- January 26 down the years
The half-million dollar number plateWhat happened on January 26 in Formula One history?
A businessman paid £375,000 for the number plate "F1", the most expensive ever sold in Britain. Afzal Kahn, who put the plate on his £300,000 McLaren SLR, said: "I have spent years chasing it. I cannot believe I've finally got it. It's every man's dream to have his perfect car with a number plate like this." "F1" was first registered in 1904 when it belonged to Essex's county surveyor. It was sold by Essex county council to raise money for training young drivers. In 2010, by which time the plate had been transferred to a Bugatti Veyron, the BBC reported Kahn had turned down an offer of £5 million for the registration.
Brazil hosted an epic the second round of the season's championship as more than 80,000 roared home local driver Carlos Pace for his first - and only - F1 win. Another Brazilian, defending drivers' champion Emerson Fittipaldi, stole the headlines, however, with a breathtaking drive to carve his way through the field from sixth to within six seconds of Pace. Jean-Pierre Jarier in a Shadow had taken pole and for two thirds of the race seemed a surefire winner, only for a 27-second lead to be ruined by a fuel-pump failure. James Hunt had a bad day in his Hesketh. "At the start I completely muffed it," he shrugged. "I was back in 15th by the end of the first lap and after that I had to fight a vicious tail slide. I was delighted to finish in the top six."
At the Daytona Beach Road Course, Fred Marriott broke the land speed record, reaching 127.66mph (205.44km/h) in his steam-powered Stanley Steamer. It was the first time a car had exceeded 200km/h and the first time the speed was greater than the existing rail speed record. The record for a steam-powered car remained until 2009.
David Purley was born in Bognor Regis and took part in only 11 grands prix between 1973 and 1977 but experienced more than his fair share of drama. In his second outing at the Dutch Grand Prix he was involved in an incident which showed his remarkable heroism. Ahead of him Roger Williamson's car was involved in a crash which left it upside down and on fire, Williamson was trapped inside. Purley stopped, ran down the track and attempted to rescue Williamson by righting the car, despite the blaze and the risk of a major explosion. He received no help from nearby marshals and his efforts were in vain as Williamson died, but Purley was awarded the George Medal for bravery. In 1977 during pre-qualifying for the British Grand Prix he was involved in a massive crash when his throttle stuck open and he hit a wall - it was calculated he went from over 100mph to 0 in 26 inches. The G-force was estimated at 179.8 which, if accurate, would be the highest ever survived by a human. He recovered to race again, competing in the Aurora AFX series of F1. After retiring from motor racing he switched to aerobatics but was killed when his home-built biplane crashed in the sea off Bognor Regis in 1985.