• December 3 down the years

Sly Stallone ... the Les Dawson of Formula One

What happened on December 3 in Formula One history
They might be giants: Bernie Ecclestone (5'3") and Sylvester Stallone (5' 5") in the paddock at Monza at the start of their project © Getty Images

It was announced Bernie Ecclestone had struck a deal with Hollywood film star Sylvester Stallone that would lead to the first US-based grand prix for almost a decade. "Stallone will film shots of practice sessions and the race itself, which will then be incorporated into film he is making based on F1," a spokesman said. It was planned to stage the race in 1999 in Las Vegas. In the event the deal failed and it wasn't until 2000 that a US Grand Prix was held. Writing in the Times, Kevin Eason said: "The plan seemed to be working well and Stallone had become a fixture around the Formula One paddock as he carried out his deep research - or at least as he strode around the paddock a lot with his entourage of burly chums, who all looked like extras from Goodfellas. Trouble was that Sly, as we lovingly came to know him, eventually became such a nuisance that his celebrity appeal waned quite dramatically and it was not long before mechanics did not even look up when he burst into their garages. The fact that Sly also looked about as much like a Formula One driver as Les Dawson and that Americans in the sport are as common as a train arriving on time seemed mere detail. But Bernie, not a man noted for his artistic temperament, had become distinctly nervous about the whole business and politely told Sly that Formula One was not interested in becoming a film star. Not with him, anyway."

As Bernie was courting Hollywood, it was announced that after nine years of discussions, EU ministers had reached agreement on a complete ban on tobacco advertising in sports. The British government had backed the move but had been pushing for a six-year exemption for Formula One, arguing without it the sport would relocate to Asia with the loss of thousands of jobs. It didn't.

Sicilian nobleman Gaetano Starrabba, born on this day in Palermo, raced for fun in Maseratis and Ferraris his personal fortune made possible. In 1961 he bought a Lotus and adapted it by fitting a Masareti engine to it, entering a handful of non-championship races before taking part in his one and only Formula One championship race at Monza, qualifying 30th out of 32. He was in 15th when his engine blew shortly before the halfway point. He continued racing his Lotus/Maserati hybrid in non-championship races for a few more years, his best effort being fifth at the 1963 Rome Grand Prix. His real interest, however, remained with sports cars until 1969 when he disappeared from the scene.

Roberto Mieres born on this day in Mar del Plata, Argentina, enjoyed reasonable success in 17 grands prix between 1953 and 1955. He started out racing MGs with friends, something they enjoyed so much they formed a small racing club. At one event Mires was spotted by Alberto Ascari who suggested he try his hand at racing in Europe. He made a good impression before funding issues forced him home, but he managed to return and in 1954 managed fourths in Switzerland and Spain. In 1955 he enjoyed his best year with three top-five finishes, including fifth place in his home grand prix. He did not appear again in Formula 1 thereafter, but continued to race locally. In 1960 he represented his country at the Rome Olympics as a yachtsman.

Lewis Hamilton was nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. But just like his world championship attempt he finished second - to boxer Joe Calzaghe.