• June 6 down the years

Tragedy overshadows Dutch Grand Prix

What happened on this day in Formula One history?
Jack Brabham on the grid before the 1960 Dutch Grand Prix © Getty Images
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Jack Brabham won the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort but the result was overshadowed by an accident involving American driver Dan Gurney when the brakes on his BRM failed and he crashed at the hairpin, killing a spectator. The race also marked the first podium finishes for Innes Ireland and Graham Hill, who finished second and third respectively.

The Swiss parliament voted 97 to 77 to lift the ban on motor racing in Switzerland, a consequence of the Le Mans 24 Hours disaster of 1955 in which 86 spectators were killed. Packed crowds turned up to see the Mercedes team, led by Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Karl Kling. Pierre Levegh, aged 50, had also been hired by Mercedes-Benz as a factory driver that year and was following Mike Hawthorn's leading Jaguar D-type as they were entering the pit straight at the end of Lap 35. As Hawthorn braked before Lance Macklin's recently passed Austin-Healey 100 to make a pit stop, Macklin swerved across the centre of the track to re-pass the slowing Jaguar, but he had not noticed Levegh in his 300 SLR, approaching quickly from behind. Levegh did not have time to react and made contact with the left rear of Macklin's car, sending his Mercedes soaring into the air and into an earth mound set to protect spectators. Parts of the car, already damaged and loosened by the collision, were flung from the vehicle at great speed on impact, killing a total of 86 spectators. It remains the greatest disaster in the history of motorsport.

John Watson won the first ever Detroit Grand Prix having started from 17th on the grid. Watson stormed his way through the field off the grid, his Michelin tyre compounds working perfectly to enable him to pass 12 cars. When Watson then passed Giacomelli, Lauda and Cheever to find himself thirteen seconds behind Rosberg, he was into second place. As Rosberg struggled with an ailing gearbox and worn tyres, Watson was able to bide his time and pass when Rosberg lost third gear. It was the furthest back a driver had ever come to win. The race also marked Jochen Mass's 100th start and Didier Peroni's 10th podium finish.