A. J. Foyt's 169. Vogler had 170 total USAC wins, and won over 200 "outlaw" midget races.

Days before his 40th birthday, Vogler was competing in a nationally broadcast ESPN Thunder Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial sprint car event at Salem Speedway. He was leading the race at the time, when his car crashed with just over a lap to go. Vogler's helmet flew off of his head and he suffered severe head injuries that proved to be fatal. Because of USAC rules on a red flag reverting to the previous completed lap, he was declared the winner of the event following his death, which was his 170th win.

His mother Eleanor started a college scholarship fund for aspiring Indiana students as part of Rich's concern over his sons, and the fund was started by USAC officials and sponsor Valvoline.

The first major fund-raiser for the fund has been a Daytona 500 viewing party in Indianapolis, today well-attended with a silent auction and notable names in auto racing in the state as guests. Usually, his mother and his sons appear at the annual fund-raiser. In 2008, the viewing party was moved to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where 1996 scholarship recipient Ryan Newman won the aforementioned race.
(Photo; richvoglerscholarship.org)
Eleanor Vogler with Ryan Newman.

In April 1991, Winchester Speedway began the annual season-opening Rich Vogler Classic sprint car race, usually the first race at the track each year.

There is also a Team Vogler classic at the Indianapolis Speedrome. His father Donald Vogler died in a midget car accident at the Indianapolis Speedrome on May 1, 1981.

Vogler was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1986, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2010.

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"First 3-Time Indy 500 Winner" Louis Meyer Born - July 21, 1904

July 21, 1904 – October 7, 1995
Louis Meyer
Born in Manhattan, New York, USA.
Meyer was raised in Los Angeles, where he began automobile racing at various California tracks. He went on to become the first-ever driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three times, capturing the prestigious race as a rookie starter in 1928, then again in 1933 and 1936. Louis Meyer started the tradition of drinking milk in victory lane at the 1933 Indianapolis 500 race, when he drank a glass of milk. Following his 1936 Indianapolis 500 victory, he drank from a glass milk bottle instead, as most race winners have done since. Following the suggestion of former race winner, Tommy Milton, that year he became the first driver to receive the Pace Car as part of the race winnings. Louis Meyer won the United States National Driving Championship in 1928, 1929 and 1933.

Meyer's wife June did not even know he was racing in the 1928 Indianapolis 500. Earlier in the day she was in Pennsylvania picking up a wrecked car and after that went to see her brother-in-law Eddie Meyer race in Reading. She found out about her husbands victory after the track announcer in Reading asked the crowd to give a big hand to Eddie Meyer, the brother of the Indianapolis 500 winner.

Louis Meyer died on October 7, 1995 in Searchlight, Nevada, aged 91, where he had been living in retirement since 1972. He was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Meyer's son Louis (Sonny) Meyer, Jr. assisted him in engine work at his race shops, and worked on the various DOHC Ford engines in USAC racing, including building 15 Indianapolis 500-winning engines. Grandson Louis III (Butch) built Oldsmobile Aurora engines for Team Menard in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series competition, winning the 1996-97 and 1999 championships before becoming the current Indy Pro Series director.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

"1970 Daytona 500 Winner" Pete Hamilton Born - July 20, 1942

July 20, 1942 - March 21, 2017
Peter Hamilton
(Photo;"Pete Hamilton with his Petty Enterprises 1970 Plymouth Superbird." by Skeensss)
Born in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.
Pete began racing in the street division in 1962 at Norwood Arena. In 1965, he was the Thompson World Series Twin 50s champion. He won the NASCAR National Sportsman division in 1967.

He started racing in the NASCAR Grand National division in 1968, and was the series Rookie of the Year. In 1969, he competed in NASCAR's Grand American division, a division of smaller pony cars. He won 12 of 26 races that year.

He had 3 wins in 1970 for Petty Enterprises in the #40 Plymouth Superbird with Maurice Petty as his crew-chief. He won the 1970 Daytona 500 and both races at Talladega Superspeedway. He won his fourth race of the season at the July Daytona race driving for Cotton Owens.

In 1971 Hamilton won one of the Twin 125 mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500. He retired from full-time racing later in 1971 because of a neck injury suffered in a Grand American race in 1969. Hamilton later won the 1974 Snowball Derby in his own late model car.

After he retired, he became a successful car builder. He was inducted in the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 1998, its first class.

Hamliton died on March 21, 2017 at the age of 74.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chet "Dean Of The Speedway." Miller Born - July 19, 1902

July 19, 1902 - May 15, 1953
Chester Miller
Born in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Chet drove his first race in Saginaw Michigan in 1924 at the age of 22. During his long Indy career, spanning from 1928 to 1953, Miller earned the nickname "Dean of the Speedway."

In the 1934 Indy 500 after only 11 laps, he hit some oil on the track left by a car that had thrown a rod. He went about 30 yards through the air and over the wall and landed on all four wheels in a backyard. The car never stopped and Chet drove it through the gates to the garages without missing a shift.

In 1939 he was involved in a three-car collision that killed Floyd Roberts. When Bob Swanson collided with Roberts, Swanson's tank exploded and the car burned. Swanson was thrown out of his car until the track. To avoid hitting him, Chet Miller crashed in the infield, broke his shoulder, and was hospitalized for six months. Swanson suffered only minor injuries.

In 1952, Miller set a one-lap qualifying record at 139.60 mph.

Miller was killed in a crash in the south turn of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice for the 1953 Indianapolis 500, at age 50. Some of his friends said that he had promised his wife that 1953 would be his last year.

Gertrude Miller was in Indianapolis at the time of her husband's death. They had no children. Most of his relatives lived in Detroit, but Chet made his home in Glendale California where he sold cars and owned a upholstery business.

He was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis on May 19th, 1953. Fellow competitors Louie Meyer and Wilbur Shaw were amoung the pallbearers.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"NASCAR Hall of Famer" Glen Wood Born - July 18, 1925

July 18, 1925
Glen Wood
(Photo: legendsofnascar.com)
Born in Stuart, Virginia, USA.
Wood is a former NASCAR driver. He and brother Leonard co-founded the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team in 1953, and won four races over an eleven-year racing career, with Glen as the driver. After hunging up his helmet, Glen assumed the duties of crew chief for a list of drivers that reads like a "Who's Who", such names as Yarborough, Pearson, Foyt, Roberts, Turner, Weatherly, Panch and Lund. He also crewed Jim Clark at Indy in 1965.

Glen was the 1954 & 1961 Bowman Gray Stadium Modified Champion. In 1996, Wood was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

Although his driving career was brief, Glen Wood is still counted among NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers. Glen was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 20, 2012.
(Photo: woodbrothersracing.com)

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Monday, July 17, 2017

"1957 USAC Sprint Car Champ" Bill Randall Born - July 17, 1917

July 17, 1917 - July 31, 1963
Bill Randall
Born in North Reading, Massachusetts, USA.
Bill Randall started racing before WWII. He raced sprint cars and midgets, winning the Eastern USAC Sprint Car title in 1957 and finishing third in the ARDC Midget Championship in 1961.

In Champ Cars he raced at Daytona in 1959 in the USAC event driving a Kurtis 500C Offy, finishing 14th. He tried to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1961 but was unsuccessful. In 1962 he qualified for a race at Trenton driving a Kuzma but went out with a broken throttle.

In other series he enjoyed considerable success winning races in events sanctioned by NEMA, BSRA, UCOA, ARDC and USAC.

He was killed in an ARDC Midget race at Lime Rock, a road course, in July 1963. As Midgets almost always raced on ovals many of the drivers were unfamiliar with right hand bends at racing speeds. On the first lap he colided with Len Thrall and Bert Brooks and rolled, sliding over 100 feet up side down. He died four days later from his injuries.

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"7-Time ASA Champion" Mike Eddy Born - July 17, 1952

July 17, 1952
Mike Eddy
Born in Midland, Michigan, USA.
He is most notable for racing in the now defunct American Speed Association (ASA). He was a seven time ASA National Champion, which is the most in ASA history. During his run in ASA Eddy drove the number 88 car.

Eddy won his seven championships in 1974, 1976, 1981, 1982, 1989, 1991, and 1992. In addition to this he was ASA's all-time career leader in laps lead, starts, and top 10s. Eddy also ranks second in all-time victories with 58 and second on the all-time earnings list. During his championship season of 1992 he led 2,183 laps that year, which was a single-season record. Eddy recorded his 58th victory on June 12, 2004 at the Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan after a two-year absence from auto racing. Eddy was known to be an aggressive driver who wasn't shy about nudging slower cars out of his way.

Because of the success that he had achieved in ASA, Eddy received several offers from NASCAR teams, turning them down each time. In the early 1990s, he was offered the No. 75 car by RahMoc Enterprises, which was a prominent Winston Cup Series ride at the time. He turned it down because his GM Goodwrench deal in ASA came along at the same time.

A few years later, Eddy was offered to drive the No. 43 truck for Petty Enterprises for the 1996 Craftsman Truck Series season, but once again had to turn down the offer due to his contract with GM Goodwrench at the time.

Eddy was inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

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"Racing Legend And Car Maker" John Cooper Born - July 17, 1923

July 17, 1923 - December 24, 2000
John Cooper
Born in Surbiton, Surrey, England.
John was a co-founder, with his father Charles Cooper, of the Cooper Car Company. He became an auto racing legend with his rear-engined chassis design that would eventually change the face of the sport at its highest levels, from Formula One to the Indianapolis 500.

Charles Cooper ran a small garage in Surbiton, that specialised in maintaining racing cars. His son John left school at age 15 to become an apprentice toolmaker and served in the Royal Air Force as an instrument maker in World War II. After the war, his father and he began building simple, inexpensive single-seat racers for privateers, often from surplus military hardware. The cars were extremely successful and quickly in high demand, and in 1948, they founded their own company to build more.

In stereotypical British fashion, Cooper always downplayed the story about how they decided to put the engine in the back of their racing cars, insisting it was a matter of convenience. The original design for the first rear-engined Cooper racing car was drawn up by Owen Maddock, a designer employed by Cooper Car Company. Because the car was powered by a motorcycle engine, they put the engine in the back, driving a chain. "We certainly had no feeling that we were creating some scientific breakthrough!...We put the engine at the rear...because it was the practical thing to do," Cooper said.

Initially, John raced his own cars on a regular basis, but as the company grew, he found less time available to compete. He did, however, find time to set a number of records at Montlhéry at the end of 1953.

In the early 1950s, it seemed as if every aspiring young British racing driver began behind the wheel of a Cooper, and Cooper's Formula One cars were driven by the legendary drivers of the time, Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant, and Bruce McLaren. In a nine-year period, the team took 16 Grand Prix wins, as Brabham and the team won back-to-back World Championships in 1959 and 1960.

While in Sebring, Florida, for the 1959 United States Grand Prix, Cooper got to know American driver Rodger Ward, the reigning USAC national champion and Indianapolis 500 winner. After Ward had been astounded by the cornering ability of Cooper's little cars on the road course, he offered to arrange a test for them at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, saying, "You've got to try out your car around the Oval. Indy's waiting for you!" Cooper took one of his Formula One cars to the Speedway in the fall of 1960, as drivers, constructors and racing personalities gathered in "amused tolerance, mixed with obvious curiosity," according to Cooper. When Brabham, an Indy rookie, began his warmup laps, he was unaware of the requirement to gradually build up his speed on the track. He clocked his second lap at 144.8 miles per hour, fast enough for the third row on the previous race's grid! Ward was so enthused, Cooper had to agree to let him drive the car, too. From that point, the Indianapolis establishment realized the writing was on the wall and the days of their front-engined roadsters were numbered. Within a few years, John Cooper's revolution of open-wheeled racing was complete.

Cooper's development of the British Motor Corporation Mini, "the Mini Cooper" was adored by both rally racers and ordinary road drivers. Before John Cooper's death, the Cooper name was licensed to BMW for the higher-performance versions of the cars, inspired by the original Mini, sold as the MINI. John, along with his son Mike Cooper, served in an advisory role to BMW and Rover's New MINI design team.

Cooper was the last surviving Formula One team principal from the formative years of the sport, and he often lamented later in life that the fun had long since gone out of racing. He helped establish Britain's domination of motorsport technology, which continues today, and he received the Order of the British Empire for his services to British motorsport. He remained head of the West Sussex family garage business, which had outlets for Mini Cooper at East Preston and Honda at Ferring, until his death at age 77 in 2000.

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"5-Time World Champ" Juan Manuel Fangio Dies - July 17, 1995

June 24, 1911 – July 17, 1995
Juan Manuel Fangio
(Photo; telegraph.co.uk)
Born in Mar del la Plata, Argentina.
He won the World Championship of Drivers five times, a record which stood for 46 years until beaten by Michael Schumacher. He won it with four different teams, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati, a feat that has not been repeated. A member of the Formula 1 Hall of Fame, he is regarded by many as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time and holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One - 46.15% - winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered. Fangio is the only Argentine driver to have won the Argentine Grand Prix, having won it four times in his career, the most of any driver.

After retirement, Fangio presided as the honorary president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina from 1987, a year after the inauguration of his museum, until his death.

Juan Manuel Fangio died in Buenos Aires in 1995, at the age of 84; he was buried in his home town of Balcarce. His pall-bearers were his younger brother Ruben Renato ("Toto"), Stirling Moss, compatriot racers José Froilán González and Carlos Reutemann, Jackie Stewart and the president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina at the time. In 2011, on the centenary of his birth, Fangio was remembered around the world and various activities were held on the occasion of his birthday.
(Photo;motorsportm8.com)

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Jules Bianchi Dies From Crash Injuries - July 17, 2015

August 3, 1989 - July 17, 2015
Jules Bianchi
(Photo;dailymail.co.uk)
Born in Nice, France.
Bianchi was the grandson of Mauro Bianchi, who competed in GT racing during the 1960s and three non-championship Formula One Grands Prix in 1961. He was also the grandnephew of Lucien, who competed in 19 Formula One Grands Prix between 1959 and 1968 and won the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, before dying during Le Mans testing the following year.

On October 5, 2014 during the Japanese Grand Prix, Bianchi lost control of his Marussia in very wet conditions and collided with a recovery vehicle, suffering a diffuse axonal injury. He underwent emergency surgery and was placed into an induced coma, and remained comatose until his death on July  17, 2015. Bianchi is the first Formula One driver killed as a result of an accident during a race event since Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

The funeral service was held at the Nice Cathedral, on July 21, 2015. He lies at rest in his native city. Many prominent driver figures attended Bianchi's funeral, such as Alexander Wurz, Esteban Gutiérrez, Allan McNish, Alexander Rossi, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Jean-Éric Vergne, Marcus Ericsson, Roberto Merhi, Adrian Sutil, Valtteri Bottas, Pastor Maldonado, Pedro de la Rosa, Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Massa, Alain Prost, Nico Hülkenberg, Olivier Panis, Daniil Kvyat and Max Chilton.

In December 2015, Bianchi's father announced plans to create a foundation in his son's honour to uncover and nurture young drivers throughout their career. The initiative involves exhibiting Jules Bianchi’s memorabilia and merchandising with JB17 branding, sponsoring opportunities and events. Among the supporters is Prince Albert of Monaco, where the foundation is based.

(Photo;express.co.uk)
Drivers stood together to remember Jules Bianchi ahead of the 2015 Hungary Grand Prix.

For more see; Remembering Jules Bianchi

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Remembering" Jules Bianchi

August 3, 1989 - July 17, 2015
Jules Bianchi
(Photo;dailymail.co.uk)
Born in Nice, France.
Bianchi was the grandson of Mauro Bianchi, who competed in GT racing during the 1960s and three non-championship Formula One Grands Prix in 1961. He was also the grandnephew of Lucien, who competed in 19 Formula One Grands Prix between 1959 and 1968 and won the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, before dying during Le Mans testing the following year.

Bianchi's exposure to motorsport started at around 3 years of age through karting and was facilitated by the fact that his father Philippe owned a kart track. Since age 17, Bianchi was professionally managed by Nicolas Todt.

In 2007, Bianchi left karting and raced in French Formula Renault 2.0 for SG Formula, where he finished as champion with five wins. He also competed in the Formula Renault Eurocup where he had one pole position and one fastest lap in three races.

Bianchi opted to switch to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for 2012, following his one-off appearance in the category in 2009. He signed for the Tech 1 Racing team and was partnered with Kevin Korjus, and later with Daniel Abt. He finished second in the title race, narrowly losing out to Robin Frijns at the final round.

In August 2009, Bianchi was linked by the BBC and various other media sources to the second Ferrari Formula One seat occupied by Luca Badoer during Felipe Massa's absence. Bianchi tested for Ferrari at the young drivers test at Circuito de Jerez for two days in December 2009. Bianchi's performance in this test led to him becoming the first recruit of the Ferrari Driver Academy and signing a long-term deal to remain at the team's disposal.

On November 11, 2010 he was confirmed by Ferrari as the team's test and reserve driver for the 2011 season, replacing Luca Badoer, Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gené, as well as confirming he would test for the team during the young driver test in Abu Dhabi on November 16-17. Bianchi carried on his GP2 racing, as Formula 1 allows test and reserve drivers to race in parallel in other competitions. On September 13, 2011 Bianchi tested for Ferrari at Fiorano, as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, with fellow academy member and Sauber F1 driver Sergio Pérez. Bianchi completed 70 laps and recorded a quickest lap time of 1:00.213. For the 2012 season, Ferrari loaned him to the Sahara Force India team, for whom he drove in nine Friday free practice sessions over the course of the year as the outfit's test and reserve driver.

In 2013, he made his debut driving for Marussia, finishing 15th in his opening race in Australia and ended the season in 19th position without scoring any points. His best result that year was 13th at the Malaysian Grand Prix. In October 2013, the team confirmed that he would drive for the team the following season. In the 2014 season, he scored both his and the Marussia's first points in Formula One at the Monaco Grand Prix.

On October 5, 2014 during the Japanese Grand Prix, Bianchi lost control of his Marussia in very wet conditions and collided with a recovery vehicle, suffering a diffuse axonal injury. He underwent emergency surgery and was placed into an induced coma, and remained comatose until his death on July  17, 2015. Bianchi is the first Formula One driver killed as a result of an accident during a race event since Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

The funeral service was held at the Nice Cathedral, on July 21, 2015. He lies at rest in his native city. Many prominent driver figures attended Bianchi's funeral, such as Alexander Wurz, Esteban Gutiérrez, Allan McNish, Alexander Rossi, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Jean-Éric Vergne, Marcus Ericsson, Roberto Merhi, Adrian Sutil, Valtteri Bottas, Pastor Maldonado, Pedro de la Rosa, Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Massa, Alain Prost, Nico Hülkenberg, Olivier Panis, Daniil Kvyat and Max Chilton.

In December 2015, Bianchi's father announced plans to create a foundation in his son's honour to uncover and nurture young drivers throughout their career. The initiative involves exhibiting Jules Bianchi’s memorabilia and merchandising with JB17 branding, sponsoring opportunities and events. Among the supporters is Prince Albert of Monaco, where the foundation is based.
(Photo;express.co.uk)
Drivers stood together to remember Jules Bianchi ahead of the 2015 Hungary Grand Prix

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"1960 Indy 500 Winner" Jim Rathmann Born - July 16, 1928

July 16, 1928 - November 23, 2011
Jim Rathmann (A.K.A. Dick)
(Photo;alchetron.com)
 Born in Alhambra, California, USA.
Rathmann and his older brother notably swapped names while teenagers. As a 16-year-old going by the name of "Dick Rathmann," he wanted to start racing. In order to enter races, he borrowed his older brother's I.D. and assumed the identity of "Jim Rathmann." The name change stuck for life in public circles.

He drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series in the 1949–1950 and 1952–1963 seasons with 42 starts, including the Indianapolis 500 in each of those seasons. Rathmann also participated in the two runnings of the Race of Two Worlds at Monza, Italy, winning the 1958 event. He also drove in 3 races in the NASCAR series from 1949 to 1951.

He had 6 victories in addition to his 1960 Indy 500 win. Started first row centered, Rathmann ran in the front the entire race. From the midway point on, Rathmann and Rodger Ward were locked in a neck and neck duel for first. Tire wear became an issue as the race wore on and Rathmann was able to keep his wheels fresh long enough to outrace Ward to the finish. The race featured the most recorded lead changes in the "Indy 500" history.

On August 15, 2007, Rathmann was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Over the decades after his victory, Rathmann was a regular visitor to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May each year. He drove the pace car several times. However, he missed the 100th anniversary celebration in 2011 due to failing health. Rathmann died on November 23, 2011. He had reportedly suffered a seizure at his home days earlier and died at a hospice center in Melbourne, Florida.
(Photo;alchetron.com)

Merle Bettenhausen Loses Arm In Fiery Crash - July 16, 1972

July 16, 1972

(Photo; hoosierhistorylive.org)
Born in Tinley Park, Illinois, USA.
The second oldest member of the Bettenhausen racing family, he is the son of Tony Bettenhausen and the brother of Gary Bettenhausen and Tony Bettenhausen Jr. Merle's USAC Champ Car racing career was brief and tragic.

Merle began driving Midgets, Sprint Cars and Champ Cars to get more experience before tackling Indy. During the winter of 1969 as he toured Australia and New Zealand under the wing of USAC National Midget Champion Bob Tattersall.

By 1972, Merle believed he was prepared for the challenge of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He passed the mandatory rookie driver's test but did not attempt to qualify. Later that year Merle was involved in a serious racing incident that forever would alter his life. Three laps into his first Champ Car race on a paved track, Michigan International Speedway on July 16, 1972, he tangled with Mike Hiss and crashed into the outside wall. The car exploded in flames and Merle tried to climb out while it was still moving. His right arm became trapped between the car and the wall and was torn off.

He currently resides in Indianapolis and works in the retail automobile business.

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