- January 16 down the years
The King of the IndyWhat happened on January 16 in Formula One history?
The birth in Houston of the man who became known as the King of the Indy. In Formula One terms, AJ Foyt is a footnote, his three FIA World Championship appearances coming at the Indianapolis 500 in its last years when it counted towards the title. But he was the first person to win the race four times and the only one to have driven in it for 35 consecutive years. He did 4,909 laps around the oval for a total of 12,272½ miles. He earned $2,637,963 competing in the Indy 500. His seven national Indy car championships remain a record. So do his 67 Indy car victories, which are 15 more than the No. 2 driver, Mario Andretti. One year, Foyt won an astounding 10 of 13 races. He succeeded in other forms of racing as well. He is the only driver to achieve this triple: victories in the Indy 500, NASCAR's Daytona 500 (in 1972) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans international sports car race (with Dan Gurney in 1967). And no other driver has at least 20 victories in USAC's four major categories: Indy cars, stock cars (41), sprint cars (28) and midgets (20). In the 1980s, with his career in Indy car racing on the down side, he won the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona twice.
Born on this day in Paris, William Grover-Williams was a war hero who worked for the Special Operations Executive(SOE) inside France before being captured and executed by the Nazis in the spring of 1945. He initially raced under a pseudonym to prevent his disapproving family finding out what we was doing. In 1928 he won the French Grand Prix for the Bugatti team, repeating the feat in 1929 and adding the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix as well. In 1931 he won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and also won the Grand Prix de la Baule three consecutive years from 1931. By then he had married and bought a large house and settled down to breed dogs. "They used to drive around Monaco in two cars," said his niece. "Willy would be in the first and Yvonne in the second. Yvonne would be stopped for speeding. She would say: 'What about him. Why don't you stop him?' But the police would say: 'He is Williams, we don't stop Williams'."
Argentina hosted the first round of the F1 championship, and what was an endurance race in fierce heat - only seven starters finished - was won by Juan Manuel Fangio. It was his first win in a season where he went on to secure the second of his fourth consecutive drivers' titles. It was a gruelling afternoon. Only Fangio and fifth-placed Roberto Mieres drove the entire distance without the help of a co-driver, and even the indestructible Fangio had to make one lengthy stop for drinks and a cool down.
The French Grand Prix returned to the schedule after months of financial wrangling, but not everyone was happy with the decision as it extended the season to 18 races, "the absolute threshold," according to Jaguar boss Tony Purnell.
Michael Schumacher's career with Ferrari got off to an inauspicious start when he escaped uninjured after his Ferrari bounced off a guard rail during a test drive at Fiorano at a speed between 60 and 95mph. Schumacher blamed himself for having forced the pace of the car on a track still covered with frost. On the same day at Estoril, Damon Hill also skidded off in his Williams, and went one better than Schumacher by repeating the trick a day later.
It was through the clinching of deals that Piercarlo Ghinzani, born in Riviera d'Adda, Italy on this day, extended his Formula One career from 1981 to 1989 and 111 races with a points tally of just two... Considering he started in motor racing in 1970, his rise to Formula One was very slow. It took him until 1973 to reach Formula Three. He won the European title in 1977 and moved on to Formula Two. A Formula One ride was clinched in 1981 when he joined Osella, and he stayed with the team until mid-1985 when he crossed over to Toleman, scoring his only points at Dallas in 1984. He was back with Osella in 1986; then Ligier, Zakspeed and Osella - for a third time - before he finally called it a day. On his retirement from driving he became a team owner, running teams in the Italian F3 and F3000 championships, as well as A1 GP.
Luiz Bueno was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and raced in one F1 event, his home grand prix in 1973, driving a Surtees TS9B where he finished twelfth. He is better known for his long career in Brazil's touring car championship.