- June 17 down the years
Alonso sidelined as Hamilton dominates in the USA
In what was a farewell to the States, Lewis Hamilton won the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis in front of around 120,000, outperforming McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso who was by this stage of the season clearly rattled by the newcomer. More than once the pair went wheel-to-wheel, and as Alonso rattled off a fastest lap, Hamilton immediately replied in kind. "It's a surprise to see him doing so well and top of the championship," Alonso said afterwards, a week after moaning McLaren were giving his team-mate special treatment. In the euphoria of the win, a journalist compared Hamilton with Tiger Woods. "I don't really know what to say to that to be honest," Hamilton replied. "It's obviously nice to be compared to somebody like Tiger Woods but you just have to remember I'm not Tiger Woods. I'm Lewis Hamilton and this is Formula One, it is not golf."
Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey opened. It was the world's first purpose-built motorsport circuit, opening a year before Indianapolis, but had a short life, staging it last race in 1939, only 32 years after its first. The distinctive banked, oval track, which was nearly 30 feet high in places, was finished in concrete because of the issues of laying tarmac on such a gradient. There was a finishing straight in front of the clubhouse. Along the centre of the track ran a dotted black line, known as the Fifty Foot Line. By driving over the line, a driver could theoretically take the banked corners without having to use the steering wheel. Within a fortnight of opening the circuit hosted the world's first 24-hour race (several hundred railway lamps were used to light the track).
Nelson Piquet scored his first points of the season when he won the Canadian Grand Prix in a Brabham. He had to be carried from his car to the podium after badly burning his foot on a new radiator. Alain Prost had briefly led after passing Piquet, who was on pole, off the line, but he was in front for seconds, and once back in the lead Piquet dominated
Niki Lauda's win in a Brabham in Sweden was overshadowed by a row over cooling fans on the cars which Lotus boss Colin Chapman argued were "ten times the size needed". Other manufacturers accused Brabham of deliberately holding back during qualifying so as not to attract too much attention to the cornering advantages the fans gave. Some drivers also moaned the fans threw up debris off the track. Brabham boss Bernie Ecclestone brushed aside the complaints saying: "It's always the same whenever anyone comes up with something new in F1." Within a week it was banned although Lauda's win stood.
Denny Hulme broke the nine-race domination of Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi with victory in the Swedish Grand Prix, but it was not a popular victory with the home crowd as he had overtaken local hero Ronnie Petersen, who was suffering from a slow puncture, on the final lap. "Hulme's drive had been a classic of skill and caution," reported the Guardian, " a superb tactical, but the enormous crowd groaned as their hero failed to make it."
Jim Clark in a Lotus scored the first of five consecutive wins at the Belgian Grand Prix. Leading home Graham Hill by 45 seconds. Clark's team-mate Trevor Taylor, who had led in the early stages, and Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari collided on lap 25, the Lotus smashing into a telegraph poll which snapped in half, and Mairesse overturning and catching fire. Amazingly, he escaped with burns while Taylor walked back to the pits unscathed.
Nino Farina's supercharged Alfa Romeo won the Belgian Grand Prix
Adrian Campos, born on this day in Valencia, held the unenviable record of being Spain's least successful F1 driver, but was also Spanish radio-controlled racing champion in 1980 and in his early F1 forays was accompanied by bodyguards after terrorists had kidnapped his grandfather. In 1998 he set up Campos Racing and among other successes he spotted the up-and-coming Fernando Alonso. In 2010 finally returned to F1 as the head of Hispania racing (HRT).
Bob Sweikert won the 1955 Indianapolis 500 and the 1955 National Championship, as well as the 1955 Midwest Sprint car championship - the only driver in history to sweep all three in a single season. A year later he finished sixth at the Indy 500 but on this day a few weeks later was killed in a crash at a sprint event at Salem Speedway.