• December 18 down the years

The birth of India's F1 zealot

What happened on December 18 in Formula One history?
Force India boss Vijay Mallya © Sutton Images

Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya was born in Kainataka. In addition to owning, and acting as team manager, of the Force India team he has numerous business interests including United Breweries and Kingfisher Airlines. He has a huge interest in sports spreading his wealth around in football, cricket and horse racing. He is also know for buying artefacts of interest to India - In 2004 he paid £175,000 for the Tipu Sultan at a British auction, he returned the artefact to India.

Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat (nicknamed the Electric Count) set the first recognised land speed record in Achères when he drove his Jeantaud electric car at a speed of 39mph (63kph) over one kilometre. His achievement came during a competition staged by La France Automobile magazine. A month later the Count improved his own record, reaching 41.4mph on the same stretch of open road, but that was beaten ten days later. On March 4, 1899 he regained the crown when he recorded a speed of 57.59mph in the same car, albeit after an extensive rebuild. Again it was a short-lived triumph, as his time was beaten on April 29. While the Jeantaud was the fastest of its time, it had little practical use as its batteries only allowed it to run for a very short period.

Henry Banks died in Michigan aged 81. The popular American racer became the first driver to pass the qualifying "Rookie Test" for the 1936 Indy 500 - he also raced in three Indianapolis Grand Prix between 1950 and 1952. Alongside motorsport he also appeared in two films, To Please a Lady with Clarke Gable and Roar of the Crowd, a movie set around the Indy 500.

George Abecassis died peacefully at his home in Buckinghamshire. A more than capable driver in his own right, he was better known as the co-founder of the HWM team, whose drivers included Stirling Moss and which entered 46 Grand Prix between 1951 and 1955.

American driver Bill Holland was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He raced in the 1950 Indianapolis Grand Prix and finished second. He entered the event again in 1953 but could only manage 15th in a shared drive with Jim Rathmann .