26 March: Today in Racing


Starting with Formula 1 highlights on this day, the third row of the 1989 Brazilian Grand Prix grid proved fortuitous as Nigel Mansell rose from sixth to win the race for Ferrari. Second-placed Alain Prost had started fifth alongside Mansell in his McLaren. 

Six years later, Michael Schumacher steered his Benetton to Brazilian victory over David Coulthard’s Williams and Gerhard Berger a lap down in his Ferrari.

Schumacher won again in Brazil in 2000, but there was drama when five of the top six finishers were excluded for excessive wear on their cars’ wooden ‘planks’. The cars were checked again following an appeal, after which all except second-placed David Coulthard were reinstated due to front wing issues on his McLaren-Mercedes. That allowed Giancarlo Fisichella’s Benetton and Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s Jordan onto the podium and Williams-BMW rookie Jenson Button to score a point on debut in sixth.  

The 2017 Australian Grand Prix proved less dramatic as Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari put one over Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, seven years to the day after Hamilton was in the news for all the wrong reasons. An Aussie magistrate branded Lewis a ‘hoon’ after he delivered a delightfully smoky burnout in a Mercedes-AMG C63 that evening in downtown Melbourne. The local constabulary fined the driver £200 and impounded the car as Hamilton profusely apologised for the act.

In other mainstream action, on this day in 1900, René de Knyff drove his Panhard to win the 200km Nice to Marseille road race. The event was originally scheduled to return to Nice before it rained, prompting the twelve competitors to refuse to start the return leg because road conditions were already dangerous enough when dry...

Talking tough races, one of the toughest of all started in 1927 when the inaugural Mille Miglia raced for the first time over 1000 miles from Brescia in Northern Italy to Rome and back as Giuseppe Morandi led a 1-2-3 whitewash for Brescian carmaker OM. Moving on to 1933 Tazio Nuvolari won the Tunis Grand Prix in a Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Monza, Prince Bira of Siam won the 1951 Richmond Trophy at Goodwood in a Maserati 4CLT/48 and Jack Brabham meanwhile drove a Cooper-Climax T53 to victory in the non-championship 1963 Snetterton Lombank Trophy. Indycar racing saw Danny Ongais win in 1978, Max Papis in 2000 and Dan Wheldon in 2006 through the various guises of that series.

In sportscar racing, Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien led a Sebring 12-hour Porsche 1-2 in their 718 RS60, while Ken Miles drove the Shelby Ford X-1 he shard with Lloyd Ruby to win after Dan Gurney's ran out of fuel with minutes left to race on this day in 1966. 26 March World Rally Championship action meanwhile saw Tommi Mäkinen and Seppo Harjanne’ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo winning in Portugal in ‘97 while Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena Citroën Xsara took 2006 España honours.

Mark Martin won the second race fo the 1994 International Race of Champions, while NASCAR saw Fonty Flock and one time winner Bob Burdick take 1955 and ’61 Grand National wins, while Bobby Allison, Rusty Wallace twice, Sterling Marlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer all took Cup wins. Moving on down under, Peter Brock, Jamie Whincup and Chaz Mostert have won Australian Touring Car races on 26 March.

In other action over the years, Alexander Winton topped the 1903 Daytona Beach Speed Trials with a 111km/h flying-start mile run in his Winton Bullet No.1 that had its 17-litre engine laid on its side to reduce the height of car and cheat the wind. Actor James Dean meanwhile won his first ever car race driving his ill-fated Porsche 356 Speedster in a 1955 California Sports Car Club event at Palms Springs, shortly before filming began on Rebel Without a Cause and Volkswagen presented its first Golf GTi — the fastest VW fastest of all time with a 180km/h top speed in 1975...

Formula 1 drivers Lella Lombardi, Didier Pironi, Elio de Angelis, Martin Donnelly and Stoffel Vandoorne were all born on 26 March. 30-year-old Indy Racing League rookie Paul Dana succumbed to multiple injuries at Jackson Memorial Hospital following a crash in practice for the 2006 season-opening Toyota Indy 300. (Photo: Benetton Archives)

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