Looking Back — March 30, 2011
50 Years Ago — March 29, 1961
Olivier Gendebien, of Belgium, and Phil Hill, of Santa Monica, Calif., led a Ferrari sweep of the top four overall positions during the 11th annual 12-hour Florida Grand Prix of Endurance sports and grand touring car race in Sebring, Fla. Gendebien and Hill set a new record, traveling 210 laps, or 1,092 miles, at an average speed of 91.306 miles per hour.
25 Years Ago — March 26, 1986
Ohio invader Dave Blaney made his Sunday afternoon visit to Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway a profitable one by scoring a $4,000 victory in the 30-lap Early Bird Sprint Car Championship. Blaney started 12th in Gary Stanton’s No. 40 Challenger and took the lead from Bobby Weaver at the halfway point. Weaver settled for second-place money with Cris Criswell third.
Countdown To 100 — 2001 – Helio Castroneves
Returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since its cars failed to qualify in 1995, Team Penske swept the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500 as drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran finished 1-2.
Castroneves, an Indy rookie, led 52 of the 200 laps and beat his teammate to the checkered flag by 1.737 seconds, giving team owner Roger Penske his 11th Indianapolis 500 victory.
“When I think about today’s race and to finish 1-2, it kind of takes away the pain that we had in 1995,” said Penske. Michael Andretti finished third with Jimmy Vasser and Bruno Junqueira completing a sweep of the top five by CART series regulars.
Newsmaker — Mark Donohue
Mark Donohue, driving an AMC Javelin prepared by Penske Racing, won seven of the nine SCCA Trans-Am races he entered in 1971 and easily captured his third series championship.
Donohue secured the driving title with his sixth consecutive victory on Labor Day at Michigan Int’l Speedway. With the title in hand, Donohue did not compete in the season finale at California’s Riverside Int’l Raceway, opting instead to focus on the rain-delayed USAC Championship Car race at Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Jackie Oliver subbed for Donohue and drove the Javelin to a third-place finish.
Donohue, an engineer from Media, Pa., also won two USAC Championship Car races in 1971.
Chris’s Column — July 19, 1972
“Until ‘having been a football player’ was used to describe vice presidential nominee Tom Eagleton, auto racing was the only sport mentioned on TV emanating from the Democratic National Convention in Miami. When the Florida delegation cast its vote for the Democratic presidential nominee, it was identified as the state hosting the ‘Daytona 500,’ by none other than committee chairman Bill France. The Alabama chief delegate identified his state as the ‘Fabulous home of the Talladega 500, world’s fastest speedway.’”