by Andrew Luke

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ISBN (hardback) 978-1-4222-3456-3 ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-3455-6 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4222-8481-6

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Auto Racing’s Greatest Moments ............... 6 The History of Auto Racing ...................... 16 Open Wheel Racing: F1 . .......................... 22 Open Wheel Racing: IndyCar ................... 30 Stock Car Racing ..................................... 38 Modern-Day Stars . ................................. 44 Auto Racing’s Greatest Drivers ................ 54 The Future of Auto Racing ....................... 66 Glossary of Auto Racing Terms ................ 72 Chronology.............................................. 74 Further Reading, Video Credits, & Internet Resources. .............................. 77 Index....................................................... 79



England's Lewis Hamilton is a three-time World Champion in Formula One, the world's most popular auto racing series.



AUTO RACING’S GREATEST MOMENTS For as long as there have been automobiles, there have been drivers willing to race them. The essence of racing has been the same for centuries, whether in chariots, on bicycles, or in cars: the search for speed. Drivers have pushed not only their own talents but also the limits of their vehicles to eke out the most speed possible, even at considerable risk to life and limb. It is that ever-present element of danger that initially made auto racing a spectacle not to be missed for fans of speed. As the sport has developed over the decades, it has become more sophisticated, and fans have evolved along with it. Auto racing is now so much more than the union of man and machine to maximize the speed that can be coaxed from the vehicle. An incredible amount of proverbial blood, sweat and tears goes into preparing a vehicle for a race. Fans have come to understand and appreciate the nuances that determine when it is time for a driver to pamper or push the vehicle at crucial points in a race, realizing that part of what encompasses a driver’s skill is knowing how to maximize the vehicle’s efficiency, not just its speed. The pit crew comes into play in this regard as well, helping the driver make crucial decisions that impact the race beyond the aspect of simply driving the vehicle. And then there is luck, sheer, unforeseen, unavoidable happenstance that can wipe out the best-laid plans, preparation, and strategy. Fans know that the day of their favorite driver can be ambushed by chance at any turn. An unintentional touch in close quarters can cause body damage that affects the aerodynamics and, therefore, the efficiency of the vehicle. A collision between two other drivers balloons into a four- or five-vehicle pileup. Debris or oil on the track can send your driver into the wall instead of through a turn. All of these are examples of how unpredictable the sport of auto racing can be, which is a large part of its appeal.

Drivers being able to overcome these elements, or becoming ensnared by them, are among the greatest moments that auto racing has produced.



Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio came into the 1957 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring with three wins under his belt for the season. He needed a fourth victory to clinch the Grand Prix driving championship. The course was just over 14 miles (22.5 km) with 172 turns, the toughest race on the circuit. English drivers Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins led Fangio by 51 seconds with 11 laps of 22 left to go when Fangio put his foot down to close the gap. In a courageous effort where he pushed his car to the limit, barely keeping it on the treacherous track, Fangio was just a second behind Collins and three behind Hawthorn with two laps to go. On that 21st lap, Fangio and Collins battled, passing each other until Fangio pulled away in a straightaway. That left Hawthorn, who Fangio overtook on a dangerous, unguarded corner on the last lap. This championship-winning drive was the final victory of Fangio’s brilliant career. FangioWins German Grand Prix


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Daytona Dustup

The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first 500-mile (804.7 km) race ever to be broadcast live on U.S. television, and CBS got their money’s worth in more ways than one. First, viewers got an exciting finish to the race. Donnie Allison led Cale Yarborough coming down the backstretch on the final lap. When Yarborough tried to pass on the inside, the cars bumped, and Yarborough lost control. The two cars hit each other, and then the wall, before coming to rest in the infield.

That is when CBS got an unexpected bonus as Donnie’s brother Bobby stopped to see if he was okay. Yarborough, angry about the crash, approached the brothers and hit Bobby in the face with his helmet. On live TV, a melee ensued with the three drivers throwing punches and swinging helmets. Yarborough said, “I think it made a lot of fans. I think it was one of the biggest things ever to happen in the sport. It got people’s attention.” Incidentally, superstar driver Richard Petty won the race.



200 NASCARWins

That 1979 Daytona 500 win was the 186th of Petty’s career. Five years later, Petty was back at the Daytona International Speedway sitting on 199 career wins as he sat in his famous blue and red number 43 Pontiac at the starting line of the 1984 Firecracker 400. In attendance that day, in anticipation of a Petty victory, was U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Petty had won nine career races at this track, after all, so the president was playing the odds when he decided to become the first sitting president ever to attend a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) race. Petty did not disappoint, prevailing over Yarborough with a pass coming out of turn four on lap 158 of 160 to win by the nose of the car. The last two laps were run under a caution flag. Petty met with President Reagan before heading to victory lane to celebrate the record 200th and final win of his career.


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Fittipaldi Beats Unser

In auto racing, when two drivers battle on the track, if neither is willing to back down, bad things can happen. Just ask Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough. At the 1989 Indianapolis 500, Brazil’s Emerson Fittipaldi and Albuquerque native Al Unser, Jr. faced just this situation.

With four laps to go, Unser was riding Fittipaldi’s tail and seized the opportunity to make the pass and take the lead. Fittipaldi stayed close, and with two laps left, he made his move on the backstretch, dropping to the inside to pull even with Unser. Neither man blinked as the cars ran side by side along the bottom of the track for 10 seconds. As they went into turn three, they touched wheels. Fittipaldi kept control of his car, but Unser spun into the wall. Fittipaldi won his first Indianapolis 500 under caution, with Unser giving him the thumbs-up from the infield.



Senna Helps Comas

Crashes like the one suffered by Unser, Jr. in 1989 are a part of auto racing, and drivers anticipate the possibility during every race. When accidents happen, drivers are primarily concerned with preserving their own race, letting rescue workers come to the aid of fellow drivers. This is what makes the events in the qualifying runs for the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix extraordinary. French driver Erik Comas crashed heavily into the wall during his run. The first driver to come up on the wrecked car was Brazilian champion Ayrton Senna, who realized Comas was in trouble and stopped immediately after passing him. Senna got out and ran to Comas, avoiding at least two other cars on the track as they drove around Comas’ car. In a remarkable show of compassion and sportsmanship, Senna stopped Comas’ engine and stayed with the unconscious driver until rescue workers arrived on the scene.


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Michigan 500 Fireworks

It has been called one of the greatest duels in the history of open wheel racing, and it took place at the Michigan International Speedway in 2000. That year’s Michigan 500 race came in the middle of the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series season and turned into a showdown between second-year driver Juan Montoya and racing royalty, veteran Michael Andretti.

Fifty thousand fans watched as the two former series champions raced to one of the closest finishes in history. Montoya, who won the series championship in his rookie year, battled Andretti at close quarters over the final 17 laps of the 250-lap race. In those 17 laps, Andretti, himself a series champion in 1991, was never separated from Montoya by more than 0.7 seconds. Each driver led for at least part of each of those final 17 laps, with Montoya making the final pass in turn four of lap 250 to win by less than a car length.



In 2006, it was Michael’s son, Marco Andretti, who suffered a similar fate but on a much bigger stage. The 2006 Indianapolis 500 was the 90th edition of the most famous auto race in the world and turned out to be one of the most thrilling. The 19-year-old Andretti is son of former series champion Michael and grandson of the legendary Mario Andretti, one of the greatest race car drivers who ever lived. True to his pedigree, Marco was Rookie of the Year that season but botched the series’ biggest race. Sam Hornish was right on Andretti’s tail going into turn four of lap 199 and tried to pass the rookie, but Andretti blocked him, and Hornish had to slow down, losing his momentum. Hornish put his foot down and drove a blazing lap to get right behind Andretti in the final turn. He dropped to the inside and swung past Andretti to win by 0.0635 seconds, the second-closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history. Another Andretti Comes Up Short


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