Posted in cars, sport

Jean Alesi

French former Racing driver Jean Alesi (born Giovanni Alesi; was born June 11, 1964. He is of Italian origin and his Formula One career included spells at Tyrrell, Benetton, Sauber, Prost, Jordan and most notably Ferrari where he proved very popular among the tifosi. In 2006 Alesi was awarded Chevalier de la Legion d’honneurAlesi debuted in the 1989 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard in a Tyrrell-Cosworth, replacing Michele Alboreto, finishing fourth. He drove most of the rest of the season for Tyrrell while continuing his successful Formula 0300 campaign, (occasionally giving the car up in favour of Johnny Herbert when Formula 3000 clashed), scoring points again at the Italian and Spanish Grands Prix. 1990 was his first full year in Grand Prix racing, with the underfunded Tyrrell team. At the first event, the United States Grand Prix at Phoenix, he was a sensation, leading for 25 laps in front of Ayrton Senna with a car considered as inferior, and also re-passing Senna after the Brazilian had first overtaken for the lead. Second place in the Monaco Grand Prix followed the second place gained in Phoenix, and by mid-season, top teams were clamouring for his services in 1991. A very confused situation erupted, with Tyrrell, Williams, and Ferrari all claiming to have signed the driver within a very short period.Ferrari were championship contenders at the time, and there he would be driving with fellow countryman Alain Prost, at that time the most successful driver in Formula One history.

Alesi signed with Ferrari, making the choice that not only appeared to maximize his chances for winning the championship and for learning from an experienced and successful teammate, but that fulfilled his childhood dream of driving for the Italian team.Ferrari, however, experienced a disastrous downturn in form in 1991, while the Williams team experienced a resurgence which would lead them to win five constructor’s titles between 1992 and 1997, thus becoming the most successful team of the 1990s. Alesi’s choice of Ferrari over Williams seemed the most logical at the time, but turned out to be very unfortunate. One of the reasons for this failure was because Ferrari’s famous V12 engine was no longer competitive against the smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient V10s of their competitors. Having a dismal 1991 season, Prost left the team describing the car as a “truck” and took a sabbatical. Alesi was partnered by Ivan Capelli the following year, before being joined by Austrian Gerhard Berger in 1993. Alesi injured his back after the first race of the 1994 season (Brazil) and was replaced in the Pacific Grand Prix and the infamous San Marino Grand Prix (round 3) by Nicola Larini.

In five years at the Italian marque Alesi gained little, except the passionate devotion of the tifosi, who loved his aggressive style. That style, and his use of the number 27 on his car, led many to associate him with Gilles Villeneuve, a beloved and still-popular Ferrari driver from 1977–1982. Alesi and Berger won only one race each during this period at Ferrari. Following Alesi’s first and only GP win in the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix (on his 31st birthday), his Ferrari ran out of fuel as he waved to fans on the backstraight and he was given a lift back to the pits by Michael Schumacher. When Benetton’s Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996, Alesi and team mate Gerhard Berger swapped places with him. Though Benetton was the defending constructors’ champions, they were about to experience a lull in form like Ferrari in 1991. Schumacher went on to rejuvenate Ferrari, while Alesi and Berger spent two seasons at a declining Benetton riddled with bad luck and internal politics. While Berger had a reasonable run at Benetton, winning the 1997 German Grand Prix after having come two laps from victory at the same race the previous year when his engine blew while he was leading within sight of the flag, Alesi’s Benetton career proved more turbulent, not helped by an embarrassing retirement in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in 1997 when he ignored several radio messages from the pit mechanics to come in for his pit stop, and continued for five laps until running out of fuel.

His form became increasingly erratic that season, including incidents at the French Grand Prix when he needlessly pushed David Coulthard off the track, and the Austrian Grand Prix, where his attempt to outbrake Eddie Irvine from nearly eight lengths behind caused a spectacular collision that saw Alesi placed under investigation for dangerous driving after the race. A pole position and eventual second place at the Italian Grand Prix were not enough to salvage his drive at Benetton, and the team released Alesi at the end of the 1997 season.Alesi moved on, initially to Sauber and later Prost, the latter which was owned by his former Ferrari teammate Alain Prost. With Prost, Alesi was consistent, finishing every race, occasionally in points scoring positions, his best finish being at Canada.A fallout after the British Grand Prix, however saw Alesi walk out after the German Grand Prix, where he scored a point. The reason was because of the German driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen was suddenly sacked by Jordan after the British Grand Prix and he needed a drive, he was interested in joining the Prost team. Alesi finally decided to leave Prost after the German Grand Prix in order give way to Frentzen. Then, Alesi joined Jordan and eventually swapped teams. Alesi ended his open-wheel career in 2001 with Jordan, bookending his career nicely: Alesi had driven for Jordan in Formula 3000 when he won the championship in 1989.

Alesi was often regarded as flamboyant, emotional and aggressive, but after his spectacular performance at Phoenix in 1990, his career was notable more for its “bad luck” and longevity than for its final results. In 2001, he became only the fifth driver to start 200 Grand Prix races, and he achieved thirty-two podiums, yet he only gained one victory. It could be suggested that Alesi’s potential was unfulfilled – some say he spent his peak years during the uncompetitive period at Ferrari – retiring while in the lead or in 2nd place in no less than 9 races but somehow he was unlucky when driving for Benetton too, losing the lead of the Italian GP both in 1996 and 1997 after relatively slow pitstops and Monaco 1996 retiring with suspension failure. His sole win was an emotional triumph at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on his 31st birthday.

Alesi’s win at Montreal was voted the most popular race victory of the season by many, as it was the scarlet red number 27 Ferrari – once belonging to the famous Gilles Villeneuve at his much loved home Grand Prix. Memorably, Schumacher gave Alesi a lift back to the pits after Alesi’s car ran out of fuel just before the Pits Hairpin. Alesi would never win another Formula One Grand Prix, although later in 1995 at Monza his right-rear wheel bearing failed while he was leading with 9 laps to go, then at the Nürburgring severely worn tyres broke his defence of the lead with two laps remaining and he was passed by Michael Schumacher. In 1996 suspension failure with ten laps left prevented him from taking victory at Monaco (although he had led this race only after Damon Hill, who had held a commanding lead for the first half of the race, was forced to retire on lap 40 when his Renault engine blew up in the Tunnel) while in 1997 he led the Italian Grand Prix from pole before relinquishing the lead to David Coulthard courtesy of a slow pit stop during the race.

Posted in cars, sport

Colin Chapman CBE

Influential English design engineer, inventor, and builder in the automotive industry, and founder of Lotus Cars Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman CBE, was Born 19 May 1928 Chapman studied structural engineering at University College London, joined the University Air Squadron and learned to fly. Chapman left UCL without a degree in 1948, resitting his final Mathematics paper in 1949 and obtaining his degree a year late. He briefly joined the Royal Air Force in 1948, being offered a permanent commission but turning this down in favour of a swift return to civilian life. After a couple of false starts Chapman joined the British Aluminium company, using his civil engineering skills to attempt to sell aluminium as a viable structural material for buildings.

In 1948 Chapman started building the Mk1, a modified Austin 7, which he entered privately into local racing events. He named the car “Lotus”. With prize money he developed the Lotus Mk2. With continuing success on through the Lotus 6, he began to sell kits of these cars. Over 100 were sold through 1956. It was with the Lotus 7 in 1957 that things really took off. In the 1950s, Chapman progressed through the motor racing formulae, designing and building a series of racing cars, sometimes to the point of maintaining limited production as they were so successful and highly sought after, until he arrived in Formula One. Besides his engineering work, he also piloted a Vanwall F1-car in 1956 but crashed into his teammate Mike Hawthorn during practice for the French Grand Prix at Reims, ending his career as a race driver and focusing him on the technical side. Along with John Cooper, he revolutionised the premier motor sport. Their small, lightweight mid-engined vehicles gave away much in terms of power, but superior handling meant their competing cars often beat the all-conquering front engined Ferraris and Maseratis. Eventually, with legendary driver Jim Clark at the wheel of his race cars, Team Lotus appeared as though they could win whenever they pleased. With Clark driving the legendary Lotus 25, Team Lotus won its first F1 World Championship in 1963. It was Clark, driving a Lotus 38 at the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, who drove the first ever mid-engined car to victory at the fabled “Brickyard.” Clark and Chapman had become particularly close and Clark’s death devastated Chapman, who publicly stated that he had lost his best friend. Among a number of legendary automotive figures who have been Lotus employees over the years were Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, founders of Cosworth. Graham Hill worked at Lotus as a mechanic as a means of earning drives.

In 1952 he founded the sports car company Lotus Cars. Chapman initially ran Lotus in his spare time, assisted by a group of enthusiasts. His knowledge of the latest aeronautical engineering techniques would prove vital towards achieving the major automotive technical advances he is remembered for. He was famous for saying “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”, as his design philosophy focused on cars with light weight and fine handling instead of bulking up on horsepower and spring rates. Under his direction, Team Lotus won seven Formula One Constructors’ titles, six Drivers’ Championships, and the Indianapolis 500 in the United States, between 1962 and 1978. The production side of Lotus Cars has built tens of thousands of relatively affordable, cutting edge sports cars. Lotus is one of but a handful of English performance car builders still in business after the industrial decline of the 1970s.

Chapman sadly passed away on 16th December 1982, aged 54 after suffering a fatal heart attack and Although Lotus is now owned by the Malaysian Automotive Company “Proton”, Chapman pioneered many innovations and Many of Which can still be seen in Formula One and other top-level motor sport (such as IndyCars) today. Such as struts as a rear suspension device. Even today, struts used in the rear of a vehicle are known as Chapman struts, while virtually identical suspension struts for the front are known as MacPherson struts, monocoque chassis construction, the tube-frame chassis, positive aerodynamic downforce, through the addition of wings, moving radiators away from the front of the car to the sides, to decrease frontal area (lowering aerodynamic drag). He also designed a Formula One car that generated all of its downforce through ground effect, eliminating the need for wings, which also had active suspension and a dual-chassis And eventually made its début with the Lotus 99T in 1987. Caterham Cars also still manufacture the Caterham 7 based on the Lotus 7, and there have been over 90 different Lotus 7 clones, replicas and derivatives offered to the public by a variety of makers.

Posted in sport, Trains

GWR 3440 city of Truro

The steam locomotive GWR 3440 (3717) City Of Truro is one of the contenders for the first steam locomotive to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h). it acheived this feat during a run between two quarter-mile posts whilst hauling the “Ocean Mails” special from Plymouth to London Paddington on 9 May 1904 when it was timed at 8.8 seconds. This timing was recorded from the train by Charles Rous-Marten, who wrote for The Railway Magazine and other journals. If exact (Rous-Marten’s stopwatch read in multiples of 1/5 second), this time would correspond to a speed of 102.3 mph (164.6 km/h), while 9 seconds would correspond to exactly 100 mph. However only the overall timings for the run were put into print; and neither The Times report of the following day nor Rous-Marten’s article in The Railway Magazine of June 1904 mentioned the maximum speed. However The morning after the run two local Plymouth newspapers did report that the train had reached a speed between 99 and 100 miles an hour whilst descending Wellington bank in Somerset. This claim was based on the stopwatch timings of a postal worker, William Kennedy, who was also on the train. 

GWR 3440 (3717) City Of Truro is a Great Western Railway (GWR) 3700 (or ‘City’) Class 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by George Jackson Churchward and built at the GWR Swindon Works in 1903. (It was rebuilt to a limited extent in 1911 and 1915, and renumbered 3717 in 1912). Itcontinued in everyday service until it was rendered obsolete in 1931, being withdrawn from service in March that year. The historical significance of City of Truro led to the locomotive’s survival after withdrawal from service, with the GWR’s Chief Mechanical Engineer Charles Collett asking that the engine be preserved at the London and North Eastern Railway’s Railway Museum at York when she was withdrawn in 1931, after the directors of the GWR had refused to preserve the engine at the company’s expense. It was donated to the LNER, being sent from Swindon on 20 March 1931, and was subsequently displayed at the new museum in York.

In 1957 City of Truro was returned to service by British Railways Western Region. The locomotive was based at Didcot, and was used both for hauling special excursion trains and for normal revenue services, usually on the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line, and was renumbered back to 3440, and repainted into the ornate livery it carried at the time of its speed record in 1904, despite this being inaccurate due to its minor rebuilding in 1911. She was withdrawn for a second time in 1961. She was taken to Swindon’s GWR Museum in 1962 where, renumbered back to 3717 and in plain green livery with black frames, she stayed until 1984, when she was restored for the GWR’s 150th anniversary celebrations the following year. After that she returned to the National Railway Museum from where she was occasionally used on main line outings. She made a guest appearance in an exhibition called National Railway Museum on Tour which visited Swindon in 1990.

Her latest restoration to full working order was undertaken in 2004, at a cost of £130,000, to mark the 100th anniversary of her record-breaking run, and the loco has subsequently hauled several trains on UK main lines, although due to the lack of certain safety features she no longer operates on the main line. Her latest restoration to full working order was undertaken in 2004, at a cost of £130,000, to mark the 100th anniversary of her record-breaking run, and the loco has subsequently hauled several trains on UK main lines, although due to the lack of certain safety features she no longer operates on the main line. In 2010 as part of the celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of the founding of the GWR City of Truro was repainted and took up its 3717 guise once again. This is the first time it has carried an authentic livery for its current state whilst operating in preservation.GWR 3717 was withdrawn from traffic at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway in early September 2011 with serious tube leaks, and was moved to Shildon Locomotion Museum and placed on static display at the National Railway Museum where she has remained ever since (I was lucky enough to see it in steam at the Severn Valley Railway’s 2008 Autumn Steam Gala).

Posted in music, sport

Engelbert Humperdick

Indian-born singer and Britain’s 2012 Eurovision song Contest Entrant Engelbert Humperdinck (A.K.A Arnold “Jerry” Dorsey), was born on this date 2nd May in 1936. when he was 10 He Moved to Leicester in the East Midlands and soon showed an interest in music and began learning the saxophone. By the early 1950s he was playing saxophone in nightclubs, but did not trysinging until he was 17, when friends coaxed him into entering a pub contest. His impression of Jerry Lewis prompted friends to begin calling him “Gerry Dorsey,” a name he worked under for almost a decade. In 1965, Humperdinck teamed with his former roommate Gordon Mills, who was the manager of Tom Jones. who suggested a name-change to the more arresting Engelbert Humperdinck, borrowed from the 19th-century composer of operas such as Hansel and Gretel. In early 1967 the changes paid off when Humperdinck’s version of “Release Me,” done in a smooth ballad style with a full chorus joining him on the third refrain, made the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and number one in Britain. Another groundbreaking video showed Engelbert tied up with a lasso. “Release Me” spent 56 weeks in the Top 50 in a single chart run and is believed to have sold 85,000 copies a day at the height of its popularity, it remains the best known of his songs Humperdinck’s easygoing style and good looks gained him a large following, particularly among women.

His hardcore female fans, who included the young Princess Anne, called themselves “Humperdinckers”. By the end of the 1960s, Humperdinck’s roster of songs included “Am I That Easy to Forget,” “A Man Without Love,” “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize,” “The Way It Used To Be”, “I’m A Better Man” “Winter World of Love” and “A Man Without Love”. By the start of the 1970s, Humperdinck had settled into a busy schedule of recordings, with songs like: “We Made It Happen,” “Sweetheart,” “Another Time, Another Place,” and “Too Beautiful To Last”. As his kind of balladry became less popular, he adopted some Broadway influences and concentrated on selling albums and on live performances, developing lavish stage presentations that made him a natural for Las Vegas and similar venues. The song, “After the Lovin’” was also a Top-10 hit in the US, and marked another peak in his career; it also recieved a Grammy Award.

By the 1980s, Humperdinck continued recording albums regularly and performing as many as 200 concerts a year, and in 1989 Humperdinck was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and won a Golden Globe Award as entertainer of the year, while also beginning major involvement in charitable causes such as the Leukemia Research Fund, the American Red Cross, the American Lung Association, and several AIDS relief organisations. He remains popular to this day. In 2012 Humperdinck represented the United Kingdom in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, in Baku, Azerbaijan, singing a track called, “Love Will Set You Free.

The American professional wrestler and actor Dwayne “the Rock”Johnson, was born onthis date May 2nd 1972. After a successful wrestling career he retired and became an actor, appearing in exciting action films like The Mummy 2 & The Scorpion King

English Footballer David Beckham, was born on 2nd May in 1975

Posted in cars, sport

Ayrton Senna

Generally regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers to have raced, the Brazilian driver & three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna was tragically killed 1st May 1994 in a crash at Tamburello corner while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Senna was born in Santana near Sao Paulo on 21st March 1960 and began his motorsport career in karting, moving up to open-wheel racing in 1981, and winning the British Formula 3 championship in 1983.

Ayrton Senna began his motorsport career in karting, moving up to open-wheel racing in 1981, and winning the British Formula 3 championship in 1983. He made his Formula One debut with Toleman-Hart in 1984 before moving to Lotus-Renault the following year and winning six Grands Prix over the next three seasons. In 1988, he joined Frenchman Alain Prost at McLaren-Honda. Between them, they won all but one of the 16 Grands Prix that year and Senna his first World Championship. Prost claimed the championship in 1989, and Senna his second and third championships in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, the Williams-Renault combination began to dominate Formula One. Senna nonetheless managed to finish the 1993 season as runner-up, winning five races and negotiating a move to Williams in 1994. Senna was recognised for his qualifying speed over one lap and from 1989 until 2006 held the record for most pole positions.

He was especially quick in wet conditions, as shown by his performances in the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the 1993 European Grand Prix. He also holds the record for most victories at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix – six – and is the third most successful driver of all time in terms of race wins. Senna courted controversy throughout his career, particularly during his turbulent rivalry with Alain Prost. Both the 1989 Championship won by Prost and the 1990 Championship won by Senna were decided by collisions between them at those years’ Japanese Grands Prix.

Posted in sport

Stirling Moss OBE FIE

Former English race car driver Stirling Moss OBE FIE (Fellow of the Institute of Engineers) , sadly died 12 April 2020. He was born September 17th 1929 . Moss was a pioneer in the British Formula One racing scene and placed second in the Drivers’ Championship four times in a row from 1955 to 1958 and won 212 of the 529 races he entered, including 16 Formula One Grands Prix.Moss’s first Formula One win was in 1955 at his home race, the British Grand Prix at Aintree. His Mercedes-Benz W196 led home a 1–2–3–4 win for the German marque. This victory made Moss the first British driver to win the British Grand Prix. It was the first race where he finished in front of Juan Manuel Fangio, his teammate, friend, mentor, and arch rival at Mercedes.One of his best remembered drives was in the 1955 Mille Miglia, which he won in the record time of 10 hours 7 minutes 48 seconds, finishing almost half an hour ahead of teammate Fangio in second place

In 1957 Moss won on the longest circuit to ever hold a Grand Prix, the daunting 25 km (16 mi) Pescara Circuit, again demonstrating his skills at high speed, long distance driving. He beat Fangio, who started on pole, by a little over 3 minutes over the course of a gruelling 3 hour event. In the 1960 Formula One season, Moss took the top step of the podium at Monaco, winning in Rob Walker’s Coventry-Climax-powered Lotus 18. For the 1961 F1 season, which was run under the new 1.5-litre rules, Enzo Ferrari rolled out his state-of-the-art “sharknose” Ferrari 156 with an all-new V6. Moss was stuck with an underpowered Climax-engined Lotus, but managed to win the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix by 3.6 seconds (beating the 156s of Richie Ginther, Wolfgang von Trips, and Phil Hill).

Sadly though, I n 1962, Moss was badly injured in a crash at Goodwood in a Lotus in the Glover Trophy. The accident put him in a coma for one month and partially paralyzed the left side of his body for six months. He recovered but decided to retire from racing after a private test session in a Lotus 19 the next year. He would compete in as many as 62 races in a single year and drove 84 different makes of car over the course of his racing career, including Lotus, Vanwall, Maserati, Jaguar, Ferrari and Porsche. Like many drivers of the era, he competed in several formulae—very often on the same day and was as gifted at the wheel of a sports car as he was in a Grand Prix car. For three consecutive years (1958–1960) he won the gruelling 1,000 km (620 mi) race at Germany’s Nürburgring, the first two years in an Aston Martin (where he won almost single-handedly) and the third in the memorable Tipo 61 “birdcage” Maserati, co-driving with young American prospect Dan Gurney. Moss was also a competent rally driver and is one of only three people to have won a Coupe d’Or (Gold Cup) for three consecutive penalty-free runs on the Alpine Rally (Coupe des Alpes). In addition, he finished second in the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally driving a Sunbeam-Talbot 90 with co-driver John Cooper. He retired in 1962 after a crash left him in a coma for a month, as afterwards he felt unable to continue driving at a professional level. In spite of this early retirement he has remained a well-known figure

Posted in cars, sport

Ayrton Senna

Generally regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers to have raced, the Brazilian driver & three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna was born in Santana near Sao Paulo on 21st March 1960.

Ayrton Senna began his motorsport career in karting, moving up to open-wheel racing in 1981, and winning the British Formula 3 championship in 1983. He made his Formula One debut with Toleman-Hart in 1984 before moving to Lotus-Renault the following year and winning six Grands Prix over the next three seasons. In 1988, he joined Frenchman Alain Prost at McLaren-Honda. Between them, they won all but one of the 16 Grands Prix that year and Senna his first World Championship. Prostfive races and negotiating a move to Williams in 1994. Senna was recognised for his qualifying speed over one lap and from 1989 until 2006 held the record for most pole positions.

He was especially quick in wet conditions, as shown by his performances in the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the 1993 European Grand Prix. He also holds the record for most victories at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix – six – and is the third most successful driver of all time in terms of race wins. Senna courted controversy throughout his career, particularly during his turbulent rivalry with Alain Prost. Both the 1989 Championship won by Prost and the 1990 Championship won by Senna were decided by collisions between them at those years’ Japanese Grands Prix. Unfortunately Senna was tragically killed 1st May 1994 in a crash at Tamburello corner while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Posted in cars, Events, sport

International Sports Car Racing day🏁🏎

International Sports Car Racing Day takes place annually on 19 March. As its name implies, International Sports Car Racing Day is a day to enjoy and appreciate this hugely popular sport on a global level. This day is designated on the perfect day. This day coincides with the 12 Hours of Sebring sports car endurance race held in Sebring, Florida at the Sebring International Raceway.

Sports car racing is a form of motorsport road racing which utilizes sports cars that have two seats and enclosed wheels. They may be purpose-built (Prototype) or related to road-going models (Grand Touring). A type of hybrid between the purism of open-wheelers and the familiarity of touring car racing, this style is often associated with the annual Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. First run in 1923, Le Mans is one of the oldest motor races still in existence. 

Other classic but now defunct sports car races include the Italian classics, the Targa Florio (1906–1977) and Mille Miglia (1927–1957), and the Mexican Carrera Panamericana (1950-1954). Most top class sports car races emphasize endurance (typically between 2.5–24 hours), reliability, and strategy, over pure speed. Longer races usually involve complex pit strategy and regular driver changes. As a result, sports car racing is seen more as a team endeavor than an individual sport, with team managers such as John Wyer, Tom Walkinshaw, driver-turned-constructor Henri Pescarolo, Peter Sauber and Reinhold Joest becoming almost as famous as some of their drivers.

The prestige of marques such as Porsche, Audi, Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Bentley, Aston Martin, Lotus, Maserati, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW is built in part upon success in sports car racing and the World Sportscar Championship. These makers’ top road cars have often been very similar both in engineering and styling to those raced. This close association with the ‘exotic’ nature of the cars serves as a useful distinction between sports car racing and touring cars. The 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona, and 24 Hours of Le Mans were once widely considered the trifecta of sports car racing. Driver Ken Miles would have been the only ever to win all three in the same year but for an error in the Ford GT40’s team orders at Le Mans in 1966 that cost him the win in spite of finishing first.

Posted in cars, sport

Alain Prost

French racing driver Alain Prost, OBE, Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, who was born 24th February 1955 in Lorette, Loire. He is A highly successful four-time Formula One Drivers’ Champion, Having won the World Championship in 1985; 1986; 1989 & 1993 Prost has won more titles than any driver except for Juan Manuel Fangio (five championships), and Michael Schumacher (seven championships). From 1987 until 2001 Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories. Schumacher surpassed Prost’s total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. In 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motor sport category.

Prost discovered karting at the age of 14 during a family holiday. He progressed through motor sport’s junior ranks, winning the French and European Formula Three championships, before joining the McLaren Formula One team in 1980 at the age of 25. He finished in the points on his Formula One début in Argentina and took his first race victory at his home Grand Prix in France a year later, while he was driving for the factory Renault team.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Prost formed a fierce rivalry with mainly Ayrton Senna, but also Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell. In 1986, at the last race of the season, he managed to pip Mansell and Piquet of Williams to the title after Mansell retired late on in the race, and Piquet was pulled in for a late precautionary pit stop. Senna joined Prost at McLaren in 1988 and the two had a series of controversial clashes, including a collision at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix that gave Prost his third Drivers’ Championship. A year later at the same venue they collided again, but this time Prost, driving for Ferrari, lost out. Before the end of a winless 1991 season Prost was fired by Ferrari for his public criticism of the team. After a sabbatical in 1992, Prost joined the Williams team, prompting reigning drivers’ champion Mansell to leave for CART. With a competitive car, Prost won the 1993 championship and retired from driving at the end of the year.

In 1997, Prost took over the French Ligier team, running it as Prost Grand Prix until it went bankrupt in 2002. He currently competes in the Andros Trophy, which is an ice racing championship. Prost employed a smooth, relaxed style behind the wheel, deliberately modeling himself on personal heroes like Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. He was nicknamed “The Professor” for his intellectual approach to competition. Skilled at setting up his car for race conditions, Prost would often conserve his brakes and tyres early on in a race, leaving them fresher for a challenge at the end.

Posted in cars, sport

Niki Lauda

Formula One legend Niki Lauda was born on 22 February 1949 in Vienna, Austria, His paternal grandfather was the Viennese-born businessman Hans Lauda. Lauda became a racing driver despite his family’s disapproval. After starting out with a Mini, Lauda moved on into Formula Vee, but rapidly moved up to drive in private Porsche and Chevron sports cars. Then he got into the fledgling March team as a Formula Two (F2) driver in 1971. He was quickly promoted to the F1 team, but drove for March in F1 and F2 in 1972. Although the F2 cars were good March’s 1972 F1 season was catastrophic so Lauda, joined the BRM team in 1973. Lauda was instantly quick. However his big break came when his BRM teammate Clay Regazzoni left to rejoin Ferrari in 1974 and team owner Enzo Ferrari asked Regazzoni to suggest a replacement and he recommended Lauda.

During the 1970s, Ferrari s fortunes revived under Luca di Montezemolo and Lauda finished second-place at the 1970 Argentine Grand Prix and won the Spanish Grand Prix after achieving six consecutive pole positions however, a mixture of inexperience and mechanical unreliability meant Lauda won only one more race that year, the Dutch GP. He finished fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.The 1975 F1 season started slowly for Lauda, not finishing higher than fifth in the first four races but he then won four out of the next five races in the new Ferrari 312T. His first World Championship was confirmed with a third place finish at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza; Lauda’s teammate Regazzoni won the race and Ferrari clinched their first constructor’s championship. Lauda won the race of the year, the United States GP. He also became the first driver to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in under 7 minutes. Never one to be awed by the trappings of success, Lauda famously gave away any trophies he won to his local garage in exchange for his car to be washed and serviced. despite tensions between Lauda and di Montezemolo’s successor, Daniele Audetto, Lauda dominated the start of the 1976 F1 season, winning four of the first six races and finishing second in the other two. By the time of his fifth win of the year at the British GP, he had more than double the points of his closest challengers Jody Scheckter and James Hunt, and a second consecutive World Championship appeared a formality. It would be a feat not achieved since Jack Brabham’s victories in 1959 and 1960. He also looked set to win the most races in a season, a record held by the late Jim Clark since 1963.

A week before the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, Lauda urged his fellow drivers to boycott the race, largely due to the 23 kilometre circuit’s safety arrangements. Most of the other drivers voted against the boycott and the race went ahead. On 1 August 1976 during the second lap at the very fast left kink before Bergwerk, Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off the track, hit an embankment, burst into flames and rolled back into the path of Brett Lunger’s Surtees-Ford car. Unlike Lunger, Lauda was trapped in the wreckage. Drivers Arturo Merzario, Lunger, Guy Edwards and Harald Ertl arrived at the scene a few moments later, but before they were able to pull Lauda from his car, he suffered severe burns to his head and inhaled hot toxic gases that damaged his lungs and blood. As Lauda was wearing a modified helmet, the foam had compressed and it slid off his head after the accident, leaving his face exposed to the fire. Although Lauda was conscious and able to stand immediately after the accident, he later lapsed into a coma. Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns to his head, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and his eyelids. He chose to limit reconstructive surgery to replacing the eyelids and getting them to work properly. Since the accident he has always worn a cap to cover the scars on his head.

Lauda was replaced by Carlos Reutemann and Ferrari boycotted the Austrian GP in protest against McLaren driver James Hunt at the Spanish and British GPs. Surprisingly, Lauda returned to race only six weeks (two races) later, at Monza and finished fourth in the Italian GP where he wore a specially adapted AGV crash helmet so as to not be in too much discomfort. In Lauda’s absence, Hunt had reduced Lauda’s lead in the World Championship standings and stood three points behind Lauda before the final race of the season, the Japanese GP. Lauda qualified third, one place behind Hunt, but retired after two laps. Hunt led much of the race before his tires blistered and an inevitable pit stop dropped him down the order. He recovered to 3rd, and won the title by a single point. Niki Lauda’s incredible rivalry with James Hunt is also the subject of the film Rush starring Chris Hemsworth. Lauda had a difficult 1977 season, despite winning the championship. Lauda disliked his new teammate, Reutemann, and felt he had been let down by Ferrari so he announced his decision to quit Ferrari at season’s end, Lauda left earlier due to the team’s decision to run the unknown Gilles Villeneuve in a third car at the Canadian Grand Prix. Five years after his first retirement, Lauda won his third title driving a McLaren MP4/2. having joined Brabham in 1978 for a $1 million salary, Lauda endured two unsuccessful seasons, notable mainly for his one race in the Brabham BT46B, a radical design known as the Fan Car: it won its first and only race at the Swedish GP, but Brabham did not use the car in F1 again; after other teams vigorously protested the fan car’s legality. Lauda next drove the Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo which began the 1978 season at the third race in South Africa. The BT46 suffered from a variety of mostly minor troubles that forced Lauda to retire the car 9 out of 14 races. However, when it ran it ran well, with Lauda winning the sole outing of the fan car in Sweden, and also winning in Italy, as well as 2nd in Montreal and Great Britain, and a 3rd in the Netherlands. At the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, Lauda informed Brabham that he wished to retire immediately, as he had no more desire to “drive around in circles”. Lauda, who had founded a charter airline, returned to Austria to run the company full-time.

In 1982 Lauda returned to racing, feeling that he still had a career in Formula One. After a successful test with McLaren, the only problem was in convincing then team sponsor Marlboro that he was still capable of winning. Lauda won the Long Beach Grand Prix. Before the race at the Kyalami race track in South Africa, Lauda organised a ‘drivers’ strike over the new contracts, and The drivers, with the exception of Teo Fabi, barricaded themselves in a banqueting suite at Sunnyside Park Hotel until they won. Lauda won a third world championship in 1984 by half a point over teammate Alain Prost, due only to half points being awarded for the shortened 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. he also won the Austrian Grand Prix. Initially, Lauda did not want Prost to become his teammate, as he presented a much faster rival.

However, during the two seasons together, they had a good relationship. The whole season continued to be dominated by Lauda and Prost, who won 12 of 16 races. Lauda won five races, while Prost was able to win seven Grands Prix. However, Lauda, who was able to set records for most Pole Position in a season during the 1975 season, rarely matched his teammate in qualifying. Despite this, Lauda’s championship win came in Estoril, when he had to start in eleventh place on the grid, while Prost qualified on the front row. However, Lauda was able to come in second and claimed the title. 1985 was a poor season for Lauda, with eleven retirements from the fourteen races he started. He did not start the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps after crashing and breaking his wrist during practice, and he later missed the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. He did manage 4th at the San Marino Grand Prix, 5th at the German Grand Prix, and a single race win at the Dutch Grand Prix. This proved to be his last Grand Prix victory and also the last Formula One Grand Prix held in the Netherlands and in 1985 Lauda retired.

Other Birthdays and Anniversaries happening on 22 February

born 22nd February 1857 – Robert Baden-Powell, British soldier, author, and Scout movement founder (d. 1941)
born 22nd February 1889 – Olave Baden-Powell, English founder of the Girl Guide (d. 1977

born 22nd February 1918 – Robert Pershing Wadlow, World’s tallest ever human (d. 1940)
born 22nd February 1974 – James Blunt, English singer/songwriter
born 22nd February1974 – Chris Moyles, English radio DJ
born 22nd February 1975 – Drew Barrymore, American actress