Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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

July 17, 1952
Mike Eddy
(Photo;racersreunion.com)
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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"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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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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"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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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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

July 16, 1928 - November 23, 2011
Jim Rathmann (A.K.A. Dick)
(Photo;legendsofnascar.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.

"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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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Davey Allison Dies From Helicopter Crash Injuries - July 13, 1993

February 25, 1961 – July 13, 1993
Davey Allison
(Photo; joebuckalew.com)
Born In Hollywood, Florida, USA.
On Monday, July 12, 1993, Allison boarded his newly acquired Hughes 369HS helicopter to fly to Talladega Superspeedway to watch family friend Neil Bonnett and his son David test a car for David's Busch Series debut. He picked up another family friend, legendary racer Red Farmer, en route to the track. Allison was attempting to land the helicopter inside a fenced-in area of the track infield when the craft nosed up suddenly, then crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on Allison's inexperience in helicopters, coupled with the decision to attempt a landing. Neil Bonnett was able to free a semi-conscious Farmer from the wreckage, but Allison was unresponsive and could not be freed until paramedics arrived. Farmer would go on to a lengthy but successful recovery, but Allison never regained consciousness after sustaining a critical head injury. He was pronounced dead at 7:00 a.m. the next morning by a neurosurgeon at Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham after a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain proved unsuccessful.

Thousands packed the auditorium at St. Aloysious Church in Bessemer, Alabama to pay their respects at his funeral. He is buried near his brother, Clifford, in Bessemer's Highland Memorial Gardens. After the final race of the season, series champion Dale Earnhardt and race winner Wallace drove a side by side Polish Victory Lap carrying flags for fallen drivers Alan Kulwicki and Allison.

Best known for driving the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford for Robert Yates Racing, Davey was the eldest of four children born to Bobby Allison and wife Judy. The family moved to Hueytown, Alabama and along with Bobby's brother Donnie Allison, family friend Red Farmer, and Neil Bonnett, became known in racing circles as the Alabama Gang.

In his short NASCAR Winston Cup career, Davey Allison competed in a total of 191 Winston Cup Series races, with 19 wins, 92 top ten finishes, 14 poles and earned $6,724,174.

His achievements include; 1992 Daytona 500 Winner, 1991 Coca-Cola 600 Winner, 1987, 1989, 1992 Winston 500 Winner, 1991, 1992 The Winston Winner, 1993 IROC Champion (posthumously), 1987 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year, 1983 ARCA Talladega Super Car Series Rookie of the Year, and in 1998 was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers.

For more see;"Remembering" Davey Allison

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Alberto Ascari Born In Milan, Italy - July 13, 1918

July 13, 1918 - May 26, 1955
 Alberto Ascari
(Photo; en.espn.co.uk)
Born in Milan, Italy.
Alberto Ascari was twice Formula One World Champion. He is one of two Italian Formula One World Champions in the history of the sport, and he won both his championships in a Ferrari.

Alberto was the son of Antonio Ascari, a talented Grand Prix motor racing star in the 1920s, racing Alfa Romeos. Antonio was killed while leading the French Grand Prix in 1925 but the younger Ascari had an interest in racing in spite of it. He raced motorcycles in his earlier years; it was after he entered the prestigious Mille Miglia in a Ferrari sports car that he eventually started racing on four wheels regularly.

Following the end of World War II Alberto Ascari began racing in Grands Prix with Maserati. His team-mate was Luigi Villoresi, who would become a mentor and friend to Ascari. Formula One regulations were introduced by the FIA in 1946, with the aim of eventually replacing the pre-war Grand Prix structure. During the next four transitional years, Ascari was at the top of his game, winning numerous events around Europe. He won his first Grand Prix race in Sanremo, Italy in 1948 and took second place in the British Grand Prix the same year. Ascari won another race with the team the following year. His biggest success came when he joined Villoresi on the Ferrari team and won three more races that year.

The first Formula One World Championship season took place in 1950, and the Ferrari team made its World Championship debut at Monte Carlo with Ascari, Villoresi and the famous French driver Raymond Sommer on the team. The team had a mixed year, their supercharged Tipo 125 was too slow to challenge the dominant Alfa Romeo team so instead Ferrari began working on an unblown 4.5l car. Much of the year was lost as the team's 2-litre Formula Two engine was progressively enlarged, though when the full 4.5l Tipo 375 arrived for the Italian Grand Prix Ascari gave Alfa Romeo their sternest challenge of the year before retiring; he then took over team mate Dorino Serafini's car to finish second. The new Ferrari then won the non-championship Penya Rhin Grand Prix.

Throughout 1951, Ascari was a threat to the Alfa Romeo team though initially he was undone by reliability. However, after winning at the Nürburgring and Monza he was only two points behind Fangio in the championship standings ahead of the climactic Spanish Grand Prix. Ascari took pole position, but a disastrous tyre choice for the race saw the Ferraris unable to challenge, Ascari coming home 4th while Juan Manuel Fangio won the race and the title.

For 1952, the World Championship season switched to using the 2-litre Formula Two regulations, with Ascari driving Ferrari's Tipo 500 car. He missed the first race of the championship season as he was competing for Ferrari at the Indianapolis 500, at the time a World Championship event. He was the only European driver to race at Indy in its 11 years on the World Championship schedule, but his race ended after 40 laps without having made much of an impression. Returning to Europe he then won the remaining six rounds of the series to clinch the world title and recording the fastest lap in each race. He scored the maximum amount of points a driver could earn since only the best four of eight scores counted towards the World Championship. He won three more consecutive races to start the 1953 season, giving him nine straight championship wins before his streak ended when he finished fourth in France, although it was a close fourth as the race was highly competitive. He earned two more wins later in the year to give himself a second consecutive World Championship.

Following a dispute over his salary, Ascari left Ferrari at the end of the season and switched to Lancia for the 1954 campaign. However, as their car was not eventually ready for the final race of the season Gianni Lancia allowed him to drive twice for Maserati and once for Ferrari. Ascari did at least get to win the Mille Miglia driving a Lancia sportscar in the meantime. When the Lancia D50 was ready it took pole position on its debut and Ascari led and set the fastest lap before retiring, meaning a full season of competing against Fangio's previously dominant Mercedes was much anticipated.

His 1955 season started promisingly, the Lancia taking victories at the non-championship races in Pau and Naples, though in championship events he retired in Argentina and at Monaco, where he crashed into the harbour after missing a chicane while leading, reportedly distracted by either the crowd's reaction to Stirling Moss' retirement or the close attentions of the lapped Cesare Perdisa behind. He escaped with a broken nose.

Four days later, on May 26, he went to Monza to watch his friend Eugenio Castellotti test a Ferrari 750 Monza sports car, which they were to co-race in the Supercortemaggiore 1000 km race. Ascari was not supposed to drive that day but decided to try a few laps. In shirt sleeves, ordinary trousers and Castellotti's white helmet he set off. Ascari was a very superstitious man and had previously always insisted on using his distinct pale blue crash helmet. His usual helmet was at the repair shop, having a new chin strap fitted after the incident in Monte Carlo. As he emerged from a fast curve on the third lap the car unaccountably skidded, turned on its nose and somersaulted twice. Thrown out onto the track, Ascari suffered multiple injuries and died a few minutes later. The crash occurred on the Curva del Vialone, one of the track's challenging high-speed corners. The corner where the accident happened, renamed in his honour, has been subsequently replaced with a chicane, now called Variante Ascari.

There were several similarities between the deaths of Alberto and his father. Alberto Ascari died at the age of 36. Antonio Ascari was also 36 when he died, on July 26, 1925. Both were killed four days after surviving serious accidents and on the 26th day of the month.

Motor racing fans from all over mourned as Alberto Ascari was laid to rest next to the grave of his father in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan, to be forever remembered as one of the greatest racers of all time. His distraught wife Mietta Ascari told Enzo Ferrari that "were it not for their children she would gladly have joined her beloved Alberto in heaven". His death is often considered to be a contributing factor to the withdrawal of Lancia from motor racing in 1955, though the company was also in considerable financial trouble, needing a government subsidy to survive.

A street in Rome named in his honour, while both the Autodromo Nazionale Monza and Autodromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez have chicanes named after him. In 1992, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. The British supercar manufacturer Ascari Cars is named in his honour.

Italian-born American racing legend Mario Andretti counts Ascari as one of his racing heroes, having watched him at the Monza circuit in his youth.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

"Two-time NHRA Champion" Larry Kopp Passes Away - July 12, 2004

July 12, 2004
Larry Kopp
(Photo; dragraceresults.com)
Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Larry won the NHRA Modified Eliminator Championship in 1976 and became the first Pro Stock Truck champion in 1998. Kopp had won 13 NHRA national events in both Modified and Comp eliminator, and five truck events during his championship season of 1998.

Larry passed away July 12, 2004 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

(Photo; slixx.com)
Slixx Decals Larry Kopp's '98 Chevy S-10 Prostock Truck

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

"Remembering" Davey Allison

February 25, 1961 – July 13, 1993
Davey Allison
(Photo; joebuckalew.com)
Born In Hollywood, Florida, USA.
He was best known for driving the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford for Robert Yates Racing. He was the eldest of four children born to Bobby Allison and wife Judy. The family moved to Hueytown, Alabama and along with Bobby's brother Donnie Allison, family friend Red Farmer, and Neil Bonnett, became known in racing circles as the Alabama Gang.

Growing up, Allison participated in athletics, preferring football, but was destined, like many children of racers, to become a racer himself. He began working for his father's Winston Cup team after graduating high school, and would work after-hours on his own race car, a Chevy Nova built by Davey and a group of his friends affectionately known as the "Peach Fuzz Gang". He began his career in 1979 at Birmingham International Raceway and notched his first win in just his sixth start. He became a regular winner at BIR and by 1983, was racing in the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) series. Allison won both ARCA events at his "home track", Talladega Superspeedway in 1983, and was named ARCA Rookie of the Year in 1984, placing second in the series title. Allison continued racing in the ARCA series in 1985 and eventually notched eight wins in the series, four at Talladega Superspeedway. He also began competing in some of NASCAR's lower divisions and in July 1985, car owner Hoss Ellington gave him his first chance to drive a Winston Cup car in the Talladega 500. Allison qualified Ellington's Chevrolet 22nd and finished 10th in his first Winston Cup start.

In his short NASCAR Winston Cup career, Davey Allison competed in a total of 191 Winston Cup Series races, with 19 wins, 92 top ten finishes, 14 poles and earned $6,724,174.

His achievements include; 1992 Daytona 500 Winner, 1991 Coca-Cola 600 Winner, 1987, 1989, 1992 Winston 500 Winner, 1991, 1992 The Winston Winner, 1993 IROC Champion (posthumously), 1987 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year and 1983 ARCA Talladega Super Car Series Rookie of the Year. In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers and inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

On Monday, July 12, 1993, Davey Allison boarded his newly acquired Hughes 369HS helicopter to fly to Talladega Superspeedway to watch family friend Neil Bonnett and his son David test a car for David's Busch Series debut. He picked up another family friend, legendary racer Red Farmer, en route to the track. Allison was attempting to land the helicopter inside a fenced-in area of the track infield when the craft nosed up suddenly, then crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on Allison's inexperience in helicopters, coupled with the decision to attempt a landing. Neil Bonnett was able to free a semi-conscious Farmer from the wreckage, but Allison was unresponsive and could not be freed until paramedics arrived. Farmer would go on to a lengthy but successful recovery, but Allison never regained consciousness after sustaining a critical head injury. He was pronounced dead at 7:00 a.m. the next morning by a neurosurgeon at Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham after a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain proved unsuccessful.

Thousands packed the auditorium at St. Aloysious Church in Bessemer, Alabama to pay their respects at his funeral. He is buried near his brother, Clifford, in Bessemer's Highland Memorial Gardens. After the final race of the season, series champion Dale Earnhardt and race winner Wallace drove a side by side Polish Victory Lap carrying flags for fallen drivers Alan Kulwicki and Allison.
(Photo;si.com)
Davey Allison celebrates with his wife, Liz, and two small children after winning the 1992 Daytona 500.

Allison was leading the IROC series championship at the time of his death, with one race remaining in the four race series. Terry Labonte drove the final race in place of Allison and secured the championship for him. Allison's championship money, $175,000, was set up as a trust fund for his children.

On April 28, 2003, the mayor of Hueytown, Alabama declared it Davey Allison Day and is celebrated on the weekend of the springtime Talladega race.

Ten years after Allison's first win, Texaco debuted the throwback Battlestar paint scheme in his memory. It ran two races, but in the second, at the 1997 DieHard 500 in October, Ernie Irvan put the throwback Battlestar on the pole. Later, Texaco would often use the throwback paint scheme for their drivers at the track until they discontinued sponsorship.

The R. K. Allen Oil Company, the Talladega-based distributor for Texaco in the area, remembered the legacy of Allison with the Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame in the city of Talladega, where fans vote drivers, past and present, to a specially themed "hall of fame" for drivers. The induction ceremony takes place at the AMP Energy 500 weekend.

Allison also had his own brand of chili by Bunker Hill with his face on the can. Allison also had a comic book printed about him during his racing days.

A road called "Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive" in his hometown is honored by him, along with fellow native Neil Bonnett, who died a year after Davey.

In the videogames NASCAR 99 and NASCAR 2000, he appears as an unlockable NASCAR Legend with his Texaco Ford that he drove from 1987–1989.

Racing Champions ran diecast model of Allison's car as a tribute after his death which were cars Allison drove during his career. Allison's replacement, Ernie Irvan, appeared as a promotional diecast 28 car to pay tribute to the team's win at Martinsville. Only 20,000 of them were released.


(Photo;nascar.nbcsports.com)
RICHMOND, VA March 7, 1993: Bobby Allison (L) joins his son, Davey Allison, in victory lane at Richmond International Raceway after Davey won the Pontiac Excitement 400 NASCAR Cup race. It would be the younger Allison’s final Cup victory. 

"4-Time Daytona 24 Hour Winner" Rolf Stommelen Born - July 11, 1943

July 11, 1943 - April 24, 1983
Rolf Stommelen
(Photo; en.wikipedia.org)
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.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Adam Petty Born In Trenton, New Jersey - July 10, 1980

July 10, 1980 – May 12, 2000
Adam Petty
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, USA.
Petty was raised in High Point, North Carolina into stock car racing "royalty". The son of Kyle Petty, he was widely expected to become the next great Petty, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather Richard, and great-grandfather Lee. He was the first known fourth-generation athlete in all of modern American motor sports to participate in the chosen profession of his generations.

Petty began his career in 1998, shortly after he turned 18, in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Like his father Kyle, he won his first ARCA race, driving the #45 Sprint/Spree sponsored Pontiac at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Petty moved to NASCAR Busch Series full-time in 1999, driving the #45 Sprint-sponsored Chevrolet. Petty finished sixth in his first Busch Series race at Daytona and had a best finish of fourth place, though he also failed to qualify for three of the Busch races. Petty finished the 1999 season 20th overall in points.

Petty Enterprises planned to have Petty run a second Busch season in 2000, while giving him seven starts in the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup series, in preparation for a full Winston Cup campaign in 2001. He struggled early in the Busch season, but managed to qualify in his first attempt at Winston Cup during the DirecTV 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2. He qualified 33rd and ran in the middle of the pack most of the day before his engine expired, forcing him to finish 40th. Adam never got to race alongside his father. Kyle failed to qualify and eventually relieved an ill Elliott Sadler, but Adam was already out of the race. Lee Petty, Adam's great-grandfather, and 3-time NASCAR Champion, lived to see his Winston debut, but died just three days later.

In a practice session for the Busch series Busch 200 race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Petty's throttle stuck wide open at turn three, causing the car to hit the outside wall virtually head on. Petty was killed instantly due to a basilar skull fracture. He was 19 years old.

Kyle Petty, Adam's father, who drove the #44 car at the time of the crash, drove Adam's #45 car in the Busch Series for the remainder of 2000. He then used the #45 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series throughout the rest of his driving career.

In October 2000 five months after Petty's death, his family partnered with Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, North Carolina, as a memorial to Petty. The camp has received support from many NASCAR drivers, teams, and sponsors, including Cup Series sponsor Sprint, which has placed a replica of Petty's 1998 car in the camp. The Victory Junction Gang camp began operation in 2004, and is an official charity of NASCAR. Petty also appears as a special guest driver in the video games NASCAR 2000, NASCAR Rumble, NASCAR 2001 and NASCAR Arcade.

In December 2013, his brother Austin named his newborn son after Adam in tribute.
President George W. Bush is joined at Adam's Race Shop on the grounds of Victory Junction Gang Camp, Inc., in Randleman, N.C., by NASCAR drivers Kyle Petty, Richard Petty, Michael Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson.

The Flock Family Make NASCAR History - July 10, 1949

July 10, 1949
At the "Strictly Stock" race at the Daytona Beach and Road Course, the second female of NASCAR, Ethel Flock Mobley,  joined her racing brothers, Fonty, Tim and Bob Flock. It was the first event to feature a brother and a sister, and the only NASCAR event to feature four siblings. In her husband's 1948 Cadillac, Ethel not only finished in 11th place, but to her eternal delight defeated both Bob and Fonty.

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"First Two-Time Indy 500 Winner" Tommy Milton Dies - July 10, 1962

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

"1975 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year" Bruce Hill Born - July 9, 1949

July 9, 1949 - May 14, 2017
Bruce Hill
Born on in Topeka, Kansas, USA.
Hill competed in the Winston Cup Series, ARCA, and in the NASCAR West Series. He also competed in late model races around his hometown later in life.

In 1974, Hill began racing in NASCAR in the Winston Cup Series and the NASCAR West Series. He only competed in one race in both series the same year. The race in 1974 was the only race Hill would run in the West series.

One year later, Hill won the Rookie of the Year award in the Winston Cup Series. During that season, he competed in all but four of the season's 30 races. Among his highlights were top-five finishes at Rockingham Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Dover International Speedway. Still running as an independent driver, Hill returned to the series again in 1976, competing in 22 events, which he recorded only four top-ten finishes and finished 23rd in the standings. In 1977, Hill was able to record four top-tens and a 29th-place finish in points after participating in 16 events. During the following year, he only participated in 14 events, and recorded two top-tens with a 32nd-place finish in the point standings, but benefited form teaming up with Harry Clary to field cars.

For 1979, Hill teamed up with fellow owner-driver Walter Ballard for a limited slate of events. He finished 34th in points after running seven races. Continuing to race for Ballard in 1980, he finished 50th in points, and only competed in six races. In his final year in the Winston Cup Series, he competed in eight races and finished 43rd in points. Also in 1981, he participated in a NASCAR Late Model Sportsman race at Darlington Raceway.

While competing in the Winston Cup Series, he also participated in the ARCA Racing Series as well as in USAC. In 2002, Hill participated in a Late model race at Thunderhill Speedway in Mayetta, Kansas.

In May 2016, Hill was at Kansas Speedway during race weekend as a guest of Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger and the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 team, for the formal announcement of the team’s plans to run a throwback paint scheme based on Hill's 1977 car, in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in September 2016. Hill drove the No. 47 during his Cup career.

He resided in and around the Topeka metropolitan area his later years of life, raising American Quarter Horses. Hill died on May 14, 2017 due to issues with esophageal cancer.

"NASCAR Pioneer" G.C. Spencer Born - July 9, 1925

July 9, 1925 - September 20, 2007
Grover Clifton Spencer
Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA.
G. C. Spencer was a dominant short-track racer in the 1940s and 1950s. He competed in 415 NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup races from 1958 to 1977. Despite never winning a race, he had 55 top-5 finishes and 138 top tens, including 7 second-place finishes.

Spencer drove for his own independent team for most of his career, and was one of the most successful independents of the day. His best season came in 1965, when he finished fourth in points with 14 top-5 finishes and 25 top-10s and his only career pole. Although he drove GM and Chrysler cars for most of his career, he drove Fords in 1965, where he found most of his success.

He sold his team and equipment in 1983 and his #49 became the #4 of Morgan-McClure Motorsports. Spencer acted as the team manager to the team for its first three years.

He died September 20, 2007 in Johnson City, Tennessee at the age of 82.
(Photo;timesnews.net)
G.C. Spencer, shown here in his Jonesborough home in 2007.

"Oldest Pole-sitter In Daytona History" Mark Thompson Born - July 9, 1951

July 9, 1951
 Mark Thompson
Born in Cartersville, Georgia, USA.
Mark is an American stock car racing driver, pilot, and businessman. He currently competes part-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 66 Ford Fusion for MBM Motorsports, and part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 13 car for MBM Motorsports. At age 66, Thompson is currently the oldest driver competing in the Cup series.

Thompson enlisted in the United States Air Force as a warrant officer, flying helicopters in the Vietnam War. Late in the 1970s, Thompson founded Phoenix Air as a parachuting school, which later evolved into an air transport company with ties to fifteen U.S. and foreign government agencies, carrying government workers who had been infected with diseases. The company had garnered attention for transporting the Americans who had contracted the Ebola virus disease from Liberia to the U.S. Phoenix Air also provides tactical electronic warfare training services to the Air Force, the Air National Guard and the Navy.

In 1993 and 1994, Thompson made three NASCAR Winston Cup Series attempts with Henley Gray, driving the No. 62 and No. 86, respectively. He failed to qualify in his first attempt at Darlington Raceway, but made the second race at Pocono Raceway after qualifying 38th. However, after eight laps, he retired from the race due to an engine failure, and finished 39th. In 1993, Thompson failed to qualify for the Pepsi 400 after not making an attempt. The next year, he joined Mike Brandt in the No. 66 Ford, but withdrew from the Daytona 500.

On Feb 13, 2015, during qualifying for the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 in 2015, the 63-year-old Thompson became the oldest pole-sitter in Daytona International Speedway history after recording a lap speed of 187.336 miles per hour. A longtime ARCA Series veteran, it was Thompson’s fourth career pole, and his first in 18 years. His previous poles all came at Michigan International Speedway, twice in 1996 and once in 1997.

“Winning the pole at Daytona is a big deal,” Thompson, driver of the No. 11 Phoenix Air-Ken Schrader Racing Toyota, said in a DIS media release. “It’s special. There’s probably not another place I’d rather win the pole than here.”

In 2015, Thompson made his Xfinity Series debut in the Winn-Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, driving the No. 13 for MBM Motorsports, and qualified 31st, while finishing 27th, two laps down.

In 2017, Thompson joined Premium Motorsports to drive the No. 15 Chevrolet for the Alabama 500 at Talladega, Thompson's first Cup event in 25 years.


In 2018, Thompson raced in the 2018 Daytona 500 becoming the oldest driver at 66 years of age to drive in the event. He finished 22nd in what would become his final race in any series.