Friday, April 28, 2017

Jacques Villeneuve Scores First F-1 Victory - April 28, 1996

April 28, 1996
Jacques Villeneuve scored his first Formula One victory in his fifth Formula One start. Villeneuve started second and led all 67 laps of the 1996 Grand Prix of Europe at the Nurburgring in Nurburg, Germany. It had been a magnificent race with Jacques crossing the finish line just 0.762s ahead of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari. Half a minute behind them, David Coulthard gave McLaren-Mercedes a much-needed third place.

As Jacques crossed the line to win, Patrick Head came on the Williams radio and said: "The first of many." A nice gesture. He further commented "Jacques's car was not as quick as we would have liked it to be but he made good use of the car as it was. He didn't make any mistakes and to withstand the kind of pressure from Schumacher on his home territory showed considerable maturity."
The podium at the Nuerburgring; Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve & David Coulthard.

"Motorcycle & Sportscar" Racer Kurt Kossmann Born - April 28, 1971

April 28, 1971
Kurt Kossmann
Home:Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
He is known for being the first amputee to compete in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Kurt is a cancer survivor who lost his left leg, above the knee, to an osteosarcoma in 1988. Kurt underwent thirteen months of chemotherapy before making a full recovery. During his recovery Kurt designed a prosthetic leg specifically for operating the clutch system in a race car. This device allowed him to continue his racing career in the Barber Pro Series, Grand American Road Racing Championship, and eventually enter the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2009.

Kurt has worked with various charities and organizations to raise awareness and donations for childhood cancer. Since overcoming his illness, Kurt has teamed with Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and One Lap of America for fundraising events.

Kurt was also the only amputee racer to ever compete in the BMW BoxerCup motorcycle series. He raced the American inauguration event at the Daytona International Speedway in 2003 during the annual Daytona Bike Week.

Ayrton Senna Wins The "Grand Prix of San Marino" - April 28, 1991

April 28, 1991

(photo credit: Senna champagne via photopin (license))
Ayrton Senna finished 1.675 seconds ahead of McLaren teammate Gerhard Berger, to win the "Grand Prix of San Marino" at Autodromo Enzo & Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Austin Dillon Born In Lewisville, North Carolina - April 27, 1990

April 27, 1990
Austin Dillon
Born in Lewisville, North Carolina, USA.
He is the son of former driver and RCR general manager Mike Dillon, brother of Ty Dillon and grandson of Richard Childress. Dillon played in the 2002 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He currently drives the No. 3 Chevrolet SS for Richard Childress Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He also drives the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro for RCR in the Xfinity Series on a part-time basis. He also drives the No. 99 Chevrolet Silverado for MDM Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series on a part-time basis.

After winning Rookie of the Year in the Camping World Truck Series in 2010, Dillon won the Truck Series championship in 2011, and later the Nationwide Series Championship in 2013, also one year after his ROTY title in 2012. He holds the record for most consecutive poles in the Nationwide Series with four.

On December 11, 2013, it was announced by RCR that Dillon will drive the #3 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Cheerios and The Dow Chemical Company as the primary sponsors. It would be the #3 car's first Sprint Cup appearance in 13 years. During 2014 Daytona 500 qualifying, Dillon clinched the pole position with a speed of 196.019 miles per hour and posted a 9th place finish. Dillon ended the 2014 Cup season as one of only two drivers to have been running at the finish of every race during the season, the other being Jeff Gordon. He finished second in the rookie of the year standings to Kyle Larson. Dillon finished 21st in the 2015 Sprint Cup standings.

Dillon competed part-time in the Xfinity Series in 2016, splitting the No. 2 of RCR with six other drivers. On the final lap of the Xfinity race in Fontana, Dillon battled with Kyle Busch, whose car had cut a left front tire, the two making contact as they approached the finish. Dillon's car hit the turn four wall but was able to hang on for the win.

In the Cup Series, Dillon won two Poles, the first coming at Auto Club and the second coming at the second Texas race. At the first Talladega Cup race, Dillon scored a career-best 3rd place finish after getting caught up in two big crashes. He then also qualified for his first Chase for the Sprint Cup; though he advanced out of the Round of 16, he was eliminated in the following round.

Dillon got engaged to former NFL cheerleader, Whitney Ward, on August 9, 2016. 

Bob Bondurant Born In Evanston, Illinois - April 27, 1933

April 27, 1933
Bob Bondurant

Born in Evanston, Illinois, USA.
He is a former Formula One, Can-Am, NASCAR, Baja, Motorcycle, Sports Car racer and owner of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

During his teens, Bondurant raced an Indian motorcycle on dirt ovals. In 1956 he switched to sports car racing with a Morgan and started to attract attention when he won the West Coast "B" production Championship, in a Chevrolet Corvette winning 18 out of 20 races.

Santa Barbara Chevrolet dealer Shelly Washburn hired Bondurant in 1961 to drive his #614 1959 Corvette. Some of the best Corvette racing duels were between him and David McDonald on the West Coast during the early 1960s. At the L.A. Times Grand Prix in October 1962, Bondurant drove Washburn's new 1963 Corvette Z06 Sting Ray. Between 1961 and 1963, he won 30 out of 32 races in Washburn's Corvettes.

In 1963 he became a member of Carroll Shelby's Ford Cobra team, winning his first race at the Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado, followed by an overall win at the LA Times Grand Prix GT race at Riverside in October 1963. For the 1964 FIA season after finishing 2nd in GT at Sebring, Bob was in Europe racing the new 289 FIA Cobras at the Targa Florio, Spa and Nurburgring. His best-known victory was winning the GT class at Le Mans 24 Hours in 1964 in Shelby's new Cobra Daytona Coupe with Dan Gurney co-driving. In 1965 Bondurant won the FIA Manufacturers' World Championship for Shelby American and Ford, winning seven out of ten races against the class dominating Ferrari 250 GTOs in Europe. In the same year he drove a works Ferrari Formula 1 car during the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, and handled a Lotus 33 for Reg Parnell at the following Mexican race.

In 1966 Bob Bondurant served as a technical consultant for John Frankenheimer's film Grand Prix and trained the film's lead actor James Garner to drive Formula cars in the race sequences. Bob also drove BRMs in five Grands Prix for Team Chamaco Collect, finishing 4th at Monaco. He finished the Formula One season in North America in two races, driving an Eagle for Dan Gurney's Anglo American Racers.

For 1967 he drove in the Can-Am series and in a Corvette L88 Coupe at Le Mans, and led the GT class until a wrist pin failed putting the car out in the early morning. Later that month while driving a McLaren, at Watkins Glen, the steering arm broke at 150 mph approaching the Loop-Chute section of Watkins Glen. Bob sustained serious rib, leg, foot and, most seriously, back injuries in the subsequent accident in which his car flipped eight times. Doctors told him he would likely never walk again, but through courage and hard work he overcame his injuries.

While recuperating, Bondurant drafted an idea for a high performance driving school borrowing from the experiences he had while training James Garner for Grand Prix. The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving opened in early 1968 at Orange County International Raceway then moved to Ontario and later moved to Sonoma, where he was an important figure in the track's development. Nissan Motor Company was Bondurant's sponsoring partner in his school from its beginning at and continued in that role at the Sonoma Raceway driving school.

In the June 1969 run of the grueling off-road Baja 500 race, Bondurant with co-driver Tony Murphy took first place in the passenger car class driving a SC/Rambler for James Garner's "American International Racers" team that was sponsored by American Motors Corporation.

Bob Bondurant had four NASCAR starts, all at Riverside International Raceway, with his highest finish of 18th in 1981.

Following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake he moved the driving school to Phoenix, Arizona, where he enjoys close ties to General Motors and Goodyear Tires.
(Photo: Bob Bondurant's Camaro SS via photopin (license))
Bob Bondurant was a driving instructor to actors James Garner, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Robert Wagner and Tim Allen as well as to Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage.

Bob was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2003.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jean-Pierre Beltoise Born In Paris, France - April 26 1937

April 26 1937 – January 5, 2015
Jean-Pierre Beltoise
Born in Paris, France.
He was both a Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and Formula One driver. François Cevert was his brother-in-law. His two sons, Anthony and Julien, are both race drivers.

 Beltoise won 11 national motorcycle titles in three years. He competed in international Grand Prix motorcycle racing from the 1962 to 1964 seasons in the 50, 125, 250 and 500 cc classes. His best finish was a sixth place in the 1964 50 cc World Championship.

He competed in 88 Formula One Grand Prix, achieving one win and eight podium finishes. He later did most of the testing for the Ligier F1 team, and turned his attention to touring car racing in France, twice winning the French title for BMW before entering rallycross in an Alpine-Renault, with which he won the French title. In 1981 he returned to touring cars and raced for Peugeot throughout the 1980s. He was also a regular ice racer.

Beltoise died at his holiday home in Dakar, Senegal, on January 5, 2015, at 77 years of age, following two strokes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Felipe Massa Born In São Paulo, Brazil - April 25, 1981

April 25, 1981
Felipe Massa
Born in São Paulo, Brazil.
 Massa started his career in go-karting from the age of eight continuing in national and regional championships for seven years. He moved into Formula Chevrolet and claimed the championship. He moved in Italian Formula Renault in 2000 and won the title along with the European championship. Massa went into Euro Formula 3000 taking the championship.

Massa started his Formula One career with Sauber before joining Scuderia Ferrari as a test driver for 2003. He returned to Sauber for 2004 and 2005 before rejoining Ferrari where he won two races in 2006 including his home Grand Prix becoming the first Brazilian since Ayrton Senna to win the Brazilian Grand Prix. Massa won three races in 2007, finishing 4th in the Drivers' Championship. He finished second in the 2008 Drivers' World Championship after a long title battle with Lewis Hamilton. At the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Massa was injured by a suspension spring off the Brawn GP car of Rubens Barrichello. Massa was forced to miss the rest of the season but returned in 2010. Massa suffered a dip in form in 2011 scoring no podiums but consistently scoring points. Massa contributed to Ferrari's Constructors Championships in 2007 and 2008 and was under contract to race for the team until the end of the 2013 season. On September 10, 2013, he confirmed he would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2013 season. On November 11, it was announced that Massa would replace Pastor Maldonado alongside Valtteri Bottas at Williams from 2014.

He finished the 2015 Formula One season in sixth place in the drivers' standings, achieving two podiums in Austria and in Italy.

On September 1, 2016 Massa announced that he would retire from Formula One at the end of the season. Massa finished the season 11th with 53 points. Following the abrupt retirement of 2016 Formula One Champion Nico Rosberg, Massa returned to Williams for a one year contract to partner rookie Lance Stroll for the 2017 season.

Bob Akin Gravely Injured In Violent Crash - April 25, 2002

March 6, 1936 - April 29, 2002
Bob Akin
Born In North Tarrytown, New York, USA.
Bob was a successful business executive, journalist, television commentator and champion sports car racing driver. On April 25, 2002, he was gravely injured in a violent crash while testing a powerful, 1988 Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo for the Walter Mitty Challenge for historic cars at Road Atlanta. His injuries included a broken neck, left leg, left shoulder and right arm, along with third-degree burns over 15 percent of his body. He was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital after the accident. After briefly rallying, the 66 year old succumbed due to complications from his injuries on April 29, 2002.

For more; Bob Akin

Michele Alboreto Dies In Testing Crash - April 25, 2001

December 23, 1956 - April 25, 2001
Michele Alboreto
Born in Milan, Italy.
  He is famous for finishing runner up to Alain Prost in the 1985 Formula One World Championship, as well as winning the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans and 2001 12 Hours of Sebring sports car races. Alboreto competed in Formula One from 1981 until 1994, racing for a number of teams, most notably his five seasons driving for Ferrari.

In April 2001, Alboreto was performing straight-line speed tests in an Audi R8 at the Lausitzring, near Dresden, Germany. A tyre blow-out caused his car to veer off track and crash into a wall, killing him. At the time, Audi gave no reason for his death, citing that the R8 had "already completed thousands of test kilometres on numerous circuits without any problems". Alboreto's death brought much anguish among his family and friends. Michele's cousin Marisa told Italian news agency ANSA "You can't imagine what we're going through as a family. We're really distraught."

Fellow Italian Giancarlo Fisichella dedicated his podium finish at the 2005 Italian Grand Prix to Alboreto, "I know Alboreto was the last Italian on the podium at Monza before me. I was lucky enough to race together with him in touring cars, and he was a great person, really special. I want to dedicate the result to his memory."

"Smokey's Best Damn Garage In Town" Destroyed By Fire - April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011
Yunick ran "Smokey's Best Damn Garage in Town" on Beach Street in Daytona Beach, Florida from 1947, when he opened the garage repairing trucks, until 1987 when he closed it, claiming that there were no more good mechanics. The garage, which was the last remaining sign of the innovative mechanic, erupted in flame on April 25, 2011 at about 7 p.m. and was destroyed. Little remains, except portions of the block walls.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rolf Stommelen Dies Following Vicious Crash At Riverside - April 24, 1983

July 11, 1943 - April 24, 1983
Rolf Stommelen
Born in Siegen, Germany.
Stommelen participated in 63 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, achieving one podium, and scored a total of 14 championship points. He also participated in several non-Championship Formula One races.

One of the best endurance sports car racing drivers of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, Stommelen won the 24 Hours of Daytona 4 times; in 1968, 1978, 1980 and 1982 and the Targa Florio in 1967 in a Porsche 910.

Stommelen was killed in a vicious crash during an IMSA Camel GT event at Riverside International Raceway on April 24, 1983. He was running a John Fitzpatrick entered Porsche 935 with codriver Derek Bell. Stommelen had just taken over the car from Derek Bell and was running the car in second place when the rear wing broke, due to damage caused by a brush with a guard rail 2 laps earlier. The car became uncontrollable, slammed against a concrete wall, somersaulted and caught fire. Stommelen had no visible injuries after the accident but lost consciousness and was taken to hospital and died of a heart attack on the way there.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

P. J. Jones Born In Torrance, California - April 23, 1969

April 23, 1969
P. J. Jones
Born in Torrance, California, USA.
He has contested in multiple disciplines, including NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA GT, the American Le Mans Series, USAC, the Chili Bowl, and Stadium Super Trucks. His father is Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones and his brother Page Jones is a former racing driver.

Jones was runner-up at the GTP class of the IMSA GT Championship in 1993 and fourth in 1992. He also finished 4th at the 2002 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen, and second at the 1999 CART race at Nazareth. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sox & Martin: The Most Famous Team in Drag Racing

As the sport of drag racing exploded in the 1950s, two youngsters from North Carolina each rose through the ranks racing Chevrolets. It didn't take long for one of them to realize that if you couldn't beat him it may be best to join him. Buddy Martin approached Ronnie Sox about campaigning a 1963 Z-11 Chevy; and with that partnership, the most dominant duo in the history of drag racing was formed.
Sox & Martin: The Most Famous Team in Drag Racingis a comprehensive archival recap of straight-line racing's greatest duo. Historic and modern imagery recapture the celebrated Plymouth race cars campaigned by Ronnie and Buddy throughout their legendary partnership. Also chronicled are the lesser-known Oldsmobile, Ford, Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Mercury mounts predating their time with Chrysler. The races, the cars, the events; all of it is covered here during this golden age of drag racing.

Author Jim Schild, with the help of Buddy Martin, Herb McCandless, Jake King, Diane Sox, Dave Christie, and others, has created the most exhaustive, authentic review of the illustrious drag racing career of Sox & Martin. Add this title to your racing library today.

Greg Moore Born In New Westminster, British Columbia - April 22, 1975

April 22, 1975 – October 31, 1999
Greg Moore
Born in New Westminster, British Columbia.
Moore lived in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. His early racing career progressed through kart racing, winning the North American Enduro Kart Championships in 1989 and 1990. Moore also played ice hockey while growing up in and around Vancouver. He played on the same peewee team as future NHL star Paul Kariya. Moore was assigned the number 99 when he first started racing go-karts, and would later use the number on his racecar during his CART career. Moving up to Formula Ford cars in 1991, Moore was named the Esso Protec Formula Ford 1600 Rookie of the Year after winning one race and placing fourth in the overall championship. In 1992, he won four races and took four pole positions. He was the USAC Formula 2000 West Champion and Rookie of the Year.

The following year, Moore began racing in the Indy Lights circuit. Despite racing with an under-funded, family-run team, he placed ninth in the 1993 Indy Lights Championship. At the age of 18, Moore became the youngest driver ever to win a CART-sanctioned race when he won the 1994 Indy Lights season-opener at Phoenix. He won three Lights races in 1994 and finished third in the championship.

Moore joined the Player's Forsythe racing team and won the 1995 Indy Lights Championship with a spectacular record-setting season that saw him win 10 of 12 races, including five in a row.

After Indy Lights Greg moved to CART. He was fatally injured in a violent crash on the tenth lap of the CART season finale, the Marlboro 500, at the California Speedway in Fontana, California on October 31, 1999.

For more see; "Remembering" Greg Moore

Greg Moore: A Legacy of Spirit
What is it about Greg Moore that caused so many to fall in love and so many to be devastated when he died? Greg's life was a celebration of youth, spirit, accomplishment, and charity. He was doing what he loved, with people he loved and respected. He was succeeding as an automobile racer and, even more, as a human being. He inspired everyone to act openly, positively, and with good humor. His easy grin and natural outgoing friendliness captured people's hearts and minds. When you met him you felt he was a friend for life. He made people like he was one of them, whomever they were. If you got close enough to say hello, to catch his eye, you felt you knew him. And anyone who knew him well thought of him as a man beyond his years, unusually free of the conflicts of youth. Although he seemed settled and mature, Greg Moore still revealed a sense of adventure and wonder. His achievements as a driver were impressive and have assured him a place in the galaxy of greats. Yet his spirit of sincerity and goodwill is the abiding memory that will live on. Through the memories of his family, friends, colleagues, mentors, and Greg himself, Greg Moore: A Legacy of Spirit tells the story of this remarkable young athlete. Through photographs and memorabilia that trace the his life and career, we are given a lasting image of a life lived well, but far too short.

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"5-time NHRA Champ" Ronnie Sox Dies - April 22, 2006

 December 17, 1938 - April 22, 2006
Ronnie Sox 
 Born in Burlington, Massachusetts, USA.
His family ran a Sinclair station on Church St. in Burlington, North Carolina, where Ronnie got his start in drag racing in the 1950s when the Police Club of Burlington began hosting races at an airport.

He raced at tracks throughout North Carolina and became a national sensation in the 1960s and early '70s. Sox won five National Hot Rod Association championships and more than 59 events. Together with racing partner Buddy Martin, Sox was the winningest Pro Stock driver in the 1970-72 "four-speed era". Initially Martin and Sox were competitors, but Martin approached Sox to drive his car after concluding that he just couldn't beat him. He drove a 1963 Chevrolet and then a factory AFX Mercury Comet in 1964. In 1965 he drove an Altered Wheelbase Plymouth. 

He started the 1966 season in an injected, nitro-burning Barracuda Funny Car. 
(photo credit: twm1340 via photopin cc)
Later that season he drove Plymouths in the Pro Stock class of NHRA and had "Clinic" cars with Plymouths. He then drove a Mercury Comet in IHRA Pro Modified for a few years before retiring from drag racing. 

Sox was ranked 15th on the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951-2000. He died of prostate cancer at the age of 67, in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

As the sport of drag racing exploded in the 1950s, two youngsters from North Carolina each rose through the ranks racing Chevrolets. It didn't take long for one of them to realize that if you couldn't beat him it may be best to join him. Buddy Martin approached Ronnie Sox about campaigning a 1963 Z-11 Chevy; and with that partnership, the most dominant duo in the history of drag racing was formed.
Sox & Martin: The Most Famous Team in Drag Racingis a comprehensive archival recap of straight-line racing's greatest duo. Historic and modern imagery recapture the celebrated Plymouth race cars campaigned by Ronnie and Buddy throughout their legendary partnership. Also chronicled are the lesser-known Oldsmobile, Ford, Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Mercury mounts predating their time with Chrysler. The races, the cars, the events; all of it is covered here during this golden age of drag racing.

Author Jim Schild, with the help of Buddy Martin, Herb McCandless, Jake King, Diane Sox, Dave Christie, and others, has created the most exhaustive, authentic review of the illustrious drag racing career of Sox & Martin. 
Add this title to your racing library today