• October 6 down the years

A talent cut down

An early morning Sunday church service conducted in the pits after the tragic death of Francois Cevert © Sutton Images

Jackie Stewart's team-mate and close friend Francoise Cevert was killed during practice for the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen when his Tyrrell hit a barrier and careered across the track into another one which uprooted and almost cut him in two. "I arrived and stared in disbelief," Stewart wrote in his autobiography. "There was my team-mate, my protégé, my friend, my younger brother. He was dead." Stewart and the Tyrrell team withdrew from a race that would have been his last anyway. When he told his wife, Helen, she broke down in tears and said: "Now we can grow old together." The supremely-talented Cevert, 29, won his only grand prix on the same circuit two years earlier and was tipped by many, not least Stewart, to be a future world champion.

Five years earlier provided a happy memory for Stewart as he won the US Grand Prix at the same venue, moving to within three points of Graham Hill, who came second, with one race remaining. In the event, Hill won that to take his second title. "For the first time in my F1 career I sensed I was able to dictate the pace of the race," he recalled. "When I went slower, the entire field went slower; when I went faster, the entire field went faster."

Emerson Fittipaldi secured his second drivers' title on the 45th of the 59- lap US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen when his remaining challenger Jody Schecketer retired with an overheating engine. It was also a day of sadness as what appeared a minor crash caused Helmuth Koinigg's death , long-standing issues with the guard rails to blame as he hit them at relatively slow speed but was decapitated as his car slid under them. It was also the last grand prix for former champion Denny Hulme who announced his retirement after the race.

Nigel Mansell won the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch ("It's the best day of my life") but Alain Prost, baulked at the start, battled back from 14th to finish fourth and in so doing secure the two points he needed to secure the drivers' title.

Graham Hill took victory in the US Grand Prix, capitalising on the retirement of long-time leader John Surtees, while Jim Clark, already confirmed as champion, came third after being left on the grid for a lap at the start with battery problems. Hill's average speed - 109.91mph - was a record for Watkins Glen.

Louis Wagner won the Vanderbilt Cup in a Darracq but for the second year running spectators invaded the circuit forcing the remainder of the race to be abandoned.

Manfred Winkelhock, born on this day in Germany, was backed by BMW as he rose racing's ladder. He spent most of his Formula One career with ATS and RAM, rarely enjoying the chance to shine, but his reflexes and bravery were used to good effect at the Detroit Grand Prix in 1982, when he qualified fifth. A good drive in a Porsche sports car provided him with some welcome success, but he was killed in an accident at Mosport Park in 1985.

Born on this day in Sao Paulo, Carlos Pace made his mark in Britain in Formula Three and Formula Two leading to a drive with Frank Williams' Formula One team in 1972, for whom he showed well against team leader Henri Pescarolo. He left Williams at the end of the year to join Surtees, where some excellent performances were ruined by poor reliability and in mid-1974 he quit. Soon though, he was snapped up by Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team, and in 1975 he took a fine victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Second in the 1977 Argentinian Grand Prix boded well, but he was killed in a light aircraft accident.

André Pilette, born in Paris on this day but of Belgian nationality, had a 14-race Formula One career that spanned the same number of seasons, and by the time of his last outing in 1964. At the British Grand Prix in that year in his last F1 start, the 45-year-old Pilette caused Jim Clark to crash.