Sunday, June 16, 2019

"The Flying Scotsman" Ron Flockhart Born - June 16, 1923

June 16, 1923 - April 12, 1962
Ron Flockhart
Born in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
He participated in 14 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, achieving one podium finish and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans sportscar race twice.

Flockhart started competing in 1951 in a Joe Potts Formula 3 car. He purchased the famous ERA R4D from Raymond Mays and in 1953 had a very successful season, beating one of the works BRMs at Goodwood. He achieved podium finishes at Goodwood, Charterhall, Snetterton and Crystal Palace, as well as several hill climb successes.

In 1956, driving for the Scottish team Ecurie Ecosse, he won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing an ex-works Jaguar D-type with Ninian Sanderson. The following year he won again for the same team, this time sharing with Ivor Bueb, setting a distance record of 2,732.8 miles.

Flockhart took up flying so he could get quickly to the European racing car circuits. Through his love of flying, and his passion for speed and setting records, Flockhart decided that he would attempt to set a speed record for a petrol-engine powered flight from Sydney to London. It was this quest to set a world record that lead to Flockhart's death. On April 12, 1962, while on a test flight in preparation for the record attempt, Flockhart crashed in poor weather near Kallista, Victoria, and was killed.

Michele Alboreto Leads Ferrari Sweep Of Canadian GP - June 16, 1985

June 16, 1985
Michele Alboreto drives to victory over teammate Stefan Johansson for a Ferrari sweep at the Labatt Grand Prix of Canada on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Richard Petty Makes 1,000th NASCAR Start - June 15, 1986

June 15, 1986
Bill Elliott beat Harry Gant to win the Miller American 400. The race will go down in history, however, as Richard Petty’s 1000th career start. He became the first driver in NASCAR history to log 1,000 career starts.

Dubbed “The King,” the enormously popular Petty retired in 1992, having racked up a dominant list of records including first all-time in wins (200), races started (1,184), top-five finishes (555), top-10 finishes (712), pole positions (126), laps completed (307,836), laps led (52,194), races led (599), and consecutive races won (10).

Riccardo Paletti Born In Milan, Italy - June 15, 1958

June 15, 1958 - June 13, 1982
Riccardo Paletti
(Photo; f1.wikia.com)
Born In Milan, Italy.
Paletti was an Italian junior karate champion at thirteen, and made it to the national alpine skiing youth selection. Only at 19 did he choose to pursue a career in motorsports.

In 1978 Paletti entered nine races in Formula Super Ford and in his inaugural race he led for 18 laps. Despite the fact that he didn't win during the first season, he still gained two second places, and finished third in the overall championship. During the end of his first season he also made his Formula 3 debut in the Italian Championship with a March-Toyota. In the following year of 1979 Paletti entered a full F3 championship season, but he had little success as he only managed to place to fifth position twice. Later the same year he competed in a few Formula 2 races for the first time with the team ran by Mike Earle. His best result was at Misano, where he finished eighth.

For the 1981 European F2 championship season Earle severed his collaboration with March to start Onyx. Paletti tested a lot during the winter and the effort paid off during the opening rounds of the season, as he qualified 10th in the first race at Silverstone, before finishing second behind Mike Thackwell. He retired in the second round at Hockenheim, but set the fastest lap of the race and his good form continued in round three at Thruxton, where he finished third, this time behind Roberto Guerrero. At that point in time he even shared second in the championship with Stefan Johansson, trailing Thackwell by just three points. But from then on luck failed Paletti, and he finished tenth in the championship.

Although still on a learning curve in the lower class racing, Paletti decided to join the noncompetitive team Osella in 1982. He admitted that Formula One struck him with a little bit of fear, but his sponsor, Pioneer wanted him to move up and Paletti did not want to miss his opportunity.

 Paletti was killed when he crashed on the start grid in his second Formula One start. Paletti qualified for the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday June 13, 1982, the first time he would start successfully in a full line-up. At the start, the lights took an unusually long time to turn to green. During this time, Didier Pironi, who had the pole position, stalled the engine of his Ferrari. Pironi lifted his hand to signal the problem, but there was no action for signalling the yellow to abort the start. The lights switched to green and the other cars swerved across the track, trying to squeeze past Pironi's stationary car. Raul Boesel just clipped the back left of the Ferrari, spinning his March into the path of Eliseo Salazar and Jochen Mass. Salazar, Boesel and Mass suffered minor impacts but it looked as if everyone had passed the Ferrari without serious consequences. However, Paletti could not react in time and slammed into the rear of the stranded Ferrari at 180 km/h (around 110 mph), catapulting it into the path of Geoff Lees. The Osella's nose was crushed in severely.

Due to the force of the severe impact, Paletti sustained heavy chest injuries and was lying unconscious in his car, wedged against the steering wheel. Didier Pironi and Sid Watkins, the FIA's head doctor, were on the scene to stabilise and assist Paletti. As Watkins climbed over the wreckage of the Osella, the petrol from the fuel tank ignited, enveloping the car in a wall of fire. When the fire was finally put out, the injured Paletti was without a pulse. It took the rescue workers 25 minutes to cut him out safely from his wrecked car, as the sparks caused by the cutting equipment threatened to re-ignite the petrol on the track. He was flown by a medical helicopter to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he died soon after arriving. His mother was watching from the stands, where they were to celebrate his 24th birthday later that week. It is said that Paletti was heavily intoxicated from breathing in the exhausting foam used to contain the car fire, and that this could have been fatal given the chest injuries that made respiration difficult.

Paletti was the second fatality in Formula One that year. Just five weeks before, Gilles Villeneuve had a fatal crash during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. Paletti would be the last driver to die at a Grand Prix meeting for the next 12 years until the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, which took the lives of Roland Ratzenberger during qualifying and triple world champion Ayrton Senna during the Grand Prix itself.

As a tribute to the young Italian, the racetrack at Varano de' Melegari, in the province of Parma is now called the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti.

"1976 Formula One World Champ" James Hunt Dies - June 15, 1993

August 29, 1947 - June 15, 1993
James Hunt
(Photo: Serbian car fans via photopin cc)
Born in Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, England.
The 1976 Formula One World Champion, Hunt became a media commentator and businessman after retiring from racing in 1979.

Beginning his racing career in touring car racing, Hunt progressed into Formula Three where he attracted the attention of the Hesketh Racing team and was soon taken under their wing. Hunt's often action-packed exploits on track earned him the nickname "Hunt the Shunt". Hunt entered Formula One in 1973, driving a March 731 entered by the Hesketh Racing team. He went on to win for Hesketh, driving their own Hesketh 308 car, in both World Championship and non-Championship races, before joining the McLaren team at the end of 1975. In his first year with McLaren, Hunt won the 1976 World Drivers' Championship, and he remained with the team for a further two years, although with less success, before moving to the Wolf team in early 1979. Following a string of races in which he failed to finish, Hunt retired from driving halfway through the 1979 season.

After retiring from motor racing, he established a career commenting on Grands Prix for the BBC. He was known for his knowledge, insights, dry sense of humour and his criticism of drivers who, he believed, were not trying hard enough, which in the process brought him a whole new fanbase.

June 15, 1993, Hunt died from a heart attack at his home in Wimbledon, London, England, at the age of 45. Two days previously, Hunt cycled from his home to Television Centre, to comment on the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix.

The movie Rush, a 2013 British-German biographical sports drama film, centered on the rivalry between Hunt and Niki Lauda, during the 1976 Formula One motor-racing season. 
(Photo: engyles via photopin cc
In the book, James Hunt: The Biography, Niki Lauda stated that "We were big rivals, especially at the end of the season, but I respected him, because you could drive next to him, 2 centimeters, wheel-by-wheel, for 300 kilometers or more, and nothing would happen. 
He was a real top driver at the time."

Early in their careers Hunt and Lauda shared a one-bedroom flat in London, and were close friends off the track. Lauda, in his autobiography To Hell and Back, described Hunt as an "open, honest to God pal". Lauda admired Hunt's burst of speed while Hunt envied Lauda's capacity for analysis and rigour. In the spring of 1974, Hunt moved to Spain on the advice of the International Management Group. While living there as a tax exile, Hunt was the neighbour of Jody Scheckter, and they also came to be very good friends, with Hunt giving Scheckter the nickname Fletcher after the crash-prone bird in the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Another close friend was Ronnie Peterson. Peterson was a quiet and shy man, while Hunt was exactly the opposite, but their contrasting personalities made them very close off the track. It was Hunt who discovered Gilles Villeneuve, whom he met after being soundly beaten by him in a Formula Atlantic race in 1976. Hunt then arranged for the young Canadian to make his Grand Prix debut with McLaren in 1977.

Hunt's lifestyle was as controversial as some of the events on track: he was associated with a succession of beautiful women; he preferred to turn up to formal functions in bare feet and jeans; he liked to drink, and also used cocaine and marijuana; and he lived an informal life near the beach in Marbella. He was regularly seen attending nightclubs and discos, and was generally the life and soul of the party. Hunt was an expert ball game player, and regularly played squash and tennis. He also played on the Formula One drivers' cricket and football teams and appeared on the BBC's Superstars more than once.

He was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame on January 29, 2014.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dale Whittington Found Dead At Age 43 - June 14, 2003

September 23, 1959 - June 14, 2003
Dale Whittington
(Photo;pinterest.com)
Born in Orlando, Florida, USA.
He was the youngest of three Whittington brothers. All three are race car drivers and sons of Dick Whittington, a 1950s race car owner.

Despite having little oval experience, Whittington entered the 1982 Indianapolis 500, joining his brothers Bill and Don to become the only trio of siblings to qualify for the same race at Indy. He qualified 23rd, on the eighth row.

On race day, he found himself caught up in the infamous Kevin Cogan crash. During the final pace lap, just before the green flag was to drop on the front stretch, Kevin Cogan struck A. J. Foyt, and then Mario Andretti. As the field checked up to avoid the carnage, Whittington locked his brakes and spun into Roger Mears, a driver in the sixth row. All four drivers were eliminated from the race. Dale was out of the race having never taken the green flag, and never again managed to qualify at Indy.

Whittington avoided prison time in connection with the 1980s IMSA Camel GT drug smuggling scandal which involved his brothers Bill and Don, as well as Randy Lanier, John Paul Sr., and John Paul, Jr. Both of his brothers received prison time.

Whittington transitioned to endurance racing, competing in the ALMS series, as well as competing at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1999 and 2000. He competed in Grand-Am in 2001 often racing with his brother, Don.

During his final years Whittington was working at World Jet, owned by his brother Don, at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. His death came on June 14, 2003. He was found dead by his oldest son, reportedly from a drug overdose.
(Photo;pinterest.com)

Gerhard Berger Wins "Molson Grand Prix of Canada" - June 14, 1992

June 14, 1992
Gerhard Berger
(Photo credit: StuSeeger via photopin cc
Qualifying produced a surprise as Ayrton Senna took pole position in his McLaren while championship leader Nigel Mansell could only manage third, behind Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese. This would turn out to be the only non-Williams pole of 1992, and one of only two not taken by Mansell that season. Gerhard Berger took fourth in the other McLaren, followed by Michael Schumacher in the Benetton. Johnny Herbert impressed in the Lotus and took sixth, ahead of Martin Brundle in the second Benetton. The top 10 was completed by the Ferraris of Jean Alesi and Ivan Capelli, and Mika Häkkinen in the second Lotus.

At the start Senna took the lead from the two Williams-Renaults with Mansell getting ahead of Patrese then Berger, Schumacher, Herbert and Brundle. On lap 14 Mansell tried to overtake Senna at the last chicane but the car ended off track and spun and came to a stop on the main straight. The Williams driver was out of the race. Lap 18 saw the exit of Capelli who crashed out. On lap 37 Senna retired from the lead with electrical problems. Next Patrese was out as his gearbox failed. Berger was in the lead followed by Schumacher. Katayama was driving a good race but had to retire from 5th on lap 61 when his engine expired.

"NASCAR Pioneer" Fred Harb Born - June 14, 1930

June 14, 1930 - December 18, 2016
Fred Harb
(Photo;.hpenews.com)
Born in High Point, North Carolina, USA.
He made 144 NASCAR Grand National Series starts from 1955 to 1965, earning 13 top fives and 42 top tens. He raced in the NASCAR Convertible Division, making 24 starts.

Harb started his NASCAR career in 1955, entering two races. He finished eleventh at Montgomery Speedway and twelfth at Orange Speedway driving for Ernest Woods. In 1956, Harb cashed in on local racing, winning $50 for finishing seventeenth in the first race of the season at Hickory Motor Speedway and another $50 for finishing 24th at Southern States Fairgrounds in Charlotte. That race he drove for Joe Blair, relative of friend Bill Blair. In 1957 he also ran three races, all within the Carolinas, and finishing inside the top twenty for all of them but not recording a top ten.

Harb got his first taste of convertible racing in 1957, where he entered one NASCAR Convertible Division race, finishing seventeenth at Wilson Speedway. In 1958, while running almost half of the Grand National schedule, Harb ran 15 of 19 Convertible races, recording a best finish of third at the Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway and recorded two other top fives and seven other top tens. As a result of the efforts, Harb finished eleventh in series points. Scaling back to just over half the schedule, Harb recorded just two top tens all year, and had one disastrous race in which his motor blew on the first lap of a contest at Hickory Speedway.

1958 brought unprecedented success for Harb, as he entered 25 races on the Grand National circuit. Racing at famed venues such as Martinsville Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway, he garnered four top fives and seven top tens, including a best finish of third at Columbia Speedway. He finished 24th in series points that year. During the final race of the season, at Lakewood Speedway near Atlanta, Harb saved the life of fellow driver Bill Morton's life by blocking traffic while Morton's disabled car was sitting upside down in the middle of the track after an accident. This led to Harb receiving the John Naughton Sportsmanship Award.

For his 19 starts in 1959, Harb was plagued by failing to finish, recording ten of them on the season and at one point driving two races away from his No. 17 for Harvey Hege in his No. 28. However, Harb did equal his best finish of third and grab his first career pole, at Concord Speedway. During the 1960 season, Harb ran twenty races, not finishing half of them and finishing in the top ten for another seven. He did run one race for the iconic Wood Brothers Racing, crashing out at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. Harb expanded to his largest schedule in 1961, running 27 races. Per the times, though, the failed to finish over half. At times, strange problems sent Harb home, as the A-frame and the right rear axle were listed as causes.

In 1962, Harb ran 20 races for himself and one for B. G. Holloway in his No. 59. Of the 21 starts, Harb failed to finish 16 and finished in the top ten in three of his remaining five starts. It was the only year in which Harb participated in more than ten races but did not record a top five finish. Running for himself as well as two different owners in 1963, Harb recorded a career-best finish of second at Bowman Gray Stadium. He also ran one race for the legendary Buck Baker, but Harb's engine failed en route to a 14th place finish. He finished 41st in points by virtue of 16 starts.

In 1964, Harb only attempted three races, two were at Bowman Gray. Rekindling an earlier relationship with Cliff Stewart, he recorded another top five at Bowman Gray as well as another top twenty at Starkey Speedway. During his final season in 1965, Harb ran five races, all for Stewart. Having his efforts hampered by mechanical woes, he finished only two races, but in the two he did finish he recorded a fifth and a sixth.

Harb was a member of the U. S. Army during the Korean War. When he was not racing, he operated an auto shop in his hometown of High Point, North Carolina. He was an active golfer and bowler until his later years. In 1949, he married his wife Betty, and they have three kids. Harb died at a Greensboro, North Carolina hospital on December 16, 2016.
Fred Harb had one of the best-looking cars for the April 22nd, 1962 Grand National race at Rambi. Harb drove 6th place finish winning at total of $240.

Penske Enterprises Acquire MIS - June 14, 1973

June 14, 1973
Penske Enterprises acquire Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, USA.
(Photo;"MIS 2014 restart" by N8huckins - Own work)
Michigan International Speedway is a two-mile moderate-banked D-shaped speedway located off U.S. Freeway 12 on more than 1,400 acres approximately four-mile south of the village of Brooklyn, in the scenic Irish Hills area of southeastern Michigan. The track is used primarily for NASCAR events. It is sometimes known as a "sister track" to Texas World Speedway, and was used as the basis of Auto Club Speedway. Michigan International Speedway is recognized as one of motorsports' premier facilities because of its wide racing surface and high banking.

Michigan is the fastest track in NASCAR due to its wide, sweeping corners and long straightaways; typical qualifying speeds are in excess of 200 MPH and corner entry speeds are anywhere from 215 to 220 mph after the 2012 repaving of the track.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Riccardo Paletti Killed In Canadian Grand Prix Crash - June 13, 1982

June 15, 1958 - June 13, 1982
Riccardo Paletti
(Photo; f1.wikia.com)
Born In Milan, Italy.
Paletti was killed when he crashed on the start grid in his second Formula One start. Paletti qualified for the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday June 13, 1982, the first time he would start successfully in a full line-up. At the start, the lights took an unusually long time to turn to green. During this time, Didier Pironi, who had the pole position, stalled the engine of his Ferrari. Pironi lifted his hand to signal the problem, but there was no action for signalling the yellow to abort the start. The lights switched to green and the other cars swerved across the track, trying to squeeze past Pironi's stationary car. Raul Boesel just clipped the back left of the Ferrari, spinning his March into the path of Eliseo Salazar and Jochen Mass. Salazar, Boesel and Mass suffered minor impacts but it looked as if everyone had passed the Ferrari without serious consequences. However, Paletti could not react in time and slammed into the rear of the stranded Ferrari at 180 km/h (around 110 mph), catapulting it into the path of Geoff Lees. The Osella's nose was crushed in severely.

Due to the force of the severe impact, Paletti sustained heavy chest injuries and was lying unconscious in his car, wedged against the steering wheel. Didier Pironi and Sid Watkins, the FIA's head doctor, were on the scene to stabilise and assist Paletti. As Watkins climbed over the wreckage of the Osella, the petrol from the fuel tank ignited, enveloping the car in a wall of fire. When the fire was finally put out, the injured Paletti was without a pulse. It took the rescue workers 25 minutes to cut him out safely from his wrecked car, as the sparks caused by the cutting equipment threatened to re-ignite the petrol on the track. He was flown by a medical helicopter to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he died soon after arriving. His mother was watching from the stands, where they were to celebrate his 24th birthday later that week. It is said that Paletti was heavily intoxicated from breathing in the exhausting foam used to contain the car fire, and that this could have been fatal given the chest injuries that made respiration difficult.

Paletti was the second fatality in Formula One that year. Just five weeks before, Gilles Villeneuve had a fatal crash during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. Paletti would be the last driver to die at a Grand Prix meeting for the next 12 years until the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, which took the lives of Roland Ratzenberger during qualifying and triple world champion Ayrton Senna during the Grand Prix itself.

As a tribute to the young Italian, the racetrack at Varano de' Melegari, in the province of Parma is now called the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti.

Henry Segrave Dies In Water Speed Record Attempt - June 13, 1930

September 22, 1896 - June 13, 1930
Sir Henry Segrave
(Photo; en.wikipedia.org)
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Henry Segrave was famous for setting three land speed records and the water speed record. He was the first person to hold both the land and water speed records simultaneously. He was the first person to travel at over 200 mph in a land vehicle. The Segrave Trophy was established in 1930 to commemorate his life.

A British national, Segrave was born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in Ireland and attended Eton College in England. He was commissioned into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1914 and served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps from January 1916. He was wounded twice, in 1915 and 1916. In July 1916 he became a flight commander as a temporary captain. In 1919 he transferred to the Royal Air Force Administrative Branch, but soon resigned his commission due to his wounds. Segrave bragged that he would drive a car at over 200 miles per hour.

In 1921 the 200-Mile Race at Brooklands was organised by the Junior Car Club, the first long-distance race to be run in Britain. The race, a contest for 1,500cc light cars, was won by Segrave in a Talbot-Darracq.

He was the first Briton to win a Grand Prix in a British car. He won the 1923 French Grand Prix and the 1924 San Sebastian Grand Prix at Circuito Lasarte, Spain, in a Sunbeam automobile. After a further win at Miramas in France, he retired from racing to concentrate on speed records.

On 21 March 1926, he set his first land speed record in his 4-litre Sunbeam Tiger Ladybird on the sands at Southport, England at 152.33 mph (245.149 km/h). This record lasted for just over a month, until broken by J.G. Parry-Thomas driving Babs.

He regained the land speed record in 29 March 1927 in his 1000 HP Sunbeam Mystery (also known as 'the Slug') at the Daytona Beach Road Course at 203.79 mph (327.97 km/h), becoming the first person to travel over 200 mph.

Segrave set his final land speed record at 231.45 mph (372.46 km/h) in his new car, the beautiful Golden Arrow, at Daytona Beach on 11 March 1929. This car had only 18.74 miles (30.16 km) on it, which is the least used car to set the record. After being the first person on the scene of Lee Bible's death, Segrave began concentrating on the water speed record. Golden Arrow has never been used since. The Golden Arrow is on display along with the Sunbeam 350 HP and the Sunbeam 1000HP at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

Golden Arrow 3D
(photo credit: wim hoppenbrouwers via phot)

Sunbeam 1000hp 
(photo credit: Dave Hamster via photopin cc)
Segrave was also an avid motorboat racer. After his 1929 land speed record, he immediately went to Miami for a motorboat race against Garfield Wood, multiple water speed record holder and the first man to travel over 100 miles per hour on water. Segrave won, causing Wood's first defeat in nine years. After Segrave returned to Great Britain, he was knighted for his many accomplishments.

A few months after receiving his knighthood, on Friday 13 June 1930, Sir Henry Segrave unknowingly captured the water speed record driving Miss England II on England's largest natural lake, Windermere. In a follow-up run the boat presumably hit a log and capsized, killing Miss England's mechanic, Victor Halliwell. Segrave's unconscious body was recovered, and taken to a hospital. He regained consciousness for a moment, was informed that he had indeed broken the record, then died a few moments later of lung haemorrhages.

Levassor Disqualified, Peugeot Wins First European Auto Race - June 13, 1895

June 13, 1895
Emile Levassor
(Photo;parisrues.com)
In 1895, a committee of journalists and automotive pioneers, including Emile Levassor and Armand Peugeot, France’s leading manufacturer of bicycles, spearheaded the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race in order to capitalize on public enthusiasm for the automobile. Out of 46 entries, Emile Levassor finished first in the world's first real automobile race, but was later disqualified on a technicality; first place went to a Peugeot that finished 11 hours behind him.

Levassor drove a Panhard et Levassor car with a two-cylinder, 750-rpm, four-horsepower Daimler Phoenix engine, completing the 732-mile course, from Paris to Bordeaux and back, in just under 49 hours, at a then-impressive speed of about 15 miles per hour.

("Panhard-levassor". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Panhard et Levassor
The Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race highlighted France’s superiority in automotive technology at the time, and established Panhard et Levassor as a major force in the fledgling industry. Its success spurred the creation of the Automobile Club de France in order to foster the development of the motor vehicle and regulate future motor sports events. Over the next century, these events would grow into the Grand Prix motor racing circuit, and eventually into its current incarnation: Formula One.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Jason Leffler Dies In Sprint Car Race - June 12, 2013

September 16, 1975 - June 12, 2013
Jason Leffler
Leffler died from injuries sustained in a 410 sprint car race at Bridgeport Speedway in Bridgeport, New Jersey. Running second with a few laps left, his car suffered a front suspension failure, causing it to crash into a wall and flip several times.

Leffler was knocked unconscious instantly, and paramedics said he was motionless. When it was found that Leffler was not breathing, the rest of the race was cancelled and victory lane ceremonies did not take place. He was airlifted by helicopter to Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he was pronounced dead at 9 PM, 30 minutes after the wreck. EDT. An autopsy report stated that the cause of death was a severe blunt force neck and backbone injury.

After his death, many drivers and racing associations such as NASCAR and IndyCar made statements on the death and gave their condolences. NASCAR drivers competing in the 2013 Quicken Loans 400 had special stickers placed on their cars in honor of Leffler. Denny Hamlin, who replaced Leffler in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota in late 2005 had his car repainted to resemble Leffler's variation.

Born in Long Beach, California, Leffler began his career racing midget cars in the USAC series, where he won three consecutive midget championships from 1997 and 1999, as well as the Silver Crown series championship in 1998. He was the third driver to win three consecutive midget car championships. He won the Hut Hundred and Belleville Nationals in 1997, and the Turkey Night Grand Prix and Copper Classic in 1999. He won his second Turkey Night Grand Prix in 2005.

Roger Penske met Leffler at the 1998 Hut 100. Leffler's success also caught the attention of Joe Gibbs Racing, a team which had previously signed Tony Stewart from the USAC ranks. Leffler joined the team in 1999 and made four starts in the Busch Series during the season with moderate success. At the same time, he also started a race in the Indy Racing League at Walt Disney World Speedway in the No. 5 Treadway Racing machine, but finished last after crashing early in the race.

Leffler made his first, and only, start in the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. This effort was put forth by Treadway Racing with backing from Roger Penske's United Auto group. Leffler qualified in the 17th position, which was also where he finished; three laps behind race winner Juan Pablo Montoya.

During the 2000 season, Leffler drove full-time for the No. 18 MBNA sponsored Busch team. He finished twentieth in the championship and earned three pole positions during the year and finished second at Phoenix. He also made two IRL starts, among them a start for Treadway in the Indianapolis 500 where he started and finished seventeenth. After that season, he moved up to the Winston Cup Series to drive the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge Intrepid in Winston Cup, which was sponsored by Cingular Wireless. During his inaugural Cup season, he won the pole at the inaugural race at Kansas Speedway, but had only one top ten finish and four failures to qualify. After his 37th-place finish in the championship, Ganassi replaced him with Jimmy Spencer for the 2002 season.

Jason would run a total of 73 NASCAR Cup Series races over a 9 year career, 294 races during a 12 year NASCAR Nationwide Series career and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career of 56 races over a 7 year period. 

Leffler was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. He had 18 national championship midget car wins at that time.

"All Andretti Team" Place 6th At Le Mans - June 12, 1988

June 12, 1988 
(Photo; www.f1-photo.com)
The all Andretti team of Mario, Michael, and John Andretti drove a Porsche 962C to a 6th place finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race was won by the Jaguar XJR-9 LM of Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries, and Andy Wallace.

Mario competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in four decades. In 1966 he shared a Holman Moody Ford MKII with Lucien Bianchi. They retired after their car dropped a valve at 10:30 pm. Andretti's final appearance at Le Mans was at the 2000 race, six years after his retirement from full-time racing, when he drove the Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S at the age of 60, finishing 16th.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Truesports Team Owner Jim Trueman Dies Of Cancer - June 11, 1986

May 25, 1935 – June 11, 1986
Jim Trueman
(Photo; columbus.gov)
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Trueman was a businessperson, champion racecar driver, racing team owner and owner of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He began driving sports cars in 1962. He entered the Can-Am series and drove through the 1970s. He won 125 races in 23 years. He won the SCCA national championships in 1975 and 1978.
(Photo; teamterrificracing.net)
 Jim Trueman collecting a checkered flag at the 1975 Runoffs.

One of Jim Trueman's first business interests was Deibel's, a German-style restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. In 1972, Trueman opened his first Red Roof Inn motel. Soon he had three. The business was very successful, and by 1986, there were at least 155 motels in the chain.

On October 1, 1981, Trueman purchased Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a race track near Lexington, Ohio. Immediately he began improving the facility. The track welcomed the CART series back in 1983. The facility became one of the most popular road racing tracks in the United States, hosting also IMSA, Grand-Am, IROC, SCCA, motorcycle racing, vintage events, and various other races.

Trueman used his riches from the motel business to expand his auto racing interests. He signed on Red Roof Inns to sponsor Vern Schuppan in the 1981 Indianapolis 500. Schuppan finished a strong third. In 1982, Trueman switched from Can-Am to CART and experienced instant success.

In 1985, Trueman was diagnosed with cancer. He kept his illness secret for many months.  At the 1986 Indianapolis 500 Trueman spent the entire month of May at the track, but was visibly frail and quiet.
(Photo;"Jimtrueman1986" by Doctorindy (talk) - self-made. Via Wikipedia)
Trueman during practice at the 1986 Indy 500

The race was originally scheduled on his 51st birthday, but rain delayed the race. Bobby Rahal's car was fitted with a "Happy Birthday JRT" decal to celebrate. The following Saturday, May 31, 1986, the race was finally run. With two laps to go Rahal passed Kevin Cogan on a restart, and held on to win. The emotional Rahal nearly broke down in victory lane.
(Photo credit: omninate via photopin cc)
Bobby Rahal's March/Cosworth - 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning car.

In victory lane, Trueman stood up and took the traditional milk for winning Indy. Several years later, ABC television reporter Jack Arute revealed that Trueman whispered in his ear "I can go now." Later that year, Rahal won his first CART championship, and successfully defended it the following year. In 1988, Rahal won the last race the Truesports team ever won, the Quaker State 500 at Pocono

On Thursday June 5, 1986, five days after the victory, the city of Columbus held a victory parade downtown. Trueman was too sick to attend. Six days later he died at the age of 51.

The rookie of the year award in CART was named in his honor.

F-1 Legend Jackie "Flying Scot" Stewart Born - June 11, 1939

June 11, 1939
SirJackie Stewart
(Photo; thisisf1.com)
Born in Milton, Scotland.
Nicknamed the "Flying Scot", he competed in Formula One between 1965 and 1973, winning three World Drivers' Championships. He also competed in Can-Am. In 2009 he was ranked fifth of the fifty greatest Formula One drivers of all time by journalist Kevin Eason who wrote: "He has not only emerged as a great driver, but one of the greatest figures of motor racing."

He is well known in the United States as a color commentator of racing television broadcasts having worked in that role in the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix from 1971 to 1986. In 1976 Stewart became the play-by-play announcer for the 1976 Winter and 1976 Summer Olympics, and he served as host of the Indianapolis 500 coverage for ABC's Wide World of Sports and ABC Sports, from 1982 to 1984. He has also been a spokesman for Ford, Rolex and Moët.

Stewart lives in the Buckinghamshire village of Ellesborough. Between 1969 and 1997 he lived in Begnins, near Lake Geneva in Switzerland and later sold his house to Phil Collins. He married his childhood sweetheart Helen in 1962 and they have two sons. Paul was a racing driver, and later ran Paul Stewart Racing with his father, selling it in 1999. Mark is a film and television producer.

Stewart dictated his autobiography due to his dyslexia. In a 2009 interview, and in the book, he discusses his close relationship with his older brother Jimmy, who was also a successful racing driver in his youth but had a long struggle with alcoholism. Jimmy died in 2008.

Following the death of John Surtees on March 10, 2017 Stewart is now the oldest surviving Formula One World Champion, as well as the only living World Champion from the 1960s era of Formula One.
(Photo;katehewif1.wordpress.com)

Jean Alesi Drives Famous # 27 Ferrari To Canadian Victory - June 11, 1995

June 11, 1995
The Canadian Grand Prix was notable for having produced the only Grand Prix victory for French driver Jean Alesi. This was seen as a popular victory, as Alesi was driving the red number 27 Ferrari, as famously driven by Canadian hero Gilles Villeneuve.
 (Photo: Paul Lannuier via photopin cc)
Adding to the victory was the fact that the win also occurred on Alesi's 31st birthday. This race also marked the last time to date that a Grand Prix was won by a car with a V12 engine.


"Worst Crash In Racing" Kills Pierre Levegh & 83 Spectators - June 11, 1955

December 22, 1905 - June 11, 1955
Pierre Levegh
(Photo; findagrave.com)
Born in Paris, France.
Born Pierre Eugène Alfred Bouillin, he took the racing name Pierre Levegh in memory of his uncle, a pioneering driver who died in 1904. Levegh was also a world-class ice hockey and tennis player. In motorsport he competed in Formula One for the Talbot-Lago team in 1950 and 1951, starting six races, retiring in three, and scoring no points. Levegh is mainly remembered for a disaster that killed him and 83 spectators during the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 1955 he was tempted away from Talbot and joined the American John Fitch in racing a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. During the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the third hour of racing, while on the Tribunes Straight, the car of Mike Hawthorn cut into the pits, slowing in front of the Austin-Healey of Lance Macklin. Macklin was forced to make an evasive move away from Hawthorn, pulling across the track into the path of Levegh's faster Mercedes, which was driving just in front of Mercedes teammate Juan Manuel Fangio. Running up the side of Macklin's car, Levegh's car launched into the air, striking high on a retaining wall, disintegrating and scattering components into the crowd. Levegh was killed when he was thrown from the car and his skull crushed by the impact. The flammable magnesium body of the Mercedes quickly ignited in the accident; the combination of the fire and flying car parts killed 83 spectators with over 100 injured. The race was continued in order to prevent the spectators from leaving, which would have blocked all access roads and the ambulances.

Though Levegh was unable to save himself, he may have saved the life of five-time Formula One world champion Fangio, who maintained that a hand-signal from Levegh to slow down, a moment before he struck Macklin's car.

While Mercedes withdrew from the race as a sign of respect to the victims and later from motor racing in general for the next 30 years, Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb continued in their Jaguar to win the race. The accident was a major contributor to changing attitudes about the acceptance of danger in motor racing and an increase in the desire to make courses safer for spectators and drivers alike. The small British firm of Bristol Cars, whose entrants achieved a 1–2–3 finish in the 2-litre class at Le Mans that year, decided to abandon racing altogether as a result of the tragedy, scrapping all but one of their racing cars. Fitch became a safety advocate and began research into automotive safety, some of which have advanced into motorsport.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Paul Newman Co-drives To Second At LeMans - June 10, 1979

June 10, 1979
(Photo: jimculp@live.com / ProRallyPix via photopin cc)
Paul Newman, the movie star, turned race car driver, co drove a Porsche 935 twin-turbo coupe with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen, to second place in the 47th 24 Hours of Le Mans. The German-based Kremer team managed to win Le Mans using a highly modified version of the 935, which is a remarkable success for a car based on a 15 year old road car design.

Jacky Ickx's efforts to win his fifth Le Mans came to nothing when he was disqualified for receiving outside, and unwanted assistance in repairing his stricken Porsche 936. Their Group 6 opposition consisted mainly of a pair of Ford M10s but this wasn't an official return of Ford; these cars were derived from the 1975 Gulf GR-8. Ford France and a consortium of French Ford dealers funded the ex-Wyer Team, a Cosworth DFV V8 was installed in the chassis for the occasion but neither M10 finished.
(Photo;historythings.com)

Schumacher Brothers Make F-1 History In Canada - June 10, 2001

June 10, 2001
(Photo;thejudge13.com)
Held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, it was the eighth round of the 2001 Formula One season. The race, contested over 69 laps, was won by Ralf Schumacher driving for the Williams team. Michael Schumacher finished second, driving a Ferrari car, with Mika Häkkinen third for the McLaren team. Ralf Schumacher's win was his second of the season and also marked the first time that two brothers finished first and second in a race.

Ayrton Senna Wins "Molson Grand Prix of Canada" - June 10, 1990

June 10, 1990
(Photo:gtxforums.net)
1990, like the year before, was a rain-soaked event, and it saw a number of accidents. The race was won for the second time by Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren MP4/5B. It was Senna's third win for the season having won the season-opening United States Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix just two weeks earlier. Senna won by ten seconds over fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet who drove a Benetton B190. Three second further back in third was British driver Nigel Mansell driving a Ferrari 641.

The win allowed Senna to gain a twelve-point lead in the drivers' championship over his McLaren team mate Gerhard Berger.