Lotus makes Formula One debut - HISTORY
Year
1958

Lotus makes Formula One debut

In Monaco, France, on this day in 1958, Team Lotus makes its Formula One debut in the Monaco Grand Prix, the opening event of the year’s European racing season. Over the next four decades, Team Lotus will go on to become one of the most successful teams in Formula One history.

Team Lotus was the motor sport wing of the Lotus Engineering Company, founded six years earlier by the British engineer and race car driver Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman.

Chapman built his first car, a modified 1930 Austin Seven, while still a university student. His success building trial cars led to the completion of the first Lotus production model, the Mark 6, in 1952; 100 were produced by 1955, establishing Chapman’s reputation as a innovator in the design of top-performing race cars. By 1957, Lotus had become a well-known name among car aficionados, while Team Lotus dominated the Le Mans racing circuit, winning the 750-cc class and the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957 with the Lotus Type 11.

On May 18, 1958, Team Lotus made its first entry in the Formula One circuit, entering two single-seat Type 12s, driven by Cliff Allison and Graham Hill, into the Monaco Grand Prix. Though Ferrari was the favorite going into the race, British-made cars dominated the qualifying rounds, with Vanwall, British Racing Motors (BRM) and Cooper all finishing in front of Ferrari. In the main event, Maurice Trintignant (driving a Cooper) took first place after Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn, that year’s eventual Formula One champion, was forced to stop with a broken fuel pump. Allison finished sixth in his Lotus, 13 laps behind the leader; Hill finished in 26th place.

Chapman learned from the success of the midsize engine Cooper race cars, incorporating the layout into a refined version of the Lotus Type 12. In 1960, Stirling Moss drove the result–the Type 18–to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, scoring the first of what would be many Grand Prix wins for Lotus. Jim Clark won the team’s first World Driver’s Championship in 1963, beginning a golden age of Lotus racing. Both Clark and Graham Hill won multiple Formula One titles, and Clark also drove a Lotus to victory in the Indianapolis 500 in 1965. In later years, virtuoso drivers like Emmerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Alessandro Zanardi all represented Lotus. In 1977, the low-slung Lotus Esprit had a starring turn in the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”; another Esprit, the Turbo, was featured in the 1981 Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.”

Chapman died in 1982, and Team Lotus left racing in the 1990s. It remains one of the most successful Formula One teams of all time, with more than 50 Grand Prix titles.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Mount St. Helens erupts

At 8:32 a.m. PDT, Mount St. Helens, a volcanic peak in southwestern Washington, suffers a massive eruption, killing 57 people and devastating some 210 square miles of wilderness.Called Louwala-Clough, or “the Smoking Mountain,” by Native Americans, Mount St. Helens is located in ...read more

Lincoln nominated for presidency

Abraham Lincoln, a one-time U.S. representative from Illinois, is nominated for the U.S. presidency by the Republican National Convention meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for the vice presidency.Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig ...read more

India joins the nuclear club

In the Rajasthan Desert in the state of Pokhran, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in explosive power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment, and ...read more

Polish Corps takes Monte Cassino

On this day in 1944, the Polish Corps, part of a multinational Allied Eighth Army offensive in southern Italy, finally pushes into Monte Cassino as the battle to break German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring’s defensive Gustav Line nears its end.The Allied push northward to Rome ...read more

Pope John Paul II born

On May 18, 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in the Polish town of Wadowice, 35 miles southwest of Krakow.Wojtyla went on to become Pope John Paul II, history’s most well-traveled pope and the first non-Italian to hold the position since the 16th century. After high school, the ...read more

Laird charges

U.S. Representative Melvin Laird (R-Wisconsin) states that because the Johnson administration is not providing the American public with precise information on planned troop deployments to Vietnam, a “credibility gap” is developing. Informed sources reported that 254,000 U.S. ...read more

Communists attack Xuan Loc

More than 1,500 communist troops attack U.S. and South Vietnamese camps near Xuan Loc, located 38 miles east of Saigon. After five hours of intense fighting, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces were driven off. At the U.S. camp, 14 Americans were killed and 39 wounded; 24 ...read more

Randy Johnson throws perfect game at 40

On this day in 2004, 40-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks lefthander Randy Johnson becomes the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game, leading his team to a 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves. A “perfect game” is when a pitcher faces a minimum 27 batters, ...read more

Newspaper report criticizes Mrs. Lincoln

An obscure California newspaper casts first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in an unflattering light on this day in 1861. Quoting a report in the Sacramento Union, the Humboldt Times recounted a tale of how Mrs. Lincoln had usurped her husband’s presidential duty of appointing federal ...read more

Chief Satanta massacres teamsters

The Kiowa Chief Satanta joins with other Indians to massacre a wagon train near the Red River in northeastern Texas.One of the leading chiefs of the Kiowa in the 1860s and 1870s, Satanta was a fearsome warrior but also a skilled orator and diplomat. He helped negotiate and ...read more

Ian Curtis of Joy Division commits suicide

On the evening of May 18, 1980, Ian Curtis, lead singer and lyricist of the British group Joy Division, hangs himself in his Manchester kitchen. He was only 23 years old.Joy Division was one of four hugely important British post-punk bands that could trace its origins to a ...read more

Shrek released

On this day in 2001, the fledgling movie studio Dreamworks SKG, founded by Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, releases what will become its most successful film to date: the animated feature Shrek.Based on William Steig’s 1990 children’s ...read more

Mount St. Helens erupts

Mount St. Helens in Washington erupts, causing a massive avalanche and killing 57 people on this day in 1980. Ash from the volcanic eruption fell as far away as Minnesota.Seismic activity at Mount St. Helens, which is 96 miles south of Seattle, began on March 16. A ...read more