• November 20 down the years

US Grand Prix fails to capture public's imagination

What happened on this day in Formula One history?
Spectators at the Riverside International Raceway © Getty Images

Stirling Moss won the season-ending United States Grand Prix at the Riverside International Raceway in California from Lotus team-mate Innes Ireland. But the event failed to capture the imagination of the US public despite local Dan Gurney's involvement and only attracted a crowd of 25,000 people. A PR blunder by organiser Alec Ullmann did not help as he alienated all the local media who consequently ignored the event. Ullmann lost substantial sums on the event but paid Moss's winnings of $7500 and all other creditors out of his own pocket. Gurney endured a miserable race and retired on lap 18 with an overheated engine. Bruce McLaren finished third ahead of newly-crowned world champion Jack Brabham. With nothing at stake, Ferrari opted to stay away but allowed drivers Taffy von Trips and Phil Hill to race with other teams.

Stefan Bellof was born in Glessen, Germany. An electrifying driver, Bellof was one of the most talented racers of his generation, always on the ragged edge of control. A future world champion in the making, he made it to Formula One in 1984 with Tyrrell and was challenging for victory at Monaco before heavy rain stopped play when he was third, thwarting both him and Ayrton Senna as they closed on Alain Prost. For 1985 he found the Tyrrell to be less competitive, and had only a fourth and a sixth to his name when he overstepped the mark in a sports car race at Spa, failing in a crazy attempt to overtake in the daunting Eau Rouge corner. He died instantly.

Bernie Ecclestone's wife Slavica announced through her PR agency she was seeking a divorce after 24 years of marriage. "I didn't even know she had a PR company," Ecclestone said. "I must find out." The pair were granted a decree nisi by a district judge in just 58 seconds in March 2009 and Slavica was believed to have received a payout of around $1 billion.

Michael Schumacher had to make more room in his bulging trophy cabinet when he was voted Germany's greatest sportsman of the 20th century in a national television poll. Schumacher beat footballer Franz Beckenbauer and tennis legend Boris Becker to the award and said: "I would never have expected an honour like this. It's a total surprise."

Gunnar Nilsson was born in Helsingborg, Sweden. He competed in 32 grands prix, and his second season saw him win a wet Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder on the back of two previous podiums. No one knew it at the time, but he was suffering from cancer, and he was diagnosed at the end of the year. He still signed with Arrows as its No. 1 for the 1978 season but his condition deteriorated rapidly and he was forced to stand down before the first race. He dedicated his remaining months on running the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Treatment Campaign, linked to Charing Cross Hospital, declining pain-killing drugs so he could work as long as possible. His death came only five weeks after that of fellow Swede, rival and friend Ronnie Peterson.