RacingJunk’s Top 5 Things that Happened 20 Years Ago

20 years! Two decades! That’s how long RacingJunk.com has been in business, and we are celebrating this milestone by looking back at some of the good, bad, ugly and just plain weird things that happened in the race and performance space 20 years ago! To honor our second decade, we've put together a list of our Top 5 Things that happened 20 years ago. Want to share? Tag us with #RJ20Years in your social posts!

RacingJunk's Top 5 Things that Happened 20 Years Ago

20 years! Two decades! That’s how long RacingJunk.com has been in business, and we are celebrating this milestone by looking back at some of the good, bad, ugly and just plain weird things that happened in the race and performance space 20 years ago! To honor our second decade, we've put together a list of our Top 5 Things that happened 20 years ago. Want to share? Tag us with #RJ20Years in your social posts!

20 years Ago: Peter Dumbreck's Huge Crash at Le Mans



Watch as racer Peter Dumbreck escapes uninjured from a wild crash during Le Mans.  Dumbrecks No. 5 Mercedes take off into a series of back flips and landing outside the barricades while going 190 mph.

The crash was believed to be caused by an aerodynamic design flaw resulting in the front of the car rising up and then flipping without any external contact; driver Mark Webber had previously suffered near identical crashes in the No. 4 car during the Thursday night practice and the Saturday morning Warm-up. The remaining No. 6 car was retired immediately, and the team withdrew from all other planned entries in endurance racing and the American Le Mans Series.

20 Years Ago: Tony Schumacher Shattered the 330mph Barrier

In the early rounds of the 1999 Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals in Phoenix, Ariz., Tony Schumacher became the NHRA's first drag racer to meet or exceed the lightning-fast pace of 330 mph. He sped down the strip in his Top Fuel machine, reaching a record-smashing 330.23 mph against Dave Grubnic.

This wasn't the last record on Schumacher's hit list - for one, he supplanted Joe Amato as the driver with most wins in NHRA Top Fuel history with his 53rd career victory in 2008. His 330 mph dash just set the stage for future feats.

20 Years Ago: The Rocket Bike at Bonneville



20 years ago, engineer Richard Brown (aka Rocketman) built a rocket powered bike with the hopes of breaking the current land speed record of 332 mph. Brown took this rocket powered monster named the 'Mach 3 Challenger' to the Bonneville salt flats and let it rip.

"It's actually a fairly violent thing to drive," said Mr. Brown. "It's a hell of a ride. You need your wits about you, but it's a hell of a ride."

Brown's bike boasts well over 6,000 horsepower, roughly the equivalent to 10 Formula One Cars. "Every time I drive it I think, 'this is more powerful'. It never ceases to amaze me," he said.

The video above is the first attempt and even though the bike smashed the record, reaching an insane speed of 365 mph, unfortunately could not complete a second pass, required within two hours, to qualify for the record itself. Still a valiant effort that will be remembered.

20 Years Ago: First Ever 9 Second FWD Quarter Mile



In 1999, Stephan Papadakis, took the first FWD into the 9-second club. Now we know our audience is predominately of the RWD way of mind but that doesn't mean we can't give respect where respect is due. Papadakis took a Shaun Carlson built tube chassis 1997 Honda EK with a Honda H22 cylinder turbocharged engine to accomplish this feat. Also, gotta love the VHS recording!

20 Years Ago: 21st Dakar Rally

On Jan. 1 of 1999, the 21st Dakar Rally sprang into action, not ending until Jan. 17 after a full 16 stages had been run.

This rally was notable for a number of reasons, not least an incident in the 12th stage when 50 competitors were robbed by a group of armed men, who stole vehicles, fuel and money from the racers. After some discussion, rally officials decided to press on with the race.

Also of note was Jutta Kleinschmidt's lead during the fifth stage of the rally. The year previous, she had become the first woman ever to win a Dakar Rally stage; two years later in 2001, she would be able to make the dual claims of being both the first woman to win the rally overall, and the first German driver to win in a car category. Even now, those records still stand.

In the end, French driver Jean-Louis Schlesser took the victory, with Richard Sainct (also of France) winning the motorcycle title and the truck title going to Czech driver Karel Loprais.

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